Averell Harriman of New York turned up at the governors' conference at Atlantic City the other day. Unlike some of his fellow scramblers in the Democratic politathlon, Governor Harriman has been a relatively slow starter, e.g., he has no primary victories to flaunt since he has entered no primaries. But he did his best to assess the mood of the assembled governors and thereupon expressed his pitch in metaphor: "There are a lot of ball games being won in the ninth inning this year."
Then he passed around to each of his fellow governors three spanking new baseballs freshly autographed by 1) the New York Yankees, 2) the Brooklyn Dodgers and 3) the New York Giants.
CAMERA IN THE CAFETERIA
July 8, 1956
Since TV's coverage of sport all too often swamps the viewer in a wash of garrulity and suds, it is a pleasure to salute the all-but-faultless performance turned in by NBC and its reporters during two solid hours last Saturday as some of America's finest track and field athletes ran, jumped, and spun the discus at Los Angeles.
Occasionally, the camera had too much to watch at once—and went on a flitting tour, like the eye of a man who stands before the dessert racks in a cafeteria, unable to choose firmly between cherry pie and shortcake. The hop, step and jump boys were clearly too remarkable to miss but, the camera seemed to think, too implausible for attentive study; so they made their screen appearances (and disappearances) with the impromptu of interloping kangaroos. But such moments of indecision were rare, and, as anyone who has ever attended one knows full well, a track meet is a little like the dessert rack in a cafeteria anyhow.
NBC's cameras unerringly caught and held and etched in the memory of millions the fine drama of Tom Courtney's great victory over Arnie Sowell, the muscular blaze of Bobby Morrow and Lou Jones, the splash and courage of the steeplechasers and the rest.
The televiewer of a track meet still lacks one thing the grandstand watcher does not wish to be without: a program in his fist that gives him the names, the numbers, and a sense of preview. (We hope you had your copy of last week's SI handy). But what television can do well was well done last Saturday. And for those who watched on their color sets, the afternoon must have helped justify the investment.
In the Olympic crew trials, four schoolboys (high school) came within two feet of catching a Navy crew manned by Annapolis graduates seven years older. The boys were entered in the four-oared-shell-with-coxswain event. The Gunnery (never properly referred to as the Gunnery School) is an ancient institution of high repute, so small that the absence of eight students in an eight-oared shell would seriously deplete the student body.
Besides, The Gunnery doesn't own an eight-oared shell that could be counted on to stay afloat. Not a military school, despite its name (it was known as Mr. Gunn's School a century ago), The Gunnery stands in the hills above Washington, Conn., some seven miles from Lake Waramaug, the most placid body of water in the area. Eight years ago its athletic director, Rod Beebe Jr. of Yale, was harassed by an influx of manpower when the enrollment increased by 80 students (to 120) for whom there wasn't enough room on the playing fields and tennis courts. He acquired (by gift) a 50-year-old, eight-oared shell and a second-hand launch, and such time as was not spent patching the shell and trying to start the launch was devoted to live practice on Waramaug's icy waters. The boys did so well they were given a Pocock four-oared shell. They place a lace garter on the nose, and in their own regional competition, this year and last, won the New England interscholastic championship.
The Gunnery four averages 17 years 3 months, weighs an average 173 and stands a gangling 5 foot 11. Providing the most exciting small-boat finish in the trials, they came on fast in the closing strokes of the first heat race without knowing how well they were doing. Their eyes were fixed on the favorite, the Detroit Boat Club shell, 14 seconds behind them. "When we found we had nearly taken Navy," said Coxswain Dean Matthews, "it was the greatest feeling in the world."
They celebrated that night by taking in the Ringling Brothers Circus at the nearby New York State Fairgrounds, broke training to the extent of one ice cream cone apiece, and left the tent at 9, with many a backward look at the three rings going full blast. In the semifinals they finished a creditable fourth. "If they just had the Olympics every year," said Stroke Norman Hines, "we would be in there next year for sure."
For several years, Frank Langsdorf, 53, assistant recreation director of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, has had the idea that something ought to be done to improve the manners of youngsters on the golf course. The first reaction of the county park commission was that Mr. Langsdorf was invading the territory of the club professionals and had better lay off.
But Mr. Langsdorf kept hammering away at the commission, pointed out that his idea eventually would benefit the golf pros by stimulating new interest in the game. Then he listed some of the breaches of etiquette by youngsters: 1) they failed to wave a following foursome through while hunting a lost ball in the rough; 2) they corrugated the cup lip with the pin when they reached the green; 3) they drove from the tee while others were still in range; 4) they dropped their bags in front of the green, then walked back toward approaching players after they had holed out; 5) they failed to smooth out footprints in sand traps; 6) they made too much noise.
