Remember our telling you about Nancy Boeseke, the pretty blonde airline stewardess who stopped in to ask our advice because she had just been assigned to help fly the Yankees to Milwaukee and didn't know anything about baseball? Well, now she knows all about baseball, and she popped in again last week to tell us about it. We had to interrupt Nancy in the midst of a pretty technical discussion of Casey Stengel's field strategy to ask about her trip home with the Yanks.
"Well," she said, "it was quite a flight. Oh, my, I wish you'd had a reporter on board." As Nancy described the victorious return of the new world champions from the scene of their triumph we began to see what she meant.
The Yanks wasted no time getting back to the plane after the seventh game was over. Nancy, who had to leave County Stadium in the midst of the critical eighth inning, was scarcely settled in her galley when the boys came streaming across the tarmac. "At first they all just seemed sort of tired and glad to relax." The big DC-7 was barely airborne, however, when a subtle change began to be felt.
October 19, 1958
Well up in the nose of the plane as it headed for New York was a small group of conservatives making the usual preparations for a nice, lazy, feet-up, head-back-on-the-reclining-seat type flight. Somewhere amidships, the middle-of-the-roaders clustered uncertainly, riffling an occasional pack of cards and awaiting developments.
Toward the rear, in the neighborhood of Nancy's galley, were the ebullients, led by Whitey Ford and Don Larsen. It was in this charged area that the first explosions were heard as Ford, Larsen and Nancy began popping the corks of the champagne thoughtfully stashed aboard by United Airlines.
Before a dozen bottles had been broached, the celebratory group was in full charge. Yogi Berra and Andy Carey promptly appointed themselves assistant stewardesses to make sure that the remaining champagne was deployed to the best possible advantage. "It was kind of confusing in the galley at times," Nancy admitted. Meanwhile, scholarly, spectacled Ryne Duren moved up to take over the public-address system.
In the midst of the rising confusion that followed, grizzled Elder Statesman Casey Stengel was doing his level best to maintain a gruff exterior as he sat in deep confab with the Yankee front office boss, George Weiss. Nearby, good-natured Mrs. Stengel was beaming happily at her romping foster children.
Historians will probably never determine at precisely what moment Whitey Ford decided to set a match to the champagne cork he held in his hand and to decorate with the resultant charcoal the face of his nearest neighbor. Within seconds of this decision, however, black beards, goatees, sideburns, mustaches and Mephistophelean eyebrows were sprouting on all sides. Even old Casey's dignity was soon buried beneath a coat of warpaint that included a huge dollar sign on each of the ruddy Stengel cheeks.
"They were just a wonderful, wonderful crowd," said Nancy Boeseke as she recalled these heady events. We agreed in theory but, being journalists by trade, we had to probe further. Wasn't there anything wrong with the Yankees? Well, yes, there was, Nancy finally admitted, only slightly crestfallen.
"What was it?" we asked.
"Well," said Nancy, "they're mostly all married."
Barbecue Battle (cont.)
The first round in the battle of the backyards reported here last week, which joined Anthony Vasco, the barbecuer of Marlow Heights, Md., and his smoke-stifled neighbor, Mrs. Walter Johnson, was won by Mr. Vasco. Police Court Judge Grover Lee Small dismissed the warrant against Vasco on a technicality.
The second round: Mrs. Johnson announced that she would ask the Health Department to bring charges against Mr. Vasco, the Health Department announced that it had no regulations covering barbecue grills, Mr. Vasco announced that he would stage a smokeless—well, practically smokeless—cookout for the Health Department.
Service Academies & Football
The Widest point spread in sport, sometimes, is between the fullback and the Phi Beta Kappa. Passing marks for athletes is an old coaching problem, and nobody faces a sterner version of it than the coaches at Annapolis and West Point. Army and Navy athletes may not take credit courses in fly casting or social dancing. They may not even major in physical education. They study what everyone else does, and that includes a skull-cracking load of mathematics, science and English. The service academies are hard to get into and hard to remain in once you get there, and the athletic staffs of these institutions have had to devise ways to meet their special problem.
For Army, the solution is a six-week cram course. High school graduates of athletic promise are collected in a Cornwall, N.Y. prep school and stuffed with math and other oddities. Then, glassy-eyed with knowledge, they are led off to their college entrance board exams. Partly as a result of this system, Army met and defeated Notre Dame last Saturday 14-2.
Annapolis does it differently. The Navy allots $25,000 of its athletic receipts annually to help 30-odd high school athletes through a whole year of prep school. "We have found," says Captain Slade Cutter, Navy's Director of Athletics, "that short-term cramming for the entrance exams doesn't help. The boys will just flunk out later." But a year of prep school helps quite a lot. In the opening lineup for last Saturday's game (Navy 20, Michigan 14), six players were products of the Navy's prep-school scholarship program, and the 44-man football squad includes 25 of them altogether. On this arrangement Navy has built its recent football power.
