THE DANCER'S TROUBLE, in the simplest sense, was a bruise deep in his right forefoot—something like stone bruises suffered by humans. When he pulled up lame after a workout at Belmont Park last May, his people were torn almost equally between fear and hope. X rays showed he had suffered no broken bones. But it seemed quite possible that the big gray's plunging, bruising power was simply too much for his delicate thoroughbred underpinning and that the deep-chested, heavythewed mechanism of his amazing body—some of the very qualities of his greatness—might be proving his undoing. He had already suffered (and recovered from) a similar injury to his left forefoot.
But few horses ever foaled had Native Dancer's will to run and win, and few ever had a personality so communicable to humans. The fact that Alfred Vanderbilt and Trainer Bill Winfrey eventually began to feel that the big horse would return to the track was due in no small part to the Dancer himself. His period of treatment was necessarily slow and long, but the Dancer showed every sign of enjoying the whole process immensely.
He ate hay luxuriously while taking a hot morning foot bath and seemed much more confident of recovery than did the hundreds of anxious humans who sent him "get well" cards. He never boggled-at standing for hours every day with his foot bound up in the clumsy poultice. His sleeping habits remained unchanged—he consented to lie down for only about five hours out of 24, although he took lazy cat naps while standing up.
August 29, 1954
When he began training again at Belmont on July 1 he seemed a little reluctant to abandon his life of ease, but he prospered nevertheless. He began galloping after two weeks of easy trotting and did so with the same eyecatching, nerve-tingling air of power and command which had made millions of people regard him with an odd mixture of admiration, and (though he was only a horse) envy. When he won the Oneonta Stakes by nine lengths, Owner Vanderbilt began plans to send him to France to conquer new worlds.
Last week, as he trained at Saratoga, the Dancer seemed to be bursting with energy and a lust for excitement. Even after long workouts he bucked and sidled, and had to be gentled before consenting to go to the stables. Then, over the weekend he ran a mile and three-eighths under an exercise rider and pulled up lame—undone, again by his own magnificent strength. It was announced at once that the track would see him no more. "There appears to be no other choice," said Vanderbilt. "He will not race again and will enter stud at Sagamore Farm in Maryland next spring." The Dancer's day of glory was done—but he would now reap his reward—ease, shade and plenty of oats.
Trouble in paradise
THE RUSSIANS, putting more and more emphasis on sport as a medium of propaganda, are running into difficulties which Western fans will recognize, and one other which is peculiar to the Soviet culture.
Item: Ticket scalpers. Soviet Sport, a Moscow contemporary, complains speculators have been making 600% on big sporting events with almost no interference from police.
Item: Drunks. The Ministry of Trade has closed down vodka stands at some stadiums in an effort to control a problem which has reached staggering proportions.
Item: Dirty football. Players have been suspended for it and the whole Moscow team has been warned.
Item: Sloppy officials. The umpiring profession is under investigation on charges of incompetence, timidity and even fraud.
Item: Painted toenails. Despite their coach's dictum that "sport is discipline, will power and toil," Soviet girl athletes who arrived for the European games headed for the department stores instead of the practice field one morning last week and later emerged from their rooms shyly displaying thorough appliqué jobs of lipstick, rouge, mascara, powder and nail polish, the latter daubed thickly on both fingers and toes. Men athletes concentrated on purchases of fancy shoes.
AFTER assaulting automobile-racing records here and abroad for some 30 years and knocking over quite a few, Captain George E. T. Eyston, O.B.E., M.C., a lanky, blue-eyed Briton in khaki pants and work shoes, last week pitted himself and an aluminum paneled MG against a few more records on Utah's Bonneville salt flats.
The little MG was a hotted-up 84-horsepower job with a streamlined body 40 inches high. With Eyston and British-born Ken Miles of Los Angeles alternating in three-hour shifts at the wheel, it became a blurry, moaning streak on the ten-mile circular track.
