Across the land, small-town bands tootled baseball's annual recessional; Dusty Rhodes (see page 21) and fellow heroes were homeward bound. The sound had scarcely died away before there was fresh bugling:
•The new college football season produced more big crowds; 76,204 fans saw the nation's No. 1 team, Oklahoma, beat Texas 14-7 and 69,607 turned out to see Michigan hand Iowa its first defeat, 14-13.
•The hockey season promptly got underway for its long, six-month grind, with the Detroit Red Wings beating Toronto, 2-1: It looked like a flying start in Detroit's bid for a seventh straight National Hockey League title (see page 60).
October 18, 1954
•Cheers went up in racing for 80-year-old Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, dean of trainers. Sunny Jim realized a lifetime ambition when the Fitzsimmons-trained Nashua, Eddie Arcaro up, won the 65th running of the Belmont Futurity (see page 26).
•History was made in trotting as Scott Frost became the first two-year-old in the history of trot and pace gaited horses to turn in a two-minute mile in a scheduled race.
•Two fathers, an ocean apart, took steps to see that their young sons got off to proper starts. In London, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been giving boxing lessons to Prince Charles, decided that the boy (six next month) is ready for a sparring partner closer to his weight division. Selected to trade punches with the Prince: Stephen Rutter, a 45-pounder of the same age, son of a U.S. Embassy official.
At the same time, a surf caster named Wallace Pinkham, registered as a contestant in the Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) Striped Bass Derby, decided to take his 12-year-old son, Wallace Jr., out with him and "teach him how to catch a bass." The boy, paying close attention, watched his father cast and promptly reel in a 55-pound, 9-ounce striper, largest in derby history.
Snavely in paradise
A lot of people in the big time go around protesting that they hate it all and would really prefer the peace and quiet of the small time. Very few of them ever get around to making the break and those who do sometimes discover that they miss the rat race they have left behind. Last week seemed a proper time to check up on a big timer who went small time and has stuck with it. This would be Carl Snavely, for a quarter of a century the feared and respected "Grey Fox" of the big-time college gridirons, now in his second season of conducting low-pressure football exercises at Washington University in St. Louis. How goes it with Snavely? Well, by his own telling of the tale, the Fox has found himself a sort of small-time paradise.
"I sleep nights!" exclaimed the former coach of Cornell and North Carolina, the onetime mentor of the immortal "Choo Choo" Justice. "Even the night before a game, I get in my nine hours. I have time for my family. I even get in a little golf. And I don't have the fear of impending catastrophe that was always with me before. It's wonderful."
Standing on the sidelines of Francis Field, the modest 10,000-seat stadium on the university campus, Coach Snavely looked like a man who was getting his proper rest. His deep-set blue eyes were clear and untroubled. Lean and muscular, he looked closer to 40 than to his actual 60 years.
"I had reached the point at North Carolina," Snavely ran on, "where I wasn't having any fun. And when football isn't fun any more, a coach ought to make a change or get out of the game entirely."
(The fun at North Carolina had been seriously diminished by three losing seasons in a row, and North Carolina officials and alumni had taken small comfort from the over-all Snavely record of putting two teams in the Sugar Bowl and another in the Cotton Bowl over a period of four seasons.)
"Fun," said Carl Snavely, waving a hand in the direction of 60 members of his squad out on the field, "fun is what those boys out there are after. They're not out there now because they have to be. Not one of them is getting a scholarship, a job or a special privilege of any kind. They're here at Washington to get an education and football is just what it should be everywhere—a game."
An eager undergraduate came running up and tugged at Snavely's sleeve.
"Coach," he said breathlessly, "there's a fellow in my dormitory who stands about six feet five and weighs 250 at least. I told him he ought to come out for the team."
"Fine, fine," smiled the Fox, showing his teeth, "tell him to come out by all means. We can use a big boy like that."
(This was the same Carl Snavely who did a daily dawn-to-midnight trick during the football season at North Carolina, then set out after the final game to beat the countryside for playing talent and scholarship money.)
"At North Carolina," said the new Snavely mildly, turning to his interviewer, "the emphasis on winning was out of all proportion. Here at Washington we have a game to think about every week, but there isn't that desperate demand for victory."
(In a blistering farewell to the big time, Snavely told members of the American Football Coaches Association in January, 1953: "The coach must win his share of games. And what is his share? Obviously, it should be 50% because where there is a winner there has to be a loser. But for the football coach the law of mathematics surrenders to strange computations. Fifty per cent is not enough.")
