Make no mistake, this magazine is not exactly against the genteel sporting manners peculiar to England's cricket pitches, where the stickiest wicket often engenders no rougher response than a mumbled "Bad show, old boy." Nevertheless, it has been well said that a difference of opinion is what makes horse racing, and it cannot be gainsaid that a point of view, strongly held and forcefully enunciated, lends a wonderful zest to the flavor of sportsmanship, like a pinch of red pepper in nourishing porridge.
Here and there in the bland blue skies that smiled on the world of sport last week, there was more than one sign of potential squalls ahead. Small, wispy clouds they were, no larger perhaps than a man's clenched fist, but we hail each of them as bright testimony to the fact that there are still sportsmen who care. There is, for instance, ex-Dodger Coach Billy Herman who, after being summarily fired by the Bums, is now starting off on a new season with Milwaukee's Braves. "I've got a lot of good friends on the Dodgers," said Billy, with the air of a man who must do his duty as he sees it, "but I've got to call a spade a spade." And with that Coach Herman went on to call his old friends not only spades but a number of other picturesque names as well, including "prima donnas, pouters and complacent athletes who have to be forced to work." The Dodgers as a whole, said Billy, "is a dead ball club that badly needs a transfusion of young blood." A strong opinion to be sure but one that Dodger General Manager Buzzy Bavasi dismissed with an elegantly tossed spitball: "That's why we changed coaches."
Then there was Yankee Manager Casey Stengel, never a shy man with an opinion, who suddenly found himself the object of a bitter attack by, of all people, a Red Sox outfielder who objected to remarks Manager Stengel had made about his own boy Mickey Mantle, whose fielding, it seems, had not been up to par. That Stengel, said Boston Center Fielder Jimmy Piersall in defense of his kind, is nothing but a "bush leaguer."
March 17, 1958
But baseball had no monopoly on the rhubarbs. North Carolina's Basketball Coach Frank McGuire has some pretty positive views himself, mostly about the treatment of visiting cagers by overzealous home-team rooters. Last week after fuming through two halves of Duke University catcalls in a critical Atlantic Coast conference game, McGuire refused to let his boys leave the floor of the Duke gym even with police protection, insisted instead that they huddle together in center court until the floor was cleared. The gesture was carefully noted by Bill Murray, Duke's football coach who just happened to be one of the fans present. "It was the most revolting exhibition by a college coach that I have ever witnessed," said Murray. To which McGuire promptly snarled, "What business is it of his anyway?"
So there you have it—good insurance that a lively spirit of give and take will prevail on at least three major fronts. Even the genteel atmosphere of lawn tennis was rocked slightly when Top Pro Pancho Segura announced himself in favor of both cheers and boos from the grandstand. And it may be noted in summation that a vitriolic debate in the town council of Saskatoon, Sask. over whether or not to license female wrestling did little, perhaps, for the sport itself but succeeded in attracting a capacity crowd to the Council Chamber for the first time in its history.
Name, Age, Collar Size
Just as a builder specifies the grade of lumber he wants in a house, so Notre Dame has outlined the minimum requirements of raw material for its athletic teams. Reduced to handy check lists, the information was mailed off to alumni (mostly Notre Dame lettermen) as a sort of guide to high school stargazing. With it went application blanks (Weight? Height? Age? Collar size? Married? Single?) to be filled out by any young athlete who meets the standard and thinks he might like to go to Notre Dame.
"Mainly," says Football Coach Terry Brennan, "we are trying to get an earlier notice on kids who can help us. Often we never come in contact with an athlete until he is committed somewhere else or until our quotas are filled."
From the figures it is clear that Notre Dame's athletic standards are going to remain at least as high as its already high scholastic standards. All football players should be at least 6 feet tall except halfbacks, who may come in sizes down to 5 feet 10. Such small fry should weigh at least 170 pounds, however, and be able to run 100 yards in 10.2; quarterbacks (180 pounds) must do it in 10.5; and so on up to the lumbering tackles (215 pounds minimum), who must be able to cover the distance "in 12 seconds. "We would like to make it quite clear," says a note at the top of the page, "that these specifications should not be regarded as the absolute minimum. They have been established to give you some idea of what the coaches would like to have in the respective positions."
The track coach knows what he wants, too—any high school athlete who can run 100 yards in 09.9, or 440 yards in 49.0 or a mile in 4:24. And if there are any high jumpers around who can do 6 feet 3 or broad jumpers capable of 23 feet, he would be interested in them, too.
Notre Dame's alumni themselves had asked to have the minimum specifications set down, so that a former baseball player, for example, can tell at a glance whether a football player he has spotted is really worth bothering with. Hundreds of the guidance forms were sent out to alumni all over the country. Coaches, scouts and old grads in all conferences would be wise to get their lariats in motion earlier than ever this year and lock their barn doors every night.
