For a dizzy moment last week Ralph Kiner stood Organized Baseball on its head. In violation of the protective clause that says no player can have his salary reduced more than 25% in a single year, Kiner insisted he be whacked down nearly 40%. Baseball mores of course prevailed, and Ralph will be forced to accept $48,750 with the Cleveland Indians next year instead of the $40,000 he demanded.
Momentarily, however, Home Run Hitter Kiner stood out in the public glint with all the freshness and eccentricity of an Egyptian pharaoh proposing to build a pyramid upside down. Kiner, a thoughtful fellow, says no, his idea was just common sense.
He considers himself the manufacturer of a commodity—home runs. At his peak, with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1949, he manufactured 54, but last year with the Chicago Cubs (at a salary of $65,000) he produced only 22. At 32, he is geared to big money—he lives in an expensive home at Palm Springs' Thunderbird Golf Club in the winter, lives well in the East during the season, and shudders at the thought of a future out of baseball. Fair trading, he thinks, will keep him in business longer. When he was switched to the American League he set out to build up what Wendell Willkie called a reservoir of good will.
"There were players on the Cubs who resented my salary," he said, "and I didn't want any of that in Cleveland. Also—I expect to have a big year this year and I expect to ask for a raise. I've found that people treat you right if you treat them right."
How did he feel about switching to Cleveland? "They won 111 games last year," he said. "That means they were happy 111 times. We only won 64 on the Cubs."
No passage to Moscow
Last Spring when Soviet ice skaters were cleaning up at the world speed-skating championships in Japan, the United States was not represented. The reason? Not enough money could be raised from private sources to send a team. The State Department declined to help, saying the mission was not "meritorious enough." Soviet propagandists had a field day. "Such a rich country," they said, and everyone laughed.
Everyone laughed except Richard P. Shearman, manager of the U.S. team. He was determined that the United States would be represented at the next world speed-skating championships, which are scheduled to be held in February at, of all places, Moscow. He decided to raise the money himself, estimating that $2,500 should be enough to send a modest three-man contingent, enough to insure adequate American representation in the sprint races where American strength lies.
Last week he announced the result of his campaign. Not enough money could be raised from private sources to send more than one skater. The State Department declined to help, saying the mission was not meritorious enough.
There is probably some sort of logical connection between Mr. Shearman's plight and the frequently voiced worry that the United States is going to be clobbered by the Soviet Union in the 1956 Olympics, for, like the worriers, Mr. Shearman is concerned with the possible loss of American prestige at international sports events. Unlike them, he is not worried so much about how we do. He just wants us to get there.
The concept of sport
The worry, mentioned above, over how well United States athletes will do in the 1956 Olympics is, in its implications, disturbing to those who feel that sports are supposed to be fun. This is not meant to be a criticism of those who are trying to organize wholesale training programs for American athletes but, rather, a rueful consideration of the peculiar position the world of sport is finding itself in as a direct result of the explosive flowering of Soviet athletics.
For instance, it is held that a program of carefully supervised intensive training would do much to build up American strength in track and field—the most important Olympic competition—and thus prevent the humiliation of our track and field team in the 1956 Games.
Now undoubtedly this is right. Such a program of carefully supervised intensive training would almost certainly improve the times and heights and distances of our better athletes and would uncover hitherto hidden talents in our lesser-known men. Our track and field team would be, as a unit, stronger and we would be in a good position to defeat the Soviet Union for the Olympic track and field team title.
Except that, technically, there is no Olympic team title in track and field nor any over-all Olympic team title. The Olympic ideal as expressed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, involved competition between individuals rather than nations. Honor to nations would derive from honor to individuals. This lofty ideal was unintentionally ruined and all but destroyed by the adoption of the practice of saluting a winner by playing the national anthem of his country and hoisting his country's flag to the top of the center flagpole. Any American who has had his otherwise well-controlled emotions tingled to the point of tears by the sight of the Stars and Stripes rising against a foreign sky and by the sound of The Star-Spangled Banner ringing out over a foreign land can testify that, one world or no one world, that's the flag and that's the tune he, as an American, wants to hear. By extension, we can understand why a Swede or a Finn or an Englishman might feel the same way.
This attitude is innocent and healthy in itself so long as it is a national pride in the individuals of the nation. But the Soviet Union stands for "collectivism," to use one of the multitude of euphemisms that disguise its totalitarian nature. The failure of an individual does not reflect the weakness of the individual; it implies a weakness in the state. The Soviet track and field team must, as a matter of national policy, be as strong and dominant as Soviet artillery or Soviet diplomacy. It is, therefore, a ward of the state and is nurtured under a carefully supervised and intensive training program. As a result, Soviet athletes win. They may not look upon winning as a particularly gratifying phase of the fun found in track and field. They may not look upon it as fun at all. But they win.
This brings us to a difficult, not easily answered question about intensive organized team-training programs: Do we feel strongly enough about national prestige—for this is certainly a question of national rather than individual pride—to follow the Soviet example and turn the Olympics into a battle between nations rather than a competition between individuals?
