GOLF WITH MISS ROMACK
Easily the mightiest figure in U.S. women's amateur golf, and probably the most attractive since the Bauer sisters turned pro, life-insurance saleswoman Barbara Romack, 22, this week will attempt to add the British amateur championship to the U.S. and Canadian titles which she has already captured.
A fine schoolgirl athlete (particularly baseball), Barbara has been playing competitive golf for eight years. She won the first tournament she entered: the Byron Nelson Tournament for boys at Haggin Oaks in her home town of Sacramento. Thirty-seven eager boys and taffy-haired, freckled-faced Barbara turned up on qualifying day for that tournament and since officials could find nothing specific in the rule book against girls, they let her play. A pleasant youngster with a fierce competitive spirit, Barbara earned her nickname "Little Tiger" during this tournament.
Today she drives an average of 225 yards, chips beautifully, has learned to control and compensate for a natural tendency to hook and is a wizard in the traps. Despite her triumphs, Barbara's pro, Tom Lo Presti, warns, "She's two years away from her best playing day."
May 15, 1955
Barbara Romack exuberantly twirls club after final practice round at Haggin Oaks Golf Course in Sacramento before leaving for British amateur tournament.
BASEBALL WITH MUSIC
Easily The prettiest baseball comic since Nick Altrock is Gwen Verdon, a dancer, who also has more sex appeal than Al Schacht. A lady who revived atavistic desires lor the Garden of Eden in Cole Porter's Can Can, Miss Verdon now is playing Lola, an attractive fiend, in Damn Yankees. This is a musical comedy which tells how with the aid of Satan himself, and they need him, the Washington Senators beat out the Yankees in a tight pennant race. The plot is clearly a fantasy, therefore, but almost as fantastic is the fact that in all the years since baseball has called itself the national pastime no one up to now has thought to build a musical around it. Miss Verdon adds quite a bit to the structure. She can't hit or field but there is something about her which would catch the eye of any wandering scout. She has, for instance, the joie de vivre of Willie Mays and, over and beyond that, she looks good in tight red pants. One of her biggest scenes is a trip she makes to the Senators' locker room for purposes of seduction. This scene alone is reported to have had a lasting effect on the Class of Yale '57 during the musical's tryout in New Haven.
Gwen Verdon's approach to the fielding of a ball has, in any case, insouciance, and otherwise nothing. By the time she lands, at least one run will have scored.
ONE DAY OLD
Had this filly been a colt, Alfred Vanderbilt might have had another Native Dancer. Like the Dancer, this nameless foal was sired by Polynesian, and her dam is Geisha. Thus she is a full sister of the great Gray Ghost and, cute as she is, the third disappointment in a row in the Vanderbilt stable's attempt to get a full brother to the Dancer.
BOXING WITH GLOVES OFF
Boxing's big news last week almost certainly would have been the inquiry begun by Chairman Julius Helfand of the New York boxing commission had it not been for two other developments.
In Philadelphia, Harold Johnson, a light heavyweight of promise, was 4 to 1 to trounce Julio Mederos. Instead, Johnson staggered drowsily through two rounds, collapsed on his stool and was declared to have lost on a TKO when he could not come up for the third round. Dr. Alfred Ayella Jr., ringside physician, guessed: "Apparently some kind of drug was used on Johnson." It was certainly one of the dopiest fights ever seen, even in Philadelphia.
Shortly before the fight an unknown admirer gave Johnson an orange "for luck." The orange tasted bitter but Johnson took several bites. First suspicion was that the orange had been drugged. But the Associated Press reported another explanation. Quite deadpan, the AP quoted a "well-posted source' as saying Johnson "might have become dizzy" from nose drops.
Cocaine, sometimes used in nose drops, would have made Johnson as active as a race horse doped to win. Instead, he moved sluggishly, as in a dream. Chloral hydrate, long used as knockout drops in liquor, would have caused Johnson's symptoms but, according to a medical authority, would have tasted so bad in an orange that he could hardly have eaten it.
The other event was Eddie Coco's surrender to begin a life sentence for the meaningless murder of a Miami Beach Negro car washer. Once manager of Rocky Graziano and long a friend of Jim Norris, Coco had fought four years to stay out of prison. His lawyers still battled for him. They would appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, they said.
Helfand's inquiry centered around the fact that, as the International Boxing Club dominates boxing promotion in most of the U.S., the International Boxing Guild controls the leading boxers. A managers' "union" of sorts, the Guild is so powerful that the manager of an up-and-coming fighter who wants to make money in New York had better begin by doing business with an IBG manager. If he does, the doors to Madison Square Garden and St. Nicholas Arena are opened magically to him. Profitable TV appearances are assured. The IBC welcomes IBG boxers.
By the same token, it appeared from testimony at the Helfand hearing, the IBG can prevent a boxer from working at his trade. Vince Martinez, third-ranked welterweight, had been able to get but two fights since last July, when he temerariously asked his manager, Bill Daly, to account for $3,000 expense money. Daly, haughtily enraged, stomped out of the Martinez kitchen. Since then Vince has been in trouble.
As Daly left the Martinez home, Tex Pelte of the IBG was heard to say: "Don't worry about it, Bill. We'll ground the kid."
The kid was grounded. It took the boxing commission to force Daly to sign, as Vince's still-legal manager, for his next fight. But trainers and sparring partners refused to work for Martinez. "I got a wife and two kids and don't want any trouble," Trainer Johnny Sullo explained. "I can't train Vince." He had been told, he said, to "lay off the kid."
Billy Brown, IBC matchmaker in New York, suggested that if Vince would sign an exclusive contract with the IBC his troubles would be over. Vince signed but Jim Norris, a good friend of Daly, never did sign, and Vince has been idle since December. Fights for the benefit of the Norfolk (Va.) March of Dimes and the Paterson (N.J.) National Guard were suddenly taken from him. Boxers who agreed to fight Martinez were told that they too would be grounded. Managers looked the other way when the subject of a Martinez fight was brought up.
The inquiry, Helfand said, will continue until the question of boxer "control" is settled. Norris and Daly will be called to testify.
Recumbent hoodlum Eddie Coco, snoozing in Dade County jail, awaits transfer to Raiford (Fla.) state prison, to begin his life sentence for the murder of a Negro car washer in Miami Beach. A former manager of Rocky Graziano, a friend og Jim Norris, IBC boss, who once gave him an excellent character refernce, Coco had powerful friends and much money, some of it derived from running floating crap games. A first conviction was set aside because of error, a second was hampered by disappearing evidence, but Coco finally was done.
Recumbent boxer Harold Johnson, leaving a Philadelphia ring on a stretcher, collapsed between rounds and remained unconscious. Doctors assumed he had been drugged, perhaps by a "bitter" orange.