As the world's turning brought the new year, vital statistics almost crowded the traditional avalanche of other year-end statistics off the sports pages. Official earned run averages, yards gained rushing and won-lost records seemed pale, for instance, when compared with a marriage, the birth of twins and an engagement that, well, wasn't quite.
A Queen's daughter is Dayle Coumbe of San Marino, Calif.—at 11 old enough to follow her mother's precedent and fill a role in Pasadena's annual Rose Bowl pageant on New Year's Day. Dayle's mission: to ride on the Quaker Oats float, dressed as a little ballerina dreaming of the day she will perform in Swan Lake. Admiring her daughter's costume is Mrs. Cheryl Walker Coumbe, Rose Queen of the 1938 bowl game (California 13, Alabama 0). Mrs. Coumbe's brief reign brought her a measure of fame. The day after the game she was signed by Paramount and a six-year film career followed, including a starring role in the wartime hit, Stage Door Canteen. She is married to Dr. Jay E. Coumbe, head of the radiology department at Covina Hospital, is an enthusiastic gardener—she landscaped her own yard—and shoots golf in the 90s.
An engaging yarn was the news story that Paul Hornung, Green Bay Packer back, had sent an engagement ring inside a football as a Christmas present to Pat Mowry (above), a Los Angeles TV actress and former Miss New Hampshire. Hornung said it wasn't so. "I don't think it was very funny," he said, "although I laughed when I heard about it." Wailed Pat: "This whole thing has made me so sick, I just feel like taking some pills and going to bed." She blamed the report on "this girl who came in from Las Vegas...really a nowhere character.... I've been out with Elvis Presley and all, but it hurts because I really am in love with Paul. I mean, I haven't dated any other fellow."
January 6, 1958
To the church on time is Don Larsen, Yankee right-hander and onetime Playboy of the Baseball World, who, or so they once said, feared nothing but too much sleep. Larsen, 28, celebrated for pitching the only perfect game in World Series history, was married at Benson, Minn. to Corrine Audrey Bruess, 26, a former airline stewardess.
A bumper crop of babies, the best of all possible Christmas presents, arrived in the households of the Bobby Morrows (left), Mickey Mantles (above) and Ray Crones (right). At Joplin, Mo. Merlyn Mantle gave birth to a husky 7-pound 15-ounce boy—her third—who was named Billy after Mickey's buddy and former Yankee teammate, Billy Martin. Martin, whose real name, incidentally, is Alfred Manuel, was on a deer hunting trip with Mantle in Texas when the baby arrived. It was twins at Abilene, Texas for Jo Ann Morrow, wife of the 1956 Olympic triple gold medal winner: Viki Jo (left), 5 pounds 4½ ounces, and Ron Floyd, 5 pounds 11 ounces. "That boy does everything first class," said Bobby's track coach, Oliver Jackson. Joan Crone, whose husband pitches for the San Francisco Giants, had a daughter, Mary Ellen (7 pounds 6 ounces), at Windsor, Conn. Peering curiously from the arms of Papa is 15-month-old Carol Anne.
MEN AND THEIR DECISIONS
Bert Bell, who said "No" to the governor
The boss of the National Football League is a short, fat man with a will of iron. If and when he has made a decision it is useless to attempt to change his mind, either by threat or persuasion. Even if, like G. Mennen (Soapy) Williams, you happen to be the governor of Michigan.
Governor Williams learned this last week after Bert Bell announced that there would be no Detroit area TV of the Detroit Lions-Cleveland Browns championship game (see page 8), even though the Detroit stadium was sold out. Joined by other Michigan politicos bright enough to see that a fan is nothing more or less than a voter, Soapy wired Bell urging him to reconsider "in the interest of the sport."
Detroit newspapers, which, like Soapy and his fellow officeholders had not complained all year about the weekly blackout of the beloved reader-voter-fan, took up the cry. Papers sold like 50-yard-line tickets and the issue quickly became the Case of the People vs. Bert Bell. "Hundreds of thousands of Detroit fans are being snubbed," cried the Detroit Times in a front-page editorial. Bill Ford, a vice-president of the Ford Motor Company and a director of the Lions, was appealed to in behalf of the entire population of Detroit (without tickets, that is), whether auto workers or not. The people's case against Bert Bell came ridiculously close to declaring Detroit football a public utility.
By late Friday, Williams had received no answer from Bell, who by this time had arrived in Detroit and nestled comfortably in the presidential suite at the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel. But Williams knew what the silence meant. Said his legal adviser, Alfred B. Fitt: "I'm afraid he's within his legal rights."
Bell had the last word: "I don't believe there is any honesty in selling a person a ticket and then, after you've taken his dollars, decide to put the game on television where he could have seen it for nothing. I've been condemned for a lot of things, but this is the first time I've been condemned for being honest. As long as I have anything to do with this league, home games won't be televised. Period."
Scott Crossfield, who said, "It's my calling
Ever since it became apparent that the U.S. will, sooner or later, dispatch some of its citizens on voyages of discovery in space, the mails to Washington have been bearing a steady stream of applications. A few offer to trade great risk for wealth (one man wants $2 million plus a carefree year to spend it), but most applicants are motivated by simple patriotism. Among these sober volunteers are teen-agers, a young woman schoolteacher from New England, ex-soldiers and a Greek immigrant who wants to "repay America for great opportunity." But the first U.S. spaceman—the first spaceman, probably, of any nationality, has already been chosen. He is a slim, black-haired civilian test pilot named Scott Crossfield and his selection was based on one unemotional factor—professionalism.
