Dog days at the Garden
Dandie Dinmonts wanted upstairs in ring seven, please!" boomed the loudspeaker above the din. Down in the basement of Madison Square Garden 2,537 dogs of 105 breeds snapped, snarled or slept on their benches, sending up a cacophony of canine noise that deafened the ears. A terrified-looking little old lady tightly holding a terrified toy dog threaded her way through the jostling crowd of dogs and people. "They'll never get me to come again," she said with conviction.
True to form and with its normal healthy complement of complaints and confusion, the 79th staging of the nation's most important dog show—the Westminster—got under way last week. Upstairs in the green-carpeted judging rings all was quiet; winners were modest and losers seemed brave. But down below where the stale air, the noise and the waiting wore on the nerves of man and dog alike, feelings were stripped of pretense. Victors gloated openly, the vanquished groaned and the dogs exploded into a yowling bedlam. There were all kinds of dogs in all kinds of moods; sad dogs and happy dogs. There were busy dogs; dogs tasting free food samples; dogs having their portraits painted and being photographed; dogs asleep; dogs being groomed and powdered, scolded and praised.
Suddenly a rumor bigger than the rest bounced across the basement—"The Duke and Duchess of Windsor are here!" They had been discovered unsuccessfully incognito and unattended in the pug section, happily chatting with the line of knitting ladies in charge of the pugs.
February 28, 1955
"We own two, you know," said the duke pleasantly, speaking of his pet pugs, Trooper and Dizzy. The ladies of the pug section beamed. "Go everywhere with us, they do," added the duke. His Highness leaned over and tickled a sour-faced pug under the chin with approving familiarity. He should not have done it. It was the signal. "Oh!...mine too!" came the ecstatic squeals. Cages were flung open, pets plucked up and bosom-borne hopefully toward the laying on of royal hands. The duchess made the first move to get out and, apologizing, they hurried to the sanctuary of a ringside box.
Just before midnight on the second day a barrel-chested bulldog named Kippax Fearnought came out of its continuous sleep long enough to be picked as best dog in the show (see page 25). Thankfully, as the winner lumbered off to a TV show, the rest of the dogs and their owners went home. By the time the white-coated cleaners had moved in, the Garden engineer's cat was out of hiding and the basement was back to normal.
Boxing commissions in two states distinguished themselves last week, one by getting fired and the other by reacting instantly to the magic of a name.
The fired commission was Pennsylvania's, where Governor George M. Leader ousted its three members entire in the first step of his crusade to clean up boxing. Then, one by one, he began dropping shoes, their thuds echoing hollowly in the offices of Herman (Muggsy) Taylor, Philadelphia promoter for the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, President, and Frank (Blinky) Palermo, entrepreneur).
The governor's first shoe was Sleepy Jim Crowley, one of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen, lately selling anthracite and helping run a Scranton television station. The governor appointed Jim to the boxing commission with intimations that he would be chosen chairman.
The next shoe was reminiscent of the appointment of Julius Helfand, Brooklyn racket buster, to chairmanship of the New York commission. Governor Leader picked a racket buster as second member of the Pennsylvania commission—Alfred M. Klein, who was a top investigator for the Kefauver Crime Investigating Committee.
At week's end, Governor Leader was holding aloft another shoe, appointment of the commission's third member, and the suspense was agonizing.
Crowley, more distinguished as a football player and coach than as a boxer—he did some amateur fighting in precollege days—said, "The governor wants us to do a good job and see that boxing is run on a high scale, and we intend to do that."
In another part of the jungle, the New York Athletic Commission listened to the tearful plea of Charlie Brown, a 28-year-old former fighter who wanted back the boxing license he had allowed to lapse in 1949. Chairman Helfand pointed out that Brown's career included 19 bouts, of which he lost 12 and drew four.
"We do not believe," Helfand said, "you have the prospects at your age for making a successful fighting career."
As Jesse Abramson wrote in the New York Herald Tribune, Brown "made en eloquent plea on his own behalf." He told how his early fighting had been without proper training, often on a day's notice.
"I was never knocked out," he said proudly. "I was just as tall then as I am now but I weighed only 152 pounds.... I went back to Florida to live with my mother. I built myself up. I'm now 180 pounds. I'm bigger, stronger, more mature. I'll never fight unless I am in condition.... If you give me a license, I'll prove I'm qualified to fight in my first fight or I'll turn my license back to you."
It was clear that Brown's appeal had warmed the commission's heart.
"If we give you a license, who will manage you?" Helfand asked softly.
"Well, Blinky Palermo..." Brown began.
"Decision of the commission not to grant you a license is affirmed," said Helfand.
It was a dispiriting week for foxhounds. In Newton Abbot, England, the hounds of the South Devon Hunt chased a fox through a backyard and over a five-foot wall only to land en masse in the River Lemon while the fox, undoubtedly grinning, huddled smugly in a bramble patch under the wall. All 16 hounds might have drowned in the swift-running stream but for some girls who helped pull them out. (The Master of the Hunt had to buy them new nylons to replace hose torn in the rescue.)
