Brooklyn's Own Emanuel Celler, who heads the judiciary subcommittee which is trying to discover whether the business of baseball should "continue to be exempt from federal antitrust laws, finally got an opportunity last week to ask some questions which have troubled all of Brooklyn. On Wednesday, Mr. Celler welcomed a pair of Brooklynites to the witness stand. First to appear (voluntarily) was Abe Stark, president of the New York City Council, who is a small, silver-haired, natty man with a complete command of the Brooklyn vernacular.
Mr. Stark was a nervous, hesitant witness but a prepared statement he read was unequivocal. He hurled charges of "theft" and "piracy" against the folks in Los Angeles and San Francisco who have designs on the Dodgers and the Giants; at his most charitable, he said "I certainly don't call them Communists, but it's certainly not the American way." Referring to California Congressman Pat Hillings, who, naturally, has plumped for major league clubs in his native state, Stark said that "Congressman Hillings was more or less very evasive, with all due respects to him." Little Abe brought up point after point to prove that the City of New York had done about all it could to keep the Dodgers and Giants, and even told about a 5,000-car garage that the city (or at least Abe) had offered to build for the Dodgers.
The third Brooklynite to participate in the drama was Walter O'Malley, president of the Dodgers. Celler, who had asked every previous witness if he knew anything about the proposed move of the Dodgers to Los Angeles, almost rubbed his hands in anticipation as he greeted O'Malley with: "Mr. O'Malley, your long-awaited turn has come." For the next few hours Celler kept pressing O'Malley for an answer to the question that refuses to lie down: Are the Dodgers going to move? O'Malley, as adept a switch hitter as there is in baseball, first batted from the Brooklyn side of the plate—if a site is made available for him to build a stadium at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, he'll stay. Then he took a couple of swings from the Los Angeles side—"Things are moving very rapidly and very intelligently in Los Angeles." In passing, he had some fun with Stark's 5,000-car garage, which he said would cost $20,000,000 to build, stand 15 stories high and take over four hours to either fill or empty. Finally he told Celler he would make up his mind about Los Angeles by the end of this season, and there the matter rested when the committee adjourned.
July 7, 1957
The next session is set for Wednesday, July 10, when, presumably, the committee can get down to the business of inquiring into the relationship of professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey to the federal antitrust laws.
THE LAST ROUNDUP
The Shot-Riddled Jolly Roger of the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president) still flies, though it must soon come down. This week Jim Norris swung his IBC cutlass for perhaps the last time, slicing 5% off Welterweight Champion Carmen Basilio's purse demand, and announced that Basilio and Sugar Ray Robinson will fight in September for Robinson's middleweight title. The fight will be in New York, at either the Polo Grounds or Yankee Stadium. Robinson's share will be 45% of everything, as he insisted all along it would be, and Basilio's will now be 20%.
It could be the best fight the IBC ever put on, the best New York has seen in many a year. Basilio vs. Robinson promises to be a fabulous spectacle, a magnificent fight, an enormous drawing card. The IBC will at least die a graceful death.
And it is interesting to note that in dying the IBC gives acknowledgment to the stimulating effects of competition on the boxing business. The terms, 65% for the fighters, are a cut above the usual division, and Norris might not have agreed to them if he could have had a heavyweight championship fight this summer. The upstart Emil Lence spoiled that hope. Now the nation's fans will see two heavyweight title fights, both non-IBC, and a middleweight championship bout this summer, a considerable improvement over last summer.
The IBC announcement was timed for a ploy. Proclaimed within an hour of the "formal" signing of the Floyd Patterson-Hurricane Jackson fight, it took some of the hoopla out of the heavyweight championship ballyhoo. But nothing could altogether smother the impact of a flaming scarlet sweat-band tied around The Hurricane's forehead ("to keep off The Curse") or Manager Lippe Breidbart's ringing declaration that his fighter would "tear Patterson from limb to limb."
The Hurricane was in a scowling mood, stomping out of the room when photographers asked him to shake hands with Patterson a second time.
"Once is enough," snapped Jackson.
And as for the fight, he announced: "This time I'll leave my heart at home. I'll have no heart nor feelings for anyone."
"He's more an animal than ever," Breidbart said proudly.
These pleasantries were shadowed by Commission Chairman Julius Helfand's indignation that Patterson's second title defense, assuming he defeats Jackson, will be against the untried Olympic heavyweight champion, Pete Rademacher (SI, July 1). The fight has been approved by a majority of the Washington State commission—one member dissenting in absentia—for August 22 in Seattle, where Rademacher is "Sports Man of the Year." In his capacity as President of the World Championship Committee, an international body, Helfand protested to Floyd Stevens, President of the National Boxing Association, against this "obviously impossible and unwarranted contest," and Stevens in turn advised the Washington commission that the NBA would not recognize the fight.
