DEWY DAWN, 1955
At 5:40 a.m. bright lights began to go on in the bare and Spartan cubicles of Jeff House, the University of Oklahoma's athletic dormitory. A student manager moved from room to room, kicking at double-decker bunks and bawling cheerfully, and two by two the school's regiment of tanned, burr-headed, flat-bellied football players climbed out of bed and straggled, yawning, out into the cool dawn. They walked past the vast and shadowy stadium and into a harshly lighted, hospital-white locker room. Silently, sleepily, they got into pads, scrimmage suits and cleats and went outside again to the wet grass of a practice field.
Two assistant managers walked toward them lugging a huge vat filled with a purple eye-opener—a mixture of grape and lime juice. The players dipped in with paper cups. Coach Bud Wilkinson watched and shuddered slightly. "A terrible color to look at in the morning," he muttered. "We used to have orange juice but the players said it didn't sit well on their stomachs. So we got them this stuff. Why they like it, I don't know." Then, raising his voice, he called: "All right, come on fellows, let's circle up." The players gathered around him.
At Norman, Okla., as at colleges big and small all over the U.S.—at Penn, UCLA, SMU, Centre, Montana State, Nebraska, William and Mary—the 1955 football season was beginning. The great autumn riddle was beginning too—even though baseball still claimed the limelight and even though football's young braves were simply launching their two-week preseason training. Hundreds of newspapers and millions of fans were immediately moved to speculate: who would be left on top (see page 30 for Herman Hickman's Eleven Elevens) by Thanksgiving Day?
September 11, 1955
But most of the talk on the Oklahoma practice field was terse and technical; toil was the order of the day. "Whack that forearm in there. Arch that back. Keep those feet working. Chug, chug, chug," cried Assistant Coach Gomer Jones, driving his linemen. His voice remained surprisingly gentle ("It doesn't help a boy to swear at him"). Wilkinson himself went into amazing detail. "We want you to take the ball with the right hand under it, not alongside it like we did it last year," he told his quarterbacks.
Linebackers practiced running backward. Halfbacks took hand-offs and drove into the line, concentrating on keeping their eyes front—to check their awareness, an assistant coach stood before them and asked them, after every play, how many fingers he had held up. Guards smacked, again and again, into a charging machine, sending echoes bouncing off the walls of the empty stadium. The sun grew hot. By 8:30, when the squads of players trotted once around the field and then back to the locker room, the temperature was in the 90s and their shirts were soaked with sweat. "That," said Quarterback Jimmy Harris, "will hold us—until after lunch."
When Ezzard Charles was champion of the world, Tommy (Hurricane) Jackson was a spindly 17-year-old who used to hide from the other kids in Rockaway Beach, N. Y. because they were always "throwing me in the sticker bushes and stomping on me." As champion, Charles was a finished boxer who moved with an easy grace. Tommy Jackson grew up to be a slat-legged heavyweight who fought as though he were still trying to thrash his way out of the sticker bushes.
In Cleveland the other night, 23-year-old Jackson beat 34-year-old Ezzard Charles for the second time in less than a month, and when the fight was over, Jackson shuffled into Charles' dressing room. "That was one fight I hated to win," he said.
"Take care of yourself and keep trying," Charles said. "You have got a lot of ability that most fellows haven't got. Put your heart in it."
Jackson's eyes began to water. "But I don't want to fight."
"Oh," said Charles, "if you don't want to fight, that's a different story. With me it was different. I wanted to fight."
"I fight because there's nothing else I can do," said Tommy Jackson. Then the fellow who learned to fight because the kids in Rockaway Beach used to throw him in the sticker bushes turned and walked out of the dressing room.
As long as Richard S. Nye remains seated at his big mahogany desk in an office high over Wall Street in New York, he looks and talks like the broker and investment specialist that he is. But let him get up and walk around a bit, let his attention be drawn to the framed photographs of the racing yachts that hang on the wall and something happens to Mr. Nye. He begins to move with a rolling gait, he hitches up his trousers in seaman fashion, he stops at the window to sniff the weather and his speech becomes so salty that it is no longer difficult to believe that Broker Nye is also, in the other half of his double life, America's No. 1 ocean-racing skipper of the year.