In Lawsonville.N.C, Judy and Lead, two of the best hounds in the district, chased a fox into an abandoned mica mine. Three hounds which went in with them came out, but Judy and Lead were trapped, apparently having fallen into one of the vertical shafts. They could be heard barking, far inside under the hill. Their owners, .Carlos Martin and Lessel Hawks, enlisted the help of neighbors and friends, dug into the crumbling old mine for a long, dangerous week and finally rescued the dogs, which were thin and hungry but otherwise in good shape.
The fox? No one had seen him for a week, but he was probably writing a cheerful letter to his cousin in Newton Abbot.
MS. found in an ashtray
Every sound intelligence organization maintains on its staff a security officer whose duty it is to go about after meetings collecting scraps of paper for burning. This is not due so much to a love of tidiness as to the fact that generals, admirals and diplomats are given to doodling while they work and doodles can reveal the innermost secrets of a man, sometimes the secrets of an organization.
In the case of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, troubled with inner unrest and attempting to solve its problems in star chamber proceedings, it appeared this week that two organizational needs stand out:
1. A football television plan which will satisfy everyone.
2. A doodle-burner.
Attempting to meet the first need, the NCAA talked for two days last week in Chicago's monolithic University Club, where 12 members of its television committee downed pots of coffee and littered a long conference table with well-filled ashtrays. Objective: to hammer out a compromise plan, acceptable to all and pleasing to none.
The NCAA's "Game-of-the-Week" system (SI, Jan. 10), under which one game has been telecast nationally each week, has displeased Notre Dame (see p. 62), the Big Ten and the Pacific Coast Conferences, which have felt that a bigger share of TV money would go to them under a system of regional telecasts. The Big Ten threatened to pull out of NCAA unless such a method, or acceptable compromise, was adopted.
Conditions of maximum "no comment" security prevailed after the meetings. It was announced only that a plan had been agreed on "in principle" and would be sent on March 2 to member colleges and allied conferences for a mail referendum. What the plan was, no one would say.
But someone had doodled. And no one had burned the scraps. A man with an eye for doodles observed that one conferee had scribbled plaintively: "Taxis are scarce around here." Another had jotted down the dates of all Saturdays this fall and written "national" beside two of the dates. And a third had written "Regional" across the top of his paper and under it inked in the dates "Oct. 22, 29, Nov. 5, 12, 19." Beneath this was a line, then the word "National" and the dates "Sept. 17, 25, Oct. 1, 8, 17, Nov. 24, 26, Dec. 3."
A trained G-2 doodle man would know instantly what evaluation rating to give such scraps of information, but an amateur of doodles and a fan of football leaped to the conclusion that the third doodle was the important one. To him it spelled out the conclusion that the Big Ten had won a compromise providing that on five Saturdays this fall one football game may be televised in each of the NCAA's eight regions and on all other Saturdays one "Game-of-the-Week" would be telecast nationally.
Actually, the Big Ten had wanted nine regionals and four nationals but had been expected to settle for less.
It appeared, because two of the dates, "Sept. 25" and "Oct. 17," were wrong (the Saturdays are September 24 and October 15), that the unknown chronicler had jotted them down in a hurry.
The doodle interpretation was presented to Douglas R. Mills, University of Illinois representative on the committee. As the dates were read off, Mills listened in stunned silence. Then he protested: "But we haven't announced anything yet!"
No announcement, perhaps, but doodling aplenty.
The intuitive decisions of Leo Durocher and Casey Stengel have, from time to time, astonished those who know the game intimately from a seat alongside first base but, in the main, Leo and Casey have done reasonably well. They have good averages.
There is now, however, a beginning groundswell in an area far removed from sport which some day may have a fall-out effect on the Polo Grounds and change the game into something new and different and very possibly terrifying. It is called Operations Research, which has been used to run hotels, railroads and Navy convoys. The question has been asked: Why not let Operations Research run baseball?
O.R., defined by one of its practitioners as "a general process of constructing specific methodologies," has been tried, very quietly, in at least two other sports—football and basketball. The science seems to have had its beginnings in the time-and-motion studies of Frederick W. Taylor, who loosed efficiency upon a world which up to his day had been just poking along, turning out a Rembrandt here, a Babe Ruth there.
The man who applied O.R. principles to football and basketball is Charles M. Mottley of the Department of Defense, a member of the Operations Research Society of America. Mottley sees a relationship between football and ground combat in warfare, he thinks of basketball as "a simulation of aerial warfare" and finds baseball "analagous to a battle between two naval task forces." He claims that with O.R. a losing high school football team was turned into a winning team and that the same could be done with basketball.
Now comes Arthur D. Little, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., hard by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is a successful and respected Operations Research organization whose specialists include chemists, physicists, mathematicians and Warren Berg, an engineer who played baseball for Harvard, pitched for Scranton and Lynn in the Red Sox farm system, coached baseball at Harvard and MIT and was a batting practice pitcher for the Boston Braves.
