Up Frank Merriwell
This is an article from the Nov. 22, 1954 issue
A young man named Jerry Thinnes struck a noble blow last week against spacemen, robots, supermen and supermice—and in defense of the old Frank Merriwell Idea, which has been losing out lately because of a cynical, childish conclusion that Frank was just too old-fashioned even to make the football team in the era of the split T. Aha—couldn't, eh?
Where was Jerry Thinnes when Western Illinois State College (hereinafter referred to as Macomb, the town in which it is situated) and Eastern Illinois State College (hereinafter referred to as Charleston) began their annual football game last week? Why, Jerry, a freshman quarterback, was sitting in the stands eating hot dogs and cracking jokes with a few sweaterfuls of coeds. Jerry, in fact, wasn't even on the varsity team roster. Just the sort of spot from which Frank Merriwell zoomed to glory many's the time. So did Jerry.
Macomb, to get on with the story, ran out of quarterbacks and a coach ran feverishly into the stands, calling for Jerry Thinnes. Jerry gulped down his hot dog, hustled down under the stands, pulled on a uniform, and galloped out on the field amid wild applause. The score was tied 6 to 6. Jerry threw three passes for a total of 65 yards—the last of them for a touchdown which put Macomb ahead 13 to 6. Is it necessary to report that Charleston later tied the game up 13 to 13, and that it ended in a draw? Of course not—pay no attention to that aspect of the matter. After all, what television actor with a fish bowl on his head has ever really got to the Planet Krypton?
Final and fantastic
The Nielsen people, whose business it is to measure radio and television audiences, have just come up with final figures on two major sporting events of the early fall. The fourth game of the World Series was seen in 15,542,000 homes, the largest television audience for any sporting event ever or, to put it another way, bigger than the audience for the "I Love Lucy" program of the same week. The Marciano-Charles fight, not broadcast to home television sets, had a radio audience of 10,589,000 homes, the biggest radio audience since the 1952 elections. Or, in a word (Nielsen's), "fantastic."
Leather pushers, B.A.
During the mid-'30s there were some 50 college boxing teams banging away at each other before students in black ties and their dates in evening gowns, with bouts sternly halted if the fans so much as cheered in a partisan manner. That's how decorous it was, but it was exciting, too, and since then college boxing never has had it so good. The fabulous University of Virginia stable of boxers enjoyed more campus prestige than the football team.
Now there are little more than a score of colleges which support boxing and the sport's prestige is mighty low. A hardy little band of enthusiasts is trying to reverse the tide.
Among the leaders of the movement is J.T. Owen, boxing coach at Louisiana State since 1946 and co-coach of the American team in the last Olympics, when U.S. boxers won for the first time in history and set a world record of five out of 10 individual titles. After calling a successful boxing revival meeting among nine southwestern colleges, Owen was pretty sure last week that the sport will undergo a rebirth.
Before 1937, college boxing was fought under professional rules. Since then, safety regulations have put more emphasis on boxing, less on fighting. A survey by San Jose State College ranked boxing eleventh among college sports from the standpoint of injuries (football led), finding it more dangerous only than water polo, swimming, tennis and golf. The University of Wisconsin, after studying hundreds of bouts over a four-year period, counted only four knockouts and, even with the use of electroencephalograms, could discover no case of injury likely to be permanent. In other words, no one was knocked punch drunk.
Owen's hardest task is to sell this safety concept to those who equate college boxing with the professional sport or dueling at Old Heidelberg. It's almost as hard, though, to persuade some people that college boxing, with 12-ounce gloves and protective headgear, is worth watching.
Well, Coach Owen believes it makes a better show than some recent TV bouts, and to back this up he notes that no pro card at Baton Rouge has drawn more than 500 fans in many a year, whereas L.S.U. averages better than 9,000 customers a home match. There is little of gore and bruises in college boxing, but Owen holds that few in a TV audience want gore, preferring action to the precautionary clinching which is tolerated in so much professional boxing.
