SPORT OF FUTURE KINGS
The legislature of Iceland, by unanimous vote, has outlawed boxing—no bouts, no exhibitions, no training. This is not necessarily a death blow to the ancient sport—except, of course, in Iceland—but it is certainly a straw in a rising wind. Norway's Director of Public Health wants to ban it too. And in Italy, the Archbishop of Turin has denounced it as "inhuman, uncivilized, and...lethal." The editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED like boxing and disagree with all these gentlemen. They were happy to see that in London last week one small fist was raised in defense of the sport. It belonged to the 8-year-old Duke of Cornwall, who is better known as Prince Charles, the son and heir of the Queen of England.
Young Charles was a brand-new schoolboy, the first heir to the throne ever to attend grade school in an ordinary classroom. London papers were covering the historic occasion in depth, with full descriptions of the school (a private one, with 102 pupils), a list of Charles's activities and a teatime interview with the headmaster.
"I do not believe in boxing for small boys," the headmaster said, in discussing the school's sports program. "Nine out of 10 don't like it. We don't do it at this age. As an amateur sport it is practically dead. We do not need that sort of toughness."
February 11, 1957
The reporters wrote it all down, and the papers printed it. While the public read it next day, Bonny Prince Charlie, playing soccer with his classmates, fell into disagreement with one of them and came to blows (see page 24). A cameraman with a telephoto lens recorded the royal battle, which was short, awkward and decisive. Charles won. In doing so he seemed to have set his small but royal veto on the opinions of the headmaster, the Norwegian Director of Public Health, the Archbishop of Turin and the legislature of Iceland.
ADD ONE BUM
When the public address organ strikes up Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly? next spring and a sad little clown strolls out of the Brooklyn dugout, a cycle will have been completed. Everything will have happened at Eb-bets Field, where everything is supposed to happen. The Dodgers last week signed Emmett Kelly, one of the greatest pantomime artists of his time, "to relieve some of the tension at Ebbets Field."
It won't be easy. Suppose the day is sunny and Brooklyn fans are happy because Sal Maglie is working, and the Giants belt him out in the first inning. What does Emmett Kelly do to make them laugh? Say Duke Snider strikes out with the bases loaded in the ninth. How does Kelly send the tense residents of the borough home untensed? Just by cracking a peanut with a sledge hammer?
No doubt, Emmett Kelly, who is a thoughtful man, had thought about this problem before he ever signed up with Brooklyn. In his book Clown, Kelly writes: "I must suit the action to the mood and to the makeup and everyone of these is exaggerated." Well, the mood of Dodger fans depends mainly on the current state of the team—and when Big Newk is rocking along on a six-run lead and Pee Wee Reese is covering ground like a 20-year-old and the patrons of Ebbets are tense with pleasure, do they really want to be untensed?
It's pretty clear, in short, that Kelly, in moving up from the big tent to the big leagues at 58, can be facing something like an ultimate challenge to his art. The putty nose, the ragged clothes and the flapping shoes will be appropriate dress in the home of the Bums, of course. And when Kelly moves into the spotlight—the very same spotlight he chased so unsuccessfully for so many years with a broom—Brooklyn should adopt him like a son. After all, the Dodgers aren't getting any younger and may be facing an ultimate challenge to their art, too, this season. The betting here is that Brooklyn fans will soon be assuring each other that Kelly, like the other Bums, will come up with something.
The classic question, "If you had it to do over again, would you...?" has been asked about almost every human activity from childbearing to grave digging. It is possible, though, that until recently nobody had thought to ask women college graduates if they would take the same physical education courses over again, given a second chance. Now Dr. Margaret Fox, of the State University of Iowa, has put the question to 1945 and 1950 graduates of 18 midwestern schools and has got back their answers. Dr. Fox reports them in the Journal of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
What sports did most of the ladies take up in physical education classes in college? Basketball and volleyball. What sports do they pass up now out of simple lack of interest? Among others, basketball and volleyball. What sports do they wish they'd had more of in college? Chiefly, golf and swimming. Why? Well, it seems to boil down to the fact that husbands like golf and kids like swimming—and women like to take part in the family fun.
SURPRISE YOUR FRIENDS
Incredible as it may be, there are still millions of Americans who don't understand Baseball, and who never see or have seen Baseball played.... Many in this underprivileged minority are women.
The words above appear in Baseball Made Plain, a booklet ordered by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, written by a team of public relations men and designed to enlighten U.S. women—that great, underprivileged minority who now outnumber U.S. men by about four million. The hope is, of course, that the ladies, once enlightened, will turn into paying customers in numbers never yet encountered in a ball park.
Sure, Baseball is complex. But so is driving a car or baking a cake....
