Football teams, like battleships, can produce some remarkable surprises on their shakedown cruises. If there hadn't been upsets last Saturday, that would have been the biggest upset of all. Even so, the gloom just now at places like Notre Dame and Duke and Maryland must be all the deeper for being unexpected; and the jubilation at places like SMU and South Carolina and Syracuse must resemble the joy that Jack felt when the giant came tumbling down. For more on all this, we invite you to turn to Football: First Week, page 52 et seq. But we cannot leave the subject without observing what a bright hour of generally unwithered hope this is. Despite Saturday's losses, there are still some 200 undefeated teams left in the country.
PREOCCUPATION IN BOSTON
Whatever joy remains in Boston, now that the pennant race has run its course, depends on the tall, moody figure of Ted Williams. All the unsatisfactory season long, the Red Sox fans have regarded their left-fielder with fitful adoration and hostility. Just now, however, with the singular exception of the wrangling Boston press, they are behind him, for Ted is engaged in a furious competition for the American League batting championship. Not only must he achieve a higher average than his young adversary, Mickey Mantle, but he must also get the requisite 400 official at-bats to qualify for the title.
In the Yankee-Red Sox series at Boston last weekend the fans loosed a mighty boo of despair and shame when Yankee Pitcher Don Larsen threw four straight balls to Williams and gave a gleeful shout when their man got another chance at bat after Larsen filled the bases with two out in the last of the ninth. The press, of course, was of its usual unkind cut. Said one broody writer: "I hope that big so-and-so gets 399 times at bat, then gets hit on that fat coconut of his the 400th time."
September 30, 1956
Williams himself is taking it all in his curious, peevish style. One time he'll mutter: "It don't mean an obscenity to me." At others he is more reflective.
"I think the rule," he says, "should be about 450 physical times at bat, no matter what happens. That would mean that a guy would be in about 100 ball games and, if he plays in two-thirds of the games, why hell, I think he should qualify. Look at me, I'm probably going to windup in about 140 games, but I may miss 400 at-bats because I was hurt and could only pinch-hit."
But then, driven by his mysterious workings, he'll add: "Oh, hell, it doesn't matter much. In fact, a lot of things don't matter much any more."
As for Mickey Mantle, he was, as ever, taciturn, but getting the hits. He did, though, offer this remark, in respect to his attempt to beat Ruth's home run record, which applies equally, and, ultimately, to the batting race: "It's the way the ball bounces."
MAKE WAY FOR THE GIRLS
One of the most deeply satisfied spectators at the National Women's Amateur Golf Championship last week was Gordon McInnis, a member of the small but solid coterie of Canadians who filtered into Indianapolis and out to the Meridian Hills course to watch their girl, Marlene Stewart (see page 51), make her successful bid to become the first foreign player in 20 years and the first Canadian-born player ever to carry off the title.
McInnis, the professional at the Lookout Point Golf Club in Fonthill, Ontario, Marlene's home town, has known the new champion for eight years. She was 14 then and had come out to his course not to play but to ask permission to caddie for a girl friend who did. McInnis not only had the temerity to let the small number—Marlene is only 5 foot one—carry her friend's bag, but when he observed her exceptional flair for golf he allowed her to become a regular caddie. Next he started her playing and had her caddie for him on occasions, the better to pick up some of the nuances of the game that cannot be learned on the practice tee. Within two years the young caddie won the Ontario championship. Three years later, when she was 19, she arrived even before the golf world realized she was around and to be reckoned with: she won the 1953 British Ladies' Championship.
