A big scandal is making black headlines in the newspapers of Illinois. It seems that the auditor of the Prairie State, an elective officer, has managed to get $875,000 worth of state checks cashed for his personal benefit at the Southmoor Bank and Trust Co. of Chicago. The auditor, a man named Orville E. Hodge, has resigned from his office and is now explaining his alleged peculations to federal, state and county investigating agencies. Another man who resigned from his job when the ugly headlines had spoken was Edward A. Hintz, president of the Southmoor Bank and the man who authorized these transactions, knowing full well that some $356,000 worth of the dealings were at least highly irregular. This is important to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and its readers because President Hintz is the same Ed Hintz who, as one of the official judges, ruled that Johnny Saxton had beaten Carmen Basilio in their 15-round welterweight championship bout at the Chicago Stadium (SI, March 26), a decision which returned the championship to hoodlum control and was so foul as a piece of judging that it momentarily nosed out the stockyards as Chicago's most odoriferous wonder. Boxing Commissioner Lou Radzienda endorsed the decision of his appointed judge, and his friend, Truman K. Gibson Jr., secretary of the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president), cited Hintz's business rectitude as evidence of his basic honesty.
Another name familiar to the readers of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S continuing boxing expose has also popped up in Auditor Hodge's fiscal fantasy. It is Arthur Wirtz, a director of the IBC and longtime business partner of Norris.
Here is how Arthur Wirtz enters the case. (It may sound complicated at first, but don't leave.) Some time back, Auditor Hodge, who is the regulator of all state banks, ordered the First State Bank of Elmwood Park to close its doors, claiming he had found irregularities in its loan policies. This seemed like a good deed on the part of the state auditor until it was revealed that he had subsequently and secretly acquired 11,165 shares (or more than one-third) of the stock of the bank after it reopened. As if this were not scandal enough, no one knew quite what to think when it turned out that Arthur M. Wirtz had anted up a cool $301,455 to buy Orville Hodge's embarrassing block of stock in the First State Bank of Elmwood Park after Hodge had come under fire for irregularities in the auditor's office. It is only a detail that this transaction seemingly gave the harassed state auditor a profit of about $25,000.
July 29, 1956
Arthur Wirtz is a shrewd businessman, and he doubtless saw something pretty good that didn't meet the average eye when he snapped up the bank's stock. To boxing's long-suffering fans, what he saw is beside the point. At the moment about all they can say when they consider the actions of Hintz and Wirtz is, "Mighty peculiar."
Well, Hodge and Hintz are 'now in custody and under federal indictment on charges of conspiracy to mishandle bank funds. But there is still something mighty peculiar about the mess in Illinois. It is mighty peculiar that Illinois remains the only state of boxing's Big Four (New York, Pennsylvania, California are the other three) that has" done nothing to clean up boxing's dirty business which, it would seem, can penetrate deep into the vitals of state government.
GLASS HOUSE AND IVORY TOWER
In the most recent chapter of the hair-raising Pacific Coast Conference melodrama four California universities were threatening secession, angry rumbles were being exchanged between the governors of California and Oregon, and a rebel football government seemed on the verge of setting up shop in Sacramento under the protective wing of Governor Goodwin (Jeff Davis) Knight. Knight, an honest, forthright man of even temper, was hopping mad. The fact that PCC fathers had barred USC and UCLA from Rose Bowl competition for two and three years respectively had raised the hackles on his red-blooded neck, and he said so. "Set up our own league," he screamed.
Knight wanted to take a wrecking crew and tear down every ivory tower in sight. The time for a realistic approach to athletic scholarships was at hand, he said, and Knight wanted to spearhead the attack. To the north, the loyalist leader, Oregon Governor Elmo Smith, assumed a most un-Lincolnesque attitude. "If California standards are incompatible with ours," said Governor Smith, "maybe they should pull out."
According to Knight, a former football player at Stanford in the pre-World War I days, it is the $75-a-month ceiling on athletic scholarships that is at fault. Obviously the people in the north were being unrealistic and secession was the only answer.
A week later quiet-spoken Orlando J. Hollis, dean of Oregon's law school and architect of many of the PCC rules on athletic morals, tossed a couple of pieces of printed paper on the desk in his office and started to talk about them. The documents were as familiar to coaches and conference athletes as free soap coupons to the average housewife. One of them was a form letter which PCC Commissioner Vic Schmidt sends to each prospective athlete, explaining all permissible forms of assistance to athletes under the conference code. The other was a questionnaire which all PCC athletes must answer when they turn out for a sport, detailing all instances of past, present or future financial assistance either received or promised. "Coaches with an illegal aid program couldn't afford to take chances on a kid answering a questionnaire like this honestly," said Hollis. "All of those kids, somewhere along the line, had to be given instruction to lie. Hell," said the dean quietly, "we're not a professional football league. We're a group of universities and colleges. Parents send their kids to us for tutelage, no less. Any time the maintenance of an athletic program requires us to teach them to be crooks and liars, why, good Gawd, it's time you get rid of it. As long as the rule is there [requiring the answering of the questionnaire] and your program calls for illegal aid to a boy, he's being taught to be a liar and a crook, and that teaching has to be pretty detailed to keep that size (meaning UCLA's] operation under cover."
