A BOMB FALLS IN BROOKLYN
This is an article from the Aug. 29, 1955 issue
In 1913, the year of its construction, Ebbets Field was a many-splendored ball park. Of course, being in Brooklyn, it couldn't be perfect—on opening day the baseball writers discovered someone had forgotten to build a press box, and the bleacher fans couldn't get in because someone else had neglected to bring a key to unlock the gates. But it was quite satisfactory.
Things change. In 1913 the Brooklyn Dodgers could make a good living even in a ball park of modest size. Mighty few fans had been tempted to take up golf or sunbathing or—for that matter—television. In 1913, furthermore, there was no such thing as suburbia and there were only 1,000,000 automobiles in the whole U.S. All of which pinpoints the current troubles of the Brooklyn Dodgers and President Walter F. O'Malley. With an outmoded ball park seating only 32,111 the Dodgers have to compete with a wide new universe of sports and recreations—and draw motorized suburbia to an Ebbets Field with no place to park.
There was dismay in Brooklyn when O'Malley first announced last week the Dodgers would play seven "home" games in 1956 in Jersey City. ("They can't do this to us," said a Brooklyn tugboat man named Bill Murray. "If Jersey wants a baseball team, let them get their own. The Dodgers belong in Brooklyn.") Two days later the faces of Flatbush fell even further when O'Malley spoke again: "After the 1957 season," he said, "we are selling Ebbets Field."
The smart businessman president of the Dodgers evidently wasn't fooling, and he told startled city officials exactly what he wanted: a wonderfully handy plot of good land in downtown Brooklyn where the Dodgers could, for $6 million or so, construct a neat Twenty-first Century ball park seating over 50,000 and with lots of parking space. "We don't want the city to build us a stadium," he said. "All we want is help in acquiring the land at a reasonable price."
Borough President John Cashmore and New York's Mayor Robert Wagner, equally alarmed over losing the Dodgers, appeared ready to help—and Cashmore even had a plan: condemn the proposed stadium area as a long-needed civic-betterment project. Then another interested group turned up: the New York Giants, whose lease on the Polo Grounds runs out in 1962. Said Owner Horace Stoneham: "If the city can help the Dodgers, it can certainly help us, too." Said Mayor Wagner: "We certainly want to help both teams in any way possible," and promised to bring the question before the city's Board of Estimate right away.
Actually the Giants' problem failed to match that of the Dodgers—they are perfectly welcome to move across the Harlem River at any time and sublet Yankee Stadium, one of the finest parks in baseball, for the Yankees' out-of-town days. Of course, if the Dodgers are willing to move far enough, they have no problem either—in the first few days after his announcement O'Malley received dozens of telegrams and letters offering the Dodgers a home in such places as North Jersey, Long Island and assorted "western and southwestern cities." But O'Malley agreed with the tugboat man, Bill Murray—the Dodgers belong in Brooklyn. How to keep them there was the problem; and it might remain an unsolved one right up to 1958.
At the end of the first day of the Midwest Industrial Golf Tournament, Republic Steel was tied with General Electric Jet Engines at 282. This happened last Saturday at Canton, Ohio, where 456 golf-playing automobile workers, papermill employees, rubber-factory workers, glassmakers, tinsmiths, precision instrument technicians and foundry hands met in the biggest tournament in history and played superlative golf.
How good it was is suggested by some comparative figures. Canton's Tarn O'Shanter is an old, conservative club at the edge of a fashionable residential section, with a par 70 for one 18-hole course known as The Hills, and a par 71 for the much tougher 18 known as The Dales. The record for each course is 64, and no pro has ever bettered it. None of the golfing workmen on hand last week bettered it either, but Robert Farber, a crane operator with Republic Steel at Massillon, Ohio and Harry Olson of the Argonne Laboratories of Chicago both had 68s.
