It was a week of redemption for college sport, and its administrators were entitled to take a bow.
In New Orleans the National Collegiate Athletic Association, in congress assembled, proved that it meant to enforce its 1952 housecleaning resolutions on the recruiting of college athletes. For varying offenses, the NCAA put six colleges on probation: Mississippi College, Texas A & M and Kansas—one year apiece; Louisville and Florida—two years; Alabama Polytechnic Institute—three years and the threat of permanent expulsion. In most cases it meant no postseason games, no participation in NCAA championships.
Out west the Pacific Coast Conference put the University of Washington on two years' probation because of its downtown slush fund for football players (SI, Feb. 20). That meant no NCAA championships, no Rose Bowl and no share of Rose Bowl receipts.
May 13, 1956
Joan Flynn Dreyspool, who has written a pair of conversation pieces on Rocky Marciano by now—the latest just last week—has sent SI an informal dispatch beginning: "I know now where Rocky gets his endurance. From his mother."
To this observation Mrs. Dreyspool attaches a condensed diary of two days and a night with Mama Marchegiano.
Monday: 12:45 p.m. Picked Mama up at Belmont-Plaza. She excited over prospect of luncheon at Toots Shor's. "Be home by 5 o'clock," said Papa, still in bed, nursing his gout.
In taxi, Mama said, "You know, Joanie, my husband quiet man. I say, 'If I be quiet too, what about the children?' So all my life I make myself do lotsa things. Sometimes my husband and Rocky get mad at me, but I do things anyway."
Arrive at Toots Shor's, 1 p.m. Toots gives royal treatment. Introduces us to Ford Frick, and everybody congratulates Mama that Rocky retired.
"I'm very hap'," she kept repeating. Toots sends over Italian waiter to take Mama's order in Italian, and she beamed with delight.
"Joe DiMaggio's on his way over," Toots told her. "I hope he gets here before you leave."
He did, and Mama was thrilled. "DiMag-g-g," she called him. She told him she has a son, Louis, who plays baseball.
"You very handsome fella," she said, and DiMaggio looked better than I ever saw him.
3:30 p.m. Arrived 30 minutes late at Bill Leonard's (CBS) office where Mama was to do a transcription for his This Is New York program. Told Bill that Mama wanted to meet Perry Como, had tried to get tickets to his program but couldn't. Leonard got Como on the phone for Mama.
"I want to meet you so many time," Mama said. "I enjoy your television show so much."
Perry kept repeating: "I'm so happy he retired. I used to suffer too much when he used to fight. I was afraid he would get hurt."
"Lotsa luck, Per," Mama said, "Don't work too hard. I pray for you." When she hung up, she was blushing like a schoolgirl. "Wait till I tell them at home I talk to Per Como," she said.
After taping the show, Mama wanted to go to Lane Bryant's to buy a bathing suit, but we didn't have time. "Let's go to St. Patrick's church," she said. "I want to light candle."
It was a lovely sunny day and standing on the corner of 50th and Madison, right near Cardinal Spellman's house, I said, "Let's go see if Cardinal Spellman is home."
"Fine," Mama said. "He Massachusetts boy. Rocky knows him."
A few minutes after we were ushered into a waiting room, the Cardinal walked in, grinning from ear to ear. "I think Rocky made the right decision," he said. He and Mama talked some in Italian. He gave us rosaries, and Mama promised to send him some pictures of Rocky for his sister's family.
Then we went to St. Patrick's. "Where St. Anthony?" Mama asked. "He my favorite saint." We couldn't find St. Anthony. Mama stopped at St. Joseph's statue. "Joanie," she asked, "you think it's all right I light two candles here for St. Anthony?" She did and lit other candles too and prayed. ("It's not right," she had told Cardinal Spellman, "just to light candles when you want something. You have to thank Him, too.")
Wednesday night we went to Shor's again. Jackie Gleason joined us and Mama, a diplomat, told Jackie she always watches his show too. "We switch back and forth," she said.
"Look, Jackie," she said, "we're both fat but we're both happy people." Mama also discussed the possibility of making a match between her 15-year-old son and Jackie's 14-year-old daughter.
Then she told Gleason about the Sunday dinners at her house, with the family and all her children, and Gleason looked at her with his heart in his eyes. "Sundays are the best," he said.
Papa's gout and all, we stayed up until 2 in the morning. "Come to Brockton," Mama told me. "I make your favorite dish—ravioli, lasagna, spaghetti—whatever you like."
THE KINDLING EYE
Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons did not go to Louisville last Saturday. He did not have a Derby-quality horse this spring and, besides, he was occupied elsewhere. At Jamaica, Nashua was running in the Grey Lag Handicap, and Mr. Fitz was there, watching. He saw Nashua come out of the starting gate, stumble and fall to his knees, then go on to win over a field that carried from eight to 19 pounds less than he did. The winner's purse put Nashua only $8,145 short of Citation's record earnings of $1,085,760. On May 30, in Belmont's $50,000 Metropolitan mile, he will be out to set a new record. And Mr. Fitz obviously has the powerful bay at peak form.