Hollis may have been pegging his pebbles from an ivory tower, but in this case it seems to have certain advantages over a glass statehouse.
Things are changing at Notre Dame. Since Terry Brennan succeeded Frank Leahy there have been signs that the most celebrated football seminary in the land would like to spread the impression that there are other boons besides pigskins in life at South Bend, Indiana.
They are tearing down the high green fence that for 50 years has shielded the practice sessions of the Notre Dame squad at Cartier Field from the eyes of hostile scouts and spies.
The official explanation is that the old green fence has become too expensive to maintain. Replacing it will be a woven-wire fence and any passer-by will be free to peek through except on the most secret occasions. Then Brennan will drape the fence with canvas.
The very thought of people looking at any Notre Dame practice session will probably make Frank Leahy turn over in his fine, plush public-relations office. Leahy could not erase the grim thought of lurking spies, and he never completely trusted the fence. He had student managers guarding all entrances and knotholes and issued a whole series of varicolored passes, each denoting the extent of penetration permitted the lucky holder. Eddy Gil-more, onetime Associated Press correspondent in Moscow, said after a practice session: "It was easier to get into the Kremlin."
There was many a story of the old green fence. Once Ziggy Czarobski challenged big John (The Tree) Adams to see if he could dive through the fence. Adams thought he could, and did. Others to dive through the fence, head and shoulders first: Ray Eichenlaub, a fullback of the Rockne-Dorais era, and Jumping Joe Savoldi of Knute Rockne's fabulous 1929 team.
If, as seems likely, there is a new order at Notre Dame calling for slightly less emphasis on football, heads may be more learned there in the days to come. But they will never be harder than in the days of the old green fence.
THE ELECTRONIC QUARTERBACK
Knute Rockne believed that one of the principal duties of a football coach was to teach a quarterback to think for himself. Paul Brown, coach of the Cleveland Browns, inclines toward a slightly different view. Coach Brown believes that a quarterback should have his thinking done for him.
Coach Brown, already celebrated for a football innovation known as the "messenger guard," a substitute rushed into the game on every play for the sole purpose of delivering an order from Coach Brown, has been experimenting with a football helmet containing a small radio receiver. This, placed on the quarterback's presumably thick bone head, would enable Coach Brown to communicate swiftly and directly with the man calling the signals. Otto Graham, the great Cleveland quarterback, went along with the scheme and has acted as robot by running about the field in practice sessions while Coach Brown broadcast his orders. Yet Coach Brown was not altogether satisfied with results and distrusted the gimmick in actual competition. Graham could bring him in fine in some sections of the field, lost him entirely in others. Coach Brown has since referred this problem back to the electronic experts and promises that "any time we think it has been perfected, we will use it."
All this has frightening implications. It may be hastening the day when robots, with the electronic cunning man has given them, start manufacturing other robots. Or the day when Yogi Berra will be tuned in to Casey Stengel. Or Vinegar Bend Mizell to Fred Hutchinson and Hutchinson, heaven help his eardrums, to Frank Lane.
Or when traveling salesmen will be made to wear radio hats to which their wives back home may broadcast from time to time: "Don't you dare!"
THE MEETING GROUND
Ussr, a Russian picture magazine with English text, went on sale at newsstands across the country this week. USSR is a monthly (20¢ a copy) especially designed "to acquaint American readers with the life of the Soviet people" and is published in the U.S. through a two-way arrangement between the governments of the U.S. and of the Soviet Union. The other part of the deal allows Amerika, an American magazine with Russian text, to circulate in the Soviet Union (5 rubles a copy).
The notable thing about USSR's first issue is that no less than 10 of its 68 pages are devoted to sport. There is a discussion of the Olympic trials which will take place in Moscow next month and speculation about the final out-come for the Soviet Union at Melbourne ("track and field prospects: for women—bright. For men—a few gold medals, not too many. Victory for U.S.A.").
There is a story about Distance Runner Vladimir Kuts, two pages of chitchat about star Soviet athletes, an article on chess, and so on. Altogether, USSR suggests pretty clearly that two countries whose languages, habits, moods and ideals are different can still find a comfortable meeting place on an athletic field, and that the world of sport may be the place where men will finally learn to live—and compete—in peace. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED seconds the motion.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•Take Your Choice
Bing Crosby, one of the 11-man syndicate that made the winning $5,500,000 bid for the Detroit Tigers, is also 16% owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Crosby could own an interest in only one club at a time, the Groaner said he would keep the Pirates.