Play started at 6:45 a.m., when William King of Ford's Dearborn plant teed off as the first man of the first foursome. King, a Negro, had finished fourth in the Dearborn elimination tourney (Ford playoffs involved 3,000 golfers and began last June), and was started first to avoid any possible question of race prejudice arising in the crowded, fast-moving tournament. Thereafter came teams of such industrial giants as Allis-Chalmers of Terre Haute, Milwaukee and Norwood, Ohio; four more Ford Company teams; three from General Electric; two from Firestone; two from U.S. Steel; a Caterpillar Tractor team from Peoria; teams from Goodrich of Akron, Eaton Manufacturing of Cleveland, Frigidaire of Dayton, General Motors of Pontiac, Hercules Motors of Canton, Johnson Motors of Waukegan, Minneapolis-Honeywell, Procter & Gamble, Sinclair Refining, Studebaker-Packard, Timken Roller Bearing, National Lead and the Goodyear Atomic Corporation of Portsmouth, Ohio.
The presence of these top golfers from the 2,000,000-odd employees of the 88 corporations represented indicates how important factory teams have become in what press agents still bleakly refer to as industrial recreation programs.
The Midwest Industrial Golf Tournament started in 1946 with teams from 13 companies. Its opposite number in the East (there is none in the Far West) started in 1950, had 20 teams entered last year, and will have 35 teams playing next week in its finals at Sinking Spring near Reading, Pa. Golf is one of the major sporting activities encouraged by American companies, along with softball, bowling and basketball; and of the 30,000 companies that have recreation programs, more than 15,000 include golf. Eighty corporations have their own golf courses and one, International Business Machines, operates four country clubs for its employees.
If play of the quality shown last week at Canton continues, industrial golf may presently be taken seriously in sporting terms rather than as an adjunct to better management-employee relations. When the Midwest tournament ended in wind and rain Sunday evening General Electric Jet Engines had a record low 567; Republic Steel of Massillon had a 579, and Harry Olson was medalist with 138 for 36 holes, only four strokes off the tournament record.
TOKKO IN TOKYO
The Japanese swimmers who have been kicking spray in the faces of some of the members of Coach Bob Kiphuth's touring American team are part of the greatest Japanese team since the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, when Japan took five of six main events. So far as Yale's famed coach is concerned, they are the team to watch next year at Melbourne.
Kiphuth has been especially impressed by Masaru Furukawa, the sensational breaststroke champion, and Jiro Nagasawa, who revolutionized butterfly swimming in Japan by introducing the dolphin kick. Nagasawa, in fact, will join Kiphuth at Yale on a scholarship.
This year Furukawa changed his style, developing his submarine work to a point where he now takes the first 40 yards underwater, submerged about 16 inches.
"He has skill in surfacing so as not to lose momentum," Kiphuth explained. "American and European breaststrokers have glided too long. Furukawa in surfacing eliminates the glide, substitutes it with a pull and immediately dives under again."
Kiphuth and his boys studied Furukawa's technique for a while, then tried it out.
"Two days later," Kiphuth said happily, "Bob Mattson [of North Carolina State] was able to knock off two seconds from his own time."
Humiliated by their defeat at the Helsinki Olympics, the Japanese have gone into an all-out effort aimed at wiping out the loss at Melbourne. Too all-out, according to some physical education experts, who complain that Japanese coaches are applying the tokko ("special attack") spirit to their training. Tokko was instilled into Japanese suicide pilots during the war. The Spartan training, according to these experts, has shortened the peak competition span of Japanese swimmers by two or three years as compared with Americans.
The Americans still outclass the Japanese in several aspects of swimming, particularly the turn and the final touch. The Americans thereby have been doing fine in the sprints, relays and backstroke.
At the moment Gertrude Ederle waded ashore at Kingsdown—and scarcely a clam is still alive who sipped the waters on that glorious day—a certain understandable atmosphere of anticlimax fell upon the business of swimming the English Channel. It has cried out ever since for added zing, or what is known in the more shadowed corners of Wall Street as the old Russian injection. Few men have been more adept with the needle than William Edmund (Billy) Butlin, who started his career with a peg-and-ring game in an English carnival, and now reigns as the "Holiday Camp" king of Britain; for the last three years Billy has sponsored "mass cross-channel races" in which whole schools of grease-freighted swimmers have thrashed across from France to England.
This year the mass swim not only boasted contestants, male and female, from 13 separate and distinct countries, but the brooding mind of science as well. Three weeks before the big race, a team of 12 medical men (representing Cambridge University, London's St. Thomas Hospital, the British Ministry of Health and the U.S. Office of Naval Research) descended upon training quarters. What, they wanted to know, were the physiological differences which allowed channel swimmers to stay in the water for as long as 20 hours, while ordinary mortals could hardly face a cold shower?
