SEE NO EVIL?
The Frank picture at the top of the opposite page is not pretty. It shows in brutal clarity the aftermath of an ugly incident in the Sugar Bowl football game. Sadly, this incident will probably serve as memory's peg for a fine game in which Tennessee, a very good football team, lost to Baylor, which had played all year on the narrow border of greatness and crossed over on New Year's Day.
When Baylor Fullback Larry Hickman kicked Tennessee's Bruce Burn-ham in the face, he spoiled forever an afternoon which might have been a satisfying, warm memory. Hickman, a 19-year-old sophomore, gave way briefly under the tremendous pressure of a bowl game; the ethical code of football was not as strong, for a few seconds, as the age-old law of the pack which says you must protect your own. Burnham was involved in a melee with Baylor players and Hickman answered instinct, not reason. His remorse was quick and deep, and he served an immediate penance on the Baylor bench ("It seemed like I sat there five years"). His wholehearted apology and Burn-ham's forgiveness were warm grace notes to a sad song.
The incident, unfortunately, was shushed to some extent; squeamish television cameras swung hurriedly away from the action, and the sequence was deleted from official game movies. In closing their eyes (and the eyes of television watchers) to what happened, TV was following an old self-imposed rule, one usually justified on the ground that it "spares the families." This is a shortsighted argument. By swinging its cameras away from Hickman's mistake, his removal from the game and his subsequent honest penitential dejection on the bench, TV kept from its public some of the truth of this particular game—and of an object lesson of more than particular application. Ignoring such incidents can lend a sort of tacit approval; spotlighting can help weed them out and, incidentally, spare families—and players themselves—the pain of future kicks in the face.
January 14, 1957
Hockey players have been known to go berserk too, but, as National Hockey League games went out on a national network for the first time last week, there were no blinders on the cameras; TV cameramen were instructed there was to be no censorship. This is as it should be.
ROBINSON STEALS HOME
One of the characteristics that marked Jackie Robinson as an unforgettable baseball player was his Sense of Presence, of knowing precisely what to do in crises, especially in the face of a surprising or unexpected or dramatic turn of events. It was part of his nature as the first Negro ballplayer in the major leagues to be constantly on the alert, to be continually thinking about the next step, the next out, the future.
This is probably as much the reason as any other why his decision to retire from baseball was splashed in banner headlines across the sports pages of the country. Robinson had quietly made plans to retire, had arranged through a trusted friend for a lucrative and satisfying job. He had also agreed, in exchange for a considerable sum of money, to give the exclusive story of his retirement, when it occurred, to Look magazine. Up to this point it was a relatively simple arrangement.
But on the very day he signed a contract with the Chock Full O' Nuts restaurant company to serve as vice-president in charge of personnel, he learned from E. J. (Buzzy) Bavasi, vice-president of the Brooklyn Dodgers in charge of personnel, that he had been traded to the New York Giants.
This was an unexpected and tantalizing turn of events: first, because he was committed to retirement from baseball; and, second, because he was committed to sell the story of his retirement on an exclusive basis. If he told Bavasi, who is not widely known for taciturnity, that he was going to announce his retirement in three weeks, he would very conceivably destroy the exclusiveness of a story he had been paid for. As a matter of fact, the story was in the process of being written.
The same held true when he spoke to Horace Stoneham, president of the New York Giants, though he did give Stoneham enough reservations about his chances of playing that Stoneham cautioned a Florida newspaperman a few days later: "Jack hasn't said he would play with us, but he promised to give us a definite answer sometime around January 10"—or just about when his magazine article would hit the stands.
As late as last Saturday in California, Jackie was cautious. Asked about Willie Mays (who had been effusively optimistic about the aid and assistance he expected to get from Jackie as a teammate), Robinson avoided direct comment by stating: "The only thing I can say is that I'm very flattered that Willie Mays should even think I can help him.... Willie is a very intelligent baseball player and I don't think he can be helped by talking to me...."
So there was Robby, trapped off third, jockeying back and forth between the announcement of his trade to the Giants, and his signed contract to his new company, with his commitment to the magazine keeping him in the middle, as the ball does in a rundown. He nimbly avoided the tag of publicity until it was time to break for home; when he did, it was, as always, dramatic.
Now there will be tears from disappointed Giant fans (like Horace Stoneham) who had dreams of glory for 1957 and cheers from Dodger fans (like Jack Robinson Jr.) who can resume hating all Giants without reservation.
And there will be criticism of Robinson, even though he did what he had to do, but that's the way it always was, too.
Now it's over. And baseball will miss him in a way it has missed only a few, the nonpareils, the Ruths, the Cobbs, the Mattys.
