As the country's top golfers lofted their second shots (usually) onto the 18th green at Rochester Saturday, a golfer of lesser talent but equal zeal watched with satisfaction from a bed at Walter Reed Hospital.
President Eisenhower, watching the last holes on TV, kept a public figure's silence on any private favorites. Press Secretary Jim Hagerty (another golfer of modest skill) reported the President hoped "the best man wins." The golfers at Rochester wished the President as well as he wished them. They signed and sent him an oversize postcard. Its message: "To Ike, who has done the most for golf—get well fast."
ADMIRATION AT STOCKHOLM
June 24, 1956
Baron De Coubertin's theory that the Olympic Games he restored in 1896 would foster peaceful good fellowship has turned out to be right about as often as it has been wrong. For example, at the Olympic Equestrian games in Stockholm last week an American groom and some neighboring Russians chummed around while an Englishman and some Egyptians almost rioted over an eyelash.
A thin green partition was the only barrier at Stockholm's Royal Horse-guard Barracks between a sturdy Russian chestnut stallion named Perekop and Mud Dauber, one of the best of American horses. Mud Dauber's groom, Chicagoan Larry Prentice, learned to like his Russian neighbors although he never mastered their names or understood anything they said. Diplomatic relations opened when Prentice lent a Russian groom a penknife when one of Perekop's stirrup leathers needed an emergency repair. The encouraged Russians then established a kind of general lend-lease arrangement to borrow a comb to braid the chestnut's mane on Presentation Day, an iron to clean his hoofs and the penknife a second time. Prentice thought it all proved something more than that Russian steel production is evidently not going into penknives. Said he: "These Russians seem good guys. Horsemen are pretty well the same all over the world." Said a Russian: "We get along well.... We often borrow things and Americans don't seem at all suspicious when we ask for things."
Although they earned their reputation for sociability, the Russians found it was being exaggerated. They modestly disclaimed a rumor that they were trying to date the English girls. "All we said to them," explained the Russians, "was 'Queen Elizabeth! Queen Elizabeth!' " This sort of interlingual salute—a shade more advanced than sign language—is now recognized as a standard Russian expression of admiration. American athletes preparing for the Winter Olympics (assumed, and no doubt properly, to be admirers of New Orleans music) were greeted with Russian cries of "Louis Armstrong—good!" (SI, Jan. 23).
Meanwhile, another gesture of admiration at Stockholm caused a Pier Nine brawl at the Horseguard Barracks.
A Turkish groom, overcome with the top British horse, Kilbarry, wandered into the English stable and tried to pluck one of his eyelashes for a souvenir. Naturally, perhaps, the English groom charged the Turk.
Thereupon, some obviously Pan-Islamic Egyptians quartered next door came bucketing to the Turk's assistance and jumped for the Englishman. Fortunately the Swedes, experts at armed neutrality in recent history, moved in with even greater force and mounted sentinels to protect everybody, Kilbarry included.
THE WEATHER AND 60 HOMERS
There is a small, devotedly analytical group of baseball fans who maintain that nobody—not Mickey Mantle, not anybody—is going to beat Babe Ruth's home run record (of 60 in the 1927 season) until the weather is right. It is a question of physics, these metaphysicians say: a baseball travels farther through hot, thin air than through cold, dense air. Therefore the prime record-breaking requirements are a gifted slugger and a prolonged heat wave. (Last year's heat wave was a marvel of length but not dry enough; relative humidity is a factor too.)
Accordingly, SI has consulted that repository of baseball statistics, the United States Weather Bureau, to see what slugging conditions were in New York and Boston in September 1927. That was the month and those were the cities in which Babe Ruth hit 16 of his last 17.
Boston, sure enough, was hot and dry. The temperature held steady in the 80s while Ruth slammed them out at Fenway Park: three homers on the 6th, two on the 7th. "There was a deficiency in wind velocity, relative humidity and cloudiness but a large excess in sunshine," the weather man noted under "Remarks."
