THE SANTEE CASE: CONCLUSION
This is an article from the May 28, 1956 issue
New York's Supreme Court Justice Walter A. Lynch not only brought the controversial case of Wes Santee to a logical conclusion last week—but, in upholding the AAU's lifetime ban against him—spoke inferentially about the whole disconcerting problem of amateurism in athletics with a hard-headed common sense which has been largely lacking in the public debate over the Kansas Jack-rabbit. The whole basis of popular protest against the AAU's action in the Santee case has been this: "Santee was not the only runner who got, nay demanded, fees for performing, ostensibly as an amateur." Justice Lynch did the public a favor by ignoring this completely as a factor in the case at hand (to have done anything else would have been to agree with the specious and ridiculous argument that there is no such thing as amateurism). But the justice did not hesitate to suggest that the AAU stands in need of cleaning up its own house.
In bringing his action against the AAU, Santee argued that its national executive committee (which acted after the board of managers of the Missouri Valley AAU overruled a regional ban against him) did not have jurisdiction and had acted without a quorum being present. Justice Lynch not only found both points invalid but charged that Santee had "studiously avoided" answering the real charge against him: that he was a professional. "When confronted by his accusers in the forum which he had chosen he remained silent." Justice Lynch added: "The court cites the behavior of plaintiff in his failure to proceed as indicative of his bad faith in the entire proceedings."
The reasons the AAU gave in banning Santee had largely been forgotten in the argument over his case; Justice Lynch's opinion restored them to public view. "His engagement of a booking agent, his demand for monies for the attendance of his wife at various meets and his collection of said monies without the attendance of his wife, the excessive expense accounts for the various meets, his attempt to evade professionalism by unfairly attempting to place the onus on his club-mate' [Santee implied that expense charges for one meet were actually for ex-Kansas Miler Art Dalzell] with the possibility that the latter would be found guilty and the plaintiff escape; the check of $400 to his father-in-law from the promoter of a certain meet and other matters foreclose any serious consideration of his plea that he was harshly or unfairly dealt with.
"His repentance, if any—and the court thinks there is none—comes too late. Plaintiff should have thought of the Olympics and his representation of his country before...he consistently violated the rules of the organization in which he desires to continue his membership. He agreed to abide by the rules...of the Union. He has not only failed to do so, but he makes no pretense of having done so.
"From this unfortunate incident some good may come to amateur athletics in the U.S. Promoters of amateur athletic meets should realize...[that] the fault lies in no small part with them as a class. Plaintiff...has eliminated himself as an amateur athlete, but not without an assist from some of the 'guardians' of amateur athletics."
BOXING'S GLORIOUS BUSINESS
In the early and mid-'30s, Welterweight Jimmy McLarnin was a career-wrecking scourge of the ring, but his name never inspired in opponents one-half the fear and loathing the name of his manager, Charles "Pop" Foster, aroused in rival managers.
Pop Foster earned his nickname by being more of a father to McLarnin than a manager. As such, he violated every article of the managers' code. He never overmatched his fighter for mere money. He never "cut" his fighter with another manager. And there wasn't a promoter in the world who dared suggest a fixed match to the team of Pop Foster and Jimmy McLarnin.
Worst of all, Pop saved Jimmy's—as well as his own—money. It was this that sent real shudders down the spines of the orthodox managers who began to refer to Pop contemptuously as "the man with the one-way pockets" or, "the man who throws nickels around as though they were dollars." The truth was that Pop just never left his money—or his fighter—where the fight mob could get their hands on it or him.
Away back in 1936, Sportswriter Walter Stewart mused in the New York World-Telegram: "The narrow-faced managers who line the curbs of 49th Street speak of Pop Foster in the most disrespectful terms. They will tell you he is a grasping old man with a crooked nose.... But you pause at the door and watch Pop as he stands there looking down at his Jimmy with something glorious brimming in his eye. Look at Jimmy as he smiles at you with the quick, light charm of the Irish. His ears are not bulbous and his teeth meet in even white lines. His nose comes down from unscarred brows in a clean line. Yet this man has been fighting for 13 years. He has made almost $500,000 and has fought men in five divisions. A lonely old man could not ask for a finer monument."
