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EVENTS & DISCOVERIES

April 25, 1955
April 25, 1955

Table of Contents
April 25, 1955

Events & Discoveries
Spectacle
Kansas City A's
Column Of The Week
  • Intrigued by Jackie Robinson's new method of breaking up a double play, Columnist Arthur Daley turns inquiring reporter to determine the legality of the strategy and gets varied reactions from Leo Durocher, who screams no, and Warren Giles, who says yes

Motor Sports
Horses
Fisherman's Calendar
Acknowledgments
Bowling
Sports Court
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back
  • A salute to some who have earned the good opinion of the world of sport, if not its tallest headlines

EVENTS & DISCOVERIES

Spring comes sadly to Montreal, Year of indecision, Australia, Bobo Olson discovers his tongue, Swimmer tries dire straits, Coexistence in Britain, Puppy no mummy

BONJOURTRISTESSE

This is an article from the April 25, 1955 issue

When word reachedMontreal that Detroit's Red Wings had beaten the Canadiens for hockey's StanleyCup, Montrealers cried themselves to sleep. All week before the deciding gametheir radios had blared a bouncy ballad, a chanson √† répondre, which sang theglory of Maurice Richard, the Canadiens' suspended indispensable man. Itsrefrain:

C'est MauriceRichard
Qui est si populaire,
C'est Maurice Richard
Qui score tout l'temps.

Canadien fansconsoled themselves that they had beaten Detroit three times on home ice, hadlost only on foreign soil and without Richard. Radio stations put the song onice until next year when, as the ballad says, Richard "will return again toscore for the Canadiens."

RUMBLES DOWNUNDER

Like a faucet inthe middle of the night, the bickering over the 1956 Olympic Games in Australiadrips on. (Drip, drop, drip, drop, drip, drop.) Four years ago it was thestadium: whether to hold it in the 90,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Grounds, whichdidn't want the contours of its cricket pitch disturbed, or in the nearbyCarlton Oval, which the rival Melbourne Cricket Club didn't want to seeenlarged. Then it was housing: whether to take over the army's Albert Parkbarracks or spend scarce housing materials and money on an Olympic Village.Then it was Labor politicians objecting to the plans for a modernistic newswimming stadium in Fawkner Park; they called it alienation of park land. Therewas even a question whether official starting guns could be imported into thestate of Victoria (which contains the city of Melbourne) because they violateda local firearms ordinance.

Through it all,Avery Brundage, a Chicago lawyer who doubles as president of the InternationalOlympic Committee, had trouble holding his peace. Early this month Brundagedecided to fly out to Melbourne to see for himself. His first words wereencouraging: "I see nothing to warrant serious criticism.... There arestill 18 months to go."

After closerexamination, Brundage showed doubts: "The fact is there is nothingfinished.... It is possible to do the job with credit to Australia, but judgingfrom the record to date it is a grave question whether it will be done." Ashe departed, Brundage sounded frankly pessimistic: "There is a remotepossibility Melbourne could lose the games.... All the other nations want thegames to be held in their countries."

Although a 1953Australian Gallup Poll showed 17% of the Aussies opposed to holding theOlympiad, the dissenters have been far louder than they are effective. Despitesporadic interruptions by a chronic carpenters' strike, Labor Party politickingand the cricket season itself, work on converting the Melbourne Cricket Groundsand enlarging its capacity to 125,000 has been under way for nearly two years.Olympic Park, with its huge new swimming stadium, velodrome for cycling races,two football fields and auxiliary running track, is developing into a reality.There are ample funds for the 700-unit Olympic Village, just seven miles out oftown; but, since it is primarily designed as a civilian housing project, thereis no point in completing it much before the 6,000 athletes and officialsarrive. The civilians can't move in until the Olympians depart.

No one, least ofall the Aussies themselves, really blamed Brundage for prodding them along.They seemed to realize it is he who will take the rap if the games flop. On theother hand, neither did anyone, including Brundage, seriously doubt that theDesert Rats who helped drive Rommel out of Africa could put up a small housingdevelopment and a few stadiums once they put their minds to it. Brundage actedlike a man who was simply trying to get them to concentrate on the job."It's a shame he did not come here 12 months ago," sighed an Olympicofficial as Brundage hustled away.

MIDDLEWEIGHTFORMULA

Bobo Olson,middleweight champion of the world, has a reputation as a clam-mouth.Nonetheless, on the eve of his last fight he burst into speech with a SanFrancisco sportswriter and revealed some of the lessons of his life. Bobo justcan't fight in cold blood.