All of which would seem sufficient reason for an 81-year-old gentleman to be cheerful as he goes about the task of training his Thoroughbred charges at Aqueduct track on Long Island. But the clear blue Fitzsimmons eyes twinkle extra brightly these days. Nashua is one reason, and there's another: a handsome dark bay 2-year-old named Bold Ruler, trained by Mr. Fitz for the Wheatley Stable. Three times, Sunny Jim has sent Bold Ruler to the post this season and three times he has won, his latest a three-and-a-half-length victory in the Youthful Stakes at Jamaica last week.
"Of course, a lot of stables haven't even come to the races yet," says Mr. Fitz, "but Bold Ruler has beaten every horse we've asked him to beat so far. We'll enter him in the Juvenile at Belmont, June 6. He'll go on up to Saratoga [for the Hopeful] and back here to Belmont for the Futurity. We'll see how he does in those really tough races before we know just how good he is." A typically cautious Fitzsimmons estimate, but delivered with a crinkly smile that is a dead giveaway of his high opinion of the colt's early showing.
One extra reason for Mr. Fitz's kindling eye: Bold Ruler is a son of Nasrullah. Like Nashua.
Anyone making up a private future book on the 1957 Kentucky Derby may take note.
A LA MARYLAND
There were no bands, no grandstands, no julep salesmen and no legal betting at the 60th run for the Maryland Hunt Cup. Yet in hunt racing (26 days in the spring and fall), the event is as traditional and important as the great spectacle at Churchill Downs. There is no track but a four-mile course flagged over 22 timber fences in a private valley some 20 miles from Baltimore.
There is little advance publicity, but some 15,000 people drive to the country first to picnic, then to watch the race from a grassy hillside. To the winner at Churchill Downs goes national acclaim, a trophy and $120,000 or more. To the winner of the Maryland Hunt Cup goes "a tankard of English design" valued at $100 and a challenge bowl which must be won three times by the same owner for permanent possession. The prestige of winning is the big reward.
There were no other races on the Hunt Cup card the other day. Around 3 p.m. the picnickers emptied their Martini shakers, closed hampers and drifted to the spots of vantage. Some chose the steep and windy hillside, where they could pluck violets if they cared to while waiting for 4 o'clock and the start. Others walked carefully around dried cow cakes and took stations by the often deadly third and 13th fences. There was no public address system, and the horses paraded to the post without benefit of music. There was no starting gate, so the horses were walked to the beginning of the course, lined up and sent off.
The nine starters safely cleared the first two oak-and-locust fences. At the third, Mrs. William J. Strawbridge's Land's Corner, winner of last year's Cup, running third, took a fall, bringing the top rail down and pinning his hind legs between the bars. At the seventh fence Thomas Nichols' Starboard, then running third, went down. Bliss Flaccus' Gold Tar, out in front, fell at the eighth, regained his feet and kept running, but his rider, Eugene Weymouth, was carried to a Baltimore hospital with bumps and abrasions.
And so it went. At the finish it was an 11-year-old gelding named Lancrel, owned by Hugh O'Donovan of Pikesville, Md., who charged past, 12 lengths in front. Hillside spectators wandered down from the violet patches. Lancrel was led up to the paddock. The tankard of English design was presented to his owner. It had been a beautiful if somewhat costly race. Next year—same time, same place—the 61st Maryland Hunt Cup.
A WORD FOR THE OLD HEAVE HO
Deepdale has become a dirty word in golf these days, and it would seem almost axiomatic that a Calcutta pool would be about as welcome at a golf tournament as a snake at a picnic. Yet it is by no means that simple. Plenty of amateur golfers with enough walking-around money to make a friendly wager on the links resent the growing movement to outlaw the Calcutta, particularly when it involves their own home clubs.
After the Deepdale scandal last fall (SI, Nov. 14), when a couple of ringers playing under phony names helped engineer a huge betting coup in that club's Calcutta, the U.S. Golf Association added a new section to its rules defining conduct which can "cause forfeiture of amateur status." The new rule bans "any conduct, including activities in connection with golf gambling, which is considered detrimental to the best interests of the game." Fuzzy as this wording is, it does hold a threat over the heads of the better players and was at least a first step towards legislating the Calcuttas out of existence. Nonetheless, the Calcuttas persisted this past winter, especially in the Southwest and along the mink-and-Jaguar circuit of the southern resorts.
With summer coming on, the average golfer is likely to find himself face to face with the problem before long. Most clubs have a harmless little Calcutta or auction of some kind during the season, and who is to say that it is wrong? Where does one draw the line between modest club gambling and the big member-guest Calcuttas which attract the high-winding sharpies and their fabricated handicaps?
According to William Campbell, the 1955 Walker Cup captain and one of the pillars of U.S. amateur golf, the solution is to knock off all gambling at the large "guest or invitational tournaments." Among his reasons: "Just one chiseler can take advantage of all the honest players and give the whole affair a black eye."
To back up this position, Campbell recently circulated a resolution to the country's leading amateurs. "For the benefit of golf," it said, "we hereby agree that we will not permit our names to be used or sold in any auctions of players or teams in any so-called Calcutta pool or similar activity attendant to any invitational or guest tournament. Recognizing organized gambling as a threat to the game of golf, we urge all amateur golfers to join us in this resolution."