At the end of their twelve-hour run Eyston and Miles had put 17 records for Class F (1100-1500 cc.) cars into the books, among them the American (flying-start) record for 300 miles, 500 kilometers, 400 miles, 500 miles, 1,000 kilometers, 1,000 miles, 2,000 kilometers, and the International (standing start) record for 500 miles, 1,000 kilometers, 1,000 miles and 2,000 kilometers—all at speeds of 120 mph or better.
Then Donald Healey, designer of sports cars, set ten records in his supercharged Austin-Healey 100, including a flying mile record of 192.62 mph.
Neither has yet touched the flying or standing start record for 33 1/3 miles (one eye closed).
Fish watching (cont'd)
SKIN DIVERS working the depths of Lake Hopatcong in northern New Jersey have all but closed the case of the missing alewives (SI, Aug. 16). After two or three sorties the divers found drowsing schools of them in thick bottom grass at a depth of 30 feet. Having thus simplified, if not solved, the problem of the fresh-water anglers who use alewives as bait, the volunteer divers, all members of the Underwater Fishermen of New Jersey, have tackled another job.
This time it is a combined fish-and fisherman-watching operation around selected ocean jetties. The fish watchers below jot down on waterproof pads the numbers, species and feeding habits of fish, while the fishermen watchers topside—biologists from the state's fisheries lab—note the number, baits and behavior of the anglers atop the jetties. It will be a while before conclusive data is in. For one thing, Jersey water by and large is not the glass-clear wonderworld of the tropics. "At times," admits Nick Nosach, president of the Underwater Fishermen, "it's more like working in a closet." But for all this, the watchers have found a few things to benefit the surface angler.
Often when the angler disgustedly concludes there is not a fish for miles, bass will be stacked up like cordwood around his jetty. "Some of the lures going over even look good to me," reports Nosach, "but the bass don't move. Then I've seen one slap his tail on a rock; out come some bergalls and the bass eats a bergall. You'd think some of these guys would hook a bergall through the tail for bait, but they don't."
Similarly, blackfish are supposed to move away from the jetties to deeper water in midsummer, but the divers are finding blacks hanging in the silty green water in deep holes near the jetty tips. They can hear the blackfish making small clicking noises, and from their stomachs they have taken small green crabs and sand fleas still alive—baits that are easy to get but seldom used in midsummer.
"You can't convince just any guy on a jetty," says Nosach. "Their lines are down there, half the time the bottom hook is buried in sand or there's a crab eating on it. Or they're out on the end throwing their lures away, while in close—four or five feet of water—we see big bass nosing calico crabs out of the sand, spitting out the hardshell and swallowing the soft. With a rake you can get all the soft-shells you need. One guy listened to me and he got a bass."
New Jersey's interest in all this is closely related to the fact that seven or eight million dollars is spent annually there by salt-water anglers, many of them out-of-staters. On a 4th of July, Jersey has counted 92,170 fishing from boats, and nobody knows how many more on piers, jetties, bridges, and thrashing around in the surf. Any data the state can pass on to improve catches will keep the anglers coming back for more.
"We have always felt," Roland Smith, state biologist, says, "that a good number of fishermen are duffers." Watching fishermen has tipped New Jersey's biologists off to a number of things that most fishermen would rather have withheld from the scoffers of the nonfishing world: 1) most fishermen don't get to it until midday, although the best fishing is early morning or late afternoon, 2) the average fisherman spends $5 to $6 to get 726 worth of fish, 3) offshore party boats, often crowded with larking novices and women, catch the most fish, 4) row-boaters catch more crabs than fish, and 5) surf anglers get precious little—in fact, the wild way some surfers go at it, they might as well be standing barehanded at the bottom of Niagara Falls.
Jersey plans to offer its scientific findings to fishermen who care about such things. But it has no notion of forcing its findings on a man; maybe that would spoil his fun.
"There will always be a fisherman who wants to fish the wrong weather and tide, the wrong bait, the wrong way," says Smith. "With everything wrong, he'll catch one big fish and he'll be the happiest man in the world."
