NOT WITH A BANG
This is an article from the Oct. 7, 1957 issue
Despite rumors that there would be some inflammatory playing of the organ by Miss Gladys Goodding, Walter O'Malley bravely attended what was assumed to be the last Brooklyn Dodger game at Ebbets Field on the crisp, chill evening of September 24. Rumors about Miss Goodding's program turned out to be accurate, for her third number of the evening was California, Here I Come, and others ranged all the way from Que Sera, Sera to After You've Gone. However, far from inflaming the crowd, the selections seemed to soothe it like so many lullabies.
The final game drew 6,702 spectators (about half the number at the Polo Grounds five days later—see page 62), who seemed to regard the occasion as just another ball game. Here and there, older fans recited lineups of other days and spoke of great Dodger names like Wheat, Vance, Grimes, Carey, Bissonette and Stengel. (Ol' Case played in the first game at Ebbets Field on April 5, 1913, before a crowd of 25,000.) Only a few voices referred at all to the fact that Brooklyn was losing its team, and they blamed not Mr. O'Malley but "those politicians who been taking their free passes all these years and giving nothing in return."
In pregame ceremonies, Mr. Happy Felton went through his last television program for the kids, and he made a brave and generally successful effort to be happy about it. A speaker presenting gifts to Campanella, Hodges and Koufax thanked the crowd over the public-address system for making the occasion "such a resounding success," and he concluded his speech with "Goodnight, mother," a literal remark, it turned out, addressed to his own mother and not to Ebbets Field.
Commenting on the crowd's calm acceptance of the occasion, a scholar in the right-field stands quoted T. S. Eliot's line about the world ending "not with a bang, but a whimper." But only Emmett Kelly, the sad-faced clown, performing for the last time, looked as though he might be able to manage even that much.
However, after the game, a few teenage girls were observed in tears as they waited for a final glimpse of their heroes. In the clubhouse, these heroes—presided over by Pee Wee Reese, seated in his armchair as usual—expressed perfunctory regrets as they lunched on barbecued crab.
As the last of the crowd filed out of the park, the T. S. Eliot scholar buttonholed people and desperately reminded them that the last Brooklyn batter, Gil Hodges, had struck out. "Do you see?" he cried. "Baseball dies at Ebbets Field, not with a bang—but a whiffer."
Nobody got it.
BOUNCE AVERAGES (FINAL)
Coming down the stretch, National and American League umpires, no doubt affected by the new baseball statistic (bounce averages) created here this season, behaved very much like sluggers competing for the triple crown. Final bounce averages for the men in blue show a definite tendency during the last days of the season to go for what would be the equivalent of the extra-base hit, i.e., to go for the manager. (In this first season of compiling bounce averages, no additional points have been awarded for the managerial bounce, but thought must certainly be given to the possibility of MBAs for managers as well as PBAs for players next season.)
Managers bounced during the last days of the season include Paul Richards of the Orioles (by the Summers team), Birdie Tebbetts of the Redlegs (by the Ballanfants), Fred Hutchinson of the Cardinals (by the Dascolis), Jack Tighe of the Tigers (by the Rommels), and Bill Rigney of the Giants (twice: once by the Dascolis and once by the Conlans).
The bounce champions in each league sort of backed into their titles. The Paparellas won in the American without adding a single bounce during the last days of September. In the National, the Dascolis' runaway lead piled up in midseason was sufficient to put them in, but they added a token bounce in September for good measure.
Footnote: in selecting umpires for the World Series, Commissioner Ford Frick chose Paparella of the American League champions, Chylak of the third-place Summers team and McKinley of the last-place Berrys. From the National League, Frick picked Secory of the thumb-happy Dascolis (31 bounces as against the 15 that were good enough to win the title for the Paparellas in the junior circuit). Then Frick turned to the last-place Conlans to select Donatelli and Captain Jocko Conlan himself. All in all, it is not a strong combination bounce-wise—and maybe that's the way Mr. Frick wants it.
Last week was National Dog Week (it was also National Tie Week, 100% Pure Maple Syrup Week and Anti-Freeze Week), and by way of celebration what was billed as the "world's first fashion show for dogs" was held, for better or worse, in a suite on the 50th floor of New York's RCA building.
The models included five poodles named Tina, K. T., Sheeba, Plucky and Roz, a golden Afghan named Ftatateeta, and a miniature schnauzer named Gray. The apparel came from the Park Avenue "bow-wow boutique" of a Mrs. Joan Kruger, whose Poodletown Shop stocks such items—plain, fanciful and decadent—as sweaters, coats, collars, leashes and pajamas.
The show was divided into three groupings: Formal and Town Wear, Resort and Beach Wear and Country and Informal Wear. More often than not, what the dog wore matched what the dog's mistress wore. A young lady in a gabardine coat led Gray in, and Gray was togged out in a gabardine coat with a handkerchief in the pocket. This was Country and Informal.
"Is the little coat reversible?" asked a matron.