Crossfield was deemed the man best suited to fly North American's experimental rocket plane X 15. His acceptance was equally unemotional. But in the next few months he may nevertheless become one of earth's greatest adventurers—and sportsmen. When he is dropped from a mother plane the tiny rocket ship will shoot straight up at fantastic speed and carry him to true space, perhaps a hundred miles high. Eventually, for a time, he will experience weightlessness. Then he must attempt—after falling back to atmosphere capable of supporting his wings again—to glide to a landing.
Crossfield is a quiet intellectual and a family man—he has five children. Why is he willing to assume such enormous risk? "It is my calling," he told the New York Herald Tribune's Stewart Alsop.
"If you want to do big things," he ended diffidently, "you must accept an element of risk."
Ben Kerner, who said, "I'll buy"
In mid-November, Ben Kerner, owner of the St. Louis Hawks professional basketball team, noted the enthusiasm of his players for a new, flashy sports coat worn by Teammate Bob Pettit. The Hawks then had a so-so 4-5 record and Kerner wanted to stir them up.
"You fellows win five straight," he said, "and I'll buy all 12 of you new sports coats."
So they won five straight and Kerner paid for the coats.
"Let's keep this going," said Kerner. "You win tomorrow night in Detroit, and I'll buy sports shirts to boot." They did.
On November 28 the Hawks won again, at home. Kerner set new ground rules. "After a streak of five, only road games count. Beat Minneapolis on the 30th and I'll buy slacks."
The Hawks lost their slacks in Minneapolis: 118-113. They won their next game, but then lost three in a row.
"The slacks are out," said Kerner. "I'm superstitious; they broke our last streak. You win five in a row and I'll buy shoes."
On December 15 the Hawks beat Minneapolis for their fifth straight and won their shoes.
"Okay, now the slacks," said Kerner. "Beat Detroit on the 17th."
The score: St. Louis 106, Detroit 99. The Hawks got their slacks. They were leading the league by 8½ games and Kerner had now spent more than $100 per man on clothes. But how could he quit?
"Okay, sweaters," he said. "You beat Syracuse on the 21st and I'll spring for sweaters all around."
The Hawks set a new league record of 146 points in beating Syracuse—and in winning sweaters, of course.
Kerner got a breather with the next game. The Hawks beat Minneapolis at home. By this time the players' wives were feeling slighted. So Kerner promised hats and handbags if the streak remained unbroken.
Well, last Thursday night Detroit came to St. Louis and broke the string.
"And a good thing, too," says Kerner. "After satisfying their wives, those guys were talking about cars next!"
Casey Stengel, who was envious
Feet on desk and mouth wide open, Casey Stengel samples an executive posture in the Glendale (Calif.) National Bank, which opened last week with Casey a director. Spouted Stengel, on learning the bank had a bookkeeping machine which did the work of eight men: "I ought to have one of those in my outfield."
Frank Leahy, who regretted
Ankle in cast from a fracture suffered on Christmas Eve, Frank Leahy is attended by Nurse Joan Graver in Chicago, awaiting an examination to determine whether he could take a coaching job at Texas A&M (see page 17). The verdict: coaching would endanger his health. Brooded Leahy: "I am deeply distressed."
SURFEIT OF SQUASH
Townheaded Stephen Vehslage, an 18-year-old Princeton freshman from Haverford, Pa., is a young squash star of unusual promise. In an indoor racquets game known for its speed and intricacy he is displaying style exceptional for his age though understandable in light of his background. When he was 7 Stephen began to swing a squash racquet at the Main Line's Merion Cricket Club, a quietly intense organization that has produced more than its share of national squash champions. Stephen dreams of being national champion himself, and is showing that some day he may well be. But it is doubtful that he will ever face a day as trying as last Friday in Manhattan when he played four matches in two tournaments at two separate clubs. From early morning until late afternoon he shuttled between the Princeton Club and the University Club, 17 blocks apart, played the first two rounds of the National Junior Championship and the semifinal and final round of the 20th Annual Invitation Intercollegiate Championship. Later in the holiday week he became National Junior Champion for the third straight year, but on that frenetic Friday, as pictured here, young Stephen Vehslage enjoyed a surfeit of squash.
9 A.M.: Serious Stephen Vehslage (center) awaits match at the Princeton Club
10:15 A.M.: Winner Vehslage (right) relaxes on taxi trip to the University Club
11:30 A.M.: Stephen discusses second win from shower
11:45 A.M.: Happy Vehslage heads for well-earned lunch
4 P.M.: Rest before collegiate finals
SEMIFINALS: A confident Vehslage overpowers Oliver Stafford, Williams senior and second-ranked collegian, 3-0, to win way to college finals
FINALS: A weary Vehslage, error-prone now, loses to a masterful Richard Hoehn, a Dartmouth junior and third-ranked collegian, 3-1
7 P.M.: A famished Vehslage enjoys Junior tournament banquet at Princeton Club
11 P.M.: A sleepy Vehslage waits for day's last taxi ride on his road to bed