GRAVY IN THE SUGAR BOWL
This is an article from the Dec. 12, 1955 issue
Governor Marvin Griffin of Georgia, his pen dripping with a thick old-fashioned demagogic gravy, signed a telegram the other day. It called upon the state's Board of Regents to put a stop forever to such things as the Georgia Tech game at New Orleans on January 2, in which a Negro will play for Pitt.
"The South," he mouthed, "stands at Armageddon. The battle is joined. We cannot make the slightest concession to the enemy in this dark and lamentable hour of struggle." Immediately these words produced an ugly cloud somewhat larger than a gravy spot on a slobbering politician's vest.
Georgia Tech students and some high school followers formed a rabble army 4,000 strong which marched to chanted vulgarisms through downtown Atlanta, up to the state capitol grounds and three miles onward to the governor's mansion. They paused en route to hang the governor in effigy a dozen times, scuffled with police, rolled ash cans into the streets and carried additional vulgarities on signs: "Griffin sits on his brains," "We hate nigger haters," "We'll play anybody."
Governor Griffin did not come out to greet them. He paced the floor inside the mansion, declaiming from time to time that a man does not change his principles because of a demonstration. About 3 a.m. the students retired to their dormitories, and next day word went out that the governor was through sending telegrams for a while.
The Regents decided that Tech can play in the Sugar Bowl this year but that hereafter neither Tech nor any other Georgia team may play non-segregated football in the South, although they may do so up North. They praised the governor for his "courageous stand...[and] inspiring leadership in protecting inviolate the sacred institutions of our people."
That's the way it stands, at least until next season. Target of the governor's outburst was Bobby Grier, reserve fullback and only Negro on the Pitt team. At Pitt there was a composed silence, and it fell pleasantly on the ear.
On the principle that "golf is too great a sport to have any taint of gambling attached to it," Bing Crosby has decided that his $15,000 national pro-amateur tournament at Del Monte will be conducted next month without the added attraction of a Calcutta pool.
The decision was made, of course, in the turbulent backwash of the Deep-dale Country Club's unfortunate experience with a Calcutta (SI, Nov. 14). On the basis of a relatively modest $45,000 pool, Deepdale attracted at least two ringers with falsified handicaps. One golfer who has followed Calcuttas with a disapproving eye estimates that 100 such pools a year involve $30,000 or more apiece—among recent pools, Palm Springs at $85,000, Greenbrier at $85,000, Nassau at $96,000. At last January's Crosby tournament the Calcutta was $71,750.
As Calcuttas have grown in number and volume of money invested there has developed a well-trod Calcutta circuit patronized by amateurs who make more money at gambling than some pros make at their trade. This has been a source of concern to officials of the United States Golf Association, who are without control over private tournaments. When Crosby announced his decision Edward E. Lowery, executive committee member of the USGA, spread the word happily and took the occasion to say: "A splendid contribution to the game of golf."
LIFE AND MR. LOEFFLER
This time a year ago Ken Loeffler was riding high as coach of the La Salle team which (with famous Tom Gola) went all the way to the final of the NCAA bssketball tournament. This week Ken Loeffler was riding low: he was directing the fortunes of Texas A&M, which may have the worst team in the worst major basketball conference in the U.S. Staking its first claim to that title, the Texans opened their season by losing to Tulsa 48-43.
But low as he may ride, Ken Loeffler's spirits are as high as ever. The man who has lived the full basketball life (as a pro, as coach of Yale and La Salle) hesitates not at all when he is asked to explain why he took on his present job under Athletic Director Bear Bryant.
"Nothing else left for me to do," says Loeffler. "I figure that if I can come down here—to the subbasement of the subbasement—and do some good, then maybe I'll have really done something.
"Safety is the most contemptible of life's gifts. If you don't dare and dare again, life will leave you alone. And that is the cruelest thing life can do to you. The real happiness you get out of coaching is the fun you get out of life. When I die, I hope it's sitting on a bench with a three-point lead and somebody like Gola with the ball."
As he spoke of life, Loeffler was seated at his cluttered desk in the shiny new field house. He picked up a letter and read it aloud: "'Dear Mr. Loeffler: I am 6 feet 7½ inches tall and weigh 174.' " He guffawed as he tossed the letter into the basket marked "Hold."