At the moment Mr. Frick's primer for women is no more than a sheaf of mimeographed pages and a few diagrams, and everything is subject to revision. But in all its first-draft innocence, Baseball Made Plain is clearly a work that will help anyone who never played baseball as a boy simply because she was a girl. It is written in short words and simple sentences, and it starts from absolute zero. After pointing out the object of the game, defining a run, distinguishing between offense and defense, and explaining what innings are, the book undertakes to answer the perplexing question of What They're Trying To Do:
The man with the cudgel is "at bat." He stands next to a roughly square thing in the ground called a plate. He faces toward an opposing player called the pitcher....
Here the occasional male reader, tensed for that first pitch, will subside into nail-biting frustration. For the windup never comes. Instead there is a measured, careful explanation of what and where the strike zone is, of how an umpire functions, of "fouls" and "balls" and "walks," all nicely garnished with quotation marks. This goes on for two pages before Madam is sufficiently well informed to be able to turn again to action:
Now suppose on the other hand that in making one of those lusty swipes he connects and hits the ball into fair territory?
Well, this opens up a number of possibilities. But now the authors themselves seem to be caught up in the excitement of baseball. They whip out a few explanatory sentences with what almost seems to be impatience and get back to the game:
...the batter races like mad to first base while the enemy players try to throw the ball to first before he can get there. Why?
Then there is another slump for the gentlemen, while the ladies are learning Why.
Baseball Made Plain is only 19 pages long but, even so, it is divided into chapters. The tone of the work is patient, courteous and clear. And, primer writers or no, the authors plunge to some surprising depths:
A triple play...happens rarely and you needn't worry your pretty head about it now. However, if you're the worrying type, here's one way it could happen....
In just a few weeks now, Baseball Made Plain should be available (in paper covers) to the women of the country, especially to those in major league cities, where the clubs will have a hand in distribution. If things work out as the authors hope, a strong soprano note will be added to the baritone roar heard in the stadiums this year.
There will be some interesting side effects, too. One of them, unsettling to contemplate, is suggested in the book:
Next time there's a baseball conversation under way, surprise your friends by dropping a few baseball terms into the conversational eddy.
Since he is the only man who has fought both Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson and California's tough young contender, Eddie Machen, black-browed old Joey Maxim is currently being regarded as a sort of gauge or yardstick, or, one might even say, punchometer, by those in the trade who feel that these two young men will inevitably be pitted against each other. A good deal of significance is given the fact that Joey won a decision over Patterson 2 years 8 months ago at Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway Arena, and not only lost to Machen last month at Miami Beach but was knocked down by a very impressive right to the jaw in the process. Despite this indignity to his person, however, Joey feels that Patterson would win if the fight were held in the next few months.
This does not mean that Joey didn't give Machen good marks—and himself, too, for that matter—as he discussed the question at his new home in North Miami. Joey was in a mood of definite self-congratulation, partly because he left his old stamping ground in South Euclid, Ohio three months ago to take up residence in Florida, and partly because he felt he had given his new neighbors a performance worthy of their applause in the affair with Machen.
"It's probably snowing up there," he said luxuriously. "Now look at this weather. I got this house and I'm gonna have a swimming pool—they're starting next week. I've got a job selling cars with Ben McGahey—he's an old friend of mine talked me into coming down here. And the people here—they're wonderful. I never hurt nobody in my whole life; never did nobody a bad turn. I've lived clean. I've been a fighter since I'm 13 years old, been a pro 17 years, fought 11 world champions. And wadda they say up there? They say, 'Who's that bum?' But down here it's different. Everybody says 'Hello, Joey. How are ya, Joey? Nice fight, Joey.' "
As for the recent contest, Joey, who is now 35 and was definitely plump when he entered the ring, felt that he had given an artful performance. He was no puncher, as he happily admits, even when he was light heavyweight champion, and he had nothing but skill, old memories and a stout heart to use against his ferocious young opponent. "But I boxed good, I boxed good," he said gleefully. "The left was never better. Wadda they mean I wasn't in shape? I was heavy all right—192—but I trained sincerely for that fight for two months. I was in shape. But I got nailed in the ninth—oof, the right. I hurt my knee coming down and signaled to my corner. Oh boy, I couldn't walk the next day. But I got up. I boxed good. There's no coyote in Joey."
As for Machen: "He's strong. He's young. He's fast. That boy's all muscles from his toes to his head. Punch for punch he can hit harder than Patterson. But Floyd was only 168 pounds when I fought him. Now he's bigger. I'll tell ya something. I bet on Moore against Patterson. I thought he was five to one. I laid seven to five. Only fight I ever bet on. I couldn't believe it when he lost. Against Machen, I'd say Floyd. Floyd's young too, and he's a natural born fighter, and he moves perfect. He can fight inside, and Machen just thumps at you. Floyd's a good fighter—you know, dead pan—he don't show you when he's hurt. Of course we've got a fellow down here can maybe beat both those fellows, this Willie Pastrana. He's young and fast too."