Then the Yankees returned to New York and the picture changed to one of pleasant Indian summer with the tang of fall. "Favorable weather...for farm work and the maturing of crops," the weather man observed, and every afternoon at 3, while Ruth was on duty at Yankee Stadium, the weather boys were reading their instruments at the U.S. weather station in Manhattan.
The average of those 3 o'clock readings was a so-so 72°. The relative humidity averaged 58%—not really low enough to help, not really high enough to hinder. Yet Ruth managed to belt 11 homers.
No claim is offered here that the Air Density Method of home run hitting has been demolished by SI's researches. Still, theorists in search of a new theory might do well to consider sunspots and magnetic fields and to look again at Sept. 6, 1927, the date of a double-header in Boston. In the fifth inning of the first game young Lou Gehrig hit his 45th home run of the season, which put him one ahead of his teammate, the mighty and mighty competitive Babe Ruth. In the sixth inning the Babe drew even with Gehrig's score by driving his own No. 45 out of Fenway Park; in the seventh he took the lead again, putting No. 46 into the right-field bleachers. In the ninth of the second game he hit No. 47. It was the only day of that wonderful year when Babe Ruth hit three home runs.
And that night, the records of the Weather Bureau show, the aurora borealis flashed with a rare and startling brilliance over Boston.
ABOLITION AND THE IRISHMAN
Exhorting the Arabs to cease their polygamous ways, advocating wages for housewives and attacking bacon and eggs for breakfast as "merely a fad" are a few of the doctrines which have brought Dr. Edith Summerskill to the attention of her countrymen since she became a Labour Party member of Parliament in 1938. The other day, tall, angular-faced Dr. Summerskill mounted a platform and flailed away at another of her pet targets—boxing. The occasion: a press conference announcing publication of her book, The Ignoble Art.
While 50-odd guests, mostly sportswriters opposed to her views, squirmed in their chairs, Dr. Summerskill held aloft a human skull and launched into a medical dissertation. Each jarring blow to a boxer's head causes his wits to collide with the sphenoidal ridge, she declared, and this can lead to cuts and subsequent hemorrhages which eventually make him punch drunk. "I ask you," she said, "why promoters don't put their own sons in the ring?" The opposition appeared impressed.
Perhaps sensing her advantage, Dr. Summerskill turned to her other arguments for abolition: boxing's appeal is strictly to the base, aggressive instincts of man, nobody ever came away from a match a finer person, and the sport makes no contribution whatever to civilization. But this broad sweep brought on the questions.
Up stood a young and attractive woman reporter who wanted to know just how Dr. Summerskill proposed to sublimate aggressive male instincts. Answered Dr. Summerskill, possibly remembering the Arabs: "Men are also polygamous by instinct, but if you said they could have three or four wives because they are physiologically capable, they would be outraged, because they have established a proper code of behavior." Sniffed the lady reporter: "You just want the British male to be rather wet." Boxing Writer George Whiting of the London Evening Standard had a question: "Do you condemn the Duke of Edinburgh for encouraging boxing in boys' clubs?" Answer: "That isn't very fair of you, Mr. Whiting." Mr. Whiting reconsidered, gallantly sat down.
That might have been the end of it, but there was an Irishman in the room. He was Dr. Mike Leahy, 74, onetime Irish amateur heavyweight champion who lost a leg at Mons with the 11th Hussars and has been a physician for 50 years. "I am in the most frightful opposition to you, madam," he said with brogue-rich politeness, "and if I were dealing with a man I would deal otherwise." Face growing redder, Leahy stormed on: "Your book presents only one side of the question. I have spent a great part of my life in the haunts of boxers, and finer fellows you couldn't meet. I also got well and truly hammered, but it did me a lot of good." The Empire, he reminded her, was made by men with fighting instincts. "Are we going to become a nation of ninnies? I hope the art you describe as ignoble will survive long after you and I are gone. And if there is no fighting in heaven, I don't want to go there."
