Cato at Tilbury Docks
This is an article from the March 31, 1958 issue
After eight days at sea, the Saxonia arrived at London's Tilbury Docks and deposited Manager Cus D'Amato and his heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson ashore for a campaign of exhibition bouts. It has not been revealed how Patterson whiled away the crossing, but he certainly cannot have been studying contemporary British boxing history, an unrewarding subject at best. Much to the dismay and astonishment of the writers, Patterson admitted that he just did not know the name of the British heavyweight champion.
"Have you ever heard of Joe Erskine?" asked one writer, aghast.
"I don't recall the name," said Patterson.
"Well," huffed the writer, "Erskine is the titleholder."
"Hm," said Patterson.
Manager D'Amato took over with an opening shot that many of his London listeners found just as bewildering as Patterson's ignorance.
"We must destroy the IBC," D'Amato said.
Now the British, with their training in the classics, should have no real trouble in understanding Cus. Marcus Cato, an older Roman, used to wrap into every speech, whatever the subject, the observation, "Moreover, Carthage must be destroyed."
Well, chaps, to Cus D'Amato the IBC is Carthage. And as a matter of fact, as you students of history will remember, Carthage WAS destroyed.
No Time for Jokes
The Welterweight championship eliminations were going along smoothly enough, with Vince Martinez standing by to meet the winner of the Virgil Akins-Isaac Logart bout for Carmen Basilio's vacated welterweight title. Akins won, on a sixth-round TKO at Madison Square Garden Friday night, and that seemed to be that.
It was an upset, decidedly. The odds early in the week had favored Logart 8 to 6, widened to 9 to 7 Friday morning, and widened further to 11 to 5 at ringside.
The heavy odds were justified in the first five rounds, which Logart took 4-1 with fast, elusive maneuvering. In the sixth, though, he unaccountably abandoned his successful style for a slower one, and Akins caught up with him. Logart went down from a long left hook to the jaw, followed by a right-hand push, and took a count of four from Referee Harry Kessler. Up again, he was battered along the ropes and, while he clung to them to keep from falling, Kessler started an eight count. He was being hit freely, but still on his feet, when Kessler stopped the fight, though there were only seven seconds to go in the round.
One might have expected a howl of protest from Logart's corner, but none was heard. No one going home from the fight thought it was anything too extraordinary nor, presumably, did the TV audience. Just another upset. Next day, though, it was learned that representatives of District Attorney Frank S. Hogan, the Hogan who broke the basketball scandals of 1951, had been quietly shoving subpoenas into reluctant hands at ringside, in the dressing rooms after the fight and during the traditional postfight lox-and-bagel break at Jack Dempsey's restaurant. The subpoenas called for recipients to appear before an April session of a grand jury which for some weeks has been looking into boxing's dirty business.
That was about all Hogan had to say for public consumption, except that "more than a dozen" subpoenas had been passed out. Among those who got them:
Billy Brown, New York matchmaker for the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president).
Fighters Logart and Akins.
Eddie Mafuz, manager of Logart.
Willie Ketchum, one of Frankie (Murder, Inc.) Carbo's familiars, who turned up as a second in Logart's corner.
Jimmy White, who was Julio Mederos' manager when Mederos knocked out Harold Johnson with the aid of a doped orange in Philadelphia three years ago.
Mushky McGee, a minor character around the IBC offices.
There were others. Bernie Glickman and Eddie Yawitz, co-managers of Akins, denied that they had been served.
A spokesman for Hogan, hinting that some tapped and taped pre-fight Garden telephone conversations may be heard by the grand jurors, said the subpoenas "may have had something to do with the betting on last night's fight but that would be secondary."
The subpoenas were a great surprise to Julius Helfand, the boxing commissioner who was appointed to clean up the sport in New York.
"If criminality is involved," Helfand said with commendable logic and composure, "it's a matter for the district attorney and the grand jury."
Only the other day Billy Brown and Mushky McGee were telling a sports columnist friend about how, from time to time, district attorneys had questioned them about mob influence in boxing and about the witty denials they had made to frustrate their questioners. This time, though, wit may not be appropriate. The subpoena holders will be under oath.
Tip to A&F
Abercrombie & Fitch, the venerable New York sporting goods firm, this month opened its newest campsite, a five-story building on San Francisco's Post Street with a copper-lined casting pool on the roof and a 50-foot target range in the basement.
While the finishing touches have not yet been completed—a beady-eyed rhino is undergoing plastic surgery on its left ear before being mounted over the gun mezzanine—A&F stood prepared, as always, to outfit a safari, aid in harpooning a whale (Greener harpoon gun, range 50 to 60 feet, $360) or supply a pair of 50¢ woven golf wristlets.
