When the Big Ten adopted, nearly intact, the nine rules for survival of college football proposed by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Herman Hickman (SI, Aug. 13, 1956), it was not without misgivings. The rule on recruiting (briefly, aid to an athlete must be based on need and in no case may exceed board, room, tuition and books) seemed to some Big Ten coaches a fearful handicap in their annual competition for high school players. Last week came the news that one coach had broken the code, been caught at it and sent to the showers for the whole 1957 season. He was Phil Dickens, new head coach at Indiana, fresh from the wide ranges of Wyoming just this January. Too many young Indiana prospects thought they had heard him promise $50 a month in extra spending money.
Big Ten faculty representatives met in Chicago, reviewed the charges and the evidence and made Indiana's conference play this year conditional upon Indiana suspending Dickens for a year. Dickens was duly suspended, and his team will be guided by his chief assistant, Bob Hicks.
The penalty is the severest in the history of the Big Ten. Even so, under the rules, it might have been stiffer. The rule actually states that coaches guilty of illegal recruiting shall be discharged. Since Dickens might have been confused by the coincidence of a new job and a new set of rules, he was accorded the usual mercy shown a first offender. He will be a spectator at Indiana's games this fall; a restless one, no doubt, little given to conversation.
August 11, 1957
WASHINGTON—Captain Kenneth D. Chandler, a 33-year-old jet ace of the Korean war, set a new Bendix air race record of 679 miles an hour today.
Captain Chandler flew a Convair F-102 delta-wing interceptor 620 miles from Chicago's O'Hare Field to nearby Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in 54 minutes, 45 seconds. Five other Air Force pilots also made the race.
The lines above are from the Associated Press story on last week's Bendix Trophy Race, but they would serve very well as an inscription on the tombstone of airplane racing as a sport. No mere civilian can afford to compete with the military nowadays, and besides, all the old glamour is gone. It's nobody's fault, of course, but it's too bad, all the same.
One misses the wave of cocky Jimmy Doolittle's hand as he throttled up his Laird Solution for a blistering 80-mph take-off in the first Bendix Trophy Race (Burbank to Cleveland, 1931). One misses the proud and weary smile of Master Designer Ben O. Howard, climbing out of the cockpit of his Howard Racer in Cleveland in 1935, the winner—at 238.704 mph—in a plane he had wrought virtually by hand. One misses Roscoe Turner and Jackie Cochran; wheel pants, radial engines and negatively staggered wings; one even misses elevators and ailerons (the F-102 scorns these old-fashioned devices in favor of "elevons" on its rakish delta wing).
The race used to be to the swift and the ingenious; now it goes to the man who best balances speed against fuel consumption and arrives firstest with—quite likely—the leastest fuel in his tanks. ("My engine flamed out, for lack of fuel, as I taxied down the runway after the landing," said Captain Chandler the other day.)
No rain in the face, no ice on the wings, no wire struts whining in the slip stream; no midnight landings on flare-marked wheat fields. Just helmets and slide rules and dials, and higher and higher speeds. It's a little as if Mickey Mantle were to hit .470 with an automatic bat.
AFTER THE FIGHT
Although the fight last week between-Floyd Patterson and Tommy (Hurricane) Jackson sometimes resembled a dark, uncomfortable dream out of Dostoevsky of a man beating a horse, the scene did provide a certain amount of enlightenment. It showed that Patterson is not only a skillful, hard-hitting champion, but a mature, compassionate young man. When he heard that Jackson had been taken to the hospital for the treatment of his injuries, Floyd said, "Which hospital?" and "Let's go." With his manager, Cus D'Amato, and his wife Sandra, he hurried to Jackson's bedside and wished him well.
The fight also demonstrated that Promoter Emil Lence, sardonic predictions to the contrary, could run an orderly show. It was marred by only two flaps. The first was a "fight's off" flash that went out over the air seven hours before ringtime, blaming bad weather—followed a quarter of an hour later by a "fight's-on-after-all" dispatch that never entirely caught up with the erroneous first report. Promoter Lence and NBC are still in diplomatic disagreement as to how the first flash came about—though Lence admits he told the network he might have to postpone the show till the following night. In any event, Commissioner Helfand, who, under the law, has to approve a postponement, quickly set almost everybody straight: no postponement.
The other incident occurred on the televised program. A Buick commercial went on immediately after Referee Ruby Goldstein stopped the bout, so that the viewers missed the official decision. In a refreshing apology, Vice-president Edward T. Ragsdale of General Motors said: "As a fight fan myself, I was incensed at the inept handling and bad timing... I feel that a public apology is in order."
Rocky Marciano got to see the Floyd Patterson-Hurricane Jackson fight on television in Maywood Park, Ill. He was serving as master of ceremonies for an outdoor Italian festival; the TV set had been brought to a platform behind the open-air stage. Rocky hunched forward on a folding chair, the screen only a foot or so from his face. When the bell rang for Round One, he clenched his fists and stared ahead. As Patterson knocked Jackson down, there was a yell from the 20 or so onlookers gathered behind Marciano. Someone asked what he thought. "Patterson landed some good punches," he answered softly. "To me, it's very interesting. It's very interesting to me."