Even if there were a strong appetite for winning football among the Washington University alumni, Snavely would have no serious worries at present. He won seven out of nine games last season and beat the Missouri School of Mines (58-14) and Illinois Wesleyan (52-7) for a flying start this year. (Washington took a 27-0 beating from Wayne University last Saturday—possibly just to prove winning isn't everything.) And if you have never heard of these schools, then you stand convicted of never having heard of Rolla, Mo., which happens to be where the Missouri School of Mines has deemphasized football almost to the vanishing point.
These are the kind of teams Snavely now has on his schedule, making it not too difficult to see why he sleeps at night. But don't jump to the conclusion that the Washington University Bears aren't getting the full Snavely treatment. He still uses motion pictures to point out the team's mistakes just as he did at Cornell and North Carolina, and he gets a little tough as he drills his squad in the single wingback offense which he still prefers.
"Dumbest team I ever saw!" he bellowed from the side lines during a scrimmage snafu the other day.
"Actually," he explained hastily to a bystander, "this is probably the smartest team I ever coached. I shouldn't bawl them out—after all, they're out there playing for fun."
The officials of Washington University are delighted both with their low-pressure football (Washington once had big-time ambitions of its own) and with Carl Snavely.
"Our program was ridiculed in some quarters," says Chancellor Ethan A.J. Shepley, "but it now has earned the respect of people generally. I think the trend is in our direction. As for Coach Snavely, he has told me that his experience at Washington has been a joy to him."
Only one question remains. What does the coach of a team like the Missouri School of Mines have to say after seeing his boys take a 58-14 drubbing from Snavely's low-pressure team? Probably went back home to Rolla, Mo. and told his wife: "Lord, what a rat race up there in St. Looey! Give me the small time!"
Perfect defensive football, to the purist, is perfect football. But to a vast football audience, made up in large part of the same fans who cannot stand a pitcher's duel in baseball, nothing could be less exciting.
Last week in Dover, Ohio the non-purists had their day—or, rather, their minute. The score after three quarters of tight defensive play was Dover High 7, Zanesville 0. Then the dam broke. On the first play of the final quarter a Zanesville back named Donis Toler ran 36 yards for a touchdown. Zanesville converted to tie the score 7-7, then kicked off to Dover. Not to be outdone by Toler, Dover's Bud Mears took the kick on his own 20 and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. Dover converted to lead 14-7, then kicked off to Zanesville. This time Zanesville's Doug Palmer got the ball on his own 10 and ran 90 yards for a touchdown. Total time lapse from the first dash to the last in the running backs' duel: 58 seconds.
Just for the sake of winning, and, possibly, to please the nonpurists, Zanesville picked up another touchdown before game's end to wrap it up 20-14.
Oil and troubled waters
At the mouth of the Housatonic River, between Connecticut's fine old English-named towns of Milford and Stratford, lie salt-water marshes. Two thousand native ducks live here year round. They are joined in October by several thousand migratory birds which wing down from Canada. The result: one of the finest duck hunting areas along Long Island Sound.
But the shooting in the Housatonic marshes this year will be terrible. Twelve miles to the east lies New Haven harbor. On a warm humid day there two weeks ago the watchman supervising the loading of bunker oil aboard the Perth Amboy Barge No. 1 succumbed to the drowsy numbness and fell asleep. The oil continued to pump relentlessly into the three compartments of the barge. The Perth Amboy No. 1 drank up all it could hold and then the thick black oil began to pour over the side. One thousand barrels, or 50,000 gallons, slipped into the harbor before the error was discovered. Tides and currents swept the oil slick down-harbor and to the west. Like a finger-painter the spreading oil left a running black smear along the beaches at Mil-ford and West Haven.
The remorseless flow of the waters brought the oil to a point off the Housatonic's mouth. The black and broadbill ducks sallied forth from the marshes to feed in the open water offshore. They found themselves bathing in gummy oil. It coated their feathers, stopping the flow of the ducks' own natural oils. It prevented them from preening them-selves; water soaked into the feathers, making the ducks heavier. They sat lower in the water, had great trouble flying and diving for food. Hundreds died of starvation. Eye infections blinded others.
Attempts here and there to clean the ducks with kerosene killed the patients. Having already molted and sprouted winter plumage, they will not be able to shed their oil-soaked feathers—those that survive—until next spring.
