ORIOLES STOCK: STEADY
In this season of annual stockholders' meetings, and soft spots here and there in rails, oils and motors, a staff member of this magazine has just returned from Baltimore, where he attended the annual stockholders meeting of the Baltimore Baseball Club, a sporting and business venture. A year ago, for an outlay of $11, he became the holder of one share in the Orioles. His notes:
"Reached Baltimore after pleasant ride on Baltimore & Ohio's rather empty Royal Blue and taxied to board room in Memorial Stadium. First to arrive.
"Another stockholder, youngish, walked in and offered me his credentials in form of written announcement of meeting. Declined to accept them on ground I, too, was just a stockholder. Finally there were 11 of us assembled. One was a woman, Mrs. Isabelle Schaub. She is an assistant professor of microbiology at Johns Hopkins; handsome silver-blonde and owner of 50 shares. Her husband gives them to her a few shares at a time at Christmas.
"No box lunches or anything passed around. Strictly business. A man with the improbable name of Zanvyl Krieger, treasurer of our company, announced profit of $225,000 for 1957 season. Profit for 1956 was only $69,703. President James Keelty hastened to tell us there would be no dividends, though, because the $225,000 will be plowed back into ball club to improve its position in the W and L column next year. Then we elected directors. Routine matter—five places to be filled, five names on ballot. Voted for all five.
"Then small stockholders had a chance to speak up. One man wanted to know why Orioles televise only Sunday games. Another man complained there were not enough double-headers last year; also thought something ought to be done about ineffective bunting. 'Maybe,' he suggested, 'Paul Richards could give them some extra practice.' Chairman nodded non-committally.
"Father Ralph Kutz of St. Louis, a long-suffering priest whose ownership of stock dates back to time of Browns, offered motion congratulating club's officers on improvement of team; sixth a year ago, fifth this year. Motion was carried unanimously. Someone wanted to know whether Baltimore fans would have priority for tickets to All-Star Game, to be played in Baltimore next year. President Keelty thought not, unless fans were season ticket holders. 'Discrimination,' said Mrs. Schaub to Father Kutz. Then the meeting was adjourned.
"A few of us hung around to talk baseball—the playing, not the business side of it, since it was obvious we couldn't really have much more influence in the affairs of the Orioles than any vocal bleacherite. Seventy-three percent of stock is owned by holding company, which in turn is controlled by nine large stockholders who don't have to worry about stockholders' meetings.
"Trip, with train, cab and meals, cost me $31.65, but broker tells me stock is still worth the $11 I paid for it a year ago."
An American expeditionary force, doughty in tennis flannels, is in Australia just now for another campaign to recapture the Davis Cup. Communiqués from the battle front have been gloomy. During the past few weeks the Americans—a ragtag of green recruits and old campaigners—have participated in two tournaments and only the veteran Vic Seixas, 34, has been able to gain a quarter-final. Gardner Mulloy, 44, Herb Flam, 29, Barry McKay, 22, Mike Green, 20, and Ron Holmberg, 18, have all met defeat in early rounds and their tennis has generally been deplorable.
From their beleaguered captain, Bill Talbert, came this dark bulletin last week: "Our once gleaming hopes have taken on a dull complexion. Flam has been a keen disappointment, and his defeat by 19-year-old Ron Laver in the third round of the South Australia Tournament sent American tennis stock to a new low. If we do not play Flam in the second singles spot alongside Seixas, it must be one of the youngsters. Green is perhaps the hardest worker but his game has hit the doldrums, McKay has been disappointing lately and Holmberg takes things too casually although he has tremendous talent. We cannot count on Mulloy for singles because of his age, but he and Seixas are our doubles hope and they too have had rough going in their first major match here."
Talbert will probably get his motley force by the Philippines (Felicissimo Ampon & Co.) this weekend at Adelaide and Belgium (Phillipe Washer & Co.) at Brisbane on the next, but the challenge round at Melbourne, December 26-28 is a perplexing and difficult concern.
Talbert calls the 1957 Davis Cup campaign "a battle of dilemmas," the American created by want, the Australian by wealth. The task before the five Australian selectors—known as the Five Blue Hats because of the blue headgear they wear while scrutinizing the players from their special box with the intensity of bettors at the saddling ring—is to decide which members of an Australian squad deep in new, fresh talent are actually the best. Their most likely choices for Captain Harry Hop-man's team are Ashley Cooper and Mai Anderson (the Forest Hills champion this year) or Neale Fraser in the singles and Mervyn Rose and Cooper in the doubles.
"We all should have such dilemmas as the Aussies," brooded Talbert.
BACK TO FUNDAMENTALS
Austerity types who maintain that an automobile should not look like a jukebox, that a proper use of chrome is to plate an electric toaster, and that fishtails and gull wings are better left to their respective beasts, have a new champion in the American Air Products Corporation of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
American Air's 10-man production line is presently tooling up to turn out 100 Oldsmobiles a month—each one a replica of a 1901 model roadster (see page 11). Their fastidious little two-seater (top speed 37 mph) will, of course, provide only esthetic competition on the open road, but it turns on a dime, parks easily and has a further nostalgic recommendation—it will fit into the snuggest garage without elaborate maneuvering and frantic semaphoring. The 1901 Olds has a wheel-base of 67 inches and an over-all length of 93 inches, 124 inches shorter than the 1958 model.