We think of Viscount Templewood, president of the British Lawn Tennis Association, who earlier this month discussed the possibility of Soviet tennis players competing at Wimbledon. He outlined the conditions under which the Soviets might be eligible and then added a comment on the Soviet attitude towards sport.
"Russians," he said, "evidently regard athletic victories as evidence of their national superiority. We must refuse to accept this concept of sport."
Coming as it did in a year in which Roger Bannister demonstrated his individual superiority over all the world's milers and Chris Chataway demonstrated his individual superiority over the great Russian runner, Vladimir Kuc, it was a statement that the sportsmen of the world might study before answering the larger question.
Arcaro of Virginia
The foxes of Virginia have been scampering away from hunters and hounds since long before the American Revolution, but it is doubtful that they have ever endured pursuit quite so unique, so grand, so frightening as that which materialized when the Piedmont Fox Hounds met at Philomont on Nov. 23 (mark well the date), 1954. It was on that occasion that Eddie (Banana Nose) Arcaro, premier jockey of the American turf, took his first crack at riding to hounds.
Jockey Arcaro, who had never heretofore assayed anything more uneven than the backstretch at Aqueduct, showed up for the hunt as the guest of Mrs. Richard Lunn (the former Liz Whitney) perched high on a huge hunter named William S. Hart. He was costumed in a cap, a windbreaker and jodhpurs, and looked, among all the big folks in pink coats, something like an exercise boy up on an elephant. His stance was definitely lopsided, for he rode with "acey-deucey stirrups" (the right higher than the left, racing style). Said he, grinning, "I can't get legitimate overnight." But he spurred resolutely to the head of the field and took the first jump—a 4-foot 4-inch fence—like a flea on a kangaroo.
He was startled, nevertheless, by the way William S. Hart went sailing through the air, and in the next flat stretch he hustled along beside top Brush Rider Emmett Roberts and begged plaintively for advice on staying alive. "Grab a handful of mane and hang on until you get the swing of it," cried Roberts. Arcaro was shocked. "Right out here in front of everyone?" he asked incredulously. "Sure," bawled Roberts. "Go ahead." Arcaro hung on. But after a few more jumps his years on horses began to tell; he got "his feet off the dashboard" and leaned into the jumps. In one 80-minute, 15-mile chase after a red fox (which finally retreated to its den) Arcaro took 25 assorted stone walls, fences and chicken coops without blinking an eye.
When the day was done, the old amateurs of hunting were unanimous in their judgment of Old Pro Arcaro: "Cool head, stout heart, good hands, firm seat." Arcaro, however, was still breathing a little hard last week. He confessed: "I sure felt like a gone guinea going over that first one."
The Sugar Bowl Mile
Shortly before the "Mile of the Century" at Vancouver, B.C. last summer, certain thinkers at the National Broadcasting Company had a vision which all but blinded them—why not show the Bannister-Landy struggle on a split screen in the U.S. and devote the other half to a picture of Kansas' Wes Santee racing them by remote control at some track in the States? The delicious scheme fell through—Santee was busy undergoing summer training as a Marine Corps reserve officer—but his feud with the two four-minute milers was only delayed. Next week he will set out to run them into the ground on the track at New Orleans' Sugar Bowl.
Both Landy and Bannister, of course, are now retired, leaving San-tee—apparently the only man alive capable of matching them—as a sort of Robinson Crusoe of the world of track. But to gain the glory he is absolutely certain he deserves he must still conquer them in absentia. From the day he got back to Kansas from Quantico last September he has been training with lung-cracking devotion not only to break the four-minute barrier himself (he ran 4:00.6 and 4:00.7 last June) but to exceed the best performances of his ghostly rivals.
Santee, a tall, stick-thin wire-muscled fellow (6 feet 1 inch, 146 pounds), is still holding forth at the University of Kansas at Lawrence—he is no longer eligible for intercollegiate competition but will not complete his undergraduate work in physical education until this June. He began his autumn conditioning program by running from four to six miles a day around the hilly Kansas campus and by subjecting himself to speed sprints afterward. Since Thanksgiving Day he has been applying himself to what Bannister and Landy call "interval running" and what he terms "paced quarter miles" on the track in the cold, empty Kansas football stadium.
In so doing he has put more emphasis on speed than either of his rivals—both of whom prepared for races by running a quarter mile, walking a quarter mile and repeating the process as many as 10 or 12 times. Santee, garbed in a curious training costume (wrinkled long woolen underwear with a pair of trunks and a turtle-necked sweater yanked on over them), has been running five quarters at increasing speed (58, 58, 57, 57 and 53 seconds) and has been running rather than walking a quarter between each. On top of this, six days a week, he has also run longer distances and short sprints. On the seventh day he rests—or rather he just goes out in the country and runs five or six miles. "Man," he says, "there's nothing finer than to just go out and run on Sunday afternoon."