Last week in Los Angeles, a lonely old man died. And Pop Foster still had "something glorious" brimming in his eye for the pink-cheeked bhoy-o, with the face of a cherub and the fists of a stevedore, he had picked up in a street fight in Vancouver 33 years before. Pop's will, probated after his death, left most of a $200,000 estate to "his Jimmy" and Jimmy's family. (Pop had none of his own.)
And Pop's monument, Jimmy McLarnin, his teeth still straight, his ears still not bulbous, took time off from a hunting trip to pay tribute to a man who was taking care of his fighter to the last. "Pop," said Jimmy, "was a great man. Everyone is always talking about alltime fighting greats. I'd like to see them talk for a moment about the alltime manager. Pop would win hands down."
It was enough to make many another fighter, say Joe Louis, wish "something glorious" might have brimmed in someone's eye for him.
The day draws near, as anyone with half a brain knows, when mechanical brains will do most of the world's thinking. It is not a very cheerful prospect for people who like to do their own crossword puzzles, but every now and then the mechanical monsters pull a boner that bolsters the sagging human ego. Washington mails out a million dollar check to a Social Security pensioner; in Nevada a slot machine starts paying off furiously on lemons. In San Mateo, Calif. the pari-mutuel "tote" at the Bay Meadows track has a mechanical brainstorm and overpays the daily double players to the tune of $77,134.20.
The meeting at Bay Meadows is a combination of harness and quarter-horse racing. The track is rented for these purposes by the California Horse Racing Association from Bill Kyne and Associates who also operate the Universal Totalisator Company. Thus, it was the Bill Kyne crowd who took the beating the other day when the machines calculated that there were only 27 tickets sold on the winning combination of Violet Rose in the first race and Mario Tass in the second. In a mechanical flash, the machine estimated each of the 27 tickets would collect $269.70. What did not penetrate the stupid metallic skull of the totalisator was the fact that 313 tickets actually had been sold. There was nothing to do but pay off on all 313.
As the delighted winners lined up at the windows, they agreed that it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, meaning Bill Kyne himself. A jovial soft touch for horse players, Kyne has taken a long series of disasters without losing his good humor. As a race track operator, he has seen a track at Kansas City destroyed by fire, another at Portland wiped out by flood, still another at Reno go broke. As for the daily doublecross at Bay Meadows, 68-year-old Bill Kyne, reverting to the same old flabby human brain he was born with, thought he could take it.
"It was quite a shock," he said, "but I've taken bigger losses in my day and I'm not going for the gas pipe yet."
UCLA: PART I: SUNSHINE
The California sun has been shining brightly down on the University of Southern California track teams for 28 years. In that time USC has won 18 of the 28 NCAA track championships and 15 consecutive Pacific Coast championships. But while the sun still shone on USC a year ago, there was one cloud on the horizon. At the rival University of California at Los Angeles across town, Freshman Rafer Johnson, age 19, was spending his afternoons putting the shot, throwing the javelin and discus, hurdling, sprinting, broad jumping, high jumping and pole vaulting. On a mediocre day Johnson could do well enough in 10 of the 14 track and field events to make any track team in the country. Last week in the Pacific Coast championships Johnson had a mediocre day—for him. He failed to qualify in the discus. He took second in the 100-yard dash, which he was expected to win. He took third in the high hurdles which he should have won. He was unexpectedly beaten in the broad jump by a teammate, and he won the low hurdles about as he was expected to. He only scored 16 points, but that was almost a quarter of UCLA's total, and it was enough. With 69½ points, UCLA broke up the USC monopoly and took home its first championship.
In non-Olympic years, even in the rich track and field pastures of southern California, a man can throw a cow over the moon without attracting too much attention from the general public. Last summer, while the public was first rousing itself to the coming Olympic year, Johnson, scoring 7,985 points, broke Bob Mathias' world decathlon record. Track experts and track fans have been pointing wildly at Johnson for two years, since he first began performing wonders at high school back in Kingsburg, Calif. The track fans said there was nothing Johnson couldn't do. "Whatever he does," an expert seconded glowingly, "comes naturally."