He is cooking up a little scheme to interest the TV networks in his revival movement. If he succeeds, college boxing may come back with a rush.
The law and the profits
While the New York State Athletic Commission was wondering aloud last week whether it should hold just a hearing or, more sternly, an actual inquiry into the hoodlums' monopoly of professional boxing, the Supreme Court of the United States was being asked to let the Department of Justice take up the troubled question of whether the International Boxing Club of New York, Inc., et al., is a violator of the antitrust laws.
The Department of Justice contends that boxing, though a sport, is rightly subject to antitrust regulation. The IBC, according to the government, has sewed up the top boxers and the principal arenas where championship fights can be presented. It has promoted or participated in the promotion of all but two of the 21 championship bouts held in the United States since June 1949, when it took over the sports empire once ruled by Mike Jacobs.
Back in 1922 the Supreme Court ruled that baseball is a sport and not a business covered by the antitrust laws, a decision in which the IBC concurs heartily and which it would like to see applied to boxing. There is, apparently, only the dimmest possibility that the Supreme Court, if it rules against the IBC, would feel required to reverse its old decision on baseball because, it is pointed out, baseball grew up on the assurance that it was not subject to the Sherman Act. It developed its farm system on that assurance and a reversal would mean that baseball as we know it, if not civilization, would perish.
Only last year the Supreme Court upheld its 1922 decision in a suit brought by George Earl Toolson, a pitcher, against the New York Yankees. Toolson contended that the monopolistic magnates had deprived him of a happy, productive life in baseball by putting him on the ineligible list when he refused to report to Binghamton. Had Toolson won, baseball's reserve clause, which makes a ballplayer the slave of the club that owns him, would have gone out the window, rich clubs would have been able to buy all the good players and if you think the Athletics were lousy last year....
Well anyhow, Toolson lost. But the issue was raised again last week as the government argued that, baseball to one side, boxing was indeed an interstate business subject to the antitrust laws. There was no television in 1922, the government pointed out, and television is a mainstay of today's big-time boxing. A combination of TV and IBC, the government feels, has put boxing definitely into interstate commerce.
The IBC is a nice word for James D. Norris, who together with his associate, Arthur M. Wirtz, and Madison Square Garden Corporation owns 80% of IBC and is its president. Norris' presence in the situation, and stress laid by the government on TV, creates possible implications for hockey. Hockey is widely televised and Norris is a big man in that sport, too. He is chairman of the board of the Chicago Black Hawks. His sister, Marguerite, is president of the Detroit Red Wings. The Garden, in which the Norris family holds much stock, operates the New York Rangers.
Those who sympathize with Toolson's inability, because of the reserve clause, to seek a job on some pitcher-hungry major-league team after he refused the Binghamton transfer, might consider the typical hockey player's plight. An amateur hockey player of professional promise becomes the property, exclusively, of any National Hockey League club which first announces to NHL headquarters that it is interested in bargaining with him. If he refuses the club's offer he probably cannot play for any other NHL team. In baseball a player does not become a slave until he has signed his first contract.
If the Supreme Court thinks it is having a rough time understanding the situation in boxing (Justice Stanley Reed seemed to be under the impression last week that the issue being argued had something to do with wrestling), consider what might happen if it were asked to straighten out hockey which is not only interstate but international.
42 miles, 676 strokes
Leonard Nash lined up his last shot carefully. His ball lay teed high upon some rubble in the street gutter, so he knew he wouldn't top it. The hole at which he was aiming was larger and higher than usual. In fact it was a mop pail placed right in the middle of the doorway of the 7 Palms Cafe in Palmdale, Calif. After a careful sizing up, Nash chipped at the ball and up it went gently into the bucket. His final score: 678 strokes. The moment was tense. The crowd of 2,500 quieted as Nash's opponent, Jim Rogers, prepared for his turn. His club came down and around in a perfect arc and the ball which was lying at the foot of the bar shot up and into the pail with a clank. Rogers leaped in the air with glee. He had won with a score of 676.
