Three Days after he won the Wimbledon championship for the second time (see page 12), Lew Hoad turned professional. The contract he signed with Promoter Jack Kramer should become a document for tennis history if only because it guarantees him $125,000 for two years' service—by far the greatest salary ever paid to a tennis pro. But more significantly, from the point of view of tennis, it marks the departure of the last outstanding amateur into the ranks of the pros.
Now the round robin pro tournament that Jack Kramer is staging on the sacrosanct courts of the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills next week (and repeating a week later in Los Angeles) becomes the most attractive event on the tennis calendar for 1957. For it matches all the top talent of the moment—Lew Hoad himself along with the champion, Pancho Gonzales, Ken Rosewall, Tony Trabert, Pancho Segura and Frank Sedgman. The very fact that they will appear at all on the sacred lawn of Forest Hills—for so long the exclusive preserve of the amateurs—is a kind of tacit admission by the tennis fathers of the current poverty of amateur tennis.
The amateur season will, of course, be played through to its normal conclusion, which this year happens to be the Davis Cup Challenge Round in Australia in December. But the titles to be filled, and indeed the Cup itself, will represent little more than consolation prizes—a playoff among the members of the junior varsity.
July 14, 1957
A POINT OF VIEW
After two months of experiment at Yankee Stadium, New York's television station WPIX has begun giving parlor baseball fans a view of the game which no spectator—or player—has ever seen (although a somewhat similar outlook is available on page 18). Through the eye of a long lens mounted above the top seats in the center-field bleachers, the viewer peers over the pitcher's shoulder at hitter, catcher and plate umpire. The new look took a good deal of doing, for the Yankees didn't want opposing teams stealing their own catcher's signs nor did they want to be accused of stealing the signals of teams visiting in the stadium. The problem was solved by placing the viewer behind and above the pitcher, so that one has the impression of hanging in mid-air 20 feet above the second baseman's head. Even at this distance, however, curves break spectacularly. The new look, which is used only spasmodically as a "color shot" during most games, tends, however, to give the viewer a curious feeling of schizophrenia. When the game is watched from behind the plate, almost anyone, viewing it from the batter's viewpoint, subconsciously wants to overwhelm the pitcher—the enemy—with a hit. The new shot, however, makes every viewer a pitcher for a few moments; the batter becomes a figure of menace and, as the pitcher throws, it is hard, indeed, not to wish the ball over the corner of the plate on every pitch in order completely to outwit and annihilate the batter.
Thus it is that the new television angle eloquently demonstrates the importance of a point of view.
Riding to Hounds is as important to the good people of Leicestershire, England, as drinking kickapoo joy juice is to the folks down in Dogpatch. Nonetheless, Leicestershire, like Dog-patch, still has its independent thinkers, and one such is Dave Campbell of the village of Melton Mowbray. Campbell takes the same jaundiced view of fox hunting that drove Oscar Wilde to describe it as "the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable."
So it is that Dave Campbell and his wife have been spending their summer months training a domesticated fox and vixen named Simon and Sally. When the hunting season starts in September, the Campbells intend to load Simon and Sally into the family car and follow the chase. Once the hounds are on a spoor Simon and Sally will be released in front of the pack with the sole purpose of so confusing the scent that the hounds won't know where to turn next. This accomplished, the Campbells will whistle for Simon and Sally, load them back into the car and await the next chase. If the plan works, the hounds of Leicestershire will indeed lead a dog's life.
SOUNDINGS FROM OUT WEST
The endless palaver that goes on these days about the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Los Angeles invariably includes a reference to something called Skiatron (with a long i). It seems that during one of the early meetings on this omnipresent subject, the mayor of San Francisco inadvertently told an alert Chicago reporter that Skiatron had paid the Dodgers $2 million for closed-circuit TV rights to all their home games in Los Angeles. Suddenly the Skiatron stock, which at that point had been lethargically traded for the past year (about 100 shares a day at 3½), went crazy, as they say on Wall Street. Its price doubled, and it was moving at 30,000 or so shares a day. In fact, you could almost follow the fluctuating prospects of baseball's migration to the Pacific shores by watching the activity in Skiatron.
The boom started with Mayor George Christopher's premature announcement on May 31. A short while later, Walter O'Malley, the president of the Dodgers, said that Skiatron was not a factor in the Dodgers' proposed move, and the stock dropped ¾ point. Matthew Fox, the rotund, genial entrepreneur who controls Skiatron, replied that discussions were certainly on with the Dodgers but that all speculation was premature. He would, he said, make no definite statement until September, so Skiatron dipped another ½ point.
