LET THERE BE MORE LIGHT
It is Sports Illustrated's business to be concerned with baseball. Even more, however, it is our pleasure to be concerned with baseball, for we are fans, too. Last week, like several million other fans across the country, we became completely fed up with all the gobbledygook about franchise shifts and suggested it was perhaps high time that the paying public was let in on the secret (E&D, July 22).
The request was aimed at Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick and the two semitransient club owners, Walter O'Malley of the Dodgers and Horace Stoneham of the Giants. The day our magazine hit the newsstands, we received an answer—but not from Mr. Frick, who might be expected to be the spokesman in this matter, or even from Mr. O'Malley, who had done most of the talking, without really saying very much, up to that time. It came instead from Horace Stoneham. Not a very complete answer, true, but at least something.
In a news conference Mr. Stoneham said that he would (a) recommend to his board of directors (Stoneham and his sister, Mrs. Charles F. Aufderhar, own approximately 60% of the stock) that 1957 be the Giants' last year at the Polo Grounds, (b) "consider" a proposition to keep the Giants in New York by moving several miles east if the city would build them a ball park in the Baychester area and permit the Giants to play there at a "reasonable rental," (c) as an alternative to this, recommend moving into Yankee Stadium, "but certainly not under the terms I have read about," and (d) recommend to his board of directors that the Giants move away from New York completely, to San Francisco, if that city offered a "suitable proposal."
July 28, 1957
Mr. Stoneham also said, among other things, that the Giants had to get away from the Polo Grounds because of inadequate transportation and parking facilities, and that a Skiatron pay-as-you-watch West Coast television contract had nothing to do with it. He also said that he didn't believe New York City was going to build him another ball park; that he was not interested in Park Commissioner Robert Moses' proposed Flushing Meadows site (SI, July 22); that the moving of his ball club was not in any way contingent upon the Dodgers also moving to Los Angeles; and that he had not really heard anything from San Francisco interests since May 12.
All this as an owner. Speaking strictly as a fan—and there is no bigger baseball fan among major league club owners than Horace Stoneham—he said quite simply: "I believe the Giants will move to San Francisco." It was probably the most important thing he said.
The press conference admittedly cast a certain amount of light on a subject which could stand a great deal more. But Mr. Stoneham, having spoken, refused to speak further.
"He doesn't want to say any more," said a Giant official, "until he has something more to say." An admirable policy, to be sure, but had Mr. Stoneham really said all there was to say?
Why, for example, did he even bring up the subject of a city-built ball park in Baychester if he is so sure the city won't build it?
Why not Flushing Meadows?
Why, if the move to Yankee Stadium really is a serious alternative, has he only read about the terms? Why not pick up the phone, call Dan Topping and ask the Yankee owner about terms firsthand?
Why is Skiatron's closed-circuit setup not a prime consideration, particularly in view of reports that each game broadcast via Skiatron will gross $125,000 from an audience of 400,000 to 500,000? The Giants receive $500,000 annually from their present TV contract.
And why, if San Francisco really is the promised land, has his entire contact with that city in a period of over two months been one letter containing a map? And did the map say anything about the San Francisco weather?
At week's end Mr. Stoneham still had nothing more to say, although he had talked by phone with Mayor George Christopher of San Francisco. By phone, mind you, although Mr. Christopher was in New York on his way to a convention at Atlantic City.
It was hoped that soon Mr. Stone-ham would have something further to say. If not, at least he had told the fans something, which was more than could be said for Mr. Frick or Mr. O'Malley.
DODGERS IN WALL STREET CONT.
The stock of Skiatron, the pay television system involved in the proposed transfer of the Dodgers and the Giants to the West Coast, has been rising and falling so violently it arouses some speculation as to what the stock will do when the teams actually move and begin to play ball. Skiatron jumped from 3‚⅛ to 9 while the move was being discussed. On one hectic trading day, it climbed briefly to $10 a share. The mayor of San Francisco started the boom two months ago when he disclosed that Skiatron had signed a $2 million contract with the Dodgers for closed-circuit, pay-television broadcasts of their Los Angeles games (SI, July 15). And it was Mayor George Christopher who started a reversal of this happy trend at the beginning of last week by disclosing ruefully that it would cost between $30 and $60 million to install the necessary cables in the San Francisco area. Day by day, every time someone opened his yap about the impending move, there was activity in the old stock exchange bull pen. At the end of Skiatron's bad week, its stock was back to $7.75.
What, an economist might ask, will the investor do when the Dodgers and Giants are actually playing in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Will Skiatron Electronics and Television Inc. par $2.50 go over $10 if Gil Hodges hits a homer out of that dream park in Chavez Ravine? And fall if he strikes out? Somehow, Walter O'Malley and Horace Stoneham do not appear to be cut out for the roles of Daniel Drew and Jim Fisk struggling for control of the Erie, but even the robber barons of pre-SEC days could hardly hope for a more inviting prospect than one in which batting averages and Dow-Jones averages had gotten mixed up, and stocks rose and fell with every pitch.