Wisconsin threatened to cancel its home-and-home football contract with Louisiana State, the Sugar Bowl promised to become a local show, and the Shreveport Sports baseball team faced the end of its Texas League affiliation because a new Louisiana state law forbids Negroes and whites to compete on the same playing field. Although Shreveport has no Negro players, other teams in the Texas League do, and they don't intend to get rid of them when the law goes into effect on October 15.
New General Manager Frank Lane, who traded away Cardinal Pitchers Brooks Lawrence (13-1) and Harvey Haddix (8-3), plus Second Baseman Red Schoendienst (.312) and Center Fielder Bill Virdon (.294) told an Optimist Club in St. Louis he wasn't sorry even though his club was in fourth place. "You have to win ... You have to gamble," he explained.
DREAM RACE—A PROPOSAL
A year ago, the late William Woodward Jr., then owner of Nashua, and Rex Ellsworth, owner of Swaps, agreed to match their superb colts in a two-horse race at Chicago. At that time the two sportsmen were quoted widely as saying, in effect: "Both these horses are great. Any great horse belongs to the public. The public is entitled to see the best—and that's why we're bringing Swaps and Nashua together." As everyone now knows, Nashua won in a romp over an off-form Swaps and thus evened the score with the colt who had taken his measure in the Kentucky Derby.
Since then, both horses have gone on to rewrite flat-racing history. Nashua has become the top money winner of all time ($1,236,965), and Swaps has set three new world records and equaled another at distances ranging from a mile to a mile and a furlong.
It is no exaggeration to say that both these horses are greater now than they were a year ago, and both are in top condition. Certainly the public deserves another chance to see them compete—not only against each other but also against whatever other horses have earned the right to test their laurels. With this in mind, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED proposes a "Dream Race for 1956," a showdown among the four outstanding horses now in training in this country—Nashua, Swaps, Needles and Fabius—and perhaps any others that may be worthy.
It would be held in September or October at Belmont Park at a distance of a mile and a half, weight-for-age, for 3-year-olds and up, by invitation only. Purse: $100,000; of which $75,000 to the winner, $15,000 for second, $7,500 for third and $2,500 for fourth. No nominating or starting fees. Conforming with The Jockey Club scale of weights-for-age, the 4-year-olds would carry 126 pounds over a mile and a half in September and October. The 3-year-olds (Needles and Fabius) would carry 119 pounds in September or 121 pounds in October.
Other horses which now come to mind have been purposely excluded for various reasons: Career Boy after breaking down in the Belmont Stakes probably could not get ready in time; the same goes for Summer Tan who is behind in his training; 3-year-old Swoon's Son has looked unbeatable at a mile or under but probably can't go much farther. Bobby Brocato, Porterhouse and Mr. Gus, all classy westerners, have given Swaps little competition with a weight advantage of 15 to 20 pounds so they would hardly qualify at equal weights. Alfred Vanderbilt's gelding, Social Outcast, has long been out of training and might have trouble getting ready for such a challenge.
By a fo0rtunate coincidence, all four colts are scheduled to be in residence at Belmont for the autumn meeting. There are already some races for which Nashua and Swaps are both eligible, but the conditions of these races tend to favor one horse over the other. The $75,000 Woodward at Belmont on September 29, for instance, is run at a mile and an eighth, a distance more suited for a real speed horse like Swaps. Conversely, in the $50,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on October 13, the two-mile distance would give Nashua the edge. He won this race last year.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED believes that the mile-and-a-half is the Thoroughbred's truest classical test and certainly the fairest compromise for these four horses. The strategy at such a distance would be fascinating. Fabius and Swaps are both pace setters. Nashua can run on the pace or just off it. Needles has to come from behind. The planning by the brilliant riders who normally have the mount on these horses—Eddie Arcaro, Willie Shoemaker, Dave Erb and Willie Hartack—should be epic in itself. Hartack would be struggling to keep Fabius from running himself out in the first mile. Shoemaker on Swaps, another wire-to-wire front runner, would have to be careful not to let Fabius take him too fast too early so as to leave something in reserve for the long Belmont stretch. Arcaro, the great master of pace, would have to be at his very best to stay within striking distance and yet retain Nashua's finishing kick. Erb aboard Needles, an early lagger, could lay back only so far without finding himself lost in the background. This would indeed be a DREAM RACE.
Belmont Park may well shudder at the thought of the expense and trouble that such a race would entail. To be sure, it is no cinch to put up such a purse in a state that allows its tracks a mere 4% of the pari-mutuel handle as opposed to the 7% or 8% taken by the tracks in other major racing states. But if New York means what it says about regaining some of the prestige it has forfeited to states like New Jersey, Illinois, California and Florida, now is the time. Gentlemen of The Greater New York Association, Messrs. George Widener, John Hanes, Ogden Phipps, Christopher Chenery, Boylston Tompkins et al.: here is your chance to give true racing fans their DREAM RACE.