Day after day, the swimmers—who seemed delighted at the attention—were poked, prodded, punctured for blood samples, weighed underwater and pinched from head to toe by ingenious calipers designed to measure their fat. The race itself began amidst scenes reminiscent of a military invasion. While crowds rubbernecked from shore, an armada of coaching rowboats and motor vessels—one of each for 17 swimmers, plus an official boat, a boat for "very important people" and an Admiralty launch full of doctors—gathered at dawn off Cap Gris Nez. Marine signalers were scattered through the fleet to flash the alarm as soon as a swimmer gave up; and the medical men stood by to make their final examinations at sea.
They had their first work less than two hours after Billy Butlin fired a Very pistol to start the race; 25-year-old Margaret Sweeney of New Zealand began falling asleep while swimming. Her trainer, one Frank Hay, bawled in tones of bewilderment and outrage: "Wake up, Margaret! Swim closer to the boat, Margaret. Hey Maggie...wakey wakey!" But Maggie absolutely refused to wakey wakey, quit swimming altogether and had to be yanked out like a "huge fish." Two medical men were aboard in a jiffy, and wondered if she might be suffering from hypoglycemia (shortage of sugar). But they also had to consider a more prosaic fact: Maggie took two sleeping tablets to get some rest before the race.
Other swimmers gave up regularly after that, but for undramatic reasons. Some got seasick; but most just got tired, saw they had no chance to win and saw no point in going on. There were no collapses from cold; the sea, medically speaking, was disappointingly warm—a mere 65 degrees. The race (and a $2,950 silver cup) was won by an Egyptian named Abdel Latif Abu Heif; English-born Thomas Laurie Parks (billed as an American since he has taken out naturalization papers) was second; an Argentinian, Syder Guiscardo, was third, and a Mexican named Damian Piza Beltran, the only other swimmer to finish, was fourth.
All four were duly examined as soon as they walked ashore; Parks was the most notable subject—for a few minutes his earlobes refused to bleed when punctured ("congestion," said the doctors). But though the scientists went away with a "mass of data," there seemed to be only one real difference between channel swimmers and other blokes—the channel swimmers were fatter (their bodies contained up to 33% fat as compared with only 12-15% for average humanity), as might have been concluded by looking at a photograph of almost any one of them.
NORRIS IS FED UP
Investigators of hoodlum control in boxing have no trouble proving to their own satisfaction that, as Governor George M. Leader of Pennsylvania told the National Boxing Association convention, the sport is controlled by a "sinister hierarchy." Fight managers tell, off the record, how Frankie Carbo arranges lucrative TV bouts for those fighters and managers who are willing to "listen." ("If you tell Frankie you'll listen, he'll get you fights.") Boxers tell, off the record, of Carbo's power. ("But if you print a word of this, I'll deny it.")
George A. Barton, aging former president of NBA, a sportswriter and official and long-time friend of boxing, told at the convention how his own investigation had smashed against a wall of fear when he asked for affidavits to the tales of chicanery he was told. ("Not me. I don't want to get knocked off.")
Governor Leader, who changed the face of boxing in his own state by banning it until the state legislature adopted a new, stringent code, asked that the states represented by NBA adopt a uniform "model code" for the sport's regulation. He was convinced, he said, that "television, more than any other single factor, has made possible the present very obvious centralization of power in the boxing business in the United States.
"If money power—and that is the real power—in boxing has been centered in cartels whose business is interstate, then governmental power must be organized to meet the situation," he said. "Some day that governmental power may be federal, but today it is altogether the responsibility of the states."
The NBA decided that Congress ought to investigate boxing, and Senator Charles E. Potter of Michigan (the convention was in Detroit) said he would see what he could do to bring it about. In Washington, he relayed the NBA request to Chairman Warren G. Magnuson of the Senate Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. Magnuson's office indicated he would talk it over with other members of the committee.
The response of James D. Norris, president of the International Boxing Club, to all this was one of disgust. He was, he said, "getting fed up with all these investigations."
MUSINGS ON MENZIES
Prime Minister Robert G. Menzies notes on page 28 that the game of tennis may be said to span the lifetime of one man, the magnificent Sir Norman Brookes. Brookes is 78 years old and tennis is 82 years old. Our national championships are but 74.