PUTT AND TAKE
Dante Magnani, who once played halfback for the Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams, gobbled up what sounded like a cinch of a bet at San Francisco's Green Hills golf club. A 10-handicapper offered to put Magnani's ball on every green in par (i.e., one on a par 3, two on a par 4 and three on a par 5) while he played his own ball from tee to cup. All Magnani had to do was hole out in an average of two putts to shoot par golf. But Magnani lost to the 10-handicapper's 83. On each hole Magnani's ball was placed at some extreme corner of the green with seemingly oceans of undulating green between him and the flagstick. By the time the round was over he had taken 15 three-putt greens, one four-putt, one two-putt and a 45-foot one-putt green for a total of 52 putts and an 88.
WAR ON THE GATOR
The Florida Alligator, long a tourist attraction regarded without repugnance, if not with affection, has suddenly become a hateful creature.
The death of a 9-year-old boy named Alan Rice of Eau Gallie, an East Coast town about 90 miles south of Daytona Beach, has been definitely traced to an 11-foot gator which was captured and promptly killed.
In the first bitter outcry, the Orlando Sentinel editorialized:
"The alligator, an ugly and vicious remnant of prehistoric days, has been getting protection from sentimental sportsmen long enough.... Gators are killers, serve no known useful purpose other than tourist lure and souvenirs.... It's a wonder many youngsters haven't been killed by gators in years past. Certainly Florida doesn't need killers as an attraction for tourists. Death to the gators!"
Later, experts pointed out that alligator attacks are extremely rare, fatalities almost unknown. Earl Frye, assistant director of the state's Fish and Game Commission, said:
"We feel the alligator is an interesting part of nature's scheme of things down here and should be preserved. They feed on rough fish which are destructive to game fish. They help control the turtle population; during the dry season in remote sections of the Everglades gator holes are the only source of water for wildlife. Gators are only dangerous when they are no longer afraid of man. When they become too populous or bold around residential areas, naturally we think they should be removed to remote sections. I think most sportsmen would disagree with the Orlando Sentinel's hysterical demands for extermination."
Nevertheless, the Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to remove protection for gators over 6 feet long in all parts of Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Brevard counties except in the St. Johns River and its tributaries.
It was not a war of extermination, but it was a war that would result in the immediate killing of two to three hundred gators. And henceforth, no man was likely to have to answer to the law for killing any alligator. He need only say he had been attacked.
Harry Balogh is a neat, dignified man who parts his hair precisely in the middle and his infinitives the same way. His speech is a blend of Lower East Side and old sports pages and in the '30s and early '40s it was almost impossible to present a major boxing show without signing Harry as ring announcer. His crashing clichés ("The Cinderella Kid who fought his way up from the docks...."), his mighty malapropisms ("an ex-native of New York") and his endless variations on the may-the-best-man-win theme ("may the better participant emerge triumphant") have passed into what Harry calls "the annals of fistiana."
Until recently Harry himself was in danger of becoming little more than a living footnote in those annals.
Since the coming of the IBC, Harry has not worked a major New York card; his appearances have been limited to small clubs and to "guest announcing" out of town. He will not discuss his exile from IBC arenas except to say, "I only work if I like the people—after all the announcer is the voice of the management."
This week, however, Harry was back in his element. Once again he is to announce "a stellar attraction"—the Patterson-Jackson fight. Now there are interviews to give, a new tuxedo to be fitted, old friends to greet, new ones to meet and advice to be given. "I'll just be glad when this is over," he says, not meaning a word of it.
His comeback is for him an occasion for reminiscence. His career began at Grupp's gym in Harlem ("just say 'many years ago,' there are always people in the gallery looking for something to throw back at you"). One day Johnny Dundee came in carrying the Junior Lightweight Championship belt he had just won. "He felt highly elated, which is understandable, and I thought it would be a hell of an idea to introduce him so I stood on the apron and gave Dundee a deserving, great send-off and suggested people file past and look at the belt—it was what they call diamond-encrusted. When I got through with this, Dundee said to me, 'I've boxed all over the country and never heard anybody elaborate like you do. Why don't you become a fight announcer?' "
So Harry became a professional elaborator, first replacing an announcer at a Queens arena ("the crowd kept yelling at him to take the marbles out of his mouth"), then in the New York armories ("I worked six nights a week in the armories and at a girls' basketball game on Sunday afternoons").
"At that time," says Harry, "the dean of fight announcers was the late Joe Humphreys, who had heard of me and my work. He looked upon me as a son—and I say that with great reverence." In the early '30s Humphreys fell ill, and Balogh filled in for him more and more often, although, it is said, Balogh always passed his Madison Square Garden checks on to Humphreys all the time he was sick. After Humphreys' death, Balogh took over.
Admirers of Harry's rolling prose have suggested that Harry "deserves a better platform than a boxing ring," but for Harry Balogh there is no better platform. Where else can you use a phrase when a word would do? "Anybody can introduce a fighter," he says, "but those extra 20 words..." He leaves the sentence dangling characteristically, communing, no doubt, with the muse who furnishes his unrehearsed torrents of inspired prose.
