ROBERT CREAMER also nominates LEW BURDETTE
Stan Musial and Ted Williams are baseball's heroes of the year, in the epic-saga sense. Roy Sievers' is the rags-to-riches story. Mickey Mantle and Henry Aaron are the productive geniuses. But with them, and fully entitled to his share of adulation, is this season's hero of the single moment—Lew Burdette, pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves.
Lew Burdette's "moment" comprised three games, distributed over eight days. His setting was the World Series, the greatest of all American sporting events. His achievement was the best World Series pitching performance in 52 years. With the nation watching, Burdette three times defeated the titans, the New York Yankees, twice shutting them out. His final victory, the ultimate moment, gave ecstatic Milwaukee its first baseball championship of the world.
December 23, 1957
TEX MAULE nominates TERRY BRENNAN
Notre Dame's young coach, in two years, has passed the twin tests of sportsmanship extraordinarily well. He bore unreasonable adversity in 1956 with grace but not with resignation; he bore unreasonable success in 1957 with modesty and a strong pride in his accomplishment. He engineered football's major upset when he ended Oklahoma's streak of victories and he did it by sound and intelligent coaching and a quality of quiet inspiration which, all season long, had the Notre Dame football team playing well over its head. Football had other heroes, certainly: Jimmy Brown, Cleveland's great rookie fullback; John Crow, Texas A&M's multipurpose halfback; Ned Oldham of Navy, Lou Michaels of Kentucky, Jim Phillips of Auburn. But Terry Brennan of Notre Dame was football's sportsman of the year.
JEREMIAH TAX nominates BOB COUSY
This shy, soft-spoken wizard of the court is simply the finest basketball talent the world has ever seen. Sportsmanship, however, is the prime reason for this nomination. For five years Cousy has led the pro league in assists. This means that he has contributed—more than anyone else—to the excellent records of his Celtic teammates by setting them up for scores. In a game which places a high premium on individual brilliance, as measured by points scored, he has been and remains the perfect team player. Other names deserve a vote—Bob Pettit, Bill Sharman, Bill Russell, Neil Johnston. But it is not too much to say that in his person Cousy has epitomized the skill, the sportsmanship, the cooperative effort which—all together—make basketball an exciting spectacle for growing millions every winter season.
MARTIN KANE nominates CARMEN BASILIO
No better fight was seen all year than the desperate bout in which Carmen Basilio happily abandoned his welterweight championship to take the middleweight title from Sugar Ray Robinson, a bigger, taller, cleverer, harder-punching man. And no gamer fighter than Basilio ever has held a title. He took Robinson's best bombs—the kind that knocked out rugged Gene Fullmer with one punch—dominated the infighting and forced the issue throughout. He fought a full three minutes of all 15 rounds. It was typical Basilio. His fans have never seen him when he was not trying, have never known him to shirk training or quit under fire. Twice a champion, he bears himself with a champion's dignity, for he is a sportsman all the way—in the ring, behind his hunting dogs or with a rod on lake or stream.
WHITNEY TOWER nominates WILLIE HARTACK
In a sport where examples of genuine sportsmanship pop up about as often as the emergence of a great Thoroughbred, the 1957 season was unique. How admirable it was, for example, to see Ralph Lowe and Johnny Nerud (Gallant Man's owner and trainer) withhold their wrath when Willie Shoemaker misjudged the Kentucky Derby finish on their brave colt. Just as praiseworthy were the consent of this trio and the willingness of Mrs. H. C. Phipps, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Travis Kerr and Willie Molter to engage in the crucial race of the year. However, for sheer performance, the year's palm is awarded to Willie Hartack. Riding every race as though it were the Derby, the young champ brought in a record 44 stakes winners and became the first jockey in history to ride winners of over $3 million.
track and field
ROY TERRELL nominates BOB GUTOWSKI
One fine spring day early this year a slender young man with a look of vast determination fled down a runway at Austin, Texas, swung into the air and all but disappeared from sight. When he came down, Robert Allen Gutowski found himself clutching a new world pole vault record of 15 feet 9¾ inches. Slight in build (6 feet, 150 pounds), this 22-year-old Occidental College chemistry student made up for his lack of sheer power with the speed of a sprinter, remarkable leg spring, wiry toughness and an icy dedication to his task. Twice he bettered Cornelius Warmerdam's fabled 15-year-old record. To me, Bob. Gutowski is track's No. 1 man of 1957, the winner over Russia's mighty distance runner, Vladimir Kuts, and Derek Ibbotson, the happy Yorkshireman who broke John Landy's record for the mile.
HERB WIND nominates DICK MAYER
Far and away the outstanding golfer of 1957 was Dick Mayer. In June, after a playoff with Cary Middlecoff, Mayer won the U.S. Open, the world's most important tournament, and two months later he overhauled Sam Snead and carried off the Tarn O'Shanter, the world's richest tournament. Mayer's sudden surge to the top after a decade in the comparative doldrums was extremely heart-warming, for Dick is a hopelessly well-mannered and charming fellow, gifted with a first-class intelligence. Other extremely fine performances were turned in by Doug Ford (a giant on the circuit), Billy Joe Patton (who ignited the American drive to victory in the Walker Cup match), Mrs. Jackie Pung (who played such a great Women's Open), Pete Nakamura (the hero of the Canada Cup match) and Bobby Locke (who won his fourth British Open).