There were many who agreed with Helfand, including some who had been able to swallow the IBC and Frankie Carbo without gagging, that the match "would do great harm to professional boxing throughout the world."
It does not seem here that it will do boxing any particular harm. It is certainly a mismatch of the grossest variety but no one pretends otherwise, and the public is not being tricked. Some of Joe Louis' Bums of the Month were no better than Rademacher, though professionals. What people will pay to see in this fight will be, as Patterson's manager has put it, "something fantastic" and, win or lose, that is what they will get. Anthony Felice, Washington commission member who opposed the match, expressed it this way:
"I wouldn't approve it under any circumstances...but I wouldn't miss seeing it for anything."
"Before the Annapolis ocean race June 22, there was the usual hoopla about Carleton Mitchell's fat, centerboard yawl Finisterre (SI, June 18, 1956). For one thing the race, which has always started in Newport, was turned around this time and started in Chesapeake Bay in the hope of avoiding the absurd, flat-calm finales of the traditional Chesapeake finishes. The reversal should have given a sizable jump to Mitchell, who lives in Annapolis and is a master at analyzing the flukey winds in the 132-mile down-bay leg of the race. On the other hand, there was this year's new time penalty against centerboarders, which, some sailors felt, had previously had a slight handicap advantage over keel boats. But the new ratings were judged simply an annoyance, hardly a guarantee against another victory.
As Finisterre cast off, a helicopter flapped down to masthead level to take pictures. On the way to the starting line, a seaplane taxied up to deliver, while publicity cameras snapped, a spinnaker sent by a New York sail-maker. And as the race began, Finisterre hit the line so close to the desirable windward buoy and so perfectly at the gun that it was easy to feel the whole race was a prearranged stunt for a movie starring this renowned Maryland yawl.
From that moment on, however, the star performer began to scramble. Crossing the line against a southerly wind, she took her first tack too far into the western shore and was soon caught in light air while flying a heavy genoa. Further out in the bay a cluster of rivals, among them Jay Bontecou and W. Reese Harris's sloop Harrier, moved ahead. That night Finisterre clawed her way through a rising headwind and was back in contention as she swung around Chesapeake Bay Lightship for the 336-mile downwind run to Newport.
Then she made a maneuver which by all odds should have been the right play but which, by the fickle chance of deepwater weather, turned out to be a blooper. The rhumb line to Newport was, for all practical purposes, dead before the wind (see chart). No conventional sailboat goes as fast downwind as it does at a slight angle from the wind; and, as a general rule, yawls such as Finisterre are usually not so good before the wind as sloops. Finisterre, therefore, steered a course of about 52° on the compass—that is, about 12 points off the rhumb line—while Harrier, skidding along under mainsail and spinnaker, held closer. For two days, Harrier and Finisterre, along with another rhumb liner, Bonne Amie, ran northeastward at an average speed of 7 knots diverging slowly but never moving more than a dozen miles apart. Then, about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, June 25, Finisterre, 15 miles east of the rhumb line, fell into a hole in the wind that dropped her speed to 4.5. Harrier, about six miles to the west, held hers up to 6.5. This lasted not more than two and a half hours, but it gave Harrier a chance to move ahead. Finisterre finally jibed over at 11:30 that morning, but it was too late. Harrier won on corrected time, while Bonne Amie was second and Finisterre third for both fleet honors and Class C. And two new sloops, Caper and Altair, meanwhile, were first in classes A and B.
After the race there was the usual flurry of conclusions, the shakiest of which was that the performance of Harrier and the other sloops proved that design-wise the fat centerboard yawls have had their day. The fact is, however, that the race was a dead run before medium winds, a condition made to order for sloops. Nonetheless, there were two sound conclusions. First, the reversed course with its prevailing tailwind and relatively breezy finish made a much better race. In fact 32 of the 48 entries broke the old course record of 86:14 set by the ocean greyhound Bolero. And also, the new time penalty against centerboards seems to have restored the handicap equality which Finisterre upset when she started her winning streak three years ago. From now on, Finisterre and the other crack centerboarders cannot afford even a single mistake if they want to keep winning in fast company.
CHARLEY, MEET MAX
At the age of 42, Max Hochberg, a stocky, square-faced bachelor type, had lost nearly all his hair and his appetite for the law as a livelihood. Perhaps his long spell of wartime service (Eighth Air Force) had subtly weaned him away from previous pursuits, as it did so many World War II Americans. Anyway, Max began hanging around race tracks.
This is often the end of the story, but in Max's case it was the beginning. One night he went to a harness track, bet on all eight races and lost every bet. So he decided to learn about trotting. Max spent every waking hour for five years either reading up on harness racing or sitting on the rail at training tracks, watching the horses. He covered every book in the library and every track in the country. And he learned.