DOWN THE DRAIN
The robust western tradition, alas, seems to be going down an air-conditioned drain.
Baylor University in Waco, Texas, apparently concerned about the rich, suffering football fan, is adding to its 50,000-capacity stadium an 85-seat, glassed-in lounge with air conditioning, heating, elevator and snack bar. The glittering eyrie will have 21-inch opera seats, a velvet foot curtain, tile floor and telephone service. Ten-year options for seats sell for $300 but this gives Texans only the right to sit there. In addition, they must purchase individual tickets which cost $6 each.
You know what I do? I'm an exotic dancer—an ecdysiast," Rose La Rose told a recent visitor to her rosy-hued apartment in Manhattan. But an ecdysiast, like everyone else, must have some extracurricular diversion, and Rose's happens to be big game hunting.
Last month Rose flew to Alaska, hired two guides, camped out in the wilderness, and finally shot a 1,200-pound Alaska brown bear. She did it, she says, not for the publicity but because she likes to hunt. A few years ago she killed a 300-pound black bear in Maine. In her New York apartment she keeps a stuffed woodchuck which she shot one day on an island in Lake Erie. It is posed ferociously, fangs bare, on a papier-m√¢ché rock.
How does an exotic dancer become a big game hunter? With Miss La Rose it began in a shooting gallery in Minneapolis. "I was waiting around one day till it was time to go to the theater," she explains. "You can't spend all your time in bars, so I stepped into this shooting gallery and—what do you know?—I won the jackpot.
"People kept telling me I should take up hunting, but I put it off. Then, going to Europe one day on an ocean liner, I found I was good at skeet shooting. They fire the pigeons out over the water, you know.
"Later some friends took me to a city dump in Columbus, Ohio where we got permission from the night watchman to shoot rats by spotlight with .22 rifles. I was good at that, too. Eventually I went on to the woodchuck and the black bear, and now this one. Of course, they could only estimate his weight, but the skin is 9 feet 7 inches long. The taxidermist is working on it now."
For a time, Rose considered shooting a polar bear so that she could use its skin in one of her acts—"the one in which I appear on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace," she says. "I use this act around Christmas time. The name of it is Santa Baby."
She gave up the idea because, as she said, "It's too dangerous out there on that ice." So she will continue to use a white bearskin from a theatrical properties house. She could, of course, use her Alaska brown bear when the taxidermist finishes with it, but she feels the white fur goes better with her coloring. Miss La Rose is a brunette with a very fair complexion and dark brown eyes which the casual observer would never guess to be those of a crack shot.
The Alaskan trip seemed to be dangerous enough, even without ice. She and a friend and the two guides flew out from Fairbanks in a light plane. After 100 miles they were out of radio contact with the home base. "I said, 'Gee, if we fall in this ocean, there won't be any way to tell anyone we're falling.' But we made it all right and we were out there eight days. Everything was canned—pork and beans, canned beef. We did have fresh eggs and bacon.
"Only another woman can know how painful it was to switch from five-inch heels—which I always wear—to hunting boots. I have bathed sometimes as much as 10 times a day simply because it's in one of my acts—sometimes we do seven shows a day in Newark—but out there I had no bath at all for 10 days, can you imagine?"
The party spotted the bear from the plane, then spent three days trying to find him again on foot. When they did, Miss La Rose fired two shots into him from 175 feet and he started rolling down the mountain. The guides finished him off.
"I used my Remington 30.06," says Miss La Rose. "I prefer it to the bolt-action 300 Magnum that the others were using. I think it's more feminine."
LOOK OUT BELOW!
If a squid makes a bid,
Use a chop to the ventricle;
If an octopus grabs you,
Tickle his tentacle.
(But don't mix them up—
They're almost identical.)
CURRENT WEEK AND WHAT'S AHEAD
•Nobody Up There Likes Him
Dick Stuart, the prideful young man who thought hitting homers was the raison d'√™tre of baseball (SI, April 22), said when sent down to Class A Lincoln: "Pittsburgh didn't like me, Hollywood didn't like me, Atlanta didn't like me, my wife didn't like me (she divorced me), but Lincoln likes me"—found out otherwise. Lincoln benched him last week.
•Hot Summer, Leo?
Leo Hirschfield, whose Athletic Publications, Inc. quotes odds on various sporting events (SI, Oct. 1, '56), has moved the store from Minneapolis, where a grand jury has been investigating gambling, to Davenport, Iowa. Iowa's attorney general went over Hirschfield's handouts, found they didn't violate any state laws.
•To France, To France
English Channel swimmers are out practicing for the grandiose assault on the chilly strait Aug. 20 (providing tides are favorable), and trophy worth $2,940 to the first greasy body to touch France. Oldest aspirant is Scottish grandfather Ned Barnie, 61, who nips whisky in mid-channel: "That's to keep me warm inside."
•Tragedy at 46
It was the hottest day of the year in New York (93.9°), and R. Philip Hanna, 46, radio singer and former national senior tennis champion, had just been defeated in the Eastern Senior Clay Courts championships. Dressing for a doubles match, he complained of a stitch in his side. Moments later Hanna died.