"I used to worry about getting better at all these events," Johnson said in the midst of his first big competition, "but I don't worry now." The UCLA athletic staff, looking fondly at him, would like to add basketball and football to the long list of things that no longer worry Johnson. "Track," says Johnson, "is my love until next December."
UCLA: PART II: SHADOW
As far as Coach Red Sanders was concerned, big, blond George Stephenson was just another kid who couldn't make the UCLA football team. He was a fullback and the Bruins had better ones. But last week, when the Pacific Coast Conference faculty representatives got through meeting in Victoria, B.C., it became clear that Fullback Stephenson had succeeded in doing what no conference opponent has been able to do in the past three years—wreck the UCLA Bruins.
Stephenson's paralysis play was launched—possibly inadvertently—last February. The fullback, who had left the UCLA practice field in a huff when Sanders tried to make a lineman out of him, moved to the University of California and let slip to Ed Schoenfeld of the Oakland Tribune the information that he, along with other UCLAn footballers, used to get $40 a month "walking around" money from a Bruin booster group in suburban Westwood. The charges—printed—brought Conference Commissioner Victor Schmidt on the run.
Last week the conference put UCLA on probation for three years beginning August 1, which means no Rose Bowl appearance in that time, no share of Rose Bowl receipts (estimated $78,000) and ineligibility for the championship in any PCC sport even if Bruins win it. Additionally, because Chancellor Raymond B. Allen was deemed "uncooperative" in the investigation, the university was fined $15,000 out of pocket.
Coach Sanders couldn't have been more hollow-eyed if he had lost another Rose Bowl game in the last 30 seconds. "I feel 99% of all the people feel it's highly discriminatory," gloomed Red. "Some people in this conference don't want intercollegiate football. My personal opinion is the conference ought to abandon its outmoded, unworkable, hypocritical code, or abolish football."
If one more Coast Conference team makes the probation list, football there will be effectively abolished. The University of Washington is on the bench for two years for its infractions. But at week's end one famous fan—Harvey Knox—was still not satisfied with the havoc to date. Harvey was erupting with interviews which one paper headlined: "Jess Hill (USC) Has Biggest Payroll—Harvey Knox."
In the light of similar goings-on in the Big Ten, the 1957 Rose Bowl game seems likely to be played by a bunch of gentlemen, scholars and—possibly—amateurs.
A TOP BLOWS IN CLEVELAND
Baseball fans, especially those of Cleveland, Ohio, long have wondered what—if anything—could make Manager Al Lopez of the Indians blow his top. Al, it will be remembered, took four straight defeats by the Giants in the 1954 World Series while leaning against the dugout wall like a street corner loafer. He has taken lesser disasters, such as losing out to the Yanks in 1955 while in possession of the league's best pitching staff, without so much as a quiver of the lip or the bat of an eyelid. Well, now the fans know that even the Lopez wig can be made to flip—and this is the kind of thing to do it:
In the ninth inning of a game with Washington, Pete Runnels of the Senators crashed into Al Rosen at third base. Rosen fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Some of the 7,747 fans in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium saw fit to cheer.
After the game, Al Lopez saw fit to explode:
"The fans here are bush. They don't deserve a ball club in this town. I never heard anything so sickening in my life. It was the nastiest, most bush thing I've ever encountered.
"Here's a guy blocking third base, trying to stop the tying run and win us a ball game. The runner crashes hard into him and he's hurt. And the miserable fans cheer. I'm surprised they didn't wait outside our dressing room afterward to boo Rosen when he left on crutches."
Rosen had been booed all during the game. Every time he had come to bat, there were men on base. He left a total of nine stranded as the Indians lost, 5-4, in 11 innings. But maybe Rosen and the fans who rode him did the Indians a long-term service, at that.
For Al Lopez is mad at last—and that could be bad news for Casey Stengel.
THE AYES OF TEXAS
In Lubbock, Texas it was 10:32 a.m., and from the tense expressions on the faces of people all over town, you would have thought they were waiting for the count-down in an atomic airdrop. From the prairie's edge to the chamber of commerce, business was at a standstill and the townspeople were standing in small groups around radios straining to hear every word. The suspense seemed unbearable. "In a moment," the announcer was saying, "the doors will open...wait a minute, here they come now." For a few seconds, all Lubbock held its breath. Then, explosively, the announcer gasped: "Texas Tech is in the Southwest Conference!"