"I'm sorry," apologized the young lady. "Not this time."
Another young lady with a blue denim beach bag coddled a poodle attired in a blue denim collar and leash. "For beach and summer—" she intoned sepulchrally, "cotton. It is completely washable; goes right in the Bendix."
"It's very gay for the Cape," murmured the matron.
Next a lady in a pink kid jacket with poodle stuffed into a pink kid coat with gold buttons. "Leather—" said the lady, "practical for windy weather."
"What goes in the little pocket?" inquired the matron.
"Her mad money," said the young lady.
Then came the poodle known as Roz, morose, in a plastic raincoat, hood and plastic booties. "If your dog objects to the hood," said Mrs. Kruger, "you can roll it back." Roz apparently did not object. "Roz got very sore feet last year from walking, so I had to get her boots. She's used to them." Roz fidgeted. "Of course," said Mrs. Kruger, "she knows it's not raining in here, so she's confused."
There were also pajamas, buttoning up the back. "People have air-conditioned apartments or are fresh-air fiends and a dog needs a little protection." But by all odds the ultimate was, as the young lady reverently announced, "mink and mink." The poodle this time wore a Cerulean mink jacket (Formal and Town); the young lady wore a Cerulean mink coat.
"How much is that?" inquired the matron.
"It's $275," said the master of ceremonies. He (the master of ceremonies, that is) wore a green suit (washable) and a rep tie (nonreversible).
Save The Horse Week begins October 13.
ROAD TO MODENA
Gary Laughlin is a 35-year-old oilman from Fort Worth who was offered a ride from Milan to Modena the other night by Juan Manuel Fangio, the best driver in the world. Laughlin is alive; so are Fangio and Fangio's wife Andrea after a triumphant test of driving skill that belongs on the record. Here, as told to the British racing driver and correspondent Tom Wisdom, is Laughlin's story:
"We had passed the town of Fidenza, 50 miles from Modena, when it happened. In the darkness, just after 8 o'clock, we breasted a rise at 120 miles an hour. Seventy yards ahead was a truck right across the road—absolutely no room to pass. I knew I would be killed.
"Fangio spun his touring Lancia this way, then that. If we had braked we would have hit the truck head-on at 70 miles an hour, but the gyrations, expertly controlled, slowed the car. Just as I was sure we must hit, we glanced off a telegraph pole.... We stopped, inches from the truck.... Then the truck driver came for me. Who did I think I was, driving at that speed in the dark? Did I think I was Fangio?
" 'No,' I said, 'but he is.' I pointed to Fangio staggering across the road. The truck driver burst into tears."
In Bologna the Fangios received medical attention. Said Fangio: "People drive so badly today."
CHALLENGE TO TRADITION
"Never in the history of the major leagues has a ballplayer on a last-place club, whatever the magnitude of his accomplishments, received the Most Valuable Player award. Bill Veeck supplied the hard logic for all this when he was president of the eighth-place St. Louis Browns in 1951. Ned Garver had managed to win 20 games for the Brownies that year, so he went to Veeck for a raise. "Ned," Veeck told him, "we got to last place with you, we could surely have gotten there without you."
Veeck's Law notwithstanding, the left fielder for the tail-end Washington Senators will certainly get a passel of votes for the MVP award. He is Roy Sievers, 30, a strong, taciturn right-handed batter with a short swing which Yankee Manager Casey Stengel calls "one of the sweetest." Sievers surpassed Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle in home runs (42) and in runs batted in (114) while winning both of these titles. He has thus become the first Senator to take the RBI championship since Goose Goslin did it in 1924, and the first to win the home run crown since Buck Freeman hit 25 in 1899.
Sievers was Rookie of the Year with the Browns in 1949 when he batted .306. A broken collarbone and a chronic separation of the shoulder almost ended his career in 1951. He was, in fact, given up as a bad risk by Baltimore when they inherited the Brownie stock, and they traded him to Washington in 1954 for Gil Coan. Playing now with a surgically rebuilt shoulder, Sievers, who had to throw underhand at first, has since recovered to the point where runners think twice before taking the extra base.
Success has not spoiled Roy Sievers. "I dunno," he says, "I'm just swinging and things are happening." They certainly are. The fans in Washington know that Roy is the Most Valuable Player, eighth place or not, and the Senator management has been enjoying home-game ticket sales comfortably in advance of last year's. Just about all of the increase can be attributed to Roy and his long ball.
Last week the fans turned out for a Roy Sievers Night at which he received a Mercury station wagon, among other gifts. Along with his contribution to Roy's night, Vice-President Nixon wrote the fund-raising committee: "No man in baseball deserves more recognition than Roy.... I think the highest compliment that I've heard paid to him was expressed by my 11-year-old daughter Tricia. After she had seen him hit his 37th and 38th home runs against Kansas City on television, She exclaimed that 'Washington shouldn't trade Roy Sievers for Mickey Mantle.' "
Mantle gets $50,000 or so a year, Sievers about $18,000. If Sievers decides to brace his club for a raise (thus striking hard at Veeck's Law), all Washington, including Tricia Nixon, will be on his side.