In a quieter tone, Old Heavyweight Leahy added that despite his fighting instincts he was a peace-loving man. "There you are!" cried Dr. Summerskill triumphantly, reaching out her hands. "You've delivered yourself into my arms!" Dr. Leahy reached out his own arms and advanced with the look of a man about to offer a basely aggressive embrace. Dr. Summerskill fled to lunch.
The meanderings of Frank Carbo, who knows his way around the dark alleys of boxing, are of continuing interest to those who hope to follow intelligently a sport which, like an iceberg, is partly submerged. To resume, then, a travelog in which we last saw Carbo holding forth in Houston and holding court in New Orleans (SI, June 11) it is necessary to report that he was in Boston for the Tony DeMarco-Vince Martinez fight and seemed well pleased with DeMarco's victory.
He returned to New York by train, traveling with an entourage of three men and two women, one of whom addressed him as "Honey" and had tastefully treated her hair to match his own white locks. Carbo wore a gray suit of nubbed silk and addressed himself for the most part to an ivory transistor radio, which he held to his ear and from which he obtained the scores of the various Sunday baseball games. These he relayed generously to the attentive members of his party.
What he did not relay was that he, Blinky Palermo and others had decided in a Boston Hotel room that Welterweight Champ Johnny Saxton would meet DeMarco for the championship in August or September.
But Frankie's friends probably already knew the score on that.
THE END AT SALEM
In the final, 25-lap sprint of the afternoon over the half-mile asphalt track at Salem, Ind. the yellow No. 1 car whirled through the straightaway and tried to squeeze between the outside rail and another car. But one of its wheels brushed the rail, and the car went somersaulting down an embankment. When the rescuers pulled him out, Driver Bob Sweikert was unconscious from skull injuries, and he died minutes after reaching a hospital.
Sweikert, the 1955 winner, thus became the 11th of the 28 Indianapolis "500" champions to die behind the wheel of a racing car. At the age of 30 he had just hit the peak of a career that started 10 years ago in Hayward, Calif., where he had opened a small garage and started racing midgets after quitting the University of Southern California. This year Sweikert seemed to be in clover. He had established himself in Indianapolis, bought his own sprint car and signed to drive in the big-car races for some wealthy local businessmen who had the very finest equipment. He and his new associates were already planning to build their own grand prix car which Bob would take on the European circuit in 1957.
Equally important, Bob Sweikert had grown into an intelligent and articulate leader of his craft, a man the other drivers depended on for the best in judgment and sportsmanship. His pretty wife Dolores, who watched the tragedy, said of her husband only recently: "Bob is a race driver and always will be. He'd never quit. I'd never ask him to. I'm a race driver's wife."
A polite athletic invasion of Britain will get off this week when the pick of America's best collegiate court tennis players (see page 68) fly to England for five weeks of competition with practitioners of the rare and complicated sport over there. Proud as they are of the chance to measure their game overseas, the young Americans indicated the other day that they are abysmally uninformed about the quality—even the identity—of the opposition that awaits them. Through its London Bureau, SI gladly furnishes a sort of G-2 estimate of the situation:
Too bad the information wasn't asked for earlier. If it had been, you'd have been better prepared for the invasion. Might not even have attempted it. For one thing, the English know a good deal about you. Various members of England's Tennis and Rackets Association have taken time off from Stock Exchange dealings and interrupted other high-level decisions to prepare an exhaustive, possibly exhausting, itinerary. Matches and practice sessions will be sandwiched into an almost continuous round of high-class English hospitality. There will be trips to Windsor Castle and Blenheim, with time out for tea, cocktails, dinner, supper and theater parties. In his office at 3 Lombard Street, Banker Maurice Baring, top strategist of the island defenders, says with undisguised satisfaction of the American invasion: "It should provide some interesting sport."