So ended one of the zaniest golf matches in history. It all started on a recent night in a Pasadena bar. Jim Rogers and Leonard Nash, both high-80 golfers in their late 20s, had just played a round and Nash had won.
"It was luck," claimed Rogers.
"It wasn't," said Nash.
"I could beat you any time, any course," said Rogers.
"I could even beat you playing over the mountain," replied Nash.
"It's a bet. One buck," said Rogers.
The mountain, to Rogers and Nash, is the high, wild Angeles crest which separates Greater Los Angeles from the desert and over which both men drive every day to work from Pasadena to Palmdale. Since neither man is one to welsh on a bet, on Thursday, Oct. 28 they met at the juncture of Foothill Blvd. and Angeles Crest Drive, both prepared for combat. Nash had purchased 100 old driving balls for two cents apiece and Rogers had a pack of new ones. Both men came armed with two clubs, a number-four iron and a putter. At the bar, weapons had been restricted to these. The question was: Which one could get from Pasadena over the mountains 42 miles to Palmdale in the fewest strokes.
At exactly noon the golfers teed off. Their aim was to stay as near to the winding, climbing highway as possible. Once Nash hit a twanging low shot which seemed like a sure winner. Unfortunately for him, it hit a descending Buick, bounced back, rolled crazily down the road and ended up in a clump of brush 10 yards below the startled golfer. But Nash made good shots too. Once he hit what will probably go down on record as the longest drive in history. It carried over 5,000 feet. He had sliced off into a mile-deep canyon.
During the match, Nash and Rogers overcame every sort of hazard, including tunnels, bridges, huge boulders, drainage ditches, cliffs, pavement, acres of tumbleweed. By the third day, after spending two wakeful nights in sleeping bags, Nash and Rogers ran into the worst hazard of all, the sand trap. This particular one was the Mojave Desert.
By dark of the third day the play had advanced to the outskirts of Palmdale. As the competitors said afterward, "We were walking on our stumps." With a caravan of 50 curious cars bringing up the rear and 2,500 spectators lining the course in front, Rogers and Nash played it safely down the main street of Palmdale into the center of town, to the 18th hole. Rogers was leading by a healthy six strokes. But Rogers shot for the bucket in the cafe doorway and missed. He shot again and missed. His lead was sheared. He shot again and again and finally on the fifth try, he holed his ball to win by two strokes. Later, with feet propped high and arms adangle, Rogers, forgetting the 128 balls they had lost during the match, said, "It'll be an annual affair." Nash added, "Maybe next year we'll try another course. L.A. to Las Vegas or something."
We received an impressive-looking bulletin this week from the Bureau of Industrial Service Inc.—a pretty impressive name itself—alerting us to the fact that "electronic testing is used for absolute uniformity" in the manufacture of the new Spalding Dot golf ball with the Dura-Thin cover. "Hence," the bulletin assured us, "all Dots hit alike," and then it swept up to its climax: "If anything goes to pieces with your golf next season, it will be your game—not the ball."
Well, that's a comforting chunk of knowledge. All these years we've never been quite confident enough about our game to pack up and join the winter circuit. Why were we mired in the 90s? Was it our swing? Or was it the equipment? For better or for worse, now we'll know.
Crazy mixed-up game
Last December, Canadian biologists came out of the woods with the news that an alarming number of the moose in Nova Scotia are losing their minds. Their senses dulled and nerves disordered, the Nova Scotian moose thrash aimlessly through the brush, tangling antlers in thickets and butting morosely into trees. Some seem to have lost all fear of man, which, of course, is about as crazy as a moose can get.