"I'm in great condition," he says. "I'm a lot stronger than I was at this time last year and you can look for better times this season." For all this he still faces the same dilemma which was his last year—there is no man in the U.S. capable of pushing him. Victor Milligan of Northern Ireland (now a student at Purdue University), who ran 4:05 against Landy and Bannister last summer at the British Empire Games and who was to have opposed Santee in New Orleans, has withdrawn because of lack of conditioning. In the Sugar Bowl Mile, which will be run the day before the football game, Santee will face relatively mediocre competition.
He has, nevertheless, active hopes of breaking four minutes and plans to run three 60-second quarters and then burn the cinders in his final lap. If he misses? Santee—a man with a genuinely royal air who speaks of himself in the third person—will not be discouraged. In time, as a matter of fact, he expects to run 3:55. "Nobody," he said firmly last week, "has any more confidence than Wes Santee."
Put and take
Man's dreams of gain and glory have driven him to conquer the world—and to defeat himself. But when his soul is bruised, he goes fishing and piously consoles himself beside a green and foaming river. In so doing, however, the slippery and self-deceiving old rip simply substitutes a new dream of conquest for the old; he wades up to his hips in icy water and endures clouds of mosquitoes, not for philosophy's sweet sake but in the ego-swelling hope of luring huge trout to the net. The other day he proudly raised a monument to the fact that he has defeated himself all over again—the biggest, most efficient, most expensive trout hatchery in the world went into operation at Rifle Falls, Colorado.
There is nothing new at all in the concept of the fish hatchery. The works of Fo-Li make it evident that the Chinese had mastered the art of artificially hatching fish in 2100 B.C. The Romans constructed huge piscines for fish culture, and during the Middle Ages Germany was dotted with ponds devoted to carp farming. Ludwig Jacobi of Westphalia managed artificial impregnation of trout eggs as early as 1763, and one Seth Green, the father of U.S. fish culture, began hatching trout at Mumford, N.Y. in 1864.
But through all these centuries man labored under the impression that he had outwitted nature. Green and many a U.S. fish culturist who followed him imagined they had made the sportsman's dream of the big trout a certainty, that one had but to hatch millions of fish, release them into streams and lakes and—voilà!—paradise had been gained. At first their hopes had some validity. The flashing western rainbow was successfully transplanted all around the world. Europe's brown trout were brought to the U.S., and in the early 1900s the immortal Theodore Gordon noted, with pleasure, that they grew much larger than the native trout they had supplanted in Catskill Mountain streams.
This heady sense of progress and the heady knowledge that American streams were well nigh endless served to mask certain flaws in early thinking. Man, true, had learned to hatch trout much more efficiently than nature. But, when released, the trout needed food, they needed shelter, they needed pure water. A given stream would support just so many fish, wild or hatcherybred. If more were inserted, all were stunted. If they had insufficient cover or were subject to pollution, they died. More and more hatcheries were built—today every state but two (Delaware and Mississippi) raises trout. The other 46 states maintain more than 500 hatcheries and the federal government runs 92.
Long before they were all built, man began asking himself some embarrassing questions: would not the money used for hatcheries be better spent in assuring or increasing the food supply in lakes and streams, in providing cover and proper pools for trout and counteracting the scourge of industrial pollution? They have never really been answered. There has never been time. Year after year new roads and automobiles have made the myriad streams of the U.S. more and more accessible; year after year more and more millions of Americans have been seized with the dream of catching the big trout.
There are some 18 million licensed fishermen in the U.S. today—almost four times as many as in 1934. From eight to ten million of them, by the best estimates, fish for trout, and though the 600-odd U.S. hatcheries now produce almost 300 million fish annually, demand along endless streams far exceeds supply. The result has been "put and take" stocking, in which legal-size fish (usually eight inches long) are dumped into streams, not to linger and grow, but simply to satisfy the immediate fishing pressure. Colorado's $1,750,000 superhatchery at Rifle Falls, with its 10,400 feet of concrete raceways, its ultimate ability to hatch simultaneously 36 million trout eggs, is a monument to put and take.
The day of universal put and take is not yet here, but even in Colorado, with its Rocky Mountain wilds and its 14,500 miles of trout streams, the time seems to be drawing near. "For anything accessible by good road," one of its fish-department officials says, "the statement that the era of planting hatchery fish, which will promptly be taken out by fishermen, has arrived is absolutely correct." Colorado now has 26 hatcheries in all and its annual increase in fishermen since World War II (about 65,000 a year) is greater than the total number of Colorado anglers 25 years ago.
There will always be private water in the U.S., such as the guarded, sylvan, upper waters of some Catskill streams, and there will always be a few inaccessible mountain areas in which heart-stopping trout will rise to the fly. Few Americans now growing up will ever catch such fish. But then, any trout are better than no trout and the fisherman's capacity for self-delusion is endless; perhaps he will grow to dream of eight-inch rainbows.
LITTLE MEN, WHAT NOW?
Bobsled hit curve
Man thrown clear
He was the one
Picked to steer.