The county commissioners finally backed down, gave Mr. Langsdorf permission to try out his idea this summer. Without a single protest from the pros, Mr. Langsdorf promptly announced that an eight-week course would be given at five county-operated golf courses and eight playgrounds, instruction to be by Kenneth J. Grover, 33, a husky high school football and golf coach. Tuition for the entire course was pegged at 25¢, for which pupils also receive a 35¢ plastic practice ball.
For the first lesson, 525 youngsters, a quarter of them girls, turned out. Mr. Grover swiftly traced the history of golf from the ancient shepherds down to Cary Middlecoff, then took up golfing manners. "You wouldn't pick up your soup bowl at home and slurp out of it," he said, "and there are certain things you're not supposed to do on the golf course. Generally speaking, do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. That's etiquette."
According to Grover, in addition to the talks on history and etiquette, the full course will include sessions on safety, the golfing vocabulary and then the instruction in fundamentals. Mr. Grover suspects that he may profit considerably from the course himself. As of now, he is shooting well up in the 90s.
Floyd Patterson is a happy fighting man again. His doctor has told him that he will be able to meet Archie Moore for the heavyweight title in September, almost for sure.
Patterson's right hand, believed broken in the sixth round of his fight with Hurricane Jackson—although there are now indications that he suffered a hairline fracture in a sparring session before the match—is mending famously. He probably will be able to punch with it in two weeks. The orthopedic surgeon has decided there is no need to operate and reset the bone. "If this were a break in a show girl's ankle or a nose job," the surgeon says, "I would recommend an operation. But here it is unnecessary. Floyd's hand won't be a thing of beauty, mind you. There will be a slight bump where the calcium forms about the break, but otherwise it will be as good as new."
Floyd's tactical advisers have a more complicated problem. Should he really be sent out to meet cagey old (but not too old) Archie Moore as early as September? Why not wait until Floyd is more mature and experienced? Patterson's management might prefer to wait—except that if Patterson does not fight Moore in September he may not get the opportunity for a long, long time. Archie's manager is Charley Johnston, as calculating a manager as ever whispered in a corner, and Jack (Doc) Kearns, another loving strategist, long ago moved onto the board of directors with a reported 10% interest. If Patterson doesn't step up in September, he will almost certainly see Moore take the heavyweight title by default. Then Archie & Co. could very well decide to play ring-around-a-rosy with Floyd while fighting lesser challengers for what's left of Archie's old sweet time.
Ready or not, it appears Floyd must fight in September.
AND A ZING ZING ZING
Policeman, policeman, do your duty, Here comes Diane, the American beauty.
The Eerie poetry that small girls chant (or compose) as they skip rope and the strange rhythmical games involving hand clapping or bouncing balls that children improvise on city streets have been recorded by an imaginative sound engineer named Tony Schwartz, in what the New York Times the other day called the most original piece of work ever put on records. It probably is. Schwartz describes himself as a "sound hunter"; for the past 10 years he has been carrying his tape recorder around Manhattan, capturing the assorted groans, rumbles and shrieks of the city, and in the midst of its ceaseless clamor the quaint humor and liveliness of the children playing games of their own invention provide a counterpoint that is often astonishingly beautiful.
Most of the sounds of New York that Schwartz has collected suggest a sound track for some ancient Greek myth: the awful bellow of the West Side subway as it emerges above ground at 123rd Street or the mournful complaint of the Queen Mary leaving Pier 90. Once Schwartz was passing a yard between two tenements when he heard a strange, repeated call: "One, two, three and a zing zing zing." Investigating, he found a group of Negro children between the ages of 8 and 12 sitting in a circle, clapping their hands in unison to the words of the leader in a complicated ring game, a player being eliminated if he broke the fast rhythm of the hand claps. The obscure melodrama of the game revolved around a legendary character named Jacqueline. Whenever a player made a mistake or did not think fast enough, everyone shouted, "Jacqueline!" and he was out. No one knows who the unfortunate Jacqueline was, or how she demonstrated her historic slow-wittedness, but the name fits the syncopated rhythm of the game, which goes like this:
Leader: One, two, three and a zing zing zing. No. 1.
No. 1: (innocently): Who, me?
Leader (fiercely): Yes, you.
No. 1 (untroubled): Couldn't be.
Leader. Then who?
No. 1: No. 2.
No. 2: Who, me?
Leader (angrier): Yes, you.
No. 2: Not me.
Leader: Then who?
No. 2: Number—
All: Jacqueline! You out! You too slow!