Which brings up the question: what in the world is Skiatron? Technically, it is one of the three currently feasible methods of pay television developed by major companies, and it involves broadcasting the TV signal in a scrambled or coded form, thus requiring a decoder to be attached to your set at home. Once a special electronic card is placed in the decoder, the image is plainly received. Subscribers to the system would receive their cards monthly and mail them in at the end of the month, paying for the programs actually viewed. The retail cost of a decoder is now estimated by Skiatron officials at $40, but this price might drop to $25 or even $10 with mass production. In addition to the cost of installation and whatever is charged for a look at the ball game, Skiatron officials believe they would probably have to impose a minimum weekly charge to each of their subscribers of something like $2.50.
Neither Skiatron nor the other pay TV schemes—such as Zenith Radio's Phonevision and Paramount Pictures' Telemeter—would necessarily affect the free TV now available; they would just be a supplemental service at a price. That price, as estimated by one expert on the subject, is enough to dull the sporting appetite of quite a few armchair fans but hardly that of the investors. It has been figured, for instance, that a World Series game would cost a dollar, and that the potential audience would be 30 million.
Only last week the Los Angeles Board of Public Utilities approved Skiatron's application for a franchise to operate closed-circuit pay TV in their area, although final approval by the city council is still necessary before the franchise becomes official. Wall Street took this to mean that the Dodgers really are going to Los Angeles and that pay television is going to appear there with them. For the Skiatron stock jumped to $7.75 with this latest news.
One evening in Buffalo not too long ago, Mrs. Irene Luedke, a 56-year-old grandmother, was sitting peaceably in the front room of her house at 128 Woodlawn Avenue, when, as she related later, "I heard this terrible crash. I thought for sure someone had dropped an atom bomb on the roof. I quick ran out of the front door and there was this ball, rolling toward the front of the porch." The missile that dropped on Mrs. Luedke's roof was a home run off the bat of the Buffalo Bisons' first baseman, a monumental fellow with the refreshing name of Luscious Luke Easter, who may be recalled as a onetime Cleveland first baseman with a bum knee and an up-and-down record.
It should here be pointed out that 128 Woodlawn Avenue is almost directly behind the center-field scoreboard of the Bisons' ball park and some 412 feet from home plate. Allowing for the 60-foot-high scoreboard, the full, natural carry of the ball that struck Mrs. Luedke's roof was estimated at 550 feet, the longest home run ever hit in Buffalo and the first to soar over the scoreboard. Curiously, about a year before Easter hit this heroic homer, he could not even see the scoreboard. At that time, Easter was hitting .200 and floundering afield.
Then one night, Dr. Marvin H. Milch, a prominent Buffalo ophthalmologist was watching a game with his friend and patient, Harry Bisgeier, vice-president and business manager of the Bisons. Milch observed the inept Easter with a professional eye. After several innings, he turned to Bisgeier. "I think I know what's wrong with that big fellow," he said. "He's nearsighted. He doesn't even see the ball until it's halfway to the plate. Notice how late he swings. And when he is in the field, watch how slow he is getting the jump on the ball."
Bisgeier watched and agreed. He promptly set up an appointment for Easter with Dr. Milch. When Easter came for his examination, he admitted he couldn't see the ball too well. "I couldn't even read the chart in his office," Easter says.
Once fitted with glasses, Easter proudly announced: "I can see the scoreboard. I can see real good." His batting average bore him out, rising rapidly to .306 by the end of the season. This year he is expected to break the club record of 45 home runs. He' had 26 at week's end.
With Easter happy and ophthalmology triumphant, that leaves only Mrs. Luedke, who still has the baseball. She intends to keep it. "A man offered me $25 for it," she says, "but he never came back. I'll probably present it to the Bisons as a souvenir. I can't give it to any of my grandchildren because I have 16 of them and to give it to one wouldn't be fair to the others."
NEW KIND OF CHAMPION
Even with advance ticket sales for the first'heavyweightchampionship fight in Seattle's history hotter than a bowl of Mexican chili, Promoter Jack Hurley was fit to be tied. Busybodies from all over were complaining that Champion Floyd Patterson would make hamburger out of Amateur Pete Rademacher, the hometown Olympic champion whom Hurley was throwing into the same ring in a Seattle ball park on August 22 in one of the strangest matches of boxing's Ripley-esque history (SI, July 8).
Back in New York, Boxing Commissioner Julius Helfand had just fired another angry letter to Floyd Stevens, president of the National Boxing Association, suggesting the expulsion and boycotting of the state of Washington "if it permits this contest to be held in defiance of your order."
"Rademacher is an amateur in standing only," Hurley cried to his critics. "You can kick this fight to death, but if you do, be ready for the biggest turnout you ever saw at a funeral. Why, right now, ringside goes all the way out to the center-field fence, and if these idiots [meaning Helfand and the NBA] don't get off my back, I'm gonna move it up to the bleachers."