BAD MARKS ON SATURDAY
As football died its usual lingering death last week, another coach was added to the discards which litter the end of every season. Lloyd Jordan, who has directed Harvard's football teams for 7 years, was added to a list which includes Ed Price of Texas and Chalmer E. Woodard of Southern Methodist. In explaining why Jordan was through, the Harvard athletic director, Tom Bolles, added a phrase to football's vocabulary of discontent. Jordan, said Bolles, was fired because of "teaching failure." Since Harvard has won 24, lost 31, tied 2 under Jordan's tutelage and this year won only 2 of 8 games, his teaching failure was fairly obvious and would have probably resulted in dismissal at nearly any major college. But the sore point at Harvard was not so much Jordan's won-lost record as the manner in which he compiled it. A graduate of the old Pop Warner single-wing school at Pittsburgh, Jordan stuck doggedly to the single wing. Said one disgruntled alumnus: "This year he had a great T-formation back-field, but he stuck to his single wing.... It was the most boring, the most uninteresting, the most elementary single wing that you can play." Harvard coaches are graded not only by alumni—as are all coaches—but by the team captain and the student manager at the end of each season. Jordan got failing marks all around. But, finally, Jordan's failing marks were the same as Price and Woodard turned in—more losses than victories.
WEIGHTS FOR 1957
One of the easiest things a Thoroughbred horse has to remember is that January 1 is his birthday. Owners of the previous season's 2-year-olds know this perfectly well, of course, but most of them look forward to the first of the year for a special omen which for over 20 years has raised the curtain on the annual drama of the 3-year-olds. The omen, for some bright, for others hopeful and for still others gloomy: publication by The Jockey Club's official handicapper of his Experimental Free Handicap weights. In the official language of turfdom, the weights represent the handicapper's gauge of the 3-year-old potential of the previous season's juveniles, based on their overall first-year performances. In plainer language, the list represents the personal opinion of a thoroughly knowledgeable horseman (for the last three years it has been Jimmy Kilroe and before him John B. Campbell) as to which horses have the best chance of winning such coming center-stage attractions as the Santa Anita Derby, Flamingo, Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
Jimmy Kilroe's list released this week shows no startling surprises. All alone at the top of the list with a highweight of 126 pounds is Calumet Farm's Barbizon, son of Polynesian out of a Bull Lea mare, winner of the fabulously rich Garden State last fall.
Bracketed at 125 pounds are Bold Ruler, the temperamental son of Nasrullah, and Federal Hill, a colt who gained more than average distinction when he handed Barbizon the only defeat of his career.
In Kilroe's next group of four, all at 122 pounds, are Amarullah (another Nasrullah with evident stamina), Ambehaving, a son of Ambiorix who looked sensational winning the Remsen, the Chicago champion, Greek Game, and Florida's King Hairan.
Behind the leading favorites come Missile, the late-season winner of the Pimlico Futurity, and then three West Coast challengers, Prince Khaled, California Kid, Lucky Mel. And behind them 111 other colts and fillies weighted all the way down to 103 pounds.
Owners of the top 10 horses have reason to expect a happy new year, but other owners need not despair. Racing handicappers are just as susceptible to fallibility in prophecy as other kinds of experts. On Jimmy Kilroe's 1954 list there were two sleepers well down the roster: Determine at 117 pounds and the 3-year-old champion, High Gun, at 108. More than halfway down the 1955 list, weighted at 111 pounds, was the biggest sleeper of all: Swaps.
The great British sporting public devotes itself to soccer above all other games whatsoever—and nurses a lingering suspicion that the gentry considers it plebian. So, when the Queen's New Year's honors list made its annual appearance last week and the great Stanley Matthews, 42, a soccer hero who combines in the popular English sports pantheon something of the luster of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, drew only a C.B.E.—and not a knighthood—the cauldrons of opinion boiled over.
"They have given him a-putty medal," mourned the tabloid Daily Mirror in breaking the news to its 4,725,122 readers. "There was a knighthood for Len Hutton [cricket], another for Gordon Richards [horse racing]. But Matthews—their equal in his own field—what does he get? He gets a C.B.E., that's what he gets. An honor shared by the late keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum, a controller of the Third Programme, the managing director of a lead firm, the catering adviser to the Royal Air Force and the chairman of the Aberdeen local savings committee." After catching breath the Mirror and others acknowledged that the C.B.E. had also been awarded last week to Donald Campbell for setting a world speedboat record (SI, Oct. 1) and to Roger Bannister, a couple of years back, for running the first sub-four-minute mile.
But this did not take the edge off first disappointment. "An insult to Matthews and to the millions who stand on the terraces to watch Britain's national sport," editorialized Lord Beaverbrook's empire-minded Daily Express. "It should be Sir Stan," headlined the Labor Daily Herald. "Little boys, as soon as they can talk football, prattle his name as a great figure to look up to; as a superb example of all that is best in playing-field competition." The Liberal News Chronicle cried, "Why no knighthood for the greatest and most beloved character on any British sport field?"—and took comfort in a long-range reflection; early in the year the 8-year-old heir to the throne, Prince Charles, tried a little soccer and seemed to like it.