The pool players
IT IS difficult for one who is not a "synchronized swimmer" to describe synchronized swimming ("Ever hear of it, Mac?") as a sport, without, shall we say, a certain unsynchronized crassness of tone. The activity is now officially recognized by the A.A.U. Its followers fondly hope it will be included in the Olympic Games. There is no denying that it furnishes a good many young ladies, and even a few young men, in the U.S. with good, healthful exercise. But it was hard, hang it all, not to look around for Billy Rose while watching the national championships held last week in a swimming pool at Santa Monica, Calif.
There was good reason. Synchro-swimmers engage—singly and also in teams of two and four—in exactly the same kind of contortions which are employed by the chorus mermaids in aquatic shows. Synchro-swimmers costume themselves, if possible, even more gaudily. Under the rules of synchro-swimming, a singles competitor spends six minutes cavorting to music, and in so doing executes stunts with such official labels as the Kip, the Dolphin, the Swordfish and the Catalina.
In the championships last week, a Stephanie Witt of Monrovia, Calif. leaped into the pool dressed in a black bathing suit decorated at the navel with a silver trombone, and black stockings adorned with musical notes in silver. Her performance was entitled "A Salute to Glenn Miller," and as she porpoised and splashed she made frequent salutes to the sky. Another young lady wore plaid kilts, plaid stockings and a plaid hat with a feather, and poised with two fencing foils before taking her initial dive. Her act was entitled "Scotch & Water."
The championship went to 19-year-old Joanne Royer who shot an arrow weakly into the pool before diving and demonstrated in the course of something called "The Huntress" that her toenails were painted bright green. She curtsied gracefully to applause, and after the judges made their decision the various girls kissed each other damply. Of course, if the drive to keep American youth out of the soda parlors is to succeed, a good deal of this sort of thing must and will go on.
Secrets of Athens (Ga.)
THIS IS an age when the personal loyalties of ballplayers command attention; as soon as a rising major leaguer piles up enough home runs he can cast about and take his pick of them. This breakfast cereal has the vitamin-packed supercharge he needs. This cigaret suits his taste zone. This bubble-gum wad fits his jowl, and this bat feels just right in his hands. Business representatives with pens in their hands will come arunning to sign him up—representatives from just about everywhere, that is, except the Hanna Manufacturing Company of Athens, Ga. Hanna has been making Batrite bats for 28 years, but as Hanna sees it there is no reason for their chasing anybody.
As long as other bats are being made, including Hillerich and Bradsby's 70-year-old favorite, the Louisville Slugger, a sudden rush to Hanna is unlikely. Yet it happens that this season, proud Hanna has had four major leaguers—four world-champion Yankees—begging for bats.
Hanna and the Yankees met two years ago. "Some fellow name of Molinax or Molinux came to training camp talking about Batrite bats," recalls John Mize, who was then pinch-hitting gloriously for the Yankees. "I had used them way back in semipro ball. In 1952 I began hitting with Batrites—good, hard bats. They wouldn't dent or split. They eventually broke, of course—pitchers are always borrowing your bat. I did a book, How to Hit. Murray Kaufman, who helped me, wrote Batrite thinking they might be pleased to have their bat mentioned. Anybody else would have jumped, but I don't think we even got an answer. Must be funny people."
Yankee Outfielder Hank Bauer borrowed one of Mize's bats, and straightaway ordered his own. Three more Yankees have taken up Batrites since (although one says sheepishly, "Maybe you'd better not mention my name. I've already endorsed another bat.") Casey Stengel is willing to say that there is no better bat made. But Hanna does not hurry. "I wire for bats," says the baffled Yankee road secretary, Bill McCorry, "and then a week, maybe two weeks, they get here."