The three-man Washington boxing commission was with Hurley 66‚Öî %, its chairman, Dr. Charles P. Larson, let it be known as he announced approval of the show. "I'm sure the NBA will not take capricious action without hearing both sides," he proclaimed. "We're dues-paying members. The fight is going to be held, and if Rademacher wins, he is going to be world heavyweight champion from the great Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains and from the border of the great Dominion of Canada south to the banks of the mighty Columbia River."
What he meant was: champion of the state of Washington—but his tongue ran away.
In the last three decades a sizable body of bullfight aficionados has been growing up in the U.S. Maybe it all started with Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon, the definitive book in the English language on bullfighting in the minds of many U.S. devotees. Now comes an anthology of bullfighting literature (Biography of the Bulls, Rinehart & Co., Inc., $7.95), compiled by Rex Smith, an American Airlines vice-president who has spent a good many of the last 35 years following the fiesta brava. Although Smith includes nothing in his book from Death in the Afternoon—because, he explains, of the book's familiarity—Hemingway is represented by a fine short story, Capital of the World.
Smith first applied himself to the arts of the faena and the pase natural as a young A.P. correspondent in Spain and South America during the early 1920s. There he devoured as much of the native literature of the corrida as he could find, and his eloquent translations of the best of these writings are collected in this glossy new anthology, along with art work by old masters and new. Something of a poet himself, he has also contributed some translations from the Spanish which are saturated with the emotion of this thoroughly Hispanic spectacle.
It has been well argued that nobody but a Spaniard can thoroughly understand and appreciate the spectacle of the bull ring. In an article written specially for Smith's anthology, John Steinbeck tends to agree, but he does concede that an occasional foreigner can absorb the emotion of the event. "A great bullfight brings the exaltation great music does and great poetry. One carries for a time afterward the satisfaction and the knowledge that man is no weakling in a dreadful world—that by his bravery, his versatility and his merits he can survive anything the world can bring against him."
THE SIERRA GRUDGE
At last look Squaw Valley was definitely chosen as the site of the 1960 Olympics (SI, April 22), but Wayne Poulsen, an airline pilot who doubles as a Nevada real estate promoter, was threatening to hold up the works by refusing to lease 32 of the 1,260 acres he owns in the valley to the Olympic Committee for essential parking, sewage disposal and other improvements. Poulsen was in turn demanding that his own plan for the development of facilities in the valley be followed, or else he refused to play ball.
This is all an outgrowth of an old personal feud between Poulsen and Alec Cushing, who replaced Poulsen as head of the Squaw Valley Ski Corporation five years ago, shortly after it first opened. The fact that Poulsen has since profited well from Squaw Valley skiing fever by selling off lots for ski lodges at handsome prices, and that Cushing almost single-handedly corraled the 1960 Olympics for the valley, hasn't eased the tension between these two rugged individualists. Each hopes to make a good thing out of the new Olympic facilities once the Games are over.
Meanwhile, a bill passed by the California legislature gave the California Olympic Commission the right to condemn as much of Poulsen's land as necessary by eminent domain so the committee could get on with its work. Still hoping, however, that Poulsen would cooperate of his own accord, the committee asked him to meet them any time up to July 1 to iron out any difficulties.
Well, the first of July came and went without any change of heart in Poulsen. If anything, he was even more adamant, putting his lawyers to work to block the condemnation proceedings for as long as possible. This could be a serious setback to California's hopes for staging a fine Olympics in 1960. Poulsen can probably hold out in court until the end of the summer, which means that none of the construction needed before the winter snows blanket the Sierra will be started. That would leave only one summer and one winter for building and testing the Olympic facilities before the contestants begin to arrive. If this is Poulsen's strategy, and it is successful, Squaw Valley may well lose its Winter Olympics and America its first chance to see them in 28 years.
Despairing of even
A breath of a breeze,
He hopefully sits
With a fan on his knees.
—F. E. WHITE
CURRENT WEEK AND WHAT'S AHEAD
•Appointment in Chicago
Kentucky Derby winner Iron Liege and Preakness winner Bold Ruler will be at it again in this week's Arlington Classic for $100,000. Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Bold Ruler's trainer, related last week that his horse has had two shots for sleeping sickness but, "he'll be wide awake on Saturday."
Jimmy Carpenter, versatile Abilene, Texas teammate of Glynn Gregory (see page 20) will attend the University of Oklahoma on a football and baseball scholarship. Since OU and SMU, Gregory's chosen school, never play each other, Carpenter and Gregory will never match skills. Carpenter, like Gregory, was All-State in football and baseball.
Mexico is now turning its attention to baseball. Although Branch Rickey Jr.'s recent baseball school (a cover-up for a Pittsburgh talent hunt) was shunned, season attendance at the 30,000-seat Social Security ball park in Mexico City will be exceeded only by that in Chicago and New York.
The outdoor life is growing by leaps and bounds. By the end of the year the National Park Service expects at least 59 million visitors, up 4 million over last year. Most popular park is the Great Smokies in Tennessee (SI, April 22).