As for Stanley Matthews, C.B.E., he took it all like a perfect knight. "I couldn't be more pleased with anything than I am with this high honor," he said.
THE CHESS BOWL
There are 90 college chess teams in the U.S., and championship matches have been held regularly since 1892, but the stupendous lack of popular interest in this historic event has long been the most newsworthy fact about it. While a few hundred thousand spectators were assembling for the Rose, Cotton, Sugar and Orange Bowl spectacles, the most recent of these chess classics approached a precedent-breaking climax in Philadelphia with no spectators present, no newspaper coverage, no television broadcasts and no gate receipts whatsoever. The total budget came to $140. Most of the 56 players paid their own expenses, roomed at the YMCA for $2.25 a night, ate at the nearest cafeteria—and fairly often didn't eat the customary three meals a day that science recommends for men in strenuous competition.
One reason for the lack of interest is obvious. New York always won. Of the 26 college-team tournaments that have been held since 1922, City College and New York University alone have won 17, Columbia, Brooklyn College and Fordham the others.
Throughout the rest of the country, college chess enthusiasts have come to look upon the metropolis the way chess players in general look upon Russia. "Those guys from New York always stick together," said Mitchell Sweig, a short, energetic physicist from the University of Chicago. "They're always analyzing games and figuring out variations to make each other's games look good." This year Fordham was captained by Anthony Saidy, now a chess master, who led the American team in the international college match in Sweden last year. City College had at it first board Arthur Feuerstein, a budding headliner, and at third board Joe Tomargo, who alone outranked most of the players from all other colleges I present. William Lombardy of City I College, one of the three top-ranking American college chess players, was not even present; it was said that City College would not need him.
But chess is an art, not a game, and like all arts is subject to mysterious visitations of inspiration. One of these now descended on four grateful beginners from the University of Chicago. Not tyros by any means, the Chicago players were nevertheless not suspected of being of the caliber of chess masters; they were present only' because their captain, an 18-year-old scholarship winner from San Diego named Robin Kirby, had wangled $100 from the university authorities for expenses. "We came in second in the West Side division of the Chicago Chess League," said Michael Robinson proudly, "and this year we're tied for first." He introduced Leonard Frankenstein, a tall, solemn, 20-year-old genius from Kansas City: "Same name as the Boris Karloff character," he said, lips compressed like a Chicago gambler in a movie. Grim and relentless, Frankenstein won one critical game in the tournament in eight moves. Chicago took all four of its games against Muhlenberg, won three and drew one against Penn, held City College to two victories, beat Harvard with two wins and one drawn game and then whipped Fordham. Lombardy hurried from New York to take over first board for City College in the semifinal and final rounds but barely avoided defeat himself.
By the finish of the tournament the Chicago players needed shaves, sleep and food, but they had won by the margin of one full game and had ended the myth of New York's invincibility.
Doubtless the great bowl games were better spectacles. Yet it may not be moralizing too much to point out that there were aspects of the collegiate chess tournament that even bowl game promoters might study with profit. The bowl games provided a conclusion which was final. Baylor, Iowa and the other bowl game winners emerged as better than their immediate opponents, but it was still unclear, and always would be, whether one bowl victor was stronger than another, or which, if any, of the bowl winners was as good as Oklahoma. There was no question about the chess champions: they're University of Chicago.
The whistle blows, the players hoot—
It's not a foul, they all agree;
And just to make their point they shoot
A basket with the referee.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•Reds on the green
Latest diplomatic intelligence through Paris channels: Dmitri Shepilov, Soviet Foreign Minister, has instructed all Russian diplomats abroad to behave like other diplomats abroad—learn to play golf.
Jimmy Bryan, No. 1 U.S. big car driver, is the latest name track racer to get road racing fever; he has entered the Sebring (Fla.) 12-hour Grand Prix of Endurance set for March 23. Among Bryan's rivals will be Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins of Britain, Carroll Shelby, Phil Hill and Masten Gregory of the U.S.
•One More Chance
While Harvard was dropping Coach Lloyd Jordan after a 2-6 season (see page 22), Notre Dame announced that Terry Brennan, who finished this season with the worst record in Notre Dame history (2-8), would be retained as Irish football coach for at least one more season "upon the recommendation of the faculty board in control of athletics."
•Jerry (The Jint) Lucas
College basketball coaches are already drooling over the prospect of signing Jerry Lucas, 6-foot 9-inch junior at Middletown, Ohio high school. Lucas, 17, has averaged over 38 points a game for two years, reminds experts of Wilt (The Stilt) Chamberlain and, to top it all, he is still growing.