In this brief period tennis has surmounted extraordinary handicaps. The Prime Minister mentions one in passing—its origins as a "polite garden party accomplishment"—but there were others. For instance, the British major who invented tennis insisted that it be called Spharistike, which is Greek for something along the lines of "Play ball!" The major was outraged when the name didn't catch on. Folks just called it tennis-on-the-lawn because they noted its close relationship to the ancient game of court tennis. The relationship was denied by the major, who wanted to patent and exploit the game. He didn't get very far.
A further early handicap, especially in the United States, was that anyone walking along a street in white flannels swinging a tennis racket was likely to get whistled at by the vulgar. The vulgar could not stomach that word "love." But bold, brave men—very likely the ancestors of those who now wear Bermuda shorts to business—brazened it out, and when the golden 20s roared in like a latter-day hurricane and the Tildens, the Johnstons, Borotras, Lacostes and Cochets took to whaling away at each other, no one any longer thought of tennis as that game in which men pat a ball back and forth over the net. Borotra, incidentally, still plays in European tournaments and wins one now and then.
Tennis had one other big handicap. It was played on grass, which is expensive to establish and maintain as a playing surface. Clay and asphalt and concrete solved that. There is mighty little grass left now, except in the East. The number of clubs which provide grass courts has dwindled, a hardship to American players preparing for international tournaments, the most important of which are played on grass. Lawn tennis has all but ceased to be a fitting name for the game.
The "new" amateurism of which Mr. Menzies writes, the necessarily quasi-professional status of top players who cannot afford to do other than live on expense accounts if they are to give most of their time to tennis, is a more recent handicap. Cynicism and skepticism entered the game with the expense account, a situation summed up in the expression "tennis bum" (see CONVERSATION PIECE, page 31). It is not nearly so healthy a situation as outright amateurism used to be or outright professionalism would be.
The Australians solved that. An Australian amateur may work for a sporting-goods company and enjoy generous leaves of absence.
The chances are that, despite current objections of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, Mr. Menzies' prediction of "open" tournaments in which amateurs and professionals would compete in harmonious conflict, may yet come to pass. It has not worked out so badly in golf, a game which enjoys prestige in many acceptable areas. Then those tennis players who could afford to remain amateurs might do so and, with international competition on an "open" basis, the possibility of international squabbles over standards would be remote. Open professionalism, openly arrived at, might be a goal for tennis in its next evolutionary phase.
AMOUR TOUJOURS IN LEFT
A recently converted Dodger fan from Connecticut reports having trouble remembering the names of all the Brooklyn players, but the one who gives her the most memory trouble is the left fielder. "That one who sounds like love on the beach," she says. "You know—Sandy Amoros."
OVER THE FENCE
Over the fence, and out of the lot!
I'm just a slugging menace!
Too bad the home run does not count
Quite so much in tennis.
—E. J. RITTER JR.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Swaps's handy victory in the American Derby sent his match race odds in the Caliente future book down to 2 to 5 (i.e., a return of only $2 for every $5 wagered), placed Nashua at 9 to 5. Caliente's opening line in late July listed Swaps at 7 to 10, Nashua 11 to 10.
Rookie Dick Donovan, one of American League's winningest pitchers when he was knocked out by an appendectomy July 31, returned to pitch his 14th victory for White Sox, give Chicago hopes a big boost in the pennant race.
Arnold Palmer, 1954 U.S. Amateur champion, coasted in with a final round of 70, after being 21 under par at three-quarter mark, to win his first professional tournament, the $15,000 Canadian Open.
Otto Graham, long-time famed quarterback of Cleveland's football Browns who retired last fall, went into a bent-heads session with Coach Paul Brown to talk about coming back for one more year. Cleveland's hope and expectation: Graham back in his old No. 14 after Labor Day.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, predicting a bumper crop of ducks and geese this fall, gave hunters along the Atlantic, Central and Mississippi flyways a bonus of 10 to 15 extra days of shooting for 1955, left the Pacific flyway with the same 80-day season as last year, still the most liberal in the country.
Wes Santee, dulled by lack of training and running in impossible 95° heat, failed for the umpteenth time in his bid to become the first American miler under four minutes; ran slow 4:11.1, still beat his old rival Fred Dwyer and Britain's highly-regarded Gordon Pirie in special invitational event at Toronto.