"But Joey," he was asked gently, "can Pastrano hit?"
"Hit!" cried Joey, indignantly. "I never could hit neither."
"WHEN DO YOU FEED THEM?"
The football banquet season is on the wane, and the old familiar yarns told on the circuit (SI, Jan. 28) are now being packed away in camphor till next year. A SPORTS ILLUSTRATED correspondent in Omaha, however, last week came happily upon another active department of anecdotage when the superintendents of 24 U.S. national parks arrived in town. Between plans and procedures meetings (the National Park Service is getting set for an increasing push of citizens into the great outdoors—up to an estimated 80 million a year by 1966) the superintendents regaled each other with these tales:
A ranger at one of the parks, answering a knock, found a woman at the door. "Do you have a coffeepot I can borrow?" she asked.
"Why, yes," the ranger said and added: "Don't you have a coffeepot?"
"Oh yes," the woman replied, "but we're going to build a campfire and I don't want to get mine all sooty."
Since their terrain is mostly up and down, most parks have signs saying "Use second gear," "Hill" and the like.
One woman, standing beside a sign warning of "Switchback," halted a ranger.
"I've never seen a switchback," she said. "When do you feed them?"
At Wind Cave National Park a ranger lectures visitors on the subterranean caverns and explains that the park has from eight to 12 miles of explored passages. He is inevitably asked: "How many miles of unexplored passages?"
Rangers are generally considered government property, and so are their effects. A ranger was eating breakfast when a stranger walked in without knocking.
"Good morning," the ranger said with some irony. "Won't you have breakfast?"
"Don't mind if I do," the stranger said. The ranger served bacon and eggs. The stranger ate them.
"Thanks," he said and walked out.
Most parks have telephone lines through them, tapped by telephones at intervals. Every so often a visitor will lift the receiver, reach the ranger and demand: "Where am I?"
But the general favorite of the superintendents was still the group of tourists who were stopped by rangers while lugging a keg of powdered soap toward Old Faithful geyser; the group was generally miffed by the interruption—they had only wanted to watch Old F. blow soap bubbles.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE RINK
Hockey can't thrive in the South—everybody knows that. Wise men knew that it was only an act of accommodation, just a year ago, when Charlotte, N.C. agreed to offer a new home to the Baltimore Clippers, who had just been burned out of their old rink back home. Well, the news is that the Charlotte Clippers are now a year old, and last week they celebrated their anniversary before 7,210 loyal fans in the Charlotte Coliseum with a 6-5 victory over the New Haven Blades. They sliced a 67-pound cake in mid-ice and contemplated with vast satisfaction a home town draw of 92,000 over 21 games.
It is true that, thanks to a building program that began in Baltimore, the Charlotte Clippers now have the best hockey team in the Eastern League. It is also true that Charlotte's new coliseum furnishes one of the most agreeable places on the circuit for watching hockey. But hockey economists still have a startled look in their eyes as they study the old hockey-won't-go-in-the-South axiom in the light of those 92,000 fans turning up for 21 games—and the 110,000 fans who turned out to watch Charlotte's minor league baseball team in 70 games last season.
PARDON IVSY GLOVE
There's not a chance
They'll throw much leather;
They've found they dance
So well together.
—F. E. WHITE
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•Caliente's Future Past?
The Post Office Department took a swing at the Caliente Future Book (futures on Kentucky Derby, etc.), announced that Caliente-bound mail will be intercepted, marked "fraudulent," returned to bettors. Caliente owners plan test case.
•Mickey on the Line
Four days after being advised by Dan Topping, president of the world champions, to "go ahead and get it from 'em—you deserve it," Mickey Mantle signed with the New York Yankees for a figure close to the $60,000 he was asking.
After two years of watching Finisterre (SI, June 18) mop up ocean races, the Cruising Club of America has revised its rating rules to give stiffer time handicaps to centerboarders. Other crack centerboard yawls which will suffer from new ratings: Richard Nye's Carina, Colin Ratsey's Golliwogg, William Snaith's Figaro III and the newly sold Tioga.
•King Gets in the Swim
King Saud, who took basketball back to Saudi Arabia after 1947 visit to the U.S. and built a court for his sons (SI, March 7, 1955), now shows similar interest in swimming. After watching Navy's basketball team defeat Duke 71-69, the king inspected the Naval Academy's swimming pool and was impressed enough to order photographs and architectural drawings.