WILLIAM F. TALBERT nominates ALTHEA GIBSON
Let the men take a back seat this year when it comes to picking the outstanding tennis player. Any other year it could have been Pancho Gonzales, who still lacks a worthy contender for his professional crown. Or Dick Savitt, had he stayed in tournament play. But 1957 belongs to Althea, the girl who made it in six years from a tennis outcast to the tennis queen. Her victories at Wimbledon and Forest Hills following her worldwide string of successes were monuments to a courageous fighting heart, which overcame racial barriers and innumerable other obstacles and frustrations. This year Althea is dominant, virtually unchallenged by Louise Brough, Shirley Bloomer and Christine Truman. It is a long road from Harlem's streets to a curtsey before Queen Elizabeth, but this year Althea Gibson made it—graciously, impressively and undeniably.
COLES PHINIZY nominates SAM HERFORD
For years it was a popular, false notion that the U.S. is a swimming nation. The fact is that our swimming supremacy was sustained by the zeal of a few dedicated coaches like Matt Mann, Bob Kiphuth and Mike Peppe. Honor for the U.S. coaches is overdue but, specifically for 1957, the honor should go to a cheerfully blunt Australian coach, Sam Herford. Herford long ago insisted that if his country of real swimmers ever buckled down to serious training they would take over. At the Olympics, Herford's pupils, Murray Rose and John Devitt won five medals and then, as the rest of the world went into a post-Olympic relapse, Herford's protégés kept on breaking records. For years Coach Herford followed the training techniques of Japan and the U.S. Now the best of the U.S. and the Japanese are chasing Herford's men.
ALICE HIGGINS nominates HUGH WILEY
Many candidates come to mind as I survey the past equestrian year, for the horse show world covers literally the whole world. But to me, the most exciting time has been the recent series of international jumping in Harrisburg, New York and Toronto, and in that series one man has stood out above the many fine performers: Hugh Wiley of the United States Equestrian Team. As an amateur, Hugh rode against the country's top pros throughout the season in the open jumping classes and usually had either Nautical or Master William, and sometimes both, in the championship brackets. There were some fine amateurs in the other divisions too—Mrs. Frances Dodge Van Lennep, for example, a first-rate whip and rider, and Mrs. Louise Hart, who always gets her gaited mare, Something Wonderful, right at the top. But Hugh Wiley was the best.
KENNETH RUDEEN nominates JUAN MANUEL FANGIO
Juan Manuel Fangio is my choice—the inevitable one—because he is the finest racing driver in the world and beyond that a man of courage, modesty and dignity. The quiet Argentine's public reveres him; his colleagues call him The Master. He has now won his fifth world driver championship, won it at the age of 46 with even more technical brilliance than he had displayed before. None other, then, could fairly be called motor sports' man of the year. Those of us who have followed racing closely have admired Jim Bryan's drive to another national title, Masten Gregory's fine Grand Prix season, Phil Hill's victory in Venezuela, Walt Hansgen's thrilling SCCA year, Sam Hanks's Indianapolis "500," Carroll Shelby's heroics at Riverside and Stirling Moss's dead-game pursuit of The Master. But give me Fangio against them all.
EZRA BOWEN nominates HENRY SEARS
My nominee, Henry Sears, past Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, qualifies because he was responsible for the revival of the America's Cup competition, the most distinguished of all international sporting events. Sears's achievement puts him ahead of such worthy candidates as Richard Nye, winner of the trans-Atlantic race and England's Fastnet race; Lowell North, World Star Class champion, and Willard Rhodes, owner of Miss Thriftway, two-time winner of the speedboat Gold Cup. At his own expense, Sears traveled to England to encourage a British challenge. Then he got the deed of gift for the cup changed to make the race financially possible by permitting the smaller 12-meter class to compete. Sears laid cash on the line to start construction of a suitable defender and assure that the series will be a success.
FOR MEMORABLE ACHIEVEMENTS AND MEMORABLE MOMENTS
From the unusual to the sublime, the sporting achievements of 1957 covered fields of endeavor and a roster of names which will live long in memory. In an extraordinary sporting venture that grew out of a casual bet, William Negley won brief headlines but a lasting place in the record books of the outdoors when he stalked and shot a wild elephant in Africa with a bow and arrow. Bonnie Prudden, the indomitable little fighter for a physically fit America, earned a nation's gratitude by her tireless advancement of this vital cause; she also won a nationwide following with her fitness exercises in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. In a different field but in much the same way Charles Goren breathed new life and zest into a beloved old game—bridge. In the razzle-dazzle game of ice hockey, Maurice Richard accomplished the seemingly impossible—he dominated for yet another year a game in which he has been predominant for a decade and a half. Almost casually, The Rocket set one of the year's most extraordinary records he shot his 500th goal. For the Marquis de Portago, 1957's ultimate moment was the moment of his death; in a truly tragic accident that took the lives of eight others besides his own, this colorful adventurer crashed in his Ferrari in what proved to be the last Mille Miglia to be run under the old, free-wheeling rules that governed city-to-city racing for so long. At the other extreme of life, Harold Connolly, the Olympics' topflight hammer thrower, dramatized one of the year's most heart-warming love stories when he overcame all the obstacles that Iron Curtain bureaucracy could raise and married his Czech sweetheart, the discus thrower Olga Fikotova. But the greatest headlines of all concerned a dog—and a mongrel at that. For Laika and her involuntary flight to death in space the world reserved a special admiration that transcended politics: in the great tradition of man's most loyal friend, she died that others might live—out yonder.