Stephen Pachl, president of the New Haven Sportsmen's Club, and W. B. Woodring, chairman of the Oil Pollution Committee of the New Haven Sportsman's League, have registered strong protest. They will ask the Army Engineers (who are responsible on the federal level for bringing a complaint) and the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut to prosecute.
The Housatonic marshes case is the worst in years for the area, although tankers have long been a minor nuisance, pumping bilge oil offshore where tides carry in the slick. Despairing conservationists see little hope of curbing oil pollution in the future. The current laws leave gaping loopholes for careless or wanton evasion.
Meanwhile, ducks will continue to die in oily shrouds and hunters will be left holding a skimpy bag.
British sportswriters screamed last week that England had been had again by the Russians and they weren't referring to anything Clement Attlee has done lately. The occasion was the drooping back from Moscow of London's Arsenals, once the wonder-team of soccer. The Moscow Dynamos whipped the Arsenals 5-0 and the derisive, jeering whistles of Soviet fans have not yet died down in British ears.
It began with a cordial invitation from the Russians that the Arsenal team might like spending a day or so in Moscow for purposes of enjoying football and maybe a fish dinner. The Arsenals said they would be delighted. The Russians said how about picking the Russian team later because, after all, the Soviets would want time to be sure they were providing adequate opposition. The Arsenals said of course, happy to meet any of your boys.
For days before their arrival at Dynamo Stadium the Arsenals were touted to the Russian people as England's finest. Only two years ago they were that indeed but, what with age and a dully satisfied management which has taken on no young recruits, the team is not what it once was. Its present rank is 15th in the 22-team First Division of the English League. The Dynamos are leaders of the Russian First Division. Once past the Iron Curtain, though, the Arsenals were presented as the best the world of darkness and capitalism could offer, according to Radio Moscow's view of sport.
The game was a rout of the British. Toward the end of it the Russian spectators were either walking out on the fiasco or whistling—Soviet equivalent of the Bronx cheer. When the Dynamos made their last two goals, the Russian fans did not deign to cheer but roared with laughter because the points had been scored so easily. And as the dejected Arsenals trailed wearily off the field their hosts bade them farewell with catcalls and cries of "Clowns!" and "Comedians!"
One or two Russian sportsmen made more appropriate comment. Mikhail Semichastny, who was captain of the Dynamo team which in 1945 played and beat England's Chelseas 5-4, summed it up: "This Arsenal is not the great Arsenal which I knew. They do not have the bold ideas which I remember when we played them. It was surprising to me that so many of them are not young men."
Back in London, the Arsenal players read accounts of British disgust, including headlines like the Daily Herald's "RETREAT FROM MOSCOW." The Express offered a pithy report. "[The Russians] are not easily amused but before the battered Arsenal had crawled out of the floodlit Dynamo Stadium tonight 75,000 Russians were laughing like kids at a pantomime. The Arsenal had come here with all the ballyhoo of a favorite circus coming to town...And then it was five goals to nil and the crowd was tossing peaked caps and laughing fit to bust...."
Also fit to bust were Englishmen who have seen their prestige in soccer, a game they originated and saw grow to a world-loved sport they dominated, spilled over with red dust. It is poor consolation to them that their teams are held to be the best-behaved. They would like a few goals, too.
Peanuts and Premonitions
A stock car race driver puts up with a lot. He is away from home most of the time, often running a couple of meals, a shave and a night's sleep behind schedule, driving up to 2,000 miles a week from track to track. He'll blearily tinker a carburetor to perfection all one night, then lose out because of a faulty transmission. If everything holds together and he finishes in the top money, his car is torn apart by officials to see if he cheated. A winner no sooner has a $1,000 check in his hand and, zip, it's gone—a big slice of it for his pit crew and another slice and another and another for repair bills along his trail of broken parts. A top man can win $30,000 a year and take home less than $10,000. And, speaking of trouble, back home there's the wife nagging him to settle down to something with a future—or at least something with an old age. On top of all this, of course, in one skidding, screeching, dusty, hot race he may collide with his best friend and go flying through the fence upside down.
What makes a man go in for such things? Sheer love of the sport, the stock car drivers insist. In the six years since the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing started a national championship program for modern stock cars, more and more good drivers have joined the scramble. When it ends on the 31st of this month, the 1954 Grand National championship will have been the biggest yet: a record $220,550 in prizes going to a record 340 drivers in 33 national championship races.
