Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, reports the Associated Press, "has no idea" whether the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants are going to California. In the same state of ignorance are all baseball fans from coast to coast. It is certainly high time the commissioner did have some idea, but of more immediate concern here is the arrogant manner in which fans are ignored—or deliberately misled—when their prospects of watching their favorite sport are bandied about.
The Brooklyn and New York baseball lovers, who stand to lose, are told no more than those in Los Angeles and San Francisco, who stand to gain—or those in Minneapolis, who can only read in the papers a rumor that their club may be sold from the Giants' farm system to that of the Indians. After all, the "loyalty" which baseball owners are constantly demanding of their fans is a two-way street, or ought to be.
Let's get one thing straight. This magazine would be delighted to see major league baseball in Los Angeles and San Francisco at the earliest possible moment. These cities, by their size and traditions, rate the best. Their competition would give big baseball a truly national character. But one can only view with serious alarm the prospect of all National League representation being withdrawn from New York, and this for two reasons.
July 21, 1957
The first is the implied judgment on the part of the businessmen who own the clubs that they can no longer command adequate support from sophisticated New Yorkers. The Brooklyn club—despite an obviously undersized and antiquated ball park—has shown a good profit in recent years, and the Giants could have done the same. But the O'Malleys and Stonehams now seem to figure they can do better by taking their clubs to towns where big baseball is a novelty. Novelty, however, soon wears off, and eventually there will be no new towns to invade.
The second objection to New York's exit from the National League is that it would be an almost unimaginable act of defeatism. Is the largest city in the U.S. to be deprived of half of the best in baseball? The departure of the Dodgers and Giants means more than the loss to New Yorkers of Willie Mays and Sal Maglie. It means that never again will they be able to watch the lethal wriggle of Stan Musial, the beautiful wrist snap of Hank Aaron, the grim concentration of Lew Burdette, the promise of Von McDaniel and the maturity of Red Schoendienst or the similar qualities of their successors. The frivolous attitude of NL President Warren Giles—who said recently, "We left all of New England to the American League when the Braves moved to Milwaukee, and we don't regret that"—could never be shared by those who love baseball.
Is it too much to ask that Commissioner Frick and Owners O'Malley and Stoneham make the baseball public a part of—or just keep them in touch with—their future plans? If the Dodger and Giant managements want to move west, that is their business—and privilege. However, if they are concealing their intentions with the devious design of maintaining local patronage for a few more months, then simple honesty compels them—and Mr. Frick—to announce their intentions. The metropolis of New York will always be able to support a National League team and should be given the opportunity of finding another representative if the Dodgers and Giants are really pulling up stakes.
The death of the Aga Khan last week aroused a good deal of discussion about his successor as the spiritual leader of some 20 million Ismaili Moslems, but there was no question as to a successor of the Aga Khan in Thoroughbred racing. Nobody could succeed him. There had never been anyone remotely like him before, and doubtless there will never be another racing potentate of such international scope and enthusiasm. His grandson Price Karim, a Harvard junior, became the fourth Aga Khan under the old autocrat's will and, while Karim played on the freshman soccer team and enjoyed hockey, he said, "I'm no sports fan, and I don't intend to operate a racing stable." Most of the Aga Khan's stable was taken over by his son Prince Aly in 1956, yet no one thought that this amiable playboy and shrewd horseman could quite be to racing what his father had been.
For the Aga Khan's record was unparalleled. He was the only man ever to win five Epsom Derbies. His horses won 745 races in England, and 300 in France. His first Derby winner, Blenheim II, which was sold into stud in the U.S. for $225,000, sired the magnificent Whirlaway. The Aga Khan's Mahmoud won the Derby in 1936 in the fastest time ever recorded, and he too was sold for stud purposes to Americans, leading the list of American sires from the winnings of his get in 1946. Nasrullah, sold to Americans for $372,000, sired Nashua, the greatest money winner of them all.
The Aga Khan curtailed his racing after a heart attack on a Calcutta-bound plane in 1952, but he was still to create another sensation with his unbeaten wonder horse, Tulyar, another Derby winner, which he sold for $700,000 to the Irish National Stud. The Irish later sold Tulyar to an American syndicate, and he is expected to stand in Kentucky once he recovers from an illness that almost took his life this past spring. Despite sales of epic proportions—41 brood mares in one lot to Rex Ellsworth last year—there were still 350 foals, yearlings and horses in training at the Aga Khan's stables in France and Ireland.
Weighing 200 pounds in his prime, the Aga Khan at the track suggested a bland, smiling Oriental idol wearing a gray topper. Last spring his health sharply declined and his weight dropped to 132 pounds, but as recently as last month he flew to Paris to watch one of his fillies race at Chantilly. He was unable to walk, and saw the race—in which his horse placed third—from his green Mercedes parked near the finish line. Then he flew to Geneva, where he was to die within a few weeks. Having chosen his grandson to be the next Aga Khan, he left to legend and the timers' clocks the inheritance that was equally important to him.