Although its baseball department is feeling a bit bullish about the coincidental advent of the New York Giants, another venerable New York firm—"We're primed for business," says Mr. Floor Manager—it is not quite as prepared as it should be. A&F does have a full line of Little League chest protectors and Hank Sauer and John Antonelli gloves—but no Willie Mays bats! In fact, Mr. F.M. was wondering just the other day whether there is, indeed, such an item.
Tut, tut, Mr. F.M., of course there is, and you'd better get them in stock before Willie starts knocking that old apple over San Francisco's left field fence. The bats come in three models: No. 302, No. 302J and No. 302S and are manufactured by Adirondack Bats, Inc., Dolgeville, N.Y. Willie himself uses the No. 302, two or three dozen of them a year, but No. 302 would be a little too long and heavy for the kids. No. 302J and No. 302S are your best bets, and you'd better hurry. Opening Day is April 15.
In the spring ballplayers are supposed to concentrate almost exclusively on such matters as lifting up their batting and fielding averages and raising their pitching efficiency. Last week in St. Petersburg, Fla. a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED baseball reporter ran into another kind of uplift for which there is no label in the standard box scores. Purely in the interest of baseball, the reporter invited Lindy and Von McDaniel, the two fine young Cardinal pitchers, to dinner. Lindy accepted on behalf of himself, his wife Augie and his brother. Then he recalled, "This is church night; you come along with us."
Presently they arrived at the Central Church of Christ a few minutes before the meeting was to begin. "Good evening, Brother Lindy. Good evening, Sister Augie. Evening, Brother Von," was the greeting that came from a small group gathered in the center aisle as they entered.
Promptly at 7:15 the congregation of 21 took seats, and the meeting began. After the first hymn a young man in a blue suit led the congregation in prayer, then announced it was time for Bible recitation. Lindy McDaniel handed his Bible to his would-be dinner host.
"It's customary for everyone to recite a passage from the Bible," Lindy whispered.
"That doesn't include me, does it?" the reporter mumbled.
"It's customary," said Lindy.
Quicker than Lindy could shake off a catcher's signal, the reporter was reading nervously from the first Psalm. Lindy then read from I Timothy in a clear, calm voice: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."
After Lindy came the lesson from Romans, and when the meeting was over and everybody filed out, the reporter and the McDaniels finally had their baseball talk. The reporter did not mind at all this delay in getting down to the business of the evening, but he was surprised next morning when he found that he could not remember enough of the baseball talk to make a story.
Mr. C. is Topic A
In one little talk," said Gino Cimoli, "Campy did more than anybody to make me a big leaguer. It was on that trip to Japan in 1956. One day in Tokyo I scored from second on a fly to deep center. Campanula was sitting against the wall next to the dugout, and as I went by he said, 'Hey, Daig, I want to see you at the hotel tonight if you got time.'
"I was a busher and Campy was a star, so I had time. He talked to me for over an hour, and I don't suppose I ever spent time any better in my life. He said, 'Look, Gino'—he called me Gino most of the time, but sometimes he called me Daig and sometimes Crazy—he said, 'I watched you score from second today and you can run. Back in the States you been giving the impression that you couldn't do nothin', that you were lazy and didn't want to play.
" 'Some guys are lucky that they don't get to play much, because if they played, the club would find out how lousy they really are. You aren't like that. You can throw and hit and run, but that's not enough.
" 'I'm a colored player. I didn't have as tough a time as Jackie did breaking in, but I had my knocks. I had to hustle.
" 'I don't know why your attitude is like it is, but if you don't start hustling you'll just be a good minor league player all your life. When spring training starts, you do the same way you're doing here in Japan. Stop popping off, stay out of trouble and play.'
"Next spring," said Cimoli, "I remembered what he said. And I made the club because of Campy."
"We were in my office," said Charlie Dressen, "the day after the 1954 playoffs with the Giants, cutting up our second-place money. The whole bunch was there, and not feeling too happy. The phone rang, and it was for Pee Wee. I guess some friend wanted to tell him how sorry he was at the way things had turned out. Anyway, Pee Wee kept saying, 'Well, I guess the good Lord just didn't want us to win it.' When he hung up Campy said to him, 'Don't say that, Pee Wee. Don't go blaming the Lord for what we should have done.'"
"In 1955, we both had great years," said Don Newcombe. "Campy was MVP again, and I won 20. The phone was ringing in our room all the time—people asking us to go out, to make appearances, everything. Campy would answer the phone and then tell me, like a butler, 'Mr. Winston Churchill wants to know if we can make it for dinner tonight.' Or he might say, 'Cairo, Egypt is calling Mr. Don Newcombe.'