Broker Nye would probably be distressed if he realized that Skipper Nye was showing through on Wall Street, for both Nyes are great ones for minimizing their achievements. The skipper has a great deal to play down. His 53½-foot yawl, Carina, a spanking new, untried competitor sailed by a young (averaging 24 years) crew, this summer won the Newport-to-Sweden race (the first across the North Atlantic in 20 years), England's famous Fastnet Bowl, plus three other victories, a second and a fourth in a total of seven races of from 38 to 3,450 miles.
For this amazing record by a new boat, Skipper Nye hastens to credit the designer of Carina, Naval Architect Philip L. Rhodes, and the crew which included (at various times) Nye's son, Dick, Andrew Rockefeller, Richard Coulson, Buddy Bombard, Bruce Richter, Tony Hogan, Ross Sherbrooke and Navigator Bill Gray. At the very mention of Gray, Skipper Nye shakes his head in sheer, admiring wonder.
Broker Nye, with his iron-gray hair, trim mustache and ruddy complexion, is a definite man-of-distinction type. At the end of a long race, however, having let his beard grow and his dungarees bag, he looks at home on any waterfront. It was in the latter character that he was greeted by officials of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club on the finish line at Marstrand. Learning for the first time that Carina had won, Nye had to go looking for a barber shop and a tailor who would rent him a tuxedo for the presentation dinner.
Just 10 years ago, when he was crowding 40, Nye knew nothing at all about sailing. Looking around for a hobby, he decided to buy the boat that had belonged to his late partner. This was the Vanward and a summer's sailing was enough to make a convert of Nye. Soon he bought a larger boat, the first Carina, and then, having won the Bermuda race and made his first trip abroad in her, he wanted to go a bit faster. Thus, the present Carina, completed only six days before the start of the Newport-to-Sweden race.
Raised on a farm west of Rochester, N. Y., Broker Nye is still a little amazed at Skipper Nye and the way he has taken to the sea. Still playing it down, he is now prepared to admit: "I like the swish of water along the hull of a boat, the way a boat will work its way to windward. I like the companionship, the endless variation, even the frustration. I like the change of watch, the 'Get to hell up there!' at 4 o'clock in the morning—and the big slug of coffee to get going on. I like not shaving."
Broker Nye thought a moment and then, his blue eyes widening behind his spectacles, he said: "I guess I just love every doggone thing about it!"
QUIZ FOR WHISTLE TOOTERS
Football officials have a stock tale: about the grizzled veteran of yesteryear who would show up for a game and casually ask his fellow officials "Well, boys, what's new in the rules this year?"
It is no longer like that. Football officials now are tested and graded like government-inspected meat to see whether they come up to exacting standards of knowledge, "field work," health and availability—and to what degree. A top-ranking Division I referee needs brains, experience and legs.
The 100 high-echelon personnel of Asa Bushnell's Eastern Association of Intercollegiate Football Officials have just sweated out their eighth annual preseason exam, this one in red-bricked Carlin Hall, classroom building on the sloping campus of Holy Cross College.
Before the exam they gathered in small groups, some talking quietly, some thumbing nervously through the thick NCAA football rules book.
"It should be just about the same type of exam that we've taken the last couple of years," one said hopefully. "The only major rule change is in the substitution rule."
"But it's always a tough one," another reminded him.
This was quite true. This year's test asked, for instance, whether an intercepted pass was incomplete when the interceptor snared the ball inside his own end zone but while touching a goal post. (Answer: Pass incomplete.)
"Team A end drops directly back off line of scrimmage, putting Team A tackle in end position on the scrimmage line. There are no backs outflanking him or in motion outside of him. Therefore, tackle on end of line is an eligible pass receiver. (True or false?)" (Answer: False.)