"I rememberwhen I was a kid," Bobo told Art Rosenbaum of the San Francisco Chronicle."I had to protect myself in the street fighting. I'd double up my fists andpunch until I thought I'd die. I found out then that if I liked another boy Icouldn't do much damage. But when I got mad I felt stronger and they seemedweaker."

As a professionalfighter, Bobo hasn't changed much: "As soon as a fight is signed I work upa touch of anger at this fellow, whoever he is. Then I start to train. I workvery hard and I get more and more angry at this guy who makes me work so hardwhen I could be sun bathing at the beach. When I hit the big bag I find myselfsaying, 'You dirty so-and-so, I'll get you!' "

Then it's ringtime: "Maybe you can't read it on my face but I'm burning. I feeldifferent, somehow, with those ropes around me...Wait 'til I get this guy!...AsI spar in the corner, I bring to my mind the good things. I think of my familyand how they'll be taken care of from my earnings. I think of winning. I don'tthink of bad things, like getting hurt or something...."

Suppose he runsinto a punch? "Tell you a secret. Sometimes I like to get hit. It shakes upmy head, it tells me I'm in a fist fight again."

Bobo was readywith "a pretty good hate" for flabby, elderly Joey Maxim last week,possibly more than was strictly necessary. Their San Francisco fight chieflydemonstrated that at 33, and with flabby fat hanging over his trunks, Joeyisn't what he used to be and that at 26 Bobo is able to belt the slower lightheavyweights around.

Back to his sunbathing, Bobo is now working up a slow rage toward the light-heavyweightchampion, Archie Moore, 38. He's also asking for $150,000 to stimulate him inhis emotional preparations.

STRAIT OF JUAN DEFUCA

All last winter,a bald, heavythewed, Tacoma, Wash. logger named Bert Thomas drank vastquantities of milk and forced down mounds of meat and potatoes. He swam longdistances in winter-chilled lakes. By early April—though he is less than 6 feetin height—Bert weighed 270 pounds. His belly bulged with fat. His back quiveredwith it. His heavy upper arms and thighs were gross. To test this blubberyinsulation, he went to Victoria, B.C., stripped to a pair of swimming trunks,rubbed himself with goose grease, and waded into the chilling (44 degrees)water of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He set off along the shore at a steady32-beats-to-the-minute crawl.

As a Marineduring World War II (Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima) Bert Thomas had once swum 33miles in the warm south Pacific, but this was different. His whole body turnedlobster red from the burning cold. But for three hours and 56 minutes, while15,000 of the curious watched from vantage points along the shore, he churnedsteadily along. He covered more than five miles, sprinted at the end of hisworkout, and came ashore patting his bulging stomach with pride. He would bethe first human, he confidently believed, to swim the 18.3-mile Everest ofChannels from Vancouver Island to Port Angeles on the Washington shore.

In all thecenturies since men began swimming Hellesponts, none had picked a moreformidable stretch of water. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, sailing directionswarn, is subject to "sudden vicissitudes of weather" which demand all"the caution and vigilance of the navigator..." Seamen must beware oftidal streams, tide rips dangerous to small craft, and currents "which runfrom one to two and a half hours after high and low water" and which,"opposed by wind and swell, create a choppy sea."

FlorenceChadwick—who focused the attention of the sports world on the strait when shetried and failed to cross it last August—had already dramatized thesedifficulties. Though she swam 11 miles in all, both she and her tug were sweptin circles over a shoal called Constance Bank and were but four and a halfmiles from shore when she finally surrendered. But Chadwick had headedsouthwest on the ebb tide. Bert proposed to set out on the flood tide insteadand swim southeast to clear the bank. After that he would swim SSW on the ebbfor eight miles, would head southeast again as the tide changed once more. His"spare tire" would protect him against the dreadful north Pacificcold—10 degrees colder than the English Channel.

At 10 o'clock onenight last week 29-year-old Bert Thomas entrusted himself to the deep, andchurned out into the darkness from Victoria's Beacon Hill Park with the tugIsland Challenger as escort. A last-minute competitor named John Giese followedhim, was taken out of the water, stiff as a board from cold, after only 40minutes. But Bert seemed impervious to chill. A vicious chop all but swampedthe rowboat with which his trainer and a doctor were guiding him and forcedthem to switch to the tug's workboat for safety. The waves broke continuallyover Bert's face. He swallowed "a gallon" of salt water. He vomited.But he swam steadily on. He finished his first southeast leg, turned southsouthwest. After four hours and more than seven miles of swimming he shoutedjubilantly, "It's a cinch," and called for nourishment.