But a power failure seems to lie ahead. The Eastern College Athletic Conference, to which both Army and Navy belong, amended its Statement of Principles and Policies recently. The effect of the amendment is to ban Navy's year-long prep school program and to validate Army's six-week cram session. Navy will not feel the effect until 1960, for the ECAC will allow the 31 boys now prepping under Navy sponsorship to enter the Academy next year—if they can pass the entrance exams.
Columbian Preparatory School in Washington, D.C. is one of the two schools that take care of the Navy protégés in no-nonsense fashion: two math courses; two English courses; a choice of trigonometry, chemistry or physics. "It's quite a bit harder than anything I've done before," says Dick Kleinfeldt of Cincinnati, who plays left halfback for Columbian.
The Navy's prep-school scholarship program actually provides education for athletes, which a good many athletic scholarships virtuously claim to do but don't do very well. It fills in the gaps left by high-school teaching. Why, then, has the ECAC outlawed it? Well, the usual arguments against the Annapolis system run like this: 1) it is not the business of an educational institution to help applicants qualify for admission to it; 2) the "special problems" created by the high scholastic requirements of the service academies are becoming everybody's problems as schools all over the country raise their standards; and, most important to opposing coaches, 3) post-high-school prepping gives boys an extra year of seasoning in both study and sport.
A resolution much like the ECAC's is now waiting for a vote in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, whose rulings affect not only the Army and Navy but the Air Force Academy as well. NCAA officials will meet next week in Chicago with representatives of the three service schools to discuss what concessions, if any, they may hope for if the NCAA amendment is passed at next January's convention. The amendment itself permits concessions if a two-thirds majority of the NCAA Council approves.
We have been keeping the tone of this exposition on the quiet side, because it is a complicated issue and because a lot of facts have to be set down on paper before we can offer our conclusions. But now we would like to commend the following doctrine to the NCAA in its coming deliberations.
In the United States of America—maybe not in England, France or some other countries, but in the United States of America—football is a rallying point for young men. Maybe someday, in this world of increasing specialization, the Army, Navy and Air Force can find their leaders of the future strictly the way the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (which plays no football) finds them, i.e., through their grades on college boards. When and if that time comes, we guess maybe West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs might want to give up football, too. But, meanwhile, good service academy football is part of the American competitive tradition, and we would like to see the academies continue to play national schedules with fair chance of success, and continue thereby in some direct degree to enlist their share of the country's able and vigorous young men, whether football players or not.
If the service academies find that they need to give prep-school help to young men who can now play good football and will later make good officers, let the NCAA continue to give them the chance.
Hugh Goodson, the rather clubby but game chairman of the yachting group which built the unfortunate Sceptre, said the other day that the British would be back—possibly in 1961. The alarming thing, Good-son said, was that the best yachting brains in Britain had been combed to produce an America's Cup winner, but to no avail.
The other day the same thought occurred to a pair of Australian brothers, Frank and John Livingston. The Livingston brothers were packing up their gear in their room at New York's Gotham Hotel, getting ready to hop home down under after the latest of two circumnavigations of the globe in search of ideas which might lead them to the possession of that most elusive of sailing trophies.
The Livingstons, a middle-aged team of bachelors who own extensive pastoral and timber lands and run Texas-like numbers of cattle on their family stations, exude an air of traveling Highland chieftains, an effect which is heightened by brother John's inclination toward striding majestically up and down the deck of the family yacht while playing a wild Scots skirl on the bagpipes. Their visit to New York followed their attendance at the cup races at Newport, and was serious business.
"We conducted what you might term a post-mortem," said Frank. "We spent one day with Olin Stephens, one day with Colin Ratsey and one day over at the Stevens Institute test tank. It's all been most helpful, and most discouraging. We feel that the bloke who takes on the Americans had better do it damn slowly and damn carefully! They're a strong bunch, don't you know? The Japs tried it and look what happened to them—copped out!"
"We've spent one whole year on nothing but this cup business," said brother John. "Been around the world twice, talked to every designer in the business, looked at it from every angle, and where are we? Farther back than when we started!"
"We saw one chap at Belfast," said brother Frank. "He had an incredible design, nearly 100% perfect. Supposed to sail directly into the wind. It did, too. Just one thing wrong. Only worked when there was no breeze."
The brothers Livingston have been around boats for a good part of their lives. They've taken their yachts, all named Kurrewa (aborigine for "fast-running fish") in such major deep-water races as the trans-Tasman Sea, the Sydney-Hobart and, with their sister Emily aboard as cook, the Los Angeles to Honolulu.