American Air, heretofore preoccupied with a variety of metal products, is a newcomer to the motor car industry. While awaiting acceptance tests on a respirator for the Air Force not long ago, the company cast about for a profitable task to occupy its employees and hit upon the notion of manufacturing replica antique cars as "yesterday" displays for dealers' showrooms. The 1901 Olds was selected, said American Air's vice-president, Robert Dusinberre, because "it's attractive as well as antiquey." Moreover, an encouraging number of Oldsmobile dealers showed interest in the idea.
The company then decided that so long as they were tooling up anyway, why not make enough for Oldsmobile dealers to sell to "classic car" buffs in the general public. When a 1901 replica was exhibited at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week, the public response was reassuringly lively.
The 1901 Olds, which can be purchased "in a few months," has a body of marine-grade plywood mounted on a steel frame and springs and comes in five "delicious" colors with bebut-toned upholstery to match. The car is equipped with bicycle-type wheels, a steering tiller, a gearbox providing two forward and one reverse speeds, hinged trunk compartment, three elegant brass lamps—two fore, one dangling aft—and is powered by a four-horsepower, one-cylinder engine which gets 64 miles to the gallon. Optional accessories include an all-weather top, electric starter and generator. Without the starter, the engine is turned over like an outboard motor by yanking on a rope under the seat. The price f.o.b. Fort Lauderdale will be around $1,095.
Having apparently gratified one deep public craving, American Air's next project is to satisfy another—do-it-yourself. When the finished auto is rolling off the line in sufficient numbers to suit the dealers, the company is planning to put out a prefabricated kit so a man can build a 1901 Oldsmobile in his backyard as well as put-put along high on the seat in the grand old manner. The seat, incidentally, is American Air's major concession to progress—it is upholstered in plastic. Leather is too expensive nowadays.
Boxing's next burning question, only smoldering now, will be: When does Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson fight Eddie Machen, if ever?
Cus D'Amato, the champion's stubborn manager, already has answered, "Never," but events and commission insistence conceivably could change that. On the night that No. 1 Challenger Machen fought Hurricane Jackson in San Francisco, D'Amato was hunched before the milky light of his television screen in New York, and D'Amato was not impressed.
"Machen's a manufactured fighter," he said. "He can't adapt. The old Hurricane, he would have folded him, for Machen's a dog. The one thing Machen can do is land a punch."
When, at one point in the bout, Jackson suddenly started to pursue Machen, flailing out at him with silly, floppy jabs, Machen threw up his arms and retreated in confusion. "See what happens when you press him?" D'Amato asked. "Threatening gestures are sufficient to bring the rabbit out in him.
"Oh," he said, "the Hurricane's showing him up with nothing!"
These observations were pointedly academic, for Cus contends that Machen—and Willie Pastrano, for that matter—forfeited a chance for a title fight when they refused one last summer—a refusal which D'Amato believes was part of an International Boxing Club plot to embarrass him. If D'Amato does alter his resolves, it is not likely to be in time for Patterson's next defense.
Until that time, Floyd is dutifully training at Long Pond Inn, a rustic bar and dance hall on the shore of Greenwood Lake, N.Y. Although there is no immediate purpose to his labor, he will be ready if D'Amato stops counterplotting and selects an opponent. The most likely one is Zora Folley, an accomplished young fighter from Arizona who is ranked No. 2. D'Amato has had misgivings about Folley's occasional relations with the IBC, but if he is permitted to approve the site and the promoter, D'Amato will probably agree to a Folley fight. Another contender whom D'Amato is considering is Roy Harris, the undefeated and unseen Texan who has not fought out of his home state but is ranked No. 3. Cus has reservations about the company Harris's management keeps, but he may well waive them when Harris completes his six-month Army training next May.
One certainty is that D'Amato must soon play his hand. Although the play might entail present sacrifice in his dogged campaign against the IBC, a peek at his hole card can only reassure him that the ace, in itself, is strong enough to beat any opposition. That, after all, is the main concern.
A FISTFUL OF AIR
Pneumatic boxing gloves were invented not long ago by a Finnish doctor named Lyderik L√∂fgren. This means that compressed air (instead of the usual compressed hair, or felt) serves as padding The gloves are said to be 2½ times less damaging than conventional boxing gloves, which constitutes a safety factor so large that it would make the work of some fighters not just harmless but beneficial, like massage.
Dr. L√∂fgren says that the gloves have been tried out in competition and "were a success." Whether this means that nobody got hurt, or that nobody was able to tell that a fight was taking place, Dr. L√∂fgren doesn't say. He does say that a factory in Finland is now making his pneumatic boxing gloves and that the Russians want to buy its entire output. They will not be allowed to, however. Dr. L√∂fgren says his gloves are "for the whole world."