Two generations or so ago, on the heels of the astonishing victory in the 1913 National Open by a young ex-caddie by the name of Ouimet, there was a terrific rush by American boys to enlist in the caddie ranks. Caddying became the training ground of many of the champions of the next decade—Sarazen, Farrell, Diegel, etc. While Marlene's triumph isn't likely to result in swarms of teen-age girls descending on local caddiemasters beseeching employment, it does serve to point out that the day is now past when young girls take to sports largely at the urging of parent addicts. For example, JoAnne Gunderson, the 17-year-old who was runner-up to Marlene, first made her acquaintance with the game by helping her brother hunt for golf balls which he could scrub up and sell to the members of the small 9-hole course in Kirkland, Wash. The first club JoAnne swung was the one she used to probe the rough and the water hazards.
We are undoubtedly entering on the lushest of all eras in women's golf, for the very young age of the stars has made them, like counselors at camp, the idols of the kids (female) of 10 and 12. As one Indianapolis newsman suggested, the high school golf star (male) is very shortly going to find his glamour considerably dimmed. Possible sample conversation circa 1961:
High school star (with the proper touch of modesty): "Say, Linda, maybe you'd like to come out and play a round. I'm really hitting the ball. Had a 76 yesterday."
Linda: "Gee, I'd love to, but I think I'd learn more if I played with Joyce. She hasn't been over 74 the last two weeks."
SLATS SLAPS MAXIE
Like so many ex-prizefighters, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom is an actor and, naturally, a comedian. The former light heavyweight champion told a very funny story on the Arthur Murray Party TV show last June. It had to do with an old and honored opponent, Jimmy Slattery, who in his ring days was known as "Poetry in Motion."
"I fought Jimmy four times in Buffalo," Maxie told the CBS audience, "and beat him every time but was robbed on home-town decisions. I saw it was a hopeless case trying to beat him in Buffalo and I decided to make some money out of losing. So I bet $5,000 on Slats. Along about the fourth round, with neither of us doing anything in a dull bout, I said to Jimmy, 'Come on, Slats, do something. I bet on you to win.' "
To which Slats replied, in Maxie's version, "And I bet on you."
It's the sort of yarn oldtime fighters love to spin—until someone produces a record book. Maxie fought Slattery seven times but only three times in Buffalo. He lost the first two Buffalo fights but he had also lost to Slattery in Brooklyn and Hartford. And their third Buffalo battle was for the light heavyweight championship, NBA version, which Maxie won on a decision.
Nowadays Jimmy Slattery works for the Buffalo parks department and treasures his reputation as a former champion of grace, skill and probity. The other day, as Maxie was preparing to leave Syracuse, where he has been playing a nightclub engagement, Jimmy spoiled Maxie's punch line. He brought suit for $500,000, alleging defamation of character.
Spectators at the Youngstown (Ohio) Horse Show applauded enthusiastically two years ago, as a three-gaited mare named Silver Rocket danced around the tanbark; the mare's rider, tiny Mrs. Eileen Bachtel, applauded inwardly too—as an old hand at exhibiting saddle horses she felt that her mount was performing handsomely indeed. But Silver Rocket finished out of the ribbons. The judge was blunt about his decision: "I just don't like white horses." The rider's husband, Dr. David H. Bachtel, was just as blunt. Said he, bitterly: "I'm not going to show any more horses here." But Mrs. Bachtel took the loss with a pensive smile.
There was no denying the fact that Silver Rocket was being knocked down everywhere because of her color; the mare had come into the world with a silver-gray coat and a black mane and tail and had been a distinctive animal as a two- and three-year-old. When she was four, however, her coat faded to white, and by the time she was five her mane and tail had faded too. But at Youngstown it had suddenly occurred to Mrs. Bachtel that any platinum blonde showgirl—Silver Rocket included—had only to visit a beauty parlor to become a brunette. The Bachtels had hardly gotten back to their farm at North Canton, Ohio before she was off to the drugstore to buy packets of hair tint. Last winter she stirred up one batch of color after another and dabbed a sample of each on Silver Rocket's sides—the mare looked like something from an opium eater's dream before Mrs. Bachtel finally mixed the tint she wanted.