It was an historic moment, a time to flip Stetsons in the sky and rend the air with rebel yells. In downtown Lubbock, the manager of the chamber of commerce did a flip-flop on his desk top, students rushed to a predesignated spot, drum majorettes hurled their batons and shapely legs skyward and College President E. N. Jones reverently asked an assemblage to "close your eyes in complete silence and listen to the most significant ringing of the victory bells in the history of Texas Tech."
What had happened, of course, was that Texas Tech, after 29 years of begging, had at last won the right to play football with the big boys of the Southwest Conference, the big apple of the great plains. It was 1927 when Texas Tech, then only two years old, first petitioned to be let in. And periodically thereafter, it renewed its plea. Just as periodically it was rebuffed.
The Red Raiders, of course, did not get in lightly. With 12 straight turn-downs behind them, they decided in 1952 that their offense had been all wrong. Up to that time, conference members had hidden behind a secret vote. When Southern Methodist University was singled out as the main blackballer that year, all west Texas got into the backfield and began aiming economic blockbusters at that hole in the line. SMU is in Dallas and so are many of the merchants who count on booming west Texas' business. Department stores found themselves recipients of notes which read "Since dallasites give no credit to Texas Tech...please close my account and remove my name from your sucker list." Charge-a-plates bounced into Neiman-Marcus from west Texas like hailstones in a tornado, causing Stanley Marcus to protest, "You'd think I voted against Texas Tech." Dallas banks found their deposits being withdrawn to Fort Worth where Tech had a friend in TCU.
The rest of Texas began to feel surrounded. Some of the conference schools had about as much need for a home-and-home series with the country cousins from Lubbock as they had for a ski team. But if the alternative was to have grass grow in the streets of Dallas—well, perhaps, fellows, we can make room on the schedule, after all. Throw out Notre Dame. We don't really need a sellout.
The strategist given most credit for sweet-talking and blunderbussing Tech into the lordly SWC is a bluff, gray-haired coach named De Witt Weaver. Five years ago when he was hired, Coach Weaver's instructions had nothing to do with the T formation. "Get Tech in the conference," he was told. His on-field record, 35 wins, 17 losses in five years is no threat at all to Knute Rockne's, but his off-field achievement, realized in the conference vote at Fayetteville, Ark., will rank—in the plains of the Panhandle, at least—with Davy Crockett's or Davy O'Brien's. When Coach Weaver returned from Fayetteville on the great night which will live in Texas (Tech) history, he was met at the airport by a committee of businessmen in costume—a frog, a pony, an owl—representing each of the mascots of the other teams in the conference. He was also met with the keys of a brand-new Cadillac. After all, the old one they had given him (when his team went to the 'Gator Bowl) was only a '54. The coach of a Cotton Bowl candidate can't be seen in that.
UP IN THE AIR
Five thousand shouts and one faint bleat—
The reason for the noise:
Pole vaulter's stuck at sixteen feet
In perfect equipoise.
—A. R. FONTENOT
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Hungarian Harriers Istvan Rozsavolgyi and Laszlo Tabori looked less unbeatable in London where bespectacled Briton Ken Wood beat them by six feet in the 1,500 meters. Wood was aided in 3:43.4 win by man-killing pace of countryman, Gordon Pirie, who finished fourth.
AAU President Carl Hansen is expected to plump for a new "realistic" per diem rate ($17 instead of $15) for athletes at the forthcoming (June 28) national meet of the AAU.
Sal (The Barber) Maglie, who as a Giant used to shave Dodger chins with "brushback" high, hard ones, was waived out of the American League and sold to Brooklyn. Big question: will The Barber be able to lather his old teammates at the Polo Grounds?
Electrifying the National League race was the performance of Bobby Bragan's Pittsburgh Pirates. For the week, the Pirates won four out of six, wound up only one game out of first place, drew the biggest crowd (32,346) in five years, and called to mind Branch Rickey's confident prediction made a year ago: "All I ask is two years—in '56 we'll go half-way."