He learned so well that today he owns, among others, the best 3-year-old pacing colt the world has ever seen—a smooth-gaited bay named Torpid who, unless he decides to take on the Thoroughbreds, will one day soon be the fastest harness horse in history. This is neither accident nor the result of a lucky bid at a sale. Max bought the mare (Torresdale), picked the sire (Knight Dream), was sure of what he'd get when he bred them—and got it.
The other night, at Yonkers Raceway in New York, Max was just as sure that Torpid was about to win the first big race of the season—the $67,000 Cane Stake. Freshly barbered and suited, he was ready for the picture-taking in the winner's circle after the race. Not arrogantly cocksure, you understand, but quietly confident.
Torpid, under the sure guidance of Driver Johnny Simpson, went through the field in both heats of the Cane like a bullet through wet paper. Against the best pacers of his age and sex, he won without drawing a deep breath.
In the winner's circle, Max was handed the huge silver bowl that is the Cane Trophy by a graying gentleman named Charley Keller. When Charley quit the New York Yankees, he too started hanging around race tracks. Today Charley has a trotter named Gay Yankee who has raced four times this year—and won four times. What's that about sticking to your last?
THE BASS BARRIER
Hardly a man who is alive has not invented some kind of fishing lure, and Klein's—a modest Chicago sporting goods chain—was not impressed last month when , a fellow named Elwood Perry arrived from Hickory, N.C. and announced that he too had a fish killer to market. Perry, a slight, sandy-haired mechanical engineer, was not discouraged. He went to an outlying Klein's branch store in the suburbs, showed a salesman the "spoonplugs" that he and his wife had been manufacturing "down home" and described a radical theory of bass fishing which prompted the lure's design.
Luckily for Perry—and for Klein's—the branch manager was a man who loves to go fishing; he agreed to help the inventor make a test before work the next day. In return, however, he specified the scene of action: Fox Lake, a body of water so overfished as to have been considered by local anglers to be virtually barren for the past 25 years. Perry nodded, unperturbed. It is his theory that bass have "sanctuaries" in the deepest parts of lakes and that, though they leave them to feed in the shallows, they spend most of their time far from the areas of lily pads where almost every fisherman seeks them. His plug—a contraption which looks something like a shoehorn with its front edge bent downward—is designed to sink when trolled or retrieved and to "walk the bottom."
At dawn the next day Perry and the branch manager trolled until they struck fish; then the two men began casting—and hauling in bass. By noon the manager was on the telephone breathlessly describing the morning's triumphs to. Klein's Vice-president William J. Waldman. Impressed, Waldman and some friends went to the "empty" lake to try the Perry method and came back with 16 large-mouth bass and a 13½-pound northern pike. The bass were big for the area—three to five pounds—and some were so old that they seemed to have gone blind in one eye. Waldman surmised that these must be wise and cynical old fish who had become proof against ordinary methods and that Perry's plugs had opened a new frontier to bass fishermen everywhere.
He asked reporters from The Chicago American and the Chicago Tribune to go fishing with Perry. They did, and afterward leaped to their typewriters with unbridled enthusiasm. Suddenly Perry found himself a famous man, and Klein's found itself a mecca for feverish hordes of fishermen. In the first week—while Perry's wife down home increased production like mad, and loaded every day's supply of new plugs on Chicago-bound airplanes—the store sold 18,600 of them. Last week the total was 35,000.
"I get calls from presidents of big companies," Perry's discoverer, Waldman, said a few days ago. "They say, 'I know you're a busy man, but you've got to tell me how this works.' " As for midwestern bass, there seemed to by only one safe place last week: off in the shallows which plug casters had been attacking for so many pre-Perry decades. The bass would doubtless act accordingly soon.
No wonder his fielding
Is rated so high;
He uses flypaper
To capture a fly.
Light winds here
CHESAPEAKE BAY LIGHTSHIP
RHUMB LINE COURSE 40°
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•Oriental Tee Parties
When Japanese Premier Kishi played golf with President Eisenhower, he reflected a booming new trend in his country. Golf has become Japan's latest fad, and waiting time to tee off on a public course outside of Tokyo is now five hours, with floodlighting planned so that Japanese golfers can play around the clock.
A late entrant in the scramble for the National League franchises of Brooklyn and Manhattan is their neighboring borough of Queens. George V. McLaughlin, vice-chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, heads a group which has applied for a Queens franchise. Proposed team name: The New Yorkers.
Softball, once the favorite pastime for girls' outings, has become too much of a pitcher's game. Now the fat-and-forty sports program is adopting a game called soft pitch, a weak cousin of softball played on shorter base lines with a bigger ball. Invented in Chicago, soft pitch has attracted some 5,600 teams in that city.
•Silk Stocking Revolt
Newport, R.I., the cradle of U.S. tennis, may be the birthplace of a new era. James Van Alen, president of the Casino, has proposed an open tournament for Newport for 1958. Should the august International Tennis Federation continue to frown on open play, Van Alen is in favor of staging the event anyway.