SALUTE TO CORTINA
This is an article from the Jan. 30, 1956 issue
The Olympic year of 1956 begins this week with a merry skirr of skates and a soft swoosh of skis in a little Alpine town high in the craggy Dolomites of northeastern Italy. To Cortina d'Ampezzo have trooped the winter sports athletes of 32 nations, vanguard of all the clans of man who will, before the year is out, have run and thrown and jumped and wrestled in quadrennial recognition of the fact that sport makes all men brothers so long as they have buttons on their foil tips.
The brotherhood of man has had rough sledding over the ages, perhaps even rougher than the Olympic athletes have encountered at Cortina, where a sirocco swooped up from the Libyan desert to melt the essential snow and chill the harried hearts of Games officials. Skaters and skiers and bobsledders, practicing under these obscene conditions, have taken nasty spills and some have been thereby eliminated from the Olympics before they could test themselves in competition. These are the ill fortunes of sport. Still, it has been heartwarming to see that, while the injured shed private tears, they faced the news cameras with broad, brave smiles.
It is pleasant to know, too, that the Games officials, plagued by all the snafus that organization is heir to, have taken the sirocco in stumbling but heroic stride and gone on to outwit it as best they can. They have prayed for snow and cold but they have also made their own provisions. For ski jumping, snow can be trucked down to fill in for what has failed to fall, the cross-country skiers can move to higher and colder ground, the bobsledders can perhaps compete on ice from the early morning freeze. There is artificial ice for the figure skaters and a still-frozen lake for the speed skaters and hockey teams. And there is always the hope that it might yet blow a well-timed blizzard, though not too much, di grazia!
Cortina begins, then, with a sporting handicap. SI salutes Cortina, wishes it well and invites you to turn to page 26 for a preview of this phase of the Olympic year.
DUKE'S YOUNG MR. SIME
Andy Stanfield, reigning Olympic 200-meter champion, and Rod Richard, sprint master of the Pan-American Games, came off the blocks at the crack of the starter's gun and, shoulder to shoulder, headed down the gleaming white board straightaway of Washington's National Guard Armory track toward the finish line 70 yards away. Seven seconds and a fraction later, still shoulder to shoulder, they arrived at their destination—only to discover someone else had been there first.
The young man who had just beaten two of the world's finest dash men was named David Sime and he was a student at Duke University. That much, which the crowd discovered after a quick check of their programs, was about all the information available at the moment, apart from the fact that Duke's young Mr. Sime seemed to be tall, red-headed and the bearer of a bashful grin. Further details were probably unimportant anyway; with a good start, those things can happen at 70 yards, indoors.
But when the same tall youngster with the same thunderous stride charged home again, first, in the 80-yard dash, the crowd began to stir. And when he beat Stanfield in the 100 for a third straight victory, the only calm person around was the meet announcer. "The winner," he droned, "Sime of Duke. Time, 9.5 seconds, a new meet record."
For a moment there was silence and then the announcer, no longer calm, came back on the air. "Sime's 9.5," he announced, "is also a new world indoor record."
No one was more surprised than David Sime himself (see page 14). A sophomore premedical student from Fairlawn, N.J., the 19-year-old sprinter went to Duke on a baseball scholarship.
"I played halfback on the football team in high school," he said, "and ran a little in the spring and summer. But baseball was my sport and I concentrated on that."
Then one day last spring, while waiting for baseball practice to start, he dropped by the track to watch Joel Shankle, Duke's champion hurdler, work out. "Looks like fun," Sime said. "Come on out," said Shankle. So he did. As a freshman, Sime (pronounced Sim) split his time between baseball, where he played center field and hit .340, and track, where he went unbeaten in the 100 (9.6), the 220 (21.1), the broad jump (23 feet 3 inches) and the low hurdles (23.2). But not many people outside the South knew much about David Sime, until Saturday night.
BRING ON THE HAY BALES—II
Two weeks after SI road-tested the new Corvette—and invited General Motors onto the hay-bale-lined road to the sports car championship of the world (SI, Jan. 16)—GM's Chevrolet division made an epochal announcement:
The Corvette should be in competition by March.
The Corvette's first big racing test, if all goes well, will be the 12-hour international endurance race at Sebring, Fla. Thereafter, Corvettes may carry America's blue-and-white colors to the most important sports car race of all, France's 24-hour test at Le Mans.
For American enthusiasts it was eye-blinking news—an open commitment by the largest division of the world's biggest manufacturing corporation to explore a fascinating arena of sport that has long been dominated by Europeans. Except for Sportsman Briggs Cunningham's virtually single-handed efforts with homebred machines, the U.S. has lately let sports car racing honors go to overseas manufacturers by default.