When Campbell released the resolution to the press it carried 240 signatures, among them such distinguished golfing names as Dick Chapman, Johnny Dawson, Ken Venturi, Robert A. Gardner, Hillman Robbins and Walker Cuppers Jimmy Jackson and Dale Morey. Since some great names were conspicuous by their absence, Campbell was quick to point out that some of the addressees may not have received their copies in time to return them, either because he had the wrong address or because they were away from home. For instance, National Amateur Champion Harvie Ward's signature arrived more than a week later.
Be that as it may, it is still true that the stand of Campbell and the USGA on gambling is by no means unanimous. There are a good many honorable men who demur on the principle that nobody should supervise morals on the links. Where will it stop? they ask. What about drinking? Or playing golf on Sunday?
Deep is the Deepdale scar, and it may take more than rules and resolutions to erase it. For instance, it may take just the innate honesty and good sense of the American sportsman who is perfectly capable of giving a rascal the old heave ho when he finds him cluttering up the tee or the locker room.
BUT NOT FOR TELEVISION
They were telling a story before the Olympic wrestling trials at Los Angeles about the AAU official who approached a television producer and suggested telecasting the matches to help raise funds to send the U.S. team to Melbourne. The television man was interested right away.
"Tell me," he said, "do you have lots of guys with the purple and gold robes with sequins, things like that?"
The AAU man shook his head. The television man's face fell.
"Well," he said, "you do have a couple of guys with marcelled blond hair or some characters who wear monocles?"
The AAU man was sorry.
"You got some guys," the television man insisted, "who wear black masks or spiked helmets? I mean you got some heroes and some villains, haven't you?"
The AAU man had to say no again.
"Well," said the television man, looking at the AAU official as a man more to be pitied than censured, "well, Buster, there will be no television. But I'll give you a little advice. Get yourself an act!"
The television man was wasting his breath. For to the almost 200 young men entered in the Olympic trials, wrestling is a high and holy art, its practice as ritualistic as incense burning. There is nothing funny about it. And the small but devoted band of spectators who followed the week-long, morning-to-midnight parade of matches like it that way.
An amateur wrestling match is a 15-minute contest of strength between two men in a 20-foot-square ring which has no ropes. There are two divisions of competition: freestyle and Graeco-Roman. Freestyle is governed by a complicated set of rules and in Graeco-Roman there is an additional rule against all holds below the waist. Many of the freestyle wrestlers at Los Angeles also doubled in Graeco-Roman. Eight freestyle and eight Graeco-Roman wrestlers are scheduled to make the boat for Australia, but because of doubling in the classifications, there will be fewer than 16 men on the U.S. team (see SCOREBOARD).
Although most of the competition in the tryouts went according to form, there was one startling upset. In a freestyle match, Dan (Homicide) Hodge, the U.S. middleweight champion, was expected to have an easy time with a lanky young man from Illinois named Bill Smith. Smith, a winner of the Olympic welterweight title at Helsinki in 1952, was on the run from the start of the match. Hodge, stalking him like Marciano after Moore, became impatient and, with only 2:35 gone, lunged for Smith's leg. Smith went down, then rolled over atop Hodge and for a fleeting second, Homicide's shoulders brushed the mat. In amateur wrestling that is enough and the referee's and judges' hands shot up to signal the fall.
Hodge couldn't believe it. Neither could Smith, who protested:
"If it was anyone but you, Dan! I know you're a better wrestler than me. I would be happy if it was anyone but you."
Then Smith confided: "It was my whizzer. That's a hold I practice. He went after my leg and held on a little too long. I just whipped him over and that was it. He got careless." Later Hodge made the U.S. team in the Graeco-Roman division.
The conclusion from these and other matches by those who follow the amateur sport: the U.S. will have a formidable team at Melbourne, capable of giving serious competition to such powerhouse teams as those of Sweden and Turkey.
The woeful fan, his day a wreck,
Intones this sad refrain—
How much rain would a raincheck check
If a raincheck could check rain?
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Jim Bailey, heading back to school after beating John Landy in a 3:58.6 mile, said he probably wouldn't be around to try again this weekend at Fresno. The University of Oregon has a meet scheduled, needs his help.
•An Ounce of Prevention
Italy's famed Mille Miglia, one of the world's great automobile races, may be run no more—at least in its classic proportions. For safety's sake, and in view of the five deaths in the latest race (SI, May 7), the event may be held in the future on a closed 100-mile course.
•Victory Through Air Power
Italian political pamphlets, dropped from a low-flying plane, showered down on an international horse show in Rome, hit French jumper Bagatelle on the nose, sent him pitching away only one hurdle from victory. The winners by default—but with help from their air arm: the Italians.
•High Speed at the Brickyard
Bob Sweikert, 1955 Indianapolis "500" winner, unofficially cracked the Speedway record with a lap at 143.839 mph, said the new surface is so fast he doubts that 145 will win the pole position this year.