"I'll answer that one," he said—"beginning 'Dear Sliver.' "
Loeffler leaned back in his chair and looked as if he might be thinking about life again. "I couldn't recruit here even if I wanted to," he said. "Bear [Athletic Director Bryant] tells me, 'Oh no, Ken. No recruiting.' He can afford to tell me that. His football larder is filled. My larder is bare. So we'll have to develop players. It's a lot like Yale. I became the greatest defensive coach in basketball up at Yale because we never got our hands on the ball. A&M is Yale in the rough."
He said it in the tones of a happy man. The rest of the Southwest Conference is hereby warned.
BLINKY CARRIES ON
Among beneficiaries of the Basilio-DeMarco fight (see pages 26 and 45) were the former Welterweight Champion Johnny Saxton and his manager, Blinky Palermo. Palermo attended the fight and returned to Philadelphia with $12,500 of its proceeds, though his boxer's only part in the affair was to show a decent restraint in not insisting on an immediate rematch after losing the title to DeMarco, in saying nothing when Basilio was permitted to fight DeMarco (and thereby win the title) and in standing docilely aside while Basilio and DeMarco fought again.
For thus minding their manners, Saxton and Palermo were rewarded with a percentage of one of the best gates of the year and now Saxton will be signed to fight Basilio in February.
But not in New York. Last April Chairman Julius Helfand of the New York boxing commission let Palermo know that he was persona non grata and could not have a New York license. Palermo's background includes a police record, the numbers racket and long association with Frankie Carbo, the gray ghost behind many a boxing scandal. Down from Syracuse, where Basilio is a local hero, came alert young Norman Rothschild, promoter, to ask that Helfand permit him to put on a Saxton-Basilio fight in February. Palermo will get a license from him, Helfand said, "neither now nor ever."
"I would be putting the stamp of approval on gangsterism in boxing," Helfand said. He recalled the sworn testimony of Angel Lopez, former manager of Kid Gavilan, that Palermo had said Carbo's approval was needed to sanction a return match between Saxton and Gavilan. (Saxton had won the title from Gavilan with the help of a friendly Philadelphia decision.)
But in his home base, Philadelphia, Palermo is licensed as a manager, regardless of what New York thinks of him and his gangster associations, and so is free to operate there and in other states which respect a Pennsylvania license. From time to time, incidents arise which cast dim, flickering lights on his operations and reputation. Nothing has stopped him yet.
In the latest incident Coley Wallace, retired heavyweight who played the title role in The Joe Louis Story, was called before the Pennsylvania boxing commission and asked whether it was true that, while Blinky was his manager, he had been fed a "slow pill" just before he lost to Bob Baker at Cleveland in October 1954. His testimony was taken in executive session and at the insistence of Palermo's lawyer, Morton Witkin. The Philadelphia Inquirer had published a report that the commission was investigating the Baker upset and Blinky's part in it. Witkin demanded a hearing to exonerate his client.
After the hearing Witkin announced that Wallace had denied ever saying he had been drugged. The commissioners said only that the testimony—of Wallace, Blinky and others—would be evaluated while their investigation continues.
On another of the three main boxing investigation fronts, that instigated by Governor Goodwin J. Knight of California (SI, May 30), members of a four-man team expected to visit Pennsylvania and New York in a month or so. Their purpose: to find out how their brother investigators are making out and what they may have learned about California promoters and managers.
Distance running has been recognized as a formidable sport ever since Pheidippides raced 22 miles to Athens after the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., cried "Rejoice, we conquer," and then fell dead of exhaustion. But even Pheidippides might well have been appalled on the starting line for the 17th annual running last week in East Lansing, Mich, of the National Collegiate Athletic Association cross-country championship. It was held in a near-blizzard of snow flurries whipped by a 37-mph wind and the thermometer hung only 12° above zero.
Before a handful of chilled spectators on the Michigan State baseball diamond, a race official wrapped comfortably in overcoat, galoshes, mittens and stocking cap barked over the public address speaker: "Disrobe." Eighty-four young men, the top distance runners of 27 U.S. colleges, pulled off sweat suits and parkas, and lined up in goose-pimply readiness in running trunks and shirts—about four ounces of light cotton. Cracked Michigan State Coach Karl Schlademan: "Invigorating, isn't it?" To his runners he added superflously, "Hurry back." At the crack of the gun, the runners bounded forward and promptly disappeared in the storm.