THE SPIRIT OF NOTRE DAME
The speech was simple, the syntax loose-jointed, and when it was over you knew Terry Brennan would never win any prizes as an orator. Yet his simple sincerity had briefly opened the door to the mystique of Notre Dame football and given a group of Detroit businessmen a glimpse into the reasons why this particularly American game is such an important part of the life of South Bend—and, not incidentally, why Notre Dame has made itself such an important part of the game. As a varsity halfback just after World War II and now as head coach, Brennan has had an ample diet of both victory and defeat at Notre Dame. So he was peculiarly fitted to talk of the urges and impulses that keep Notre Dame spirit alive at all times.
"You can see the obvious things that sport teaches, such as physical courage or teamwork," he began, "but there are a couple of things that might slip by. One thing is a sense of loyalty. A sense of loyalty makes a group become a winner, and there's no better way to develop it than in athletics. Another thing is respect for authority. You have to have it in football or you just don't last. Another thing is self-discipline. You've heard a lot about desire in players—the will to win. That desire has to become developed through self-discipline. Sacrificing time to practice, sacrificing a few bumps and bruises. You can't find discipline in better form than on the playing field.
"The best thing for kids is to strive to be the best, to want to win and be a success," he said. "You can't win all the time, and kids have to learn that, too, but they should never stop trying, never stop trying to get up after they've been knocked down.
"At Notre Dame the word desire gets translated into self-discipline. So does spirit. The will to win is one of the most important things you can have. At Notre Dame we try to teach a way of life, as well as turn out doctors, lawyers, engineers and businessmen. We try and teach our boys to lead, to make something of the values they have learned, to stand up and be counted. I think that's the big secret of Notre Dame, the thing which brings the school close to the team—that same will to win they both have together. Sometimes that will to win is tested pretty hard, like last year when we had a rough time. But a year from this fall we should be back to normal.
"Competition in sports and business is a lot the same—in battling one another we are trying to do the right thing. Here, we all believe in three fundamental things—a belief in God, a belief in the immortality of the soul, a belief in the life hereafter. We're all a team in believing these things, and I hope when the game is over, the squad doesn't get cut."
FULLER EXPLANATION DEPT.
When the pennant friction between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Redlegs ignited some rousing rhubarbs at Ebbets Field last week (see page 21), the telescopic eye of television brought the action right into your living room, no farther away from you than the ashtray or the footstool. You could practically count the fillings in the teeth of the umpires, managers and players as they jawed about this and that every couple of innings—particularly the time Junior Gilliam was called safe at first and the time when Don Zimmer was called out on a pickoff—but you might as well have been in mid-Atlantic for all you learned from the announcers. "Ho-ho," one or the other of them would laugh, "this is really something. Well, sir, you really see a little bit of everything when you come out to Ebbets Field. Yessir, this is really quite a show."
The fact is, a curious fan who had seen the excitement on TV might have lived a long life without ever learning what these debates were all about were it not for Mr. Happy Felton, an out-sized and effusive fellow who puts on a quiz show with the players of the opposing teams after every Dodger home game. Following this particular contest his guests were Duke Snider, the Dodger center fielder, and Smokey Burgess, the Redleg catcher. For those who couldn't or didn't tune in, here is a brief summary of the intriguing information given on Happy's program more than an hour after the regular announcers flubbed the opportunity.
On the Gilliam play in the fifth inning, Junior had collided with Redleg Pitcher Raul Sanchez, who thereupon dropped the ball while attempting to cover first on an infield grounder. Gilliam had overrun the bag on his way down to first, which was perfectly all right, but hurrying back to the bag he overran it again. This time he was tagged by Redleg First Baseman George Crowe, who had by now recovered the ball. The resulting palaver, as Burgess explained, was over the claim that Gilliam had been caught off first. And the reason he hadn't been called out, Burgess went on, was because the umpire had simply not been watching. Even Snider admitted as much.
As for the Zimmer pickoff, that occurred just after the plate umpire had thrown a new ball out to Pitcher Sanchez, who immediately wheeled and threw to first. The Dodgers were wild over this one, and even Gil Hodges, the mild-mannered Dodger first baseman, acted as if he might tear the umpire in two. On the Felton show, Snider finally explained the Dodger case: that time was out, because the pitcher had not yet toed the rubber after receiving a new ball. But, countered Burgess, Sanchez had had his foot on the rubber when he caught the new ball, and so time was automatically in. Apparently the Dodgers hadn't noticed this, but the umpire had.
This is the sort of inside baseball that every true fan gobbles up, and heaven only knows how the announcers can sit there guffawing over a rhubarb as if it were some sort of sideshow when they could be telling their audience the fascinating facts behind it.
DAY TO REMEMBER
In that fertile land near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, the good burghers of St. Louis long ago invented a delightful expression to indicate that all is well—or even a little better than well. They say you have an egg in your beer.