The final head-to-hoof procedure was a job calculated to give even Charles of the Ritz pause. Mrs. Bachtel scrubbed the horse with quarts of peroxide solution and slapped on hair tint with a paintbrush. She finished the job off with a lanolin treatment which made the mare's coat shine. The horse seemed delighted by the project; as it progressed she acted "more and more like a French poodle." When the work was done she was a gleaming copper chestnut with four white stockings and a white blaze down her face. The results have been splendid. Silver Rocket, now renamed Painted Doll, has been doing very well on the horse show circuit—in fact she won both the 15.2 class and the Three-Gaited Stake at the last Youngstown show.
Mrs. Bachtel, who also has pure white hair, has not "even been tempted" to try a color rinse herself. Nobody knows better than she how much work is entailed—Painted Doll, she has discovered, has to be touched up every six weeks to preserve her fashionable good looks.
When Stanley St. Clair Sayres, 60, died in his sleep at home in Seattle last week, the most successful coalition in the history of speedboat racing came to an end. Sayres, a prosperous auto dealer, was the center of the alliance—the financial angel and organizer. Around him he gathered Designer Ted Jones, Builder Anchor Jensen, Drivers Lou Fageol and Joe Taggart and Mechanic Mike Welsch. Over a span of five years this combination in various forms completely made over the sport.
In 1950 they built the flat, wide-nosed Slo-Mo-Shun IV, first of the prop-riding three-point hydroplanes and a complete departure from the traditionally deeper cigar-shaped Gold Cuppers. With Mo IV and her sister Slo-Mo V, built in 1951, they brought the world water-speed record back from England, where it had been for 13 years, took the Harmsworth Trophy, world powerboat championship, back from a 30-year residence in Detroit, and also wrested the American Gold Cup title away from Detroit, which had ruled competition since 1916.
Dedicated as he was, Sayres was a difficult man. He feuded with Jones who broke with him to design for rivals in 1952. He battled with the race committees over their rulings and frequently snubbed the Seattle press. On the other hand he had the unquestioning loyalty of his pit crews and drivers and admiration from his Detroit opponents to whom he made available the rare Rolls-Royce engines that Fageol had hoarded for the Slo Mos.
Liked or not, until the summer of 1955 Sayres was the king of racing. Then, just before last year's Gold Cup, began a chain of events that ended the rule of the Sayres combine. In a trial run the skittish Mo V did a back flip, injuring Lou Fageol and prompting his immediate retirement. During the race itself Mo IV burned out her engine near the final lap. For the first time since Sayres entered the field the Cup went to Detroit. Sayres sold Slo-Mo V to a group of Seattle sportsmen. Mo IV, he said, was now his family runabout. He himself was through with racing.
Except for a sorrowful finale at last month's Gold Cup, he was. Sayres brought Mo IV out and trucked her to Detroit for one last challenge, but before she could make her run for the money, she hit the wake of a patrol boat and flipped, tearing herself apart and nearly killing Joe Taggart.
That was the end. Sayres went home tired and depressed, worried about his friend Taggart. Slo-Mo's remains were shipped back to Seattle, where a crowd of more than 1,000 loyal townsmen filed past them to pay final respects. Then, last week, while the line still sifted past the hull of the old champion, Stan Sayres died quietly in bed.
3 x 13 + 5 x 4 = 59
Golfers dream of a day when the unstable compound of good luck, top form and inspiration will hold together somehow through 18 holes and produce a really stunning round of golf. And every once in a while this dream comes true.
It happened in Memphis just the other day. Playing in a foursome, using the championship tees, following USGA rules and putting all putts, this fellow went around the 6,617-yard course of the Memphis Country Club in 59, 11 under par. He was never in the rough or in a sand trap and never even threatened with a bogie. He shot 13 3s and five 4s. It was, as one observer put it, "simple but staggering—big drive, great iron, bang and in, for 18 consecutive holes."
His name? Cary Middlecoff, who has been playing the Memphis course since he was a boy.