Schwartz made One, Two, Three and a Zing Zing Zing for Folkways Records four years ago, but it was picked up first by teachers and playground instructors and is used in teachers' courses at Bucknell, Teachers College at Columbia, New York University and other colleges. The reason why it has come into public attention now is that his newest effort, The Story of New York, was chosen to represent the U.S. in an international radio festival, calling attention to all his eavesdropping on the city. About half the material in his children's record is familiar ("I asked my mother for 50¢,/To see the elephant jump the fence") but the remainder is often electrifying: a combination of homemade Mother Goose rhymes and wild jungle rhythms, with Negro and Puerto Rican children beating on homemade drums, wooden benches and metal wastepaper baskets. The cryptic sentiments expressed in children's ball-bouncing games ("Once an apple met an apple./Said the apple to the apple"), and the curious, Emily Dickinsonlike broken rhymes of the girls' rope-skipping games ("I never went to college,/ I never went to school") give them a haunting, cadenced air.
In gathering his material, Schwartz first made a few records of very elementary children's games. He took these to playgrounds and vacant lots and let the children take them home if they had phonographs. The following week he returned and recorded the games they knew, then with his enlarged collection went on to the next juvenile assembly ground. "There's a good deal of sound hunting in Europe," says Schwartz, whose interest grew out of his work for the Navy during the war. "In fact, there's an organization called the European Sound Hunters Association. But most American sound hunters are after specific sounds, like Professor Kellogg of Cornell, who records bird songs. I go after sound like a sportsman after game. It's a great sport, and anybody with a tape recorder can follow it. Just walk around the city and listen."
THE INCOMPLEAT GOLFER
In addition to the backswing cougher, the silent caddy and the terrible-tempered partner who has bet too much on the match, there is one other fairway menace whose presence insures you will never learn the blasted game. This is the helpful partner, the man whose business it is to keep you cheerful through the most harrowing disasters which can befall a man with a golf club in his hand. His techniques are transparent, his motives clouded, but the net result is you never learn anything, least of all how bad your game really is.
For instance, your drive is a piddling roller which never gets in the air and looks more like a double-play ball than a tee shot. "That'll run all day," chirps our menace.
Your next shot is a horror which goes chattering into the woods on the right and out of sight. "You just quit on it a little," soothes friend partner, mentally congratulating himself for stepping out of the way before you quit. Your approach shot is a smother hook which runs erratically diagonally away from the green and into the deep rough. "If you'd kept your eye on it, that would have been a perfect shot," marvels our undisturbed pal.
On the putting green, you get a last-minute seizure and the ball squirts away at right angles to the hole but, because it's so far off line, manages to stop hole high on the other side of the green. "Your distance was perfect," enthuses your tormentor. "Burke says distance is more important than accuracy in putting."
Your next putt is a spasm-ridden stab which roars past the hole on the left side, missing by inches, but going so fast it would have hopped the hole like a freight going over a trestle anyway. It comes to rest back out on the fairway. "Perfect line!" shouts your friend. "You just pulled it a little."
Then there's the sand-trap shot where you plaster the ball, as well as the sand, and it arcs out in a shower of silica over the green and into the trap on the other side. "Atta boy," counsels the optimist. "The idea is to get out of a sand trap in one. That's all the pros try to do." He knows all the time it's going to take you four to get out of the trap you're in now.
Then there is the goofed shot which zooms into the air directly overhead like a pop foul behind home plate. "You just teed it a little high, sport," muses your helper. "Try teeing it a little lower."
Finally, there is the complete miss, the fan-out where the club head swooshes several inches over the ball, leaving you tied up in a 30-handicap knot, feeling as though you'd just broken your back. "An absolutely perfect practice swing!" shouts your partner. "Now, do that when you swing at the ball and it'll be 295 yards straight down the middle."
If you really don't care whether your game improves or not, it's O.K. to play golf with this fellow. A word of advice, though: Don't get in a gin rummy game with him.
With rigid wrists, and head held down,
His hips correctly pivot;
Knees slightly bent, he's best in town
At putting back a divot.
—F. E. WHITE
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Archie Moore and Manager Charlie Johnston signed to meet Canada's James J. Parker in Toronto July 25, to decide (says Johnston) the "world heavyweight championship," set the stage for Archie to claim the champion's share of the purse in his September bout with Floyd Patterson.
Baseball fans in Cincinnati, burning with pennant fever for the first time in almost a decade, cast two and three ballots each to place five Redlegs on the National League All-Star team, indirectly set in motion half a dozen plans for amending the selection process next year.
•Vote of Confidence
Kansas City Manager Lou Boudreau, whose unorthodox defense tactics (Mantle shift, Williams shift) have not kept his Athletics out of last place, received a vote of confidence from Club President Arnold Johnson, had his manager's contract extended for two years through the 1958 season.
•Time to Retire?
Nashua, costliest horse in history ($1,251,200), and winningest ($1,102,865), staggered under 130 pounds in the Carter Handicap at Belmont, finished a miserable seventh in a field of 10, caused experts to wag knowingly and mutter: "Nashua has had it."