Chevrolet's chief engineer, Edward N. Cole, conceded that GM does not expect overnight success: "We are neophytes in this game. We have a lot to learn, and we expect to make mistakes." Chevrolet will start out with the basic 1956 Corvette, the car which John Fitch road-tested at 133 mph for SI and which, with racing modifications that will be available to the public, bettered 150 mph last week at Daytona Beach in the hands of Corvette Engineer Zora Duntov.
Chevrolet expects to build 100 Corvettes in the first month of production and then 1,000 a month during the rest of 1956. Those which turn up in races of less than three hours probably will carry the kind of optional equipment Duntov used at Daytona Beach—small racing windscreen in place of the standard, speed-cheating wrap-around windshield, a streamlined cockpit cover, modified camshaft and a rear-axle ratio to suit the circuit. For longer grinds that place a premium on brakes, such as Sebring, special brakes and lightweight magnesium knockoff wheels are contemplated. At Sebring, by the way, the Corvettes will be opposed by two examples of Detroit's only other comparable car, the Ford Thunderbird.
Whatever the competition, Chevrolet is out to make its mark. "We are in the sports car business," said Edward Cole, "and we are in it to stay."
DESIGN FOR SPORT
Even tomorrow's conventional automobile, according to today's best guess, is going to be a machine of sport, a car for fun and fresh air. That is immediately clear to anyone who takes a look at this year's Motorama, which General Motors has just dispatched on its annual cross-country tour. From the plainest Chevrolet station wagon to Cadillac's $8,500 Eldorado brougham, the 1956 models have the look and feel of sport firmly etched into their design.
There is, for example, the Cadillac sedan with a built-in picnic bar alongside the driver's seat—a kind of automotive kitchenette with electric oven, icebox and even a safe for mother's jewels when the time comes to park the car and head into the woods for a hike.
Yet it is in the "dream cars," the experimental models which all five GM divisions put on display each year, that the pattern of tomorrow's motoring is most striking. From bumper to bumper each of them is a direct offshoot of today's sports car, low and dashing and styled for people who aren't afraid of fresh air.
Then there is a four-passenger Buick sedan called the Centurion, which has an all-glass top, perhaps to give the feel of exposure to people not yet ready for the reality.
THE BOAT SHOWS
With 25 million Americans racing, lolling aboard, fishing from or otherwise enjoying 5,537,000 pleasure craft in 1955, it astonished practically no one when the 46th annual National Motorboat Show in New York turned out to be the biggest and best yet. Attendance at the ten-day, eye-popping spectacle was estimated at 225,000. There wasn't room for all the exhibitors who wanted space and of those who did get precious square footage, several had to stop taking orders before the show was over; they had sold all the boats they could build in 1956. Among the sales: a $30,000 cruiser to Roy Campanella of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
When the word "boom" is applied to all this activity on the boating scene, boat people wince. It's no boom, they protest, but a permanent solid interest as firmly grounded as the interest in automobiles.
The talk of small fry at the show tended to confirm this view; youngsters were tossing off the big trade names, such as Richardson, Matthews, Higgins, Chris-Craft, as glibly as they can fling out the names of four-wheeled jobs.
As the New York show closed, an even bigger Chicago show prepared to open. The latter will have seven-and-a-half acres of boats, 645 in all, representing 122 builders from the U.S., Canada, Sweden, England, Scotland and Germany.
A man from Mars, going from one exhibit to the other, might get the idea that boats were—excuse the expression—booming.
JULIE CARRIES ON
As the boxing Writer's Association of New York sat down to its annual dinner the other night, Julius Helfand, chairman of the New York State boxing commission, had a chance to sign a negotiated peace with boxing's dirty business. The International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president) had boarded his bandwagon, the Boxing Guild of New York was kaputt and the National Boxing Association's executive committee was avowedly on his side.
It would have been an easy peace to make. Helfand rejected it. He began his after-dinner speech gently enough, recalling that he had taken the boxing cleanup job without experience, save that which comes to any racket-busting district attorney.
"I came here a year ago," he said, "and told you I knew nothing about boxing. Now I know a great deal."
He acknowledged his pleased surprise when the NBA executive committee voted to support him in his outlawing of the New York Guild and passed a second resolution requiring that managers be licensed in their home states before they could operate elsewhere. But seconds later his thanks took on the look of a rhetorical feint.
"And then," he said, "came the third (resolution). This is my greatest surprise. The shock of this was so great that I did not feel it for several days. It says that a boxer could sign his own contract in a state where his manager is suspended.
"This is sheer hypocrisy and nothing else."
These were harsh words. At least several of the 14 boxing commissioners who otherwise supported him had voted for this resolution in an effort to avoid punishing boxers for the sins of their managers. But Helfand is a brusquely practical man who has learned, in one year, that the boxing jungle observes no ethic but the old law of the claw.