Many stock drivers have come from older types of racing and have brought with them fine old superstitions whose origins fade into the dust-obscured past. Here—give or take a little for individual differences—are the four things most drivers consider unlucky: 1) peanuts, 2) the color green, 3) the number 13 and 4) women relatives.
A man who doesn't race can say bosh to all this. Cars have been scratched from races because peanuts were spilled in or around them, but, getting right down to it, even the staunchest pea-nut-phobes are stumped for proof of a peanut working its evil. It is not hard, however, for drivers to justify their other superstitions. Last year Red Fowler was killed in a green No. 13. Several years earlier, Fonty Flock announced he was out to break the jinx, put on a green racing suit and crashed into a green car. As for women relatives, what more proof than Johnny Concannon's mother? A wheel from son Johnny's big racing car flew into the stands at Langhorne, Pa., and singled Mrs. Concannon out of a crowd of 10,000. Just three weeks ago at Langhorne in a 250-mile stock car race the jinxes were still proving themselves. On the 13th lap Al Neal's car flipped and caught fire. Then after 13 drivers had climbed from wrecks unhurt, novice Harvey Eakin blew a front tire, turned over three times, ploughed through the fence and landed unconscious in a bog 100 feet beyond. And who won? Herb Thomas, the beak-nosed 1953 defending champion who avoids 13 at all times, properly shuns green around the track and whose wife doesn't allow him peanut butter even back home in Sanford, N.C.
There is sign of a new unsuperstitious order coming onto the tracks. Piling up points steadily through the year, winning third place at LeHi, Ark. last week, another North Carolinian, 40-year-old Lee Petty, was comfortably ahead of the field and almost a shoo-in to take the national title away from defender Herb Thomas.
Petty's disregard for superstitions is out-and-out heresy. He'd as soon eat peanuts or wear green on race day as any other—in fact, he once drove a green car. One concludes from his career that the heretic who can walk away from his first dozen bashed cars has it made. "I never took stock in superstitions," Petty claims. "First race I was in I turned over. In 1949 I turned over four times in five races and won the other one. Then in 1950 turned over twice, won three races. Next year I turned over again—brand new Plymouth. I was getting my bellyful of wrecks, lost $5,000 more than I won in three years. Don't know why I stayed at it; looks like racing got in my blood. Turned over again in 1952—drove right through a bungle of 17 cars, was right clear when one car backs up, hooks me and over I go. Then last year I didn't turn over, won five grand national races. I don't go for these superstitions, but I do go for premonitions. I got a premonition right now about Herb Thomas. He's a tough one chasing me, but I got a premonition he won't catch me."
It used to be that the least likely way to settle a bet about a football player's weight was to look it up in the program, but now, in the Big Ten at least, all that has been changed. Big Ten program listings this fall are certified pure and accurate.
In the past a coach who wanted to confuse the enemy scouts could indulge in a little loose weight-guessing and issue a program listing that would never win the approval of a Bureau of Weights and Measures.
Last May a seven-man committee of the Big Ten met at Purdue and laid down an honest weight policy which went into effect this season.
"It was getting to be a joke," one of them explained. "Up in the press box someone would say so-and-so weighs 210, program weight." Even the spectators were beginning to snicker. And the system was no longer fooling scouts.
So when members of the University of Wisconsin football team were weighed recently the scales were checked before and after by the Madison city sealer. What's more, a certified public accountant read off the figures.
It turned out that most of the returning players weighed more than the official weights listed for them a year ago and, while they might be regarded as healthy, growing boys, the discrepancies in some cases were extraordinary. Tackle Robert Kanovsky was listed last year at 200 even, this year at 237. Tackle Martin Booher was found to weigh 246, as against last year's 215. Guard Norman Amundsen weighed in at 222, though listed last year at 195. And so it went.
Alan Ameche, Wisconsin's famous fullback, appears to have a poundage which fluctuates enough to confuse any scout, program or no program. As the C.P.A. called it off this time he weighed 210, was listed last year at 205 but actually started last season at 220 and ended it at 214. This spring he reported at 230 and required new shoulder pads. He got down to 220 during spring training. When practice began this fall he reported at 208, after six weeks at a Reserve Officers Training Corps camp in Texas, where spaghetti is not often on the menu. Then he moved up to 210 for the official weigh-in. Alan says he is now on a diet, eating only one spaghetti meal a day, instead of his usual two.