Duffy Daugherty, the Michigan State football coach, calls himself "a Civil War golfer—out in 61, back in 65." Actually, he shoots in the low 80s and loves the game to which, surprisingly, he was able to devote a great deal of time last summer.
In previous summers Duffy has not had much of an opportunity to play golf; he was too busy rounding up beef to stock his team. But the Big Ten's new purity code has about ended the unseemly summer scramble for players. Now a coach simply submits an offer of financial aid to a promising player and then hopefully awaits a letter from the high schooler signifying his intent to attend the coach's college. Once that letter is received no one else in the conference can touch the boy. This system, Duffy prophesied last year, would put quite a crimp in his recruiting style.
"At first I viewed the plan with apprehension and a little trepidation," he admitted recently, "but so far it looks like there are more benefits than I anticipated. I played more golf last summer than I have in 10 years."
So, instead of beating the bushes, looking for players, Duffy now devotes August to beating the tall grass looking for lost golf balls. This, he feels, is quite an improvement. "Besides, I gained peace of mind knowing I had good kids lined up and coming to school." He reflected on that for a few minutes, then smiled happily. "I think my golf game will improve in summers to come," he said.
DON'T RUN, WALK
To Henry Laskau, a reflective, bandy-legged, 41-year-old New Yorker, walking is not so much a way of getting somewhere as a way of life. For the past 11 years, as America's foremost competitive walker, Laskau has, by shuffling queerly along in relative obscurity, won more national championships—43—than any amateur athlete in the history of the United States.
It has always troubled Laskau that Americans have not taken kindly to walking races, ignoring them on the one hand and hooting at them on the other. He is resigned to the former. "Maybe it's a combination of circumstances," he says. "You can't rush into walking. You must be patient. Besides, too many of us would rather ride in a car than even stroll, much less walk." But it is the ridicule that really hurts. He feels that walking has been sabotaged by hip-wigglers, whose contortions he condemns esthetically and athletically, and by the oldtimers who insist on strutting their feeble stuff before the newsreel cameras. Says Laskau: "The public shouldn't laugh, because the wigglers don't know what they're doing. As for the men over 45, they have no business being in there. They only huff, puff, and shake and make a spectacle of the sport."
Not one to become a huff-puff-and-shaker, Henry Laskau retired the other day, after winning the 3,000-meter walk at Israel's Maccabiah Games, in favor of coaching younger men.
"Walking is not a diversion," Laskau pointed out. "It is a difficult event which demands top coordination and stamina." Walking, indeed, is a trying business. The rules dictate that the knees must be locked, and that one foot always must be in contact with the ground. To achieve the classic style, Laskau advises aspirants to "Walk heel and toe. Then make believe you're pulling on ropes with your arms. I'd say it requires more coordination than running."
Laskau is qualified to know. He was, in his native Germany and for a time in the States, a run-of-the-mill distance runner, until a walker teammate on New York's 92nd Street YMHA squad watched him heel-and-toe a lap and told him to forget about running the mile. "You're a real walker," the teammate said. "I predict you'll be national champ within a year." Laskau was.
Besides his projected coaching duties, Laskau works as a traffic manager for a Manhattan export firm and lives in Mineola, L.I. with his wife Hilde and their two young sons. The Laskaus met and married when members of the same track team; Hilde gave up the 75-yard dash to raise a family. "Some persons ask me how I caught her if she sprinted and I walked," says Laskau, "but I was running when I met her."
The champ has left
The pit and bout;
A pullet passed—
He chickened out.
—A. R. FONTENOT
CURRENT WEEK AND WHAT'S AHEAD
•The Final Reel
At week's end the cross-country cliff hanger was whether Brooklyn's Walter O'Malley and the Los Angeles City Council would get together by O'Malley's October 1 deadline, but Angelenos in general paid little mind to the final reel. It was football time, and some 156,000 of them turned up for three weekend games (UCLA-Illinois, USC-Michigan, Rams-Eagles) at the Coliseum.
•Push 'em Back
Central High School of Little Rock defeated Istrouma High of Baton Rouge last week 15-6. Cheering Central on ("Push 'em back!") were 100 members of the 101st Airborne, relaxing from their integration-enforcement duties.
•Mutual Admiration Society
Baltimore has every reason to be proud of its Orioles; they finished, beyond all expectation, in fifth place. And Manager Paul Richards has every reason to be proud of Baltimore; 1,029,581 watched his team, and Richards' contract gives him a nickel for each admission over 900,000—or $6,479.05.
•Quiet in North Dakota
Last weekend the citizenry of North Dakota decided, almost to a man, to forgo the temptations of Faubusism. Federal injunctions against shooting ducks before Oct. 1 were obeyed, although a state law (SI, Sept. 23) created a special North Dakota season for "nonmigratory" birds beginning Sept. 27.
BA (% of all)