New York Giants had little trouble beating Philadelphia 21-7 to win Eastern title, while Chicago Bears outroughed Detroit 38-21 to capture Western crown, setting stage for NFL playoff at Yankee Stadium Dec. 30. Other results: Pittsburgh upset Washington 23-0; Chicago Cards beat Cleveland 24-7; Los Angeles defeated Green Bay 49-21; San Francisco outscored Baltimore 30-17.
Boston Bruins, despite loss of ailing Goalie Terry Sawchuk, got able goal tending from Rookie Norman De Felice, lost only to Montreal in three games to hold three-point edge over Detroit, four over Montreal. Chicago, winless in 11 games since November 22, finally beat Detroit 3-1; Red Wings' Gordie Howe netted three goals to become second highest scorer (328) in NHL history.
Floyd Patterson, imperturbable heavyweight champion whose quick hands finished off Archie Moore, will spend next few weeks collecting trophies after being named Fighter of Year by New York and Chicago boxing writers who once were content to ignore him. Chances are that Patterson will defend newly gained title for first time next June against still unnamed opponent who could be Hurricane Jackson—or Former Champion Rocky Marciano. Rocky, busy repeating decision to stay retired, began to hedge ever so slightly in Baltimore: "Right now I haven't changed my plans, but I have a lot of things to think over. You hear so many things...."
December 24, 1956
Boxing fans got usual TV fare, most of it bad, with best fights reserved for paying audiences. In non-TV bouts, Middleweight Joey Giambra's solid punching in middle rounds earned him 10-round decision over Rocky Castellani before 5,500 at San Francisco, while Joey Giardello continued lengthy series of bouts with Charley Cotton, pounding out victory in 10-rounder before 9,000 at Cleveland. Meanwhile, TV patrons watched Heavyweight Alex Miteff, Hymie (The Mink) Wallman's latest protege, barely beat washed-up Archie McBride, from New York; Featherweight Carmelo Costa destroy inept Texan Paul Jorgensen's No. 2 ranking in 10-round bout, from New York; Middleweight Yama Bahama waltz through 10 dull rounds with battle-scarred Jimmy Martinez to win, from Cleveland.
Kansas, with fabulous Wilt Chamberlain piling up 67 points, rolled past Washington 77-63, 92-78, while SMU, North Carolina, St. John's, Illinois, West Virginia were also still among nation's unbeaten. U.S. Olympic team, with All-America Bill Russell (who later joined Boston Celtics) playing only part-time, ended undefeated career by trouncing Santa Clara 97-57, San Francisco 83-52 in invitational tournament at Chicago.
Philadelphia was latest NBA team to get off on winning kick, taking four straight from Minneapolis, St. Louis, Syracuse and Boston on hot shooting of Neil Johnston and Paul Arizin to move within 3½ games of front-running Boston (which won two, lost two) in East. Rochester was able to win only one (over Celtics) of three but still held 1½-game margin over Minneapolis in West.
Sam Tufano's Wise Margin, top-rated on New England circuit but unable to win in Maryland, made third try his best, carrying 126-pound impost lightly as he stepped smartly through sloppy 2 1/16 miles in track record 3:37 to take Pimlico Cup.
Scott Frost, Potato Farmer Saul Camp's awkward-gaited 4-year-old trotter who spent early part of 1956 standing at stud before winning 17 straight races, 18 out of 21 and $85,851 bringing lifetime total to $305,685 (all time record: $332,363 by Pronto Don), picked up a well-earned tribute: designation as Harness Horse of Year for second straight season by U.S. Trotting Association.
Jackie Robinson, aging (38 next Jan. 31) but still agile and exciting jack-of-all-positions whose name had become synonymous with Brooklyn Dodgers since he broke major league color barrier in 1947, was sold across river to New York Giants for Pitcher Dick Littlefield and reported $30,000. Giants, aching badly for cleanup hitter to follow Willie Mays and sparkplug to give team lift, plan to use Robinson at first base, where he played for Dodgers in 1947. Jackie's reaction to shift: "That's baseball. It's all part of the game."
Frank Lane, fast-dealing St. Louis general manager, also got into player-shuffling act, sending Pitchers Tom Poholsky (9-14) and Jackie Collum (6-2), Catcher Ray Katt (.247) and Omaha Infielder Wally Lammers (.248) to Chicago Cubs for Pitchers Sam Jones (9-14) and Jim Davis (5-7), Catcher Hobie Landrith (.221) and Infielder Eddie Miksis (.239).
U.S. Davis Cuppers, hopeful but given little chance against Lew Hoad and Ken Rose-wall (the latter about to sign pro contract with Promoter Jack Kramer), prepared to face Australia in challenge round at Adelaide Dec. 26-28 after disposing of India 4-1 at Perth. Rejuvenated veteran Vic Seixas and Newcomer Sammy Giammalva led American surge, each beating India's Naresh Kumar in singles and teaming up to overcome young Ramanathan Krishnan and Kumar in doubles. Herb Flam scored other U.S. point, outlasting Krishnan, who saved shutout for Indians by defeating Mike Green (see page 37).
Ham Richardson and Shirley Fry, as expected, were rated top amateurs by USLTA in tentative rankings for 1956 (see below) with Flam No. 2 ahead of Seixas and Althea Gibson behind Miss Fry. No. 1 doubles teams: Richardson and Seixas; Louise Brough and Margaret Osborne duPont.
BORN—To Lawrence (Yogi) Berra, squatty New York Yankee catcher, fondly referred to by Casey Stengel as his "assistant manager"; and wife Carmen; their third child, third son; at Ridgewood, N.J. Name: Dale Anthony. Weight: 7 pounds 11 ounces.
HONORED—Lou Little, gravel-voiced Columbia football coach who is retiring after 27 years; first of his profession to win Sportsmanship Brotherhood Award since Chicago's Amos Alonzo Stagg in 1931, for "outstanding contributions in the field of football," in New York.
DIED—Bob Olin, 48, former light heavyweight champion, more recently Manhattan restaurateur; of heart attack, in New York. Olin outpointed Slapsie Maxie Rosen-bloom for title in November 1934, lost it to John Henry Lewis in October 1935, finally retired in 1939.
DIED—Moses (Mosey) King, 72, oldtime lightweight protégé of Gentleman Jim Corbett, longtime Yale boxing coach and instructor (1906-1952), Connecticut's first boxing commissioner (in 1921); of injuries suffered when struck by automobile, at New Haven (see page 40).