An official's over-all rating, based on part on the exam, might put him into Division I or drop him back to Division II. The bottom rank, Division III, is made up of rookie officials gaining the necessary five or six years of experience requisite to qualification for Division II. They begin by officiating in freshman games, then gradually work up to 150-pound contests and junior varsity games. Even clock operators, who also can fill in for injured game officials, take exams. On the day the Division I officials were being quizzed at Holy Cross, the lower groups, including clock operators, were being examined in Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia and Syracuse.
Ellwood A. Geiges, association secretary, ran through signals with the Division I officials on such topics as the "sucker shift" ("Have to bear down on that, fellows"), "convenient epilepsy" and easily-ripped football jerseys ("Make sure they don't tear them themselves to gain a time out").
Another kind of school is scheduled to open during freshman orientation week at the University of New Hampshire. There members of the New Hampshire Football Officials Association will teach 927 frosh "How To Enjoy Football."
GOLF: THE DEFENSE
Down through the centuries, the gamesmanship of golf has been concerned primarily with the attack, the arts of the nag and the needle to be applied in a thousand and one devious ways to the opponent, always, of course, in the spirit of helpfulness and friendly feelings. But what of the defense against such tactics? Here, for the benefit of those who have not yet been handed a copy at the first tee, is a thoroughgoing codification of defensive strategy now making the rounds:
My handicap is — —. I'm not interested in hearing that you aren't playing to your handicap; and until I've seen you play a few holes, I'm not interested in playing for more than a dime Nassau. If at any time I'm interested in press bets, I'll let you know.
Do not embarrass us by asking that I concede any of your putts. I will volunteer to do so if in my judgment it is deserved.
I admit it is a nice day for golf, that the weather has either been hot or cold, and that the greenskeeper is doing an excellent job.
Kindly refrain from telling me of your past performances on the golf course. The only round which interests me is the one we are about to play.
I would appreciate if you would refrain from such remarks as: "That would have been a birdie—if it hadn't caught the trap." "You got a bad bounce, or it wouldn't have gone out of bounds, etc." I'm capable of doing my own sympathizing.
The score card contains the rules. I shall expect you to apply them as scrupulously as though I were watching—because I will be.
If I happen to be up on the last tee, I do not wish to give an additional half-stroke or more and play the last hole double or nothing.
I prefer while at golf not to be drawn into a discussion of business or economic subjects nor hear such discussions pursued by others in the middle of my backswing.
The following imperfections in my swing are well known to me:
Too fast a backswing.
Standing too far ahead of the ball.
Standing too far behind the ball.
No follow through.
Bending left arm.
Lunging at the ball.
Stance too open.
Stance too closed.
Teeing ball too high.
Teeing ball too low.
Too much right hand.
Not enough right hand.
Left foot too far forward.
Left foot too far back.
The aforementioned faults have been pointed out to me by my professional and also by many of my friends—including a few former friends.
I have been playing more than a few years, so calling my attention to my shortcomings will be superfluous. Your time could be more profitably employed.
Concerning the 19th hole, allow me to state that I don't mind a friendly drink; it helps me become reconciled to my golf imperfections.
If I win your money, I will buy you a drink. If you win, I will expect you to do the same.
If it is agreeable to me to engage in a return match, I will so indicate at the appropriate time. And if your mode of conduct is in accord with the aforementioned suggestions, I am certain the time will be soon.
Thank you for your forthcoming demonstration of courtesy and consideration.
In the past year, three small, shy Dutch girls from the town of Hilversum (pop. 90,000) have broken 11 world swimming records.
For that matter, they have broken four world records since August 12.
The first of this astonishing trio to swim faster than any female ever swam before was 15-year-old Mary Kok. Mary lived around the corner from the Kapelstraat pool in Hilversum, taught herself to swim when she was 6, and studied ballet until she was 11. In June 1954, when she was a month short of her 14th birthday, Mary became a Dutch heroine by equaling the best time of any man in a big race at Loosdrecht. She followed it by setting Dutch records and outswimming grown men and women in a bewildering sequence of events that exhausted the superlatives of the Dutch press. These exploits left Mary tongue-tied; she could only gasp an embarrassed "Ach!" to the questions of reporters.