But Hanna is willing to defend its odd ways. "We're down here in a red brick and frame building—used to be the Georgia Railroad depot," says Dan Greer for Hanna. "We're a stone's throw off the beaten track, you might say. We used to make shovel handles. Then we got to making bats to give Louisville a little competition—21 models in our professional, quality line. But we don't go in for this promotion much. We'd rather put the money in the bat. If our bats are harder, maybe it's our secret treatment. We don't hold seances over the bats, nothing like that. It's chemical. I guess you'd call it a secret, though most anybody could find out if he cared.
"We did think about putting big-name players' signatures on our bats, but just about everybody has been signed. We signed Gene Verble, but he ended up back down here with Chattanooga. We signed a Fred Hatfield and a Charley Maxwell. They went up to the big show, but to tell you the truth I've lost track of them. The way we figure it, nothing you can say will make a bat better. Baseball will be here a long time, and sooner or later, players will be using our bats."
There is reason for Mr. Greer's unruffled assurance. Hanna is now on both sides of the red-hot American League pennant race—a letter from Cleveland arrived a fortnight ago at their converted railroad depot. "By way of introducing myself," it began, "I am Al Rosen, currently of the Cleveland Indians . . ." Having noticed his Yankee rival Hank Bauer slapping grandly at the ball with a Hanna bat, fence-busting Infielder Rosen (lately in a horrible slump and dazedly searching for the cure) ordered half a dozen.
"I marked a 'triple red-rush' on his order," says Mr. Greer. "Maybe ship them out Thursday. Friday's no good. You can't send Al Rosen bats on Friday the 13th. Saturday we're all out fishing, golf, or somewhere. So they might not get off until Monday."
NOT CONTENT with owning a pre-served-egg-and-dried-milk factory in Istanbul, a city where most of the citizenry take their eggs direct from the shell and their milk direct from the bottle with no intervening hanky pank, Murat Gular, a Turk of 26 last week established a new kind of swimming record—achieved the doubtful distinction of swimming across the English Channel without officially leaving the French shore.
Murat waded into the water at Cape Gris Nez at 7:40 one morning, attired in the usual grease and goggles, and accompanied by the usual fishing boat. When darkness fell, however, he was still chugging along far from shore. Tides and a thunderstorm pushed him off course. Finally, at 12:30 the next morning, after 16 hours and 50 minutes in the water, he staggered out of the Channel in rain and darkness to the rocks of South Foreland, near St. Margaret's Bay, Kent. But not a soul was in sight. Nobody hove into sight, either, although the crew of the fishing boat engaged in frantic light flashing. In the end, to keep from freezing to death, Murat swam back to the vessel and was taken back to France.
The next day, backed by a French companion, one M. Lovergne, the crew of the boat and a young Sandhurst cadet who went along for the ride, Murat announced that he was the first Turk ever to swim the big ditch. The London Daily Mail agreed that he had crossed. Something called the International Long Distance Swimming Federation agreed that there was no reason to doubt his tale. Even the Channel Swimming Association, governing body of the sport in Britain, seemed embarrassed. But it insisted that a man who crosses the Channel without being observed by three neutral witnesses has never crossed at all.
PULITZER PRIZE WINNER ON PUTTING
Poet Carl Sandburg, 76, sometime Illinoisan, sometime Michigander, sometime folk songster, now lives in Flat Rock, N.C. and hankers for more golf.
Putt with both eyes on the ball and the club stroking the ball.
Then listen for the clupp-clupp of the ball dropping into the cup.
If one eye is on the ball and the other eye on the cup while putting, eyestrain develops.
Be-cool when you putt, cool as a cube of Cumberland cucumber, cool as a contented cow in green pastures, cool as the crisscross of frost on a windowpane in zero weather.
Good putters talk to the ball and tell it where to go, talking in a monotonously low tone only the ball can hear.
Grant and Lee were both good putters, so was Napoleon.
Pleasant thoughts help while putting.
Putting is related to marksmanship and an instinct for controls and targets.
Annie Oakley would have made a good putter.
Where good driving is superb oratory, good putting is effective whispering.
A soft answer turneth away wrath.