Sport of Queens
Without a flutter or two on the right horse, the sport of kings would lose some of its spice—even for kings and queens. Turf-loving Britons have long recognized their queen as an avid follower of the bangtails, but only last week did they get positive assurance of what they had long suspected: Elizabeth and most of her family are enthusiastic punters (i.e., bettors) as well. The news emerged along with the fact that the shrewdest handicapper in the Royal Family—the Queen Mother—had just backed two winners in Melbourne, Australia, for a ¬£14 killing.
The Queen herself, said a source close to the palace, "puts a couple of pounds on every race that she watches." The bets are invariably placed with the respectable old book-making firm of Ladbrooke and Co., which is much too high-toned to post odds at the track as lesser bookies do in England. Bookmakers to royalty for the last 50 years or more, they deal only with well-known clients with established accounts. All bets are made on the cuff.
When Elizabeth II feels like taking a flyer, she sends an aide to the area where bookies operate. With the Queen's instructions at hand, he discreetly asks about odds, places the bet if the odds are right and informs Her Majesty. At week's end, Ladbrooke's sends either a bill or check (pardon, cheque) to the equerry depending on the results, and he in turn settles with the Queen.
How is she doing? Excuse me, sir, but Ladbrooke and Co. never discuss their clients' accounts with strangers.
Marshmallows for the Coach
It may not be an actual state law, but in football-happy Texas it's certainly standard practice: when a gridiron coach has a successful season you give him a new car, preferably a Cadillac. But whoever heard of giving anything to a basketball coach in Texas? Whoever heard of giving a new car to any kind of a coach in Texas who wins only half his games? The answer is nobody, but that didn't stop the students at Texas Tech, who can be just as rugged and individual as their pappies. "Polk Robison is as good a coach as anyone ever could play for," said Basketball Co-Captain Charley Lynch at a dormitory bull session last month. "He's a great guy," said Student-body President Dave Thompson, "we oughta do something for him." "Let's give him a car," said someone else, and that was it."
Tech's student body was mobilized for the fund drive. Thousands of cards reading "Beat Texas A&M" were printed up and sold at a dime apiece. Hats were passed at game half times for donations. Once, when a special train carrying 300 students to Dallas got stuck behind a wreck, the enterprising fund raisers dashed to a nearby store, cornered the market on buns, hot dogs and marshmallows and staged a giant picnic at trackside, selling toasted marshmallows at a premium for the sake of their coach.
Last week, after skinning through a 73-64 victory over Rice to tie for third place in the Southwest Conference, tall, lanky, kindly Polk Robison was haled before the student body to receive his award for 17 years of devoted service: a spanking new red and white DeSoto.
"This is the first time anyone has ever done anything like this for me," he said.
At 19, Mike White is pretty puny for a big league ballplayer, but he has the advantage of a fine build, rare speed and excellent bloodlines. Most fans will remember Mike's father, Joyner ("Jo-Jo") White, as a class outfielder with the Detroit Tigers in that team's great days some 20 years ago.
Jo-Jo is now a scout for the Cleveland Indians, and it was he who recommended his son as a likely rookie. Jo-Jo tried to keep it all on a pretty businesslike basis, but he had a tough time concealing his pride last week when his boy stepped up to the plate in his very first professional game. What made it tougher was that in this intrasquad contest Jo-Jo was the manager of one team and Mike was leadoff man for the other.
First up in the first inning, Mike displayed surprising power when he hit a fast ball deep to left center. It was an easy double. The next batter flied out to right field, not too deep, but Mike sprinted to third base after the catch. The third batter flied out to straightaway center, and Mike raced in to score, beating a perfect throw to the plate with his speed and a fine, dust-raising slide. It was the kind of debut that rookies dream of, even to the applause that followed him as he trotted briskly back to the bench.
"Look at Jo-Jo," one of the Cleveland sportswriters said, grinning, as the opposition manager tried to discipline his features.
A moment later Mike's team was on the field, and Mike was at shortstop. There was a man on first and one out, and the batter hit a ground ball to the second baseman. He fielded it and threw the ball to Mike at second for the force out. The runner was clearly out, but in the brief instant while Mike was lifting his arm to throw the ball on to first base for the double play, the runner's slide carried him into Mike's left leg. The ball flew to one side and, almost slowly, Mike fell down. And stayed down.
A small knot of players and coaches gathered around. Jo-Jo White was one of them. He thought his son had twisted a knee, and he ran his hands along the boy's leg to see if he could feel anything. He found an unbelievable right angle of what seemed like bone. "Oh my God," he muttered and turned away.
A short while after, the Indians' doctor gave the official diagnosis: "Complete unilateral dislocation of the knee." What did it mean? An old-time sportswriter provided the answer. "It's the rarest injury in sport," he said, "and probably the worst. Worse even than a broken leg. You can get over that."