In Round Three the set went out of focus. Bill Corum's voice came through, but the picture did not. "Fix it, fix it," the onlookers screamed, and finally someone did. Rocky watched quietly as Patterson stalked his victim. A photographer, leaning around the TV set, ordered, "Rock, make a motion with your fist." Rocky did so. "Rock, close your eyes tight." Rocky refused. "I want to watch the fight," he protested. At the end of the round, though, Rocky closed his eyes, and the photographer got his picture.
"Looks like Patterson is having it pretty easy," said Rocky at the end of Round Four. Would the fight go the distance, someone wanted to know. "Doesn't look it," said Rocky.
"Set up a left and throw it," said the photographer in Round Five. Rocky threw a left without taking his eyes from the screen. "See," said the photographer to an associate, "just tell him what to do."
At the end of the sixth, Patterson hit Jackson hard. "Wow!" said Rocky, and went off to his dressing room in a trailer to sign autographs. He came running back to catch the start of the seventh.
"It seems like almost one punch will do the trick," he said in Round Eight. "Just one more punch." In the next round he turned to answer a question just as Jackson went down. "What was that—a good right?" he asked, and someone answered "yeah." When the referee stopped the fight in the tenth, Marciano was asked whether the referee had done the right thing. "I don't know," said Rocky. "You gotta be there in person. Television fools you." He returned to the dressing room to get ready for his appearance on the stage.
"Who else is around, Rocky?" one of the bystanders wanted to know.
"There is no one else around," he answered.
"How about you, Rocky?"
"Retired permanently, thank you," said Marciano.
HE WAS THERE
A brass band slammed into four-quarter time at Roosevelt Raceway's celebrity-flecked opening last week. In the middle of the track New York's graying governor, Averell Harriman, hoisted his arms, knotted his hands over his head and marched, in diplomatic time, toward the outer rail. As the band thump-thumped, voices sang, "H-A-double-R-I-M-A-N-spells Harriman!" From the rooftop, seven stories above, a spotlight wreathed him in yellow.
On the bottom floor grandstand level a balding, red-faced man aimed his beer cup heavenward and lent a rusty baritone to the singing: "H-A-double-R-I-G-A-N spells Harrigan!" After two choruses the singing stopped, and the band started its march away. But the little man continued, "Proud of all the Irish blood that's in me..." A woman pivoted and demanded, "What are you still singing for?"
"Because I'm Harrigan."
The governor walked through a steel gate amid a knot of protecting policemen, thrusting handshakes, as if in deliverance. Harrigan was swept away with a wave of bettors to the mutuel windows, still singing, his notes like cymbals.
The Pittsburgh Pirates fired their droll and hot-tempered manager, Bobby Bragan, early one morning last week; this was a setback in the Bragan career and deprived him of his salary ($25,000 a year) as getting fired always does, but in the larger or artistic sense it was exactly the thing to do. There was really nothing left for him to achieve with Pittsburgh (except that unlikely goal, the pennant), for the day before, at Milwaukee, he had reached such heights as an actor that all he could have done henceforth as a manager must have been anticlimax. Bragan, a man of hilarious ingenuity, simultaneously punctured the dignity of four umpires with no more equipment than a container of orange juice and two straws.
In considering this dramatic achievement—certainly one of the most memorable in the long history of irascible pantomime on the baseball field—it must be noted that Bragan, a Georgia-born ex-catcher, is a young manager of considerable talent. He has long been a protégé of Branch Rickey and has won minor league pennants at Fort Worth and Hollywood. He began his major league managerial career in a burst of glory—the lowly Pirates led the league for a giddy nine days last year. But this year, while the Pirates have been thudding along at cellar level, Bragan has nursed a smoldering conviction that Pittsburgh is suffering not only from lamentable ball playing but also from lamentable umpiring—especially on the part of Frank Daseoli, Frank Secory, Stan Landes and Bill Baker, who work and travel as an umpire team. When Bragan's best pitcher was thumbed out of a game in Milwaukee Wednesday night, Bragan protested to the league president, Warren Giles, succinctly accusing the four umpires of collective "ego and bullheadedness." Next night, as may be imagined, Bragan found himself under alert, and perhaps somewhat baleful, umpirical scrutiny.
Soon enough, they had something to watch. In the fourth inning came a call from Umpire Landee ruling a Milwaukee base runner safe. In the Pittsburgh dugout Bragan dramatically held his nose—a gesture not lost on Landes, who instantly thumbed Bobby out of the game.
Bragan climbed out of the dugout, face as innocent as a choirboy's, and pointed to his own chest, as though to say, "Who? Li'l ole me?" Smiling serenely, he sauntered slowly toward second where Landes was standing, black-browed as a bank guard in a W. C. Fields movie. "Listen, Stan," Bragan said companionably, "I want to talk this whole thing over with you, but first I want a drink." He turned and strolled slowly back to the dugout, where Coach Danny Murtaugh handed him a cardboard container of orange juice and two straws.