Until this happened, the moose had been making a grand comeback from near-extinction on the Nova Scotian peninsula. Isolated on their peninsula and protected from hunters for 20 years, they were multiplying prodigiously. Faced with a growing population of crazy moose, the biologists wasted no time shipping the brains of afflicted moose to Dalhousie University in Halifax and to the Boston Neurological Institute to learn that the moose brain—specifically the nerve sheathing at the base of it—was indeed deteriorating. Virus or bacteria may be causing this, but at the bottom of it, the biologists have believed all along, diet is at fault. Possibly Nova Scotia no longer affords the proper food balance to sustain a sound moose mind in the big moose body.
The moose being by nature a creature of simple tastes, this diet problem would seem to be equally simple. A cobalt derivative did restore the sanity of some moose but failed with others. After a year experimenting with diets and studying the plants on which moose browse—a job complicated considerably by the fact that the crazy moose are now eating almost everything—the biologists still don't know what makes the moose mad. And it may be years before they find out.
This method of probing into the disordered life and diet of the moose to cure its madness seems, at least to the nonscientific mind, a trifle crude. It suggests that scientists, perhaps isolated too often on their own peninsulas, are as prone to confusion in a crisis as any moose. In laboratories, all manner of beasts have been starved and fed all manner of things for the general benefit of humankind. In this outrageously complex age, the human mind is as sound as a dollar—well, sounder anyway than the shattered mind of the Nova Scotian moose. We have daily pressures that would kill a moose, but we are eating well and can stand them.
The proper direction should be clear to any scientist. Go not only among the moose, but also look around at human plenty. Note the vitamins and minerals consumed. Find out what it is—riboflavin, protein enrichment, yoghurt, or sugar-coated Corn Pops—that has kept us steady under pressure. Go then and try likewise on the moose. And go before it is too late. Go to it before this craze spreads through the north woods and all the moose are mad, all harking to the shrill, eerie wailing of an inner world and deaf to the provocative bellow of the hunter's moose call.
Spares to Spare
Donald Healey, the British designer-driver who set a sports-car record of 192.62 mph at Bonneville Flats last August in his Austin-Healey 100, entered two versions of the newer 100-S in Mexico's fifth annual Pan-American road race, and for each car he provided 35 spare tires.
"Tires are the main problem," he explained before the race. "It's necessary to have various thicknesses of rubber—a nine-millimeter thickness for speeds up to 120 mph, over mountains and curving roads, a four-millimeter thickness up to 150 for the straights, and then a two-millimeter thickness for the last dash into Juarez."
The tires were cached in advance at dumps along the 1,912-mile course. First tire change was planned for a point only 180 miles from the start in tropical Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Not only tires but air pressures and gear ratios were changeable. Healey planned to use 35-pound tire pressures over the mountains, 50 pounds on the straightaways. He would change gear ratios en route, too, using a 2.9-to-one ratio for speeds up to 135 mph and 2.7-to-one where conditions warranted any sustained speed over that.
Well aware that road racing is a dangerous sport—three drivers and six spectators were killed in last year's Pan-American—Sir Donald was taking safety precautions. A thin-lipped, bright-eyed man who looks as if bucket seats were designed for his compact build, he planned to alternate at the wheel with Driver Lance Macklin in one of the Austin-Healeys.
"But we won't ride together," he said. "I think it's dangerous."
He explained that it takes some miles for a driver, like a baseball pitcher, to "warm up" to a point where he can take corners with the speed needed to win races. The danger comes when the driver's alternate takes over and, tempted by the competitive instinct of racing men, tries dangerous cornering before he is ready for it simply because he has been sitting for miles alongside a man who was doing the same thing after adequate preparation.
Instead, Healy figured to drive ahead of Macklin in another car or, if necessary, fly ahead in a Beechcraft Bonanza which would carry two mechanics to stopping points.
Drivers of the other 100-S, Carroll Shelby and Roy Jackson-Moore, were to ride side by side throughout the race. Healy didn't like the idea at all.
A buttonhook pass
Caused our team to lose.
The lads didn't wear
Their button shoes.