Two years ago when Cary lowered the course record to 61, everybody at the Memphis Country Club agreed it could never be beaten. Now, contemplating the 59, club members say, "Yes, yes, we know. But this time we are positive."
WINNER OF THE WEEK
In a poll of 236 girls at a cheerleading clinic in St. Joseph, Mo., Mickey Mantle edged out Elvis Presley for top contemporary hero by 20 votes.
A chill breeze buffeted the tuna wharf at Wedgeport, Nova Scotia. It stung the welter of spectators until their cheeks matched the crimson-coated Royal Canadian Mounted Police. But the chill of the wind only put a keener edge to the occasion. This was the last day of the 13th International Tuna Cup Match, an affair for which half a hundred sportsmen may travel, among them, some 500,000 miles to compete for the Sharp Cup, consume Nova Scotia lobster and overcome language barriers with fellowship and common angling interests.
Tuna have been few and far between at Wedgeport all summer—only a pitiful 15 hung up on the costly new dock over a prematch period which normally furnishes 500 or more. Hospitable Wedgeport wondered somewhat apprehensively through this month's three-day match whether the teams from eight nations would catch enough to want to come back.
Twenty-four boats bobbled on Soldier's Rip the first day, trolling in the tide with herring baits and teasers. Each nation was assigned three boats, and as national flags whipped at the masthead an anxious man huddled in the fighting chair hoping for a strike. And the strikes came. By 10 a.m., Harry Wesley Smith of the Argentine Team, a onetime squash and golf champion and a four-goal polo player, was "on" a fish. Three hours and 15 minutes later he boated a 583-pound tuna. Almost simultaneously Stuart Peeler, whose father captained the United States Team, had a 200-pound fish at the boat and in midafternoon Hartmuth von Koeller landed a 553-pounder for the German Team.
It was Wedgeport's best day all year and, if the next was less productive, it was satisfyingly dramatic. Angling from the same boat for the British Empire were Alfred Trask and Peter Roscoe. Trask is a Nova Scotian and had driven to Wedgeport that morning from his home in Yarmouth, ten miles away. Roscoe, on the other hand, had undertaken an 8,000-mile trip from Southern Rhodesia to be on hand. The big fish fell to the native son: a 648-pound bluefin that Trask boated in 40 minutes. It was the only fish of the day, the last of the match, and it won for Britain.
The teams from Cuba, Portugal, Mexico and Peru had no catches at all, but were they downhearted? Not so much so that they weren't planning already for Wedgeport in '57.
TICKLE MEOW TURTLE BOIL GAM
Tickle meow turtle boil gam,
Tickle may art wetter kraut,
Bar meerschaum pinups an croaker jag—
Are dun clarify nabber gat bag!
Roots, roots, roots, further harm tame;
F-day dun wean itchy sham.
Fur itch wan, toe, tree storks—yore art!
—H. L. CHACE
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•Statement of Intentions
The controversial new Olympic oath ("I am and intend to remain an amateur," etc.) will probably be shelved at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland Oct. 4. Reasons: it was announced too late, met too much opposition, including that of some IOC members.
The Cleveland Browns' 4-watt radio station (Coach Paul Brown broadcasts from the sidelines, Quarterback George Ratterman receives in his helmet) was okayed by the NFL but broke down in its second tryout game. This suited Ratterman: "I don't go for those one-way conversations."
Nina Ponomaryeva, Russian discus thrower charged with stealing five hats in London, remains safe from arrest in Russian Embassy. The "provocation" against her has now led Moscow's Bolshoi Theater ballet troupe to cancel London visit.
•Heavy the Head that Even Hopes to Wear a Crown
Archie Moore, fighting Floyd Patterson over whether they will fight for the heavyweight title in Los Angeles or New York, was sued for $750,000 by Dollree Mapp, ex-wife of Fighter Jimmy Bivins. She charged "physical attacks" on herself and her daughter, 12. Said Moore: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."