"We're in dead earnest about a challenge, you know," said brother John. "But there's much to be clarified. We had our lawyer ask the New York Yacht Club people what the word 'constructed' meant in the deed of gift of the cup. The club passed a resolution saying it meant 'designed and built' in the challenging country. Still doesn't tell us whether we might get an American designer to come to Australia. And I understand the Cubans are in the same, ah, boat."
"We've had a hell of a fright from what we saw at Newport, I don't mind saying," said brother Frank. "We're tackling you 60% on engineering, you know, and you've got to be pretty good to keep up with Stephens and Rhodes and Hunt.
"We're coming back next August to watch your 12 meters race in the New York Yacht Club cruise. We're just not going to be rushed. The only hope for a successful challenger is for him to take it steady—you appreciate that, don't you?"
"Yes," said brother John, "we've got a 10-year plan. Either we'll be here with a boat by then, or we'll be too old to care."
How to Fly 11 mph
They said it couldn't be done, couldn't be done, couldn't be done. They were talking, you see, about the Custer Channel Wing-5, an airplane. And they meant it couldn't fly. Well, never mind about them. The Custer Channel Wing-5 can fly, and Mr. Willard R. Custer was showing us movies the other day that proved it.
Not only can the CCW-5 fly, Mr. Custer was spieling, but it can fly 11 miles an hour or 200 miles an hour, depending. And it will take off in a span of 90 feet. Just the thing, said Mr. Custer, an energetic man of 59, for contract-jumping football coaches who would be off and away at the 30-yard line. Mr. Custer slowed down to 11 mph to introduce his partner in Channel Wing airplanes, Mr. Joe W. Frazer. Mr. Custer, who quit school at 13 and formulated the channel-wing principle in 1939, has never made anything before this except horseshoes for his father, a blacksmith in Hagerstown, Md. Mr. Frazer has made all manner of things, including Jeeps and Kaiser-Frazer cars.
Mr. Custer was showing his movies in Mr. Frazer's East Side Manhattan apartment. Mr. Frazer's walls are heavy with sconces and paintings, and his bookshelves contain Wines of France and the poems and plays of W. B. Yeats. "Mr. Custer told me his organizational problems and I decided to help," said Mr. Frazer, easing himself into a brocade chair.
Certainly, Mr. Custer's problems were manifold. "They've been calling me a darned fool for 19 years," he said with feeling. "When I was a young man, I saw the wind one day blow the roof off a barn. The good Lord never built a runway for a barn roof, I told myself, and for 14 years I scratched my head trying to figure out how He got that roof to fly. Then one day I realized He had shot the wind over the roof rather than shooting the barn down a runway. That's what the channel wing does. Brings the wind to the wing instead of the other way around. So I mortgaged the house and started designing."
The channel wing Mr. Custer invented looks like a U, or like one of the horseshoes he used to make. The engines face the rear and draw "tornadoes" of air over the barn roof—over the wing, rather. Up goes the CCW-5. "The Civil Aeronautics Administration told me it wouldn't fly," said Mr. Custer, "and when it did they said I had to put more wing on it. I did but it's just for looks. The CCW-5 is the greatest advance in aviation since the Wright Brothers," said Mr. Custer, and he pounded his fist in his palm. "You'll see."
Whatever it is, early next year everybody will see, for the CCW-5 will go into production in Canada. The custom Custer wings will be attached to the conventional fuselage of a Bauman Brigadier, and fitted with two 160-hp Continental engines. "The whole thing will sell for $55,000," said Mr. Frazer, returning from a long long-distance telephone call. "But it will outperform comparably priced private planes, I'll tell you. Why just imagine," continued Mr. Frazer with growing enthusiasm, "a fisherman can put pontoons on his CCW-5 and set her down on any little lake. Just think, a hunter can put skis on his CCW-5 and bag himself a timberwolf. This thing," said Mr. Frazer as Mr. Custer nodded vigorous assent, "will be the Jeep of the Air!"
A golf ball Tex had never seen;
He thought it looked like fun.
He wiped his favorite iron clean
And shot a hole in one.
AVE: Just a bank president from California, but it's a good thing New York doesn't vote this week.
They Said It
George Weiss, general manager of the New York Yankees, denying reports that Yankee management is unhappy with Casey Stengel and wishes he would retire: "A barefaced lie, and you can make that as strong as you like. Why, I just had lunch with Casey."
Birdie Tebbetts, resigned Cincinnati baseball manager now with the Milwaukee Braves as executive vice president: "I'll never manage a major league club again. I've had it. And that you can bet your last dime on."
Baltimore bookmaker, informed that the city council was investigating the possibility of legalized off-track betting: "Right now, bookmaking is one of the businesses that anybody can go into if he's got the nerve and some good connections. It's small business. It's individual enterprise. There's no overhead expense except maybe a pay-off now and then. Make it legal, and right away it gets to be just like running a store or a real estate office."