Berg believes O.R. and baseball ought to get together.
Writing in the company's Industrial Bulletin, Berg pointed out that a baseball manager "makes over 100 crucial and conscious decisions during a two-hour game, and thus most managers 'play the percentage' rather than the hunch."
"Take the fairly common situation of the bases loaded with one out and the defensive team one run ahead," Berg wrote. "Should the infield be positioned back for a double play, in order to cut off the runner at the plate, or half way so that either is a possibility? Obviously, there are probabilities of success here, with each alternative based on many variables. Some of the variables can be controlled, such as the pitcher throwing curves or low balls to increase the odds of a ground ball being hit...."
A brilliant young mathematician named R. Sherman Kingsbury, a member of the Arthur D. Little staff, believes O.R. could help the baseball gate by tracking down factors that make people go to games or stay away; could solve the television problem by scientific analysis of TV's effects; or could even build an average player, by systematic promotion, into a national hero.
But he disagrees to some extent with Berg. He thinks the manager's instincts had better handle most baseball problems.
"If we attempted to furnish enough statistical information to guide strategy, inning by inning," Kingsbury says, "the manager would have to sit with a Univac at his elbow. That, I think, would be getting into the lunatic fringe of Operations Research."
It would, too. It would make Durocher the creature of a machine. It would take from baseball something which is pure and fine and noble, like Stengel's post-game explanations of what happened.
There is, however, a game which is played strictly according to Operations Research principles and was, indeed, designed to be so played. It is not played with ball or bat but with a machine known as a one-armed bandit. You put a coin in the slot and the machine plays against you. It generally wins, too.
Resort operators on the Columbia River have figured out a new bait for vacationing fishermen. They not only guarantee a couple of big salmon per angler, they have arranged with a cannery to put up the salmon with the fisherman's personal label on the can.
This is not all the salmon family has to look forward to. A couple of University of Wisconsin professors have turned over to the Navy a patent on a method which, they say, may be used to divert fish to new spawning grounds.
The reason salmon return to their birthplace to spawn is that they want to spawn and are guided there by a nostalgic nose. Every stream has its own characteristic soil and vegetation and these impart to the water a particular smell, different from the odors of all other streams, thus making it possible for the salmon to recognize his birthplace.
The Wisconsin idea is to condition small-fry salmon to a special odor (anything from My Sin to sourmash bourbon) in the hatchery. The fry would then be turned loose in the ocean to grow and fatten until it was time to entice them to a selected stream by dosing it with the same odor the fish learned to love in the hatchery. The scent would be distributed over the fishes' migration path in such a way as to serve as a road map to the chosen river.
The idea is, of course, only in the small-fry stage, but it has been tried out with bluntnose minnows under laboratory conditions and worked out fine. The Navy's thought is that the system might be used to disperse schools of fish which disrupt sonar detection of submarines and mines.
Sooner or later man is going to prove that he is smarter than fish.
Something for the fan
The optimism of the fight fan is a wondrous work of nature. Like the incoming tide or a woman's riposte, it won't be turned aside. It nourishes itself at rare and irregular intervals which might be even rarer if it weren't for Middleweight Champion Carl Olson.
Bobo, as the newspapers prefer to call him, was his usual dependable self when he turned up in Chicago last week for a routine appearance against a journeyman named Ralph (Tiger) Jones. Displaying his familiar trademarks—a mustachioed frown, a gallery of tattoos embroidered on his arms and a fine skill for boxing, Olson again proved a sometimes questionable point: that there is a current champion who rates the label.
Jones, it might be said, is no proper test of a champ's mettle, and there would be few to argue. But he was fresh from last month's surprise upset over obsolescent Sugar Ray Robinson, and he went after Olson as if he had never heard of his own dismal record as a pugilist. Inching forward in a low-gear shuffle he splattered the surprised and momentarily bewildered champion with a nonstop barrage of dangerous leather.
That was where Olson departed from the practice of most of his fellow champions of the moment. Faced with Jones's obviously determined aggression, Olson refused to play tangle-arm, to clown or otherwise to debase his trade for the safety of his record, now standing at 19 straight. Instead, Carl opened up with the kind of counter-punching reply that caused Joe Louis, another authentic champ, seated at ringside, to say: "It was the best first round I ever saw at a fight."
The pattern of that first round continued right to the end, when Olson received an undisputed decision. Perhaps it was not a fight for posterity to remember. Perhaps Olson is no Stanley Ketchel or Harry Greb or Ray Robinson. But he is a champion who respects his profession, plies it like a professional and keeps the fans' optimism from starving to death.
Warning to coaches who try to keep their teams from running up onesided scores against weak but respected opponents: Arthur Tubbs, a teacher and basketball coach at Inland Lake (Mich.) High School, instructed his team to "hold down the score," got beaten 43-3 and lost his coaching job.
RIGHT DOWN MY ALLEY
Women bowlers I extol,
I watch them quite a lot.
I like them for the frames they bowl
And for the frames they've got.