So You Win a Horse
The sudden acquiring of $64,000 on a television quiz show or the winning of a year's supply of mouthwash is a stroke of fortune that, conceivably, can be taken in stride. But soon, for the fifth straight year, a contest winner will wake up with a prize that will change his (or her) life in a way that cannot be described in 25 words or less. The Kentucky Club tobacco people are giving away another Thoroughbred race horse, this one a 2-year-old son of Count Fleet, Triple Crown winner of 1948. The dam is Gay Rhythm. The person submitting the winning name for the prize colt will also get $1,000 cash and two tickets for the Kentucky Derby.
How will it feel to be the winner? Well, here are some case histories from the previous contests:
Mrs. Evelyn Foley of Danvers, Mass., widow of a policeman and a grandmother, came up with the first winning name—Fillequine. Her prize raced New England tracks for four years, winning a total of $7,480. But that was not all gravy. In fact, as Mrs. Foley now sees the picture, it was not gravy at all. For what she didn't spend on trainer fees, she laid on the line at the betting windows.
"I played for everybody in town," she recalls now. "I got dizzy running around to those windows. The time Fillequine won by 6½ lengths at Suffolk Downs, I had the least amount of money on it—$10 across the board." Finally, Mrs. Foley sold the horse (which cost the tobacco company $3,500) for $250. The lesson learned? She'll enter this year's contest and, out of her experience, she is confident that "this gray-haired grandmother will show them."
The name Delphidessa won a Thoroughbred for Walter Mills of Cincinnati, a 33-year-old linotype operator. "I had to use some of my paycheck each week for training expenses," he says, "but it sure made a difference when I won. I felt good. I met interesting people. I was especially happy on a swing around New York where Delphidessa won at Belmont and was second at Saratoga." His biggest kick came in selecting his own silks of white and red stripes, black bars and circles back and front. Mills finally disposed of Delphidessa (original cost $6,000) for $1,000. "But," he says, "I still keep the silks at home just in case I ever get the fever again."
Biggest star of the contest horses was Aurecolt, named by Dr. David M. Driver, chairman of the Division of Language and Literature at Henderson State Teachers College, Arkadelphia, Ark. Dr. Driver, who is 59, knew little or nothing about race horses, but he did know about contests, in which he has won scores of prizes. When he found himself a horse owner, he took a lot of kidding from his students and colleagues, but that didn't persuade him to sell the horse. His college professor's income did, however, and he pocketed $5,000 paid him by the horse's trainer, Jack Carter of Hot Springs, Ark. Since then, Aurecolt has won $33,665, and last fall at Churchill Downs he set a world's record of 1:29 for the seldomraced distance of 7½ furlongs.
"And there we sat in a special box at the Kentucky Derby," says Mrs. Dorn Blacklock, 41, the San Francisco housewife who won last year, "Whitneys to the right of us, Whitneys to the left of us. We had a marvelous time. We were photographed in the winner's circle, we met Bill Corum, we drank juleps. We never regretted winning Ali Hurry Bhai." This last statement is a brave one, for the horse that Mrs. Blacklock named and won has had nothing but ailments of one kind or another and at present the veterinarian is waiting for permission from the insurance company to operate. The Blacklocks' colt ran at Churchill Downs, placed third and won $280. He has never won another cent although he has raced at Keeneland and in California. To pay the mounting bills, Mrs. Blacklock has gone back to work, but even so she and her husband wouldn't trade the experiences of the past year for anything—except possibly another (and a little sounder) race horse.
This year's prize colt cost the tobacco people $17,500 at Saratoga last summer. Now galloping daily at Keeneland, he has been nominated for the Belmont Futurity, the Pimlico Futurity and the 1960 Santa Anita Maturity. Jockey Ted Atkinson, who helped select him, says, "This individual has...top potential. Nothing is beyond his reach."
Name him, enclose a tobacco wrapper from one of nine stipulated brands—and he's yours. And don't worry about the expense. As Dorn Blacklock of San Francisco found out, your wife can always go back to work.
The cries of poor Shorty
Are causing concern.
When he ran the 440
He was boxed on the turn.
They Said It
Rip Engle, Penn State, on football's new point-after-touchdown rule: "They ought to make football into a television show like Double or Nothing. Say you get 12 points if you declare you're going for a touchdown by a rush from the 35-yard line, but only six points for a pass. To me it's that absurd."
HARRY TRUMAN: "It's a lot tougher to be a football coach than a president. You've got four years as a president, and they guard you. A coach doesn't have anyone to protect him when things go wrong."
A Caddie at Seminole, Fla. explained to Phillips Turnbull, a golfing vacationist, a pressing need for extra cash: "Boss, a fellow ought to shoot a little crap every day because he might be walking around lucky and not know it."
A Russian Ping-Pong player parrying a question about the chances of his team winning the European table tennis championships in Budapest: "Even for table tennis the ball is equally round for everybody."
A press photographer arriving at the Baltimore Orioles camp in Scottsdale, Ariz. one overcast, chilly day last week: "Is there any way we can hoke this up so it looks like Arizona?"
Willie Miranda, when told a rookie might beat him out of his regular infield job: "I know five reasons why he isn't going to—my wife and four children."