"They might as well have held no meeting at all," Helfand cried and went on to point out, as SI did last week, that "if you permit a fighter whose manager has been suspended to sign for his own fights you are putting a blinder on your eyes because you know that after the fight is over they will go back to the hotel and the manager will whack up the purse."
"I say to Mr. Radzienda," he continued, turning to Lou Radzienda, NBA president, "that if he is sincere, the NBA will repeal that resolution. Otherwise you have done nothing for boxing."
As Radzienda blinked (he indicated later that he, at least, would do nothing to repeal the resolution), Julius Helfand sat down and in that moment discovered that, though some of the press had been less than friendly to him, though few who make a living in boxing have dared express open admiration for him, he had won at least a large portion of this audience of newspapermen, fight managers, boxers and fans. There were shouts and cheers and many stood in a rising ovation. It was quite apparent that Julie Helfand had only begun to fight.
PEACE OF MIND
Rocky Marciano was at the Boxing Writers' dinner too. Presenting the rookie-of-the-year award to a young fighter named Bob Murphy, Rocky took the plaque in his big hands. "I never got my hands on one of these before," he said. (When he was a rookie, the award was not being given.) But he knew how an able young athlete like Bob Murphy had a right to feel:
"Once a kid takes a sport and likes it, there's the necessity of clean living. He'll learn courage in the ring. He'll learn the way to being a good citizen...."
He raised his own huge fists up and looked at them. "A kid learns to use these...and he goes out into the world a fearless man. And that's a comfortable feeling."
BAD NEWS FROM THE BUREAU
Tax Laws, believe it or not, are a great help in rounding up a good college football team. Under Section 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, contributions to educational institutions are tax exempt; in other words, a rich and rabid football fan can deduct the cost of sending a swivel-hipped halfback to his favorite seat of learning. There are even those, it seems, who would like to deduct the added cost of luring the athlete to old Siwash State—an expense that sometimes runs into quite a sum, what with a new convertible for the prospect's father and a new automatic washing machine for Mom, along with numerous trips to the campus and appropriate accompanying entertainment for the halfback himself.
Recently the bureau gave some further thought to this matter and decided things had gone too far. A group of alumni, otherwise unidentified, had asked the bureau whether "an organization which raises funds to be used principally in travel and other activities necessary to interview and persuade prospective students with outstanding athletic ability to attend a particular university" was tax exempt. The bureau said no, that these activities were "not properly classifiable as exclusively educational."
This may come as a blow to a number of the country's best football teams. Suppose that booster groups were forced to let athletes make up their own minds, free of inducements, about where they wished to be educated.
Or even worse: suppose the bureau carried its thinking on this subject to a logical conclusion and decided that contributions for scholarships limited strictly to athletes were "not properly classifiable as exclusively educational."
Canada has just issued its first postage stamp honoring a sport. Naturally, the sport is hockey. The stamp, a blue 5-center, shows three hockey players in action. Their shirts bear the simple legend "Canada"—not the big "C" that identifies Les Canadiens of proud old Montreal, a city which feels so strongly about such things that it would be quite in character if its citizens loyally refused to buy any of the new stamps.
If it seems surprising that Canada is just getting around to issuing a sports stamp, it is no less startling to check up on sports issues in the U.S., a nation preoccupied with games. In all the nation's history, the U.S. has had only five stamps with sporting themes. Three were issued in 1932, the year the Olympics were held at Lake Placid and Los Angeles. One showed a skier, one a runner crouched at the starting line, one a discus thrower. There was a baseball stamp for the celebration of what was erroneously believed to be the game's centennial in 1939. Finally, in 1948, Congressman Harold Youngblood of Detroit put through a bill for a stamp honoring the American Turners Society in its 100th gymnastic year.
What are the plans for a stamp taking note of this notable Olympic year? None. There will be no Olympic stamp.
The Post Office Department explains that it issues only about a dozen new stamps a year and at present there are 2,200 nominations on file. Thus, sports and many famous Americans (General of the Armies John J. Pershing, for one) have had to be neglected.
Even so, some strange selections have been made. There have been stamps honoring newsboys, lawyers, farm boys, bankers, railroad engineers and volunteer firemen. The trucking industry has been hailed and, saluting the glories of the poultry business, a 1948 stamp carried a full length portrait of a rooster which looked—for what consolation it may be to sports-minded collectors—a little like Casey Stengel wearing his new Japanese kimono (see page 13).
GOOD SENSE AT BELMONT
For several years now the meaning of the once-inspiring phrase Triple Crown winner has had pretty much of a false ring among horsemen. Aside from the distinct possibility that no colt since Citation (1948) may have been good enough to capture the Triple Crown—Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont—a lot of very fine racers were denied the privilege of even shooting for it simply because their owners had neglected to nominate them for all three of the spring classics. For one reason or another, for instance, the last time a Derby winner even started in the Belmont was in 1951.