Well, if the whole world adopts them, the old sport of boxing may take on some strange new accessories, and perhaps new rules. Will there be an air compressor at ringside? Will the judges give a man credit if he manages a blowout, but fails to achieve a knockout? Will welterweights be inflated to the same pressure as heavyweights? The future grows more uncertain, and more alarming, every day.
Everyone was sure Frank Lane would stir up the American League pot as soon as he took over as general manager of the Cleveland Indians. It came therefore as something of a surprise when the first boiling bubble of the winter trading season erupted not in Cleveland but in Detroit.
Young John McHale (so called because at 36 he is the youngest general manager in the major leagues, though he'd be labeled an "aging veteran" if he were still an active ballplayer), who stepped into Spike Briggs's job with the Detroit Tigers when Spike was eased out the door last spring, beat Frank Lane at his own game. John had been dickering with the Kansas City Athletics over Billy Martin for some time. Billy is loud, brash, fearless; one who naturally assumes that he is as good as, or better than, any other ballplayer. John's Tigers, a talented but meek lot, have a tendency to step back and let other ball clubs through the door first. John, wanting Billy Martin, had been patiently trying to work out a deal with Kansas City. Now came Frank Lane, the trader. Obviously, with the terrible fielding infield Lane found at Cleveland, a player like Martin was Lane's prime target.
John McHale stirred uneasily. He was scheduled to fly down to the Caribbean for a look at players in the winter leagues. Frank Lane was supposed to fly to St. Louis (which, of course, is not very far from Kansas City). Bad weather canceled Lane's flight to St. Louis, so Frank altered direction some 60° to the left and flew instead to Havana to confer with his new Cleveland manager, Bobby Bragan. McHale, reacting with an alertness not particularly noticeable in the Detroit front office in recent years, altered his flight plan some 60° to the right and hopped over to Chicago where he met with Kansas City officials, closed a trade and walked out with the prize, Martin, figuratively under his arm.
Lane was irate, in a genial way. Like most men who hate losing, he admires winners and accepts defeat gracefully. Bobby Bragan was disappointed. Detroiters were, generally, pleased.
And Billy Martin? He lived up to his advance billing. No routine "glad to be with the Tigers" remarks for him. No fervent declarations that "we'll win, or go down fighting." Billy was fighting to begin with. An ordinary man would be tickled pink to be traded from a seventh-place club to a pennant contender. Not Billy. He knows that when a man is traded it means the club he's leaving feels that something they are getting for him is more valuable than he is. Martin was hurt. He blasted Kansas City officials, demanded a cash percentage of the deal, irately protested: "They just can't throw us players around without us having any say-so.... If I'm a tool of this great machine of baseball, I want to get something out of it."
Well, naturally, he won't. Baseball bigwigs parried attacks along this line at the congressional hearings last summer, and what they held together then they won't let Billy Martin put asunder now. About all it proves is that Billy Martin really is something special as a ballplayer. And Billy, next season, may prove that John McHale is something special as a general manager.
"PHEASANT HUNTER'S TOE"
If you're going after pheasant this year, you might as well know that you're exposing yourself to something known as "pheasant hunter's toe." The authority for this statement is Dr. R. E. Van Denmark of Sioux Falls, S. Dak., who writes about it in the South Dakota Journal of Medicine and Pharmacy. The ailment is apt to come upon a man on the morning after a successful day's shoot: he finds his big toe painfully swollen and colored a gaudy purple. Has he sprained his toe? Not likely, says Dr. Van Denmark. Pheasant itself—a bird rich in what the experts call purine bodies—is really to blame, and the victim is suffering from pheasant hunter's toe, a fancy name for old-fashioned gout. "Precipitating factors," says Dr. Van Denmark, include "trauma to the feet in walking through fields and gullies, the overindulgence in holiday alcoholic beverages, the fatigue of excessive exercise in those unaccustomed to it."
Gist of what to do next: put your feet up and shun pheasant for a while. Then, with next year in mind, get some exercise.
GAME ON ICE
Ice hockey's a game where they give you a stick
And a pad for protecting your shin,
A game where each team beats the other, although
Of course only one team can win.
THEY SAID IT...
Rocky Marciano, deploring the tendency of high schools and colleges to drop boxing: "I can't understand it—with all this talk of war and preparedness. Youngsters ought to be taught how to protect themselves...I don't know much about college boxing, but I don't believe anyone ever got hurt."
Sir Stanley Rous, secretary of Britain's Football (Soccer) Association: "I don't like to see footballers hugging and kissing a colleague who scores a goal. These ideas have crept into football since we began to play Continental teams...it is not the British method."
Chuck Taylor, Stanford football coach just named assistant athletic director: "We now have more than 700 scouts beating the bushes for us—all Stanford graduates—looking for fast, large youngsters with good grades."
Roy Riegels, who ran 57 yards the wrong way in the Rose Bowl 29 years ago, in a letter to Jan Bandriga, California high school football player who ran 55 yards the wrong way just the other day: "You'll get over it."