Right up with Mary in most of her victories was her friend Atie Voorbij, also 14, a meager little girl from a poor Hilversum family. The third girl, Lenie de Nijs, a year older than Mary and Atie, small and solid, also learned to swim when she was 6, and for nine years swam in Mary's wake. Lenie had gotten so used to being second to Mary that this year, when she won at Loosdrecht, she looked around in disbelief when she climbed out of the pool and asked, "Where's Mary?"
Their first world record came last November when Mary, then the only real headliner, was one of a Dutch team (Atie and Lenie were left out) that set a new mark in the 400-meter medley. Early this year Mary set new world records in the 100-meter butterfly (one minute 13.8 seconds), the 100-yard butterfly (one minute 6.1 seconds) and the individual medley. Two of Mary's records quickly fell; but almost as they did so Atie and Lenie set new ones. In July Atie herself brought the world record for the 100-meter butterfly down to one minute 13.7 seconds.
At Utrecht the girls really performed. Lenie de Nijs swam the 1,500-meter freestyle in the world-record time of 20 minutes, 46.5 seconds. On August 12 Mary Kok at Utrecht set a new world record for the mile freestyle—22 minutes 27.1 seconds. Half an hour later Lenie plunged into the same pool and lowered Mary's record by almost 22 seconds—to 22 minutes 5.5 seconds. Six days later, Lenie set another world record, her third of the month, when she swam the 880-yard freestyle in 10 minutes 58.1 seconds—2.1 seconds faster than Australia's Lorraine Crapp in 1954. And finally, to place their performance outside the realm of probability, just the other day Atie Voorbij lowered the 100-meter butterfly mark to one minute 13.2 seconds.
Nobody knows why the girls of Hilversum swim so fast. In 1940 a veteran Dutch swimming coach, Jan Stender, became club trainer of the newly organized Hilversum Seals (Robben is the Dutch word) and instituted a training program that makes ancient Sparta seem effete. The girls get to bed by 7:30 each night, rise before 6:30, start swimming at 7, and go through the 400-meters crawl, followed by 400 meters with the arms held still, 400 meters with the legs held still, 400 meters on their backs, another series for the butterfly, plus calisthenics and runs along a bridle path. The swimming routine is repeated at midday and in the evening. Stender has been under heavy attack for the pace he set for the girls, especially Mary. In one week she raced in three long-distance swims, made four attempts at records, and competed in four other events. He says, "Do they think I have a chronometer where my heart should be? I know how much the girls can take." But the girls said they liked training. "And how!" said Atie. "I'm not so good at walking."
Our badminton play
Can never end—
Our bird flew away
With a feathered friend.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Nashua upset favored Swaps in the match race.
The Brooklyn Dodgers, rallying after a weak spell in late August, picked up their winning ways again, expected to clinch the National League pennant sometime this week.
Leo Durocher, meanwhile, was presented fresh proof this was 1955, the year the Giants lost the pennant. When Johnny Antonelli, star left-hander of the 1954 world champions, showed a reluctance to give way to a relief pitcher in Philadelphia, Durocher suspended him from the team, sent him home to New York.
Ernie Banks, slender sophomore shortstop of the Chicago Cubs, swung his modern, buggy-whip bat (only 31 ounces) against a modern, jack-rabbit baseball, watched it disappear into the left field catwalk at Wrigley Field for his 40th home run of the year, breaking a record for shortstops. The great Honus Wagner in his best year with Pittsburgh (1908) hit just 10.
Gunnar Nielsen of Denmark and Laszlo Tabori of Hungary reeled off two races in times that would have been hailed with headlines a few years ago, rated instead only a few brief and buried paragraphs for their feats, further pointed up the fact that distances from 800 to 3,000 meters would be the feature events of the 1956 Olympic track program. Nielsen's now pedestrian time for 1,500 meters: 3:43. Tabori's in the mile: 4:03.6.
Swoon's Son, a stretch-running Chicago colt with five straight victories and the fattest bank roll in the 2-year-old division ($129,715), added another victory and 91,405 more dollars to his collection by winning the Washington Park Futurity, established himself as the horse to beat for the 2-year-old-of-the-year title.