Michigan State's Selwyn Jones took an early lead as the tightly bunched runners loped around the diamond and two adjoining fields. He held on to it doggedly along the banks of the frozen Red Cedar River, past the football stadium and a dormitory and into the university's sugar bush, where the course looped over a mile of ice-glazed trails. Just after two miles of the four-mile race, George King, a lithe and wispy veteran from New York University, forged into the lead, but jogging close behind, biding their time, were the two new stars of the 1955 cross-country season: stocky Henry Kennedy, a Scotland-born Michigan State sophomore who won the IC4A and Big Ten meets this fall, and Charles (Deacon) Jones, a sinewy Negro from Iowa, also a sophomore.
At the three-mile marker, his breath steaming in the frigid air, Kennedy moved into the lead, with the Deacon following him like a shadow. At three-and-a-half miles—reversing the sequence of just nine days earlier at the Big Ten meet in Chicago, when Kennedy defeated him with a homestretch burst—Jones pulled even, then slightly into the lead. In the tightest stretch drive in the meeting's history, the two runners sprinted the last 370 yards in a shoulder-to-shoulder deadlock. The winner, by two feet: Deacon Jones. Despite the weather, Jones's time for the four miles was a remarkable 19:57.4, just 29.1 seconds less than the course record.
The runners were herded into the locker room where trainers warned: "No hot showers. Keep it lukewarm until your ears and fingers have thawed." Frostbite cases got emergency treatment on the spot, but none was serious. Said Ray Menzie, a drawling representative of Mississippi State: "Cold? Mister, I never knew it could get so cold."
THE OLD KLUB TIE
While a lot of U.S. golfers are wondering whether or not this winter will prove sufficiently mild for them to get in at least a couple of rounds, none of the 600 Norwegians who belong to the Oslo Golf Club—or Klub, as they call it—has been giving the matter a second thought. This year, as usual, the first snow hit Oslo in late September, and unless a glacier or the Gulf Stream does something unforeseen, there will be snow on the course, sometimes as much as 10 feet of it, until May rolls around. Oddly enough, though, quite a few members of the Foreign—or American—Chapter of the Oslo course have been thinking of their klub in recent weeks. Specifically, they have been wondering whether the batch of fungicides they shipped across this autumn will do the job they hope it will in preventing a reoccurrence of winterkill, a grass-destroying fungus that develops handsomely when the sun's rays hit a sheet of ice and the ice acts like a magnifying glass in transmitting the heat to the moist, un-aerated grass beneath it. Even in the unusual world of golf, the American Chapter of the OGK is a rare outfit, and perhaps the best thing to do is to begin at the beginning of the story.
The Oslo Golf Klub, the only 18-hole course in Norway—there are nine-holers in Bergen and Trondheim—was founded in 1924. Laid out by Olaf Heyerdahl, a veteran local golfer, its holes climb up and down the shady side of a mountain in the Bogstad section of the city. Provided you are in pretty good shape, it is a very pleasant place to play. The club prospered uneventfully until World War II when the Germans invaded Norway. Seeing no tangible gain in employing a golf course as a golf course, the occupying forces melted down the maintenance machinery for scrap, built barracks on some of the land, and used the rest for growing potatoes. When Germany was defeated and a Norwegian could think about recreation again, the members of the OGK found themselves stymied. They had no course, no equipment, and very little chance of doing anything about it inasmuch as their government had clamped down on using kroner in foreign markets to purchase other than necessary goods.
Into the breach stepped one Karl Krogstad, New York representative for several Norwegian shipowners. Mr. Krogstad's plan (sanctioned by the Klub's governors) was that a number of golf-playing Americans who did business with Norway and were generally interested in that country be invited to become life members of the OGK; a membership would cost $250 and the money collected would be spent for materials to get the course in proper operation again.
Krogstad met with a quick response from his American friends. About 60 of them became life members and, coincidentally, formed the American Chapter. In 1946 the first bundles for Bogstad were shipped across the Atlantic by the Norwegian-America Line and the Fjell Line: tractors, jeeps, gang mowers, grass seed and fertilizers. In more recent years, with the course once again back on its feet, the American Chapter has limited its gifts to relatively minor items like fungicides, Milorganite, new bed knives for the mowers, and, occasionally, golf balls, still a scarce item in Europe.
A large number of the 60 members of the American Chapter have played their Oslo course during visits to Norway. This has engendered closer ties with their postwar orphan, as have three annual outings, which the AC of the OGK plays at the Blind Brook Club in Port Chester, N.Y., and an interchange of trophies. On one hand, the AC put up the Norway Cup, which teams from Norway, Sweden and Denmark compete for, and, on the other, the home club sent across a cup that goes to the golfer who kollects the lowest skore in the AC's annual Klub Championship. The Norwegian word for fore, incidentally, is fore and not fiord.