Well, the other day they were playing the 1957 All-Star Game in St. Louis. All the finest players from both major leagues—even the great American League fellows like Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams, who had quit calling on St. Louis when the Browns died—were there and most of the team owners, league officials and Toots Shor, too. Everyone was in an appropriately festive mood. To make things just about perfect a pleasant breeze blew into the valley on the day of the game and cooled off Busch Stadium to just the right temperature for baseball.
Oh, yes, and there were several other items of local cheer. Stan Musial was having his best season in some time, a rookie pitcher named Von McDaniel and his brother had everyone talking in terms of Dizzy Dean and his brother, and the Cardinals were leading the National League by 2½ games. As if that weren't enough, Budweiser sales were at an alltime high, and Boss Gussie Busch's pretty wife had just delivered him his fourth child.
It was no exaggeration to say, as the St. Louis Globe-Democrat so aptly did, that St. Louis had an egg in its beer. So much so that hardly anyone seemed to notice or care that the American League beat the Nationals 6-5.
PERSONA NON GRATA
There is a new police chief in Miami Beach and a new way of doing police business. A week ago the order went out: "Harass all known hoodlums." First on the agenda turned out to be Frankie Carbo, the underworld's major-domo in boxing and longtime friend of James D. Norris, president of the IBC. Not too long ago Carbo was boasting of his friendship with the then police chief, Romeo Shepard.
Carbo was picked up on the steps of the Fontainebleau Hotel by two detectives. For a man who protests that he has no interest in boxing, Carbo made a bad slip. He was there, he said, to visit a Washington fight promoter, name undisclosed. The detectives grunted and booked him on a charge of being "unable to give a satisfactory account of himself." He posted $100 bond and departed, meek and mild.
But last April, when Carbo was charged with speeding 100 miles an hour through Vero Beach, Florida, spring training camp of the Dodgers, and leaving the scene of an accident, he raged at the state trooper who caught him. Carbo boasted of his friendship with Police Chief Shepard and telephoned Miami Beach to prove it. Chief Shepard phoned back in a matter of minutes, and Carbo was released after posting $500 bond. After that became public, Shepard was in hot water and under investigation. His term was allowed to expire.
The new chief, Michael Fox, has indicated that Carbo will have no reason to boast about friendship with him—a cause for general rejoicing both inside and outside the State of Florida.
A VISIT TO NEWPORT
At the turn of the century, Newport, R.I. was a pretty important spot in the sports world. The first championship tennis was played there, as well as the first National Open and National Amateur golf tournaments. As the summer home of some of the country's richest industrial nabobs, it was a national center for the most elegant yachting classics. But as time marched onward and these pastimes became available to almost anyone who cared for them, Newport subsided into a quiet retreat for the descendants of the early rich. Only once in a long while does it now emerge from its opulent obscurity, such as it did last year for the 75th anniversary of tennis and does annually for its noisy jazz festival.
This year, however, Newport will again be much in the news as the chosen playground of President Eisenhower, when he gets around to his 1957 vacation. He and his family will be housed in a new residence at the Naval War College—just across the bay from the resort proper—and within easy reach of the area's three golf courses.
The Newport courses, like the rest of its activities, are rated in strict accordance with the prevailing social gradients. Ike, naturally, will play at the highest level. This course, the Newport Country Club, carries severe penalties for a hooker like Ike, with traps, out-of-bounds markers and ditches lining the left side of at least half of its 18 holes. The club has made no special provisions for the days when Ike plays; the other members will play, too, and the only special deference they will show the President is to allow him to play through. Ike's visit may not ruffle Newport's placid and self-assured existence, but it will for once give the ordinary man a bond with this last of the truly posh resorts and onetime mecca of American sport.
He's broken 70 at last,
Though still the worst of dubs.
I don't refer to score (don't dast),
I'm speaking of his clubs.
CURRENT WEEK AND WHAT'S AHEAD
•No, Yes, Maybe
When the State Department rejected Avery Brundage's application for a Bulgarian visa to attend the International Olympic Committee meeting in September, Avery quickly complained. He pointed out this—plus a failure to admit Red China's team into this country—could easily cost the U.S. the 1960 Winter Olympics.
•Religion of Speed
Donald Campbell, who attacks speed records as devoutly as Mohammedans seek Mecca, exceeded 200 mph in practice at Lake Canandaigua, N.Y. He will try to break his own record (225.36 mph) during the last week of July, aiming for 250 mph.
•No Room at the Park
At the request of Representative Patrick Hillings (R., Calif.) the House Antitrust Subcommittee is seriously considering an investigation of purported "reprisals" against Bob Feller for his recent unfriendly testimony on organized baseball: A baseball clinic, scheduled by Feller at Los Angeles' Wrigley Field, had to be canceled when the Los Angeles Angels summarily refused him the use of their park.
•A New Rose Arrangement
USC has now joined UCLA and the University of California in declaring its independence of the Pacific Coast Conference football regulations regarding recruitment and subsidy of players. With Washington expected to follow suit, it looks like the end of the PCC as a going concern, probably a new Rose Bowl arrangement.