"The next year, when I was winning 27 and he was going bad, he'd say, 'Roomie, how come you get all the phone calls and I get none?'
"Then the year after that we both went bad and the phone stopped ringing altogether. Campy would say, 'Man, this is awful. Nobody calls us. I left a 10 o'clock wake-up with the hotel operator this morning and even she didn't call. I guess that means we are really lousy.'
"My roomie was the greatest," said Newcombe. "Make that is the greatest. When I was down, he picked me up. When he was down, he picked himself up. When we both was down, he picked us both up."
Around the Dodger camp this spring, players are usually greeted with two questions: "How you been?" and, "How's Campy doing?" The Community Hospital at Glen Cove, N.Y. reports that Roy Campanella is doing very well. He has been a patient there since his neck was broken January 28 in an automobile accident which almost certainly put an end to his baseball career. He is still paralyzed from the shoulders down but can now move his wrists and straighten out his arms. In the near future, the hospital authorities say, Campanella will be allowed to receive visitors. Meanwhile, both at the hospital and at his home, people who want to know how Campy is doing keep the phones ringing day after day. They are not Dodger fans, of course, since there are no longer Dodgers in Brooklyn. They are former Dodger fans who are Campanella fans still.
Alert for Suburbia
The talk these days runs to travel in outer space, but a Detroit automotive engineer thinks there are still a few improvements to be made in surface travel right here on this old-fashioned earth. The engineer, D. C. Woods, in a paper delivered before a meeting of colleagues, said that there are unlimited possibilities in the design of that bane and boon of the suburban housewife, the station wagon.
The station wagon of the future, Mr. Woods confides, will be a kind of living room on wheels with cooking facilities, television, built-in bunks, plumbing, bridge tables, even revolving lounge chairs and, presumably, wall-to-wall carpeting. Of course, Mr. Woods intends this rolling home to be used for long family trips, but the prospect is that the suburban housewife, who now doubles as taxicab driver in delivering her husband to the station, her children to school and her neighbors to the Red Cross, one day may find herself not only keeping house, but keeping the station wagon, too.
Or, just possibly, the wives would prefer that Engineer Woods keep it—all of it.
Sage of Sagamore
Through the years, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, the restless 45-year-old sportsman, has built a glowing reputation as a genius in the naming of the Thoroughbreds that rolled off his Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Md.
By mixing the names of the sire and dam, stirring them under his hat for hours, he would pour them forth dripping with delight and meaning. For instance, he named his colt by Shut Out (out of Pansy) Social Outcast. To another colt (by Polynesian from Geisha) he gave a name that will be remembered as long as horses run—Native Dancer.
This spring the cerise-and-white diamonds of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt will be back on the nation's race tracks in full force. Having devoted two years to the World Veterans Fund, Alfred has decided that the pressures of business are light enough to allow him to continue in racing, his true love. His "new" stable is composed of about 30 horses, 18 of them 2-year-olds, five of them sired by Native Dancer. Alfred has shown in his names that none of the old touch is lost. Here are some of the new, approved names:
Missionary Stew (Native Dancer out of Buffet Supper), Dance All Night (Native Dancer out of Plucky Maid), Sit This Out (Native Dancer out of Sitting Duck), Hit and Run (Grand Slam out of Wander), Booby Prize (Tom Fool out of Good Example), Ever So Humble (Stone Age out of Grass Shack), New Regime (Occupy out of Clean Sweep), Polygamist (Polynesian out of Femme Fatale), Whirling Dervish (Mahmoud out of Puff of Smoke), Sadie Hawkins (Loser Weeper out of Red Letter Day) and Jailbird (Occupy out of Slave Bracelet).
Little Willie Comes of Age (Atomic, That Is)
Willie, with complete aplomb,
Tried to dribble an atom bomb.
Blinking at the mushroomed heir,
Pa said, "E is mc square."
They Said It
Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State football coach, explaining his interest in music while introducing the Notre Dame glee club to an East Lansing audience: "I used to play the violin when I was younger, but one day I broke all the strings and I just didn't have the guts to play it after that."
Jim McCaffery, coach of Xavier University, surprise winner of the NIT basketball tournament, who was hanged in effigy this season after losing a few: "Not all the juvenile delinquents are in the poolrooms. Some are in the classrooms."
Buzzie Bavasi, general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on the subject of Duke Snider's bum left knee and the 250-foot distance to the left field fence in L.A.: "We're not worried about Duke. If he can't play center, he'll play left. He won't hardly have to run there. All he'll have to do is turn around and watch the ball go over."
Jawaharlal Nehru, India's yoga-practicing Prime Minister: "Standing on my head increases my good humor."