ON FORWARD PASSES
Football scholars given to brawling over the origins of the forward pass can get the argument started all over again by consulting a new book, Football's Greatest Coaches, written by Edwin Pope, executive sports editor of the Atlanta Journal. Mr. Pope subtitles his chapter on John W. Heisman: "Father of the Forward Pass," and then goes on to make a case for the man who coached Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, W&J, Penn and Rice and gave his name to the trophy awarded annually to the year's outstanding college player.
It seems, writes Mr. Pope, that one October afternoon back in 1895, North Carolina was playing Pop Warner's Georgia team at Atlanta. A Carolina fullback falling back to punt suddenly found himself about to be smothered by a quorum of Georgia linemen. In desperation, or panic, the Carolina man hurled the ball away from him and a startled teammate found himself grabbing it and running 70 yards for a touchdown. Pop Warner screamed bloody murder, but the apparently bewildered officials let the touchdown stand although it was clearly illegal as the rules then read. Carolina won the game, 6-0.
As it happened, John Heisman, then coaching Auburn, was a spectator at the game. He was delighted with the pass play and saw in it an answer to the flying wedge which was then making football a brutal, bone-breaking, head-cracking game. Heisman knew that the forward pass would be too radical a prescription for the rule makers to swallow all at once, so he kept his own counsel until 1903, when he thought Walter Camp was ready to listen. But Camp wasn't ready then nor when Heisman tried again a year later.
"Showing unusual patience," writes Mr. Pope, "Heisman took up the matter with former Penn Star John Bell and Navy Coach Paul Dashiell. They supported the pass at the next meeting of the rules committee. Amos Alonzo Stagg stepped in with another boost, and in 1906 'Heisman's forward pass' became a part of football."
It is now generally agreed that the first legal use of the forward pass (Knute Rockne supported this case in his autobiography) was by St. Louis University in a game with Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., in September 1906. While most eastern teams ignored the pass, St. Louis used it freely all that season, and you can get a fight going in the state of Missouri by even hinting that anybody but Eddie Cochems, the St. Louis coach, was "the father of the forward pass." Of course, in Middletown, Conn., they claim that Wesleyan used the first legal overhand spiral pass against Yale on October 3, 1906. There are also other quibbles around the country.
Even if it was Cochems, old John Heisman has other claims to immortality. For he was the fellow who used to hold up a football when addressing his squad on the first day of practice in the fall and ask, "What is it?" Then (as Mr. Pope tells it in his new book) Heisman would answer his own question:
"A prolate spheroid—that is, an elongated sphere—in which the outer leathern casing is drawn tightly over a somewhat smaller rubber tubing."
Then old John Heisman would look slowly around and declare ominously:
"Better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football."
FUR HAZY JELLY GUT FURLOUGH
Fur hazy jelly gut furlough
Fur hazy jelly gut furlough
Fur hazy jelly gut furlough
Witch nor bawdy candor nigh.
—H. L. CHACE
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
U.S. Olympic track and field tryouts will be held next June—months ahead of the Melbourne Olympics—despite well-grounded arguments for holding them later in the summer (as the Russians will do). Reasons: the impossibility of shifting the standard U.S. spring track program to the fall or to tie up collegiate athletes and others in what would amount to almost a full year of continuous meets.
All-America pickers—most of whom overlooked him—were mildly embarrassed when the little-publicized Gary Glick, defensive backfield star of Colorado A&M, became the No. 1 choice of the pros in the National Football League draft. One reason the Pittsburgh Steelers passed up Ohio State's Hop-along Cassady (later picked in the first round by the Detroit Lions) and Michigan State's Earl Morrall (picked by the San Francisco 49ers) was Glick's service status: at 25, he has already put in his military service—four years in the Navy.
Rex Ellsworth, owner of Swaps, once more showed his faith in foreign bloodlines (the foundation of Ellsworth's great success as a breeder was his purchase of the Irish stallion Khaled) by becoming the big purchaser at England's Newmarket horse sales. Ellsworth spent some $240,000, most of it for brood mares to be shipped to his California stable.
The Department of Justice's monopoly case against the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president), is now ready for court trial in New York about mid-January. Prospects: arguments and counterarguments lasting three to six weeks.
College basketball got underway (see page 22) with a heavy Saturday schedule and did nothing to change the opinion of preseason experts: the teams to beat were still San Francisco, Kentucky, Utah, Iowa, Dayton, George Washington, North Carolina State and Holy Cross.