Just before twoin the morning Dr. Frank James of Tacoma passed him a 12-foot length of gardenhose, and poured a mixture of rum, glucose, water, lemon juice and vitaminextract into it. Bert drank from the other end. Suddenly he doubled up in thewater from excruciating stomach cramps. "Something's wrong," he gasped,trying to keep his face clear of the waves. He tried to straighten his hugebody, to swim. "It won't go," he called helplessly. "What'll I donow?" His helpers—it took three of them—pulled him out. On the tug thecramps abated. "I'm still strong as a bull," said Bert. "It wasn'tthe cold. It wasn't the roughness. It was that damned rum. I'll try again inMay." Looking out across the tide-tortured water the next day, many aVictoria citizen shivered a little at the thought.

PARLAY PINK

Whatever Leninmay have had to say about betting on the bangtails, there are those who wouldgive 100 to 1 that he never looked to the day when London's Communist DailyWorker would be the tip sheet of the lords and ladies of England. Still, thishas come to pass, and you can chalk up one more oversight for dialecticalmaterialism.

The strike whichclosed down Britain's newspapers, except for the Daily Worker, left theconservative British racing fan without either his Sporting Life, a staid bibleof the turf, or any of the big-circulation dailies that usually give sportspage space to two or three handicappers. He had, perforce, to turn to the DailyWorker. This put Cayton, handicapper for party punters, in a position of gloryhe never had anticipated. Cayton is the fabulous Alf Rubin (SI, Sept. 6, '54),a Cockney with a gift for picking the horses when they are ripe. With no fixedpolitical ideas, Alf has been with the Daily Worker for 20 years and in thattime has established his reputation and a following willing to put up withgarrulous guff for the simple directives of an expert handicapper. A $2 bet onhis every pick in every race during 1954 would have profited a man better than$160. So what if he lost his Conservative Party membership? As Britain'snewspapers closed down, Cayton made the most of his opportunity:

A one-poundparlay on his selections for the first three races during the second day of theKempton meeting returned £308. One of Cayton's followers, reviving himself inthe club bar, was heard to mutter: "From now on, I'm in favor ofcoexistence." Bernard Marmaduke Fitzalan-Howard, 16th Duke of Norfolk, EarlMarshal of England and a steward of the Jockey Club, bought a copy of the DailyWorker. He handled it gingerly.

The Daily Workeris permitted to publish by the unions because they hold it does not exploit thestrike but limits itself to normal circulation (about 83,000). Only regularreaders are supposed to be able to buy the newspaper, as it is called. Streetvendors, though, usually can be persuaded to produce a copy for a shilling, sixtimes the usual price.

Cayton takes hissuccess calmly. Politics bore him and he never sets foot on the track becausehe's "too busy working out the form."

"Nothing elseinterests me," he says. "I always say 'Stick with me, bet within yourmeans, and you'll have fun.' "

It's a radicalidea but the Daily Worker goes along with it. Pro tem.

RETURN OF THEEGYPTIAN

Walking her twocockers through Central Park one sunny afternoon this winter, a young woman wholoves dogs and knows most breeds saw a middle-aged, pipe-smoking gentlemanbeing pulled briskly along by one of the strangest dogs she ever has seen. Hewas a tawny-coated animal about the size of a springer spaniel, built low tothe ground like a basset, with large upright ears strangely reminiscent of theChinese crested dog, and a tail, long and gently waving, which bespoke agracious disposition. His conformation was such as to dispel her firstsuspicion that this might be an animal of low breeding. Nothing about thegraceful head, the powerful shoulders, the deep, muscular brisket or the sturdylegs suggested a casual mating.

The gentlemantold her it was "an Egyptian house dog, very rare" and the lady walkedon, content that she had learned to recognize the breed.

She was contentuntil a night a few weeks later when she picked up her copy of SI (Feb. 14issue) with special eagerness because it featured a preview of the WestminsterDog Show and a dog genealogy chart that showed the family tree of 119 differentbreeds. Among them was the Egyptian house dog—and beside it an asterisk toindicate that the Egyptian house dog is extinct. But the dog she had seen inthe park, except for color, looked almost precisely like the drawing she wasstudying in SI. Next day she got in touch with SI.

She did not knowthe name of the dog's owner. There was nothing for it but to post a watch inCentral Park. Meanwhile the American Kennel Club and reference books werechecked. Both said firmly that the Egyptian house dog of antiquity is indeedextinct and, in fact, no one knew what it looked like except for carvings onold tombs and obelisks—on which SI's drawing was based.

Eventually theyoung woman, keeping a sharp watch on her accustomed rounds, encountered thegentleman with the dog again and this time got his name, John W. Heering. Itwas arranged that Mr. Heering would rendezvous with SI near Cleopatra's Needle,an obelisk carved by order of Thothmes III about 1500 B.C.