Track management attempted, a few years back, to call attention to the situation by closing nominations for all three classics on the same day, February 15, but, while Pimlico gladly accepted supplementary nominations for the Preakness in an honest effort to lure the Derby winner on to Baltimore, Belmont Park steadfastly stuck to its "nosupplementary nominations" edict. Last year, for example, Belmont's regulations may have prevented Swaps and Nashua from meeting in all the Triple Crown events. After Swaps (who had been nominated to the Derby only) had beaten Nashua in Kentucky, Owner Rex Ellsworth said, "If we could get into the Belmont, we'd stay East for the Preakness too."
SI aired this vexing problem last spring (SI, May 23, May 30) and, when Belmont decided against a policy change, suggested an alternate proposal: a common nomination blank for the three races.
Something new has been added to the racing scene since last May. Belmont Park, along with New York's other flat racing tracks, has come under ownership of the Greater New York Association. Last week, having reached one of its first concrete decisions aimed at bringing a new look to Eastern racing, the group had an announcement to make: for the 88th Belmont Stakes this June 16, supplementary entries at $5,000 will be accepted to within five days of the race.
Sounds like good news for everybody interested in the fine old tradition of Triple Crown competition.
FOOTNOTE TO A FOOTNOTE
It is a month and a half since violent death came to Alex Louis Greenberg, financial expert of the old Capone mob (SI, Dec. 26), and Chicago police are still in search of the two men who gunned him to the ground outside the Glass Dome Hickory Pit.
Like any old Capone man, Greenberg no doubt accumulated his share of private enemies, but the circumstance in the life and death of Greenberg that attracted SI's attention was the relationship between a notorious gangster and the boxing business. One of Greenberg's latter-day efforts was the expansion of his Canadian Ace Brewery (originally a Capone property) in New York State through an ill-fated distributing company known as World Champions, Inc. In this effort Greenberg's brewery wrapped itself in the prestige of Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson, stockholders and officers of the proposed distributing company. The effort failed when New York State refused a license, in large part because of Greenberg's history.
Another original stockholder in the Canadian Ace Brewery-Joe Louis-Ray Robinson distributing company was to have been Truman Gibson Jr., now secretary of the IBC, then the lawyer for and business adviser to Joe Louis. SI reported—incorrectly, on the basis of a circumstantially detailed newspaper account—that Chicago police had questioned Gibson about Alex Greenberg after the murder. SI takes this opportunity to correct the record. It further notes Truman Gibson Jr.'s assurance that "I was not 'a friend and business associate' of Louis Greenberg. I had not seen Mr. Greenberg for a period of five years prior to his death."
SI believes the public still has the obligation to be concerned with the links between the underworld and the boxing business, and one of these is exemplified in the case of Alex Greenberg and World Champions, Inc.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
President Eisenhower, kept from his favorite putting and chipping green by a blanket of snow, has turned to swimming as a new form of exercise at the suggestion of his physicians. Each day, shortly before lunch, Ike walks over to the 15-by-50-foot White House pool, ducks into the tepid 86° water and porpoises around for 30 or 40 minutes under the watchful eye of Dr. Howard McC. Snyder.
Kentucky's intrepid Adolph Rupp brushed off early-season defeats by Temple and Dayton and put in his claim for the NCAA basketball championship. Admitting that unbeaten San Francisco will be in the finals March 22, Rupp says: "That's when we have our date with them. And I know what to do with them right now."
American track fans got disappointing news when Britain's Brian Hewson, one of five who have run the mile in less than four minutes, regretfully notified the AAU that he won't be able to compete in the U.S. next month because of a strained leg muscle, though he may possibly arrive for the wind-up of the indoor season in March. But balancing the disappointment of mile fanciers was the discovery of the new sprint sensation, Dave Sime of Duke (see above).
Russia, even more serious about the Melbourne Olympics than about Cortina, is planning the biggest tryouts ever held by one country. According to Constantin Andreanov, Soviet Olympic chairman, millions of Russians will take part in a three-month-long series of meets with some 10,000 survivors competing in the finals—a two-week "Spartakiade" in a new 100,000-seat stadium in Moscow next August.
East Germany has unfrocked five athletes who fled to the West, taking away their title Master of Sports because "through their behavior they have damaged the reputation of the democratic sport movement."
A QUESTION OF HONOR
It would be a bore to list serially all the fouls Sandy Saddler, featherweight champion, committed last Wednesday night at San Francisco in a televised bout with Flash Elorde, a young Filipino. Among them were butting, hitting and holding, and gouging at Elorde's cut eye with the glove laces. Saddler won thereby a technical knockout. It was the dirtiest fight in years.
After the fight Elorde's doelike little wife gave a statement to reporters:
"I should say something about our country," she began shyly, then let the sentence trail off. "I hope that the fight brought no dishonor to our country."