Don't be deceived by stories that players outside London are not very good. Point to bear in mind about English court tennis is that while few players are widely known, the general level of play is high. The game is taught and played regularly at Oxford (where powerful young Michael Coulman is the man to watch out for) and Cambridge (where Australian Michael Searby looks like a coming champion), but the 16 matches at distant provincial clubs do not mean easier competition. The local players are mostly ex-Oxford and ex-Cambridge champions, now older, more seasoned and hungry for new competition.
At Holyport, a small hamlet near Maidenhead, you gentlemen are put down for "a pleasant weekend in matches against the local club." But Holyport is the home of David Warburg, now in his 30s, the runner-up to the British amateur champion. On paper your game with the Canford School should be a relief, since court tennis players improve with age, and these are teen-age preparatory school beginners. But at Canford there is a phenomenon in court tennis history, 17-year-old Roger Palin. A cricket, Rugby and hockey star, he has taken up court tennis and so far has beaten every adult pitted against him.
It's going to be pretty much the same story all over England. Morys Bruce, the present British champion, is the son of Lord Aberdare, the former champion, and has a high-angled lob shot that spins off the penthouse at baffling angles. Robert Riseley, another former champion, is a massive English athlete with a powerful right hitting arm and a deadly reverse railroad cut serve. Lord Cullen has a faultlessly classic style demonstrated in fantastically brilliant strokes.
That's all, gentlemen. Doubtless you will enjoy Lord Coleraine's hospitality at Westminster, Lady Mary Burleigh's ball, the home of Sir Charles Rose at Pangbourne, and Lord Salisbury's ancestral mansion. At Lords you will find that every player has his own dressing room and bath, plus a dressing table on which repose brushes for suit, hair and bowler, as well as a shoehorn, buttonhook and pincushion. When you return to your dressing room after your match with a combined Oxford-Cambridge team at Lords, you will find your clothes meticulously folded, and a bath drawn to exactly the right temperature while you were on the court. Touches like these distinguish English court tennis, and are particularly helpful in assuaging the sting of defeat.
DON'T SEND A BOY
When a trotting horse named Paul Jackson won his race handily at the Lebanon, Ohio Raceway and then flunked his urinalysis test with a really horrendous showing of caffeine, the Ohio State Racing Commission rose in wrath and suspended the horse's owner, Jule M. Louiso of Fayetteville. Then a scrap of information turned up which caused the racing commissioners, with fine understanding and barely hidden smiles, to reinstate Mr. Louiso.
Two grooms were in charge of the horse after the race. One of them, feeling ill, left the barn; the other turned over the job of collecting postrace saliva and urine specimens to a 16-year-old boy and went out for a bucket of water.
The boy was willing, even eager to please, but inexperienced in handling horses. And so—well, it was the boy, not the horse, who flunked the urine test. And he—the boy—had drunk 3½ bottles of Coca-Cola and a cup of black coffee.
The tarpon struggled manfully,
It wanted so to win!
The fisherman was record size,
If it could get him in.
—F. E. WHITE
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Favored Needles, favored Cornell and favored Cary Middlecoff won three of the year's top events: the Belmont Stakes, the Syracuse Regatta and the National Open. All three let others set the early pace but closed strong—with Needles making his move from dead last, Cornell and Middlecoff from third.
•Homework for Judges
Illinois boxing judges and referees—the chaps who made Johnny Saxton welterweight champ last March—have been ordered by State Athletic Commission Chairman Frank Gilmer to attend a scoring clinic.
•New Brave in Milwaukee
German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, stopping off in Milwaukee last week, confessed to a boyhood desire to be adopted into an American Indian tribe. After the ceremony Adenauer puffed a peace pipe, fingered his full Indian headdress and asked if he was now a chief. The answer: "In Milwaukee it's better to be a Brave."
Next day, Milwaukee's Charlie Grimm found out the truth of what Adenauer had been told. Out as baseball chief went Cholly, whose Braves have been weakening. In as his successor went Coach Fred Haney, jovial manager of last year's cellar-bound Pittsburgh Pirates.