Mr. Heeringturned out to be a man who had collided with the American Kennel Club in itsmonotonous insistence that his dog is a mongrel.

"Howlong," he asked the AKC, "does a dog have to work off hisillegitimacy?" There was no satisfactory reply.

Mr. Heering hassince devoted a great deal of time to an unproductive search for anotherEgyptian house dog, female, for mating purposes. His dog is five years old anda lifelong bachelor.

The dog is namedConnie (for Conrad) and was whelped in Alaska. How that came about was that itseems there were these two GIs in Egypt and somehow they acquired Connie'smother. The Army shipped them back to the United States but unaccountablytransported them via Alaska, where Connie and his sibling were born. FromAlaska the GIs came to New York and there ran into a little rent money trouble.In lieu of $50 rent they turned over their two pups to their landlord. He soldone of the pups for $50 to Conrad A. Williams, a seaman friend of Mr. Heering.The other pup was neglected and eventually picked up by the SPCA. No one seemsto know what became of it thereafter.

Williams was illand the dog was a great comfort to him. Its ears were enormous on its puppyframe, exciting comment wherever Williams went. He told, before he died, ofrefusing $1,000 for the puppy. The wife of a "Greenwich Villageentertainer" longed to own the pup and so pestered her husband that he madeprogressive bids, starting at $100. Williams, though, wanted the dog to go tohis friend, Mr. Heering, who was a fellow Mason and had undertaken to care forWilliams in his last illness. When Williams died Mr. Heering took charge of thepup, then about a year old, and named him Connie in memory of his friend.

Today Connie ishealthy and vigorous. He eats one pound of beef liver and a pound of rawcarrots, for which he has a passion, every day. Every day Mr. Heering, nowsemiretired from retail merchandising (in which, in his youth, he had beenoffice boy to the original Marshall Field), takes him out to the park for anhour's stroll.

People stop andremark on Connie, and every so often Mr. Heering gets from one of them a clueas to where he might find a female Egyptian house dog. The clues just don't panout. He has investigated the possibility of importing one from Egypt, butproblems of negotiation, crating and shipment seem insuperable. There may, hethinks, be a likely female closer to hand. Once a man he met in the park toldhim he had seen similar dogs in Australia, but he may have been thinking ofdingoes.

Walking throughthe park with Connie, Mr. Heering has a lot of time to think and he has thoughtup several things which some day may prove useful. He has, for instance,thought up a double-ended corned beef hash can. This container may be opened atboth ends, allowing the housewife to slip the hash out in one chunk instead ofhaving to spoon it out. And he has devised a tricky little paintbrush forgetting into hard-to-reach places.

But his ingenuityhas not yet found a mate for Connie.

As to whetherConnie is extinct, as the AKC seems to think, or liveth, as Connie seems tothink, there can be no clear answer. Once upon a time there was an Egyptianhouse dog, as the obelisks prove, and today there is Connie.

CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD

Baseball bliss wrapped Kansas City (welcoming its newmajor league team) and numberless other towns—but was nowhere more envelopingthan in Brooklyn, whose beloved Bums won six straight and jumped to a five-gamelead over the stumbling New York Giants...Navy's varsity crew, supposedlyshattered by the graduation of six members of last year's champion outfit, gotback in the water for the new season, handily beat Princeton for the 30thconsecutive Navy victory since 1952...Detroit Center Alex Delvecchio (who wasbenched in midseason for not scoring) drove in two goals as the Red Wings beatMontreal 3-1 in the seventh and decisive game for hockey's Stanley Cup...WesSantee, who has run more miles (30) under 4:10 than any man who ever lived,will break four minutes this week in the Kansas Relays if three is a charm—hehas tried for the record only twice (running 4:03.1 and 4:01.3) in his homestate...Touring Oxford-Cambridge rugby players were so befuddled by the sizeand relative inhumanity of a University of California team (which included252-pound, 6-foot 5-inch Varsity Tackle Harry Ghilarducci) that they lost17-5—but two days later (after attending two sorority teas) they came back tobeat the Bears 14-9...Though they were watched by special guards, deniedpassports and kept indoors after dark, five of 14 traveling Yugoslav soccerplayers escaped (to bushes near the Aga Khan's villa) after a tournament inCannes, France and emerged to ask asylum after red-faced Red officials herdedtheir teammates back home...Britain's roly-poly Don Cockell was outwardly blandbut privately bitter as he arrived in California for next month's fight withRocky Marciano—he resents humorous U.S. references to his embonpoint.

TWO ILLUSTRATIONSPHOTOEGYPTIAN HOUSE DOG (EXTINCT)PHOTOCONNIE (EXTANT)