Sipping dreamily, he strolled once more out across the playing field. Precious seconds ticked away before the umpires seemed to realize that they were facing anarchy; managers who are thrown out of games do not stroll back sipping orange juice. ("I never saw anything like it in my life," Umpire Dascoli told Warren Giles in a long-distance call. "I didn't know what to do.") But as the crowd bellowed their delight at the innovation, the four umpires imploded on Bragan.
"Get off the field," cried Dascoli, arms waving skyward, "or I'll forfeit the game."
"Now listen, Frank," said Bragan with hideous sweetness, "settle down. You want a sip of my soda?" Bragan tilted his container and straws invitingly toward Dascoli. The manager turned toward Secory: "You want a little sip, Frank?" Secory declined with a "Hell, no!" Bragan thrust his face closer to Secory's scowl. "Maybe it would be better if I threw it in your face, huh?" he suggested softly. "I dare you," cried Secory. Bragan merely smiled and offered sips to Umpires Landes and Baker. Rejected, he stood for a few moments in a pantomime of self-pity and then slowly—ever so slowly—he retraced his steps, sipping, to the dugout and then to the locker room.
He paid, later—although not very much. Pittsburgh officials denied that the incident had anything to do with his being fired. This seemed reasonable enough: Pittsburgh, after all, was in seventh, and Bragan has had definite and strongly expressed differences of opinion with the Pirate management. He was fined $100 by the National League, and President Giles sent him a huffy telegram: "It is not in your nature to take the game...seriously. We and others consider it a serious business and to be conducted as such."
This was just and proper—league presidents are expected to send huffy telegrams—but not quite correct. Baseball may be serious business but it is also drama and legend (did not Casey Stengel once stand before a Brooklyn crowd, remove his cap and release a sparrow?). It is hard not to honor impassioned advocates, particularly ingenious ones, even if they do embarrass the constituted authorities. London cops detested the suffragettes for one of the very reasons (and Bragan might take note) that history remembers them: for chaining and padlocking themselves to the iron fences of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, thereby scandalizing all properly serious men.
FAIRWAYS AT 40 MPH
On the fairways of the Alvin (Texas) Country Club near Houston, the little Crosley automobile, which has never been much more than a modest pumpkin on the highways, has blossomed into a golden coach. Stripped down, painted up and tricked out with canopies and golf-bag racks, Crosleys make rakish and lively golf carts. They will carry four players, get up to 40 miles per hour if called on, climb hills easily and do 60 holes to the gallon.
The club now has 16 of them, all fashioned in his spare time by Eldon Brockman, the 53-year-old owner of an aircraft maintenance and storage business. Brockman built the first one for himself, and nearly all the others in answer to clamorous demands from other club members. Crosleys have become marks of prestige; it is almost better to go over the Alvin course in a Crosley nowadays than to arrive at the club in a Cadillac. "If you own one," says Brockman, "you can get a game with the best players at the club." The demand has made secondhand Crosleys scarce in the Houston area and has driven their price up from $75 to as much as $250.
Most people keep their Crosleys in the clubhouse garage, but there are a few who use them not only on the fairway, but on the highway between home and the club. One member built a special trailer and hooked it to the family car. Now, when he drives off for a golf date away from home, he takes not only his clubs but his Crosley too.
IN SUMMER'S AMBER
Thickened with light, the spaces of summer
hold sound like the sea.
A playing-field shout outlives the play;
an outboard motor is put up, its drone preserved,
as it were, in summer's amber.
Only at night are the sounds quick and falling:
the water breaking each time the jumping fish falls;
in the white barns, horses stamping
in their dreams' dark furlongs;
grooms sitting out under the elms
in canvas chairs, on tack boxes,
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
The 1959 Pan-American Games, homeless since Cleveland gave them up as too costly, found a U.S. host in Chicago. Its bid was accepted by the Games Committee 13-6 over that of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Chicago will mainly use existing facilities (Soldier Field, etc.), should be able to house athletes in local university dormitories.
After hearing witnesses and congressmen criticize the National Football League for refusing to recognize its Players' Association, Commissioner Bert Bell returned to the hearings of the House committee studying sport legislation and announced that the league was now willing to recognize the association and to bargain collectively with it—thus granting the players a major victory.
ONE YEAR TO GO
Briggs Cunningham, dean of the U.S. sports-car fraternity (and also an experienced yachtsman) is the latest to join the New York Yacht Club group, which is one of three organizations planning a 12-meter sloop for the defense of the America's Cup next September. A cost comparison: the British Sceptre will be built for $150,000; her American rivals for some $300,000 each.
FISH FOR IKE
President Eisenhower has never been known as a salt-water fisherman, but Newport, R.I., where he will soon spend his vacation, hopes to make a convert. George W. Lawton, the city's recreation chairman, has been scattering minced fish into waters where Ike is expected to go after bass and bluefish. This drew a protest from the state's League of Salt Water Anglers, who, Lawton countercharged, have been known to do the same thing.