Last week in these pages we took account of the fact that James D. Norris, whohas managed to avoid giving testimony about boxing's dirty business to a NewYork grand jury, had made loud public talk in Tampa about the boxing business.Our conclusion was that if he had anything to say about boxing, he had bettersay it to the New York district attorney and to the grand jury, which was stillwaiting to hear him. We have since discovered that we were not aware of thefull extent of Norris' Tampa blustering. We have learned that, in addition towhat we quoted him as saying, he also said, "D'Amato could be hit by astreet car, you know." This is a gangster-type threat against the man whohas done most to defy Norris and his monopoly, and we are herewith making it apart of the printed record, just in case.
During lastmonth's preliminaries to the world amateur hockey championships in Prague, boththe U.S. and Canadian teams played in a style long familiar to North Americans.But to the Europeans watching, more accustomed to finesse than body checks, itwas less hockey than hooliganism. And for every crunching board check thrown byan American, it was not too much to expect a fight on the ice, a fight in thestands or a condemning editorial in a European newspaper next day.
So it is ratherastonishing to discover, after the Prague matches, that while the outplayedU.S. team finished fourth in hockey it finished first in good conduct. (Canadafinished first in hockey, sixth and last in conduct.) But it was moreastonishing to learn that it was not because our amateurs had decided to actbetter. Rather, the crystal cup for fair play went to the U.S. because theEuropeans decided to act worse. The Russians, Swedes, Czechs and Finns, afteradopting the bang-about techniques of the West, spent an aggregate of threehours or so in the penalty box, while the U.S. spent 42 minutes.
March 30, 1959
We set thesestatistics down chiefly for their oddity. Nothing could have mattered less tothe players themselves. At the end of the rough days in Prague, all the playersgot together for a gala evening featuring food, speeches and vocalizing by aglee club from the Czech army. Hardly anybody could speak any languages savehis own, but players from each of the six nations hugged each otherdelightedly, slapped backs. Correspondent Robert Daley of The New York Timespondered all this, set it down just right: "It is strange that a game suchas hockey should promote good will among the players. For days these young menhad been smashing savagely at each other. Tempers had become frayed. There hadbeen tripping, mauling, slashing, and worse. It is strange but true that whenyou bash a man over the head with a hockey stick in the heat of competition hebecomes your friend for life."
Temporarily Outof Focus
In basketball,where the objective is not a girl but a goal, men seldom get passes from guardswho wear glasses, because guards with poor eyesight nowadays wear contactlenses. A player, moreover, can lose a lens as easily as a car can lose ahubcap—any good bump may do it—and this fact has led to a special kind of timeout. When a lens jars loose, the referee blows his whistle and organizes bothteams into a search party. The ten players fold their long bodies and begin toscan the gleaming floor, for the tiny object is 1) expensive and 2)indispensable to the player who has lost it. To the spectator who doesn't knowabout contact lenses, everybody on the court seems to have gone out of hismind.
Nearly all fansshould know about them now, though, for last Saturday afternoon a contact-lenshunt was televised nationally. It was the final of the National InvitationTournament in New York's Madison Square Garden. St. John's University ofBrooklyn was out for its third NIT championship, this time against BradleyUniversity. (St. John's won. See page 5.)
The game was alittle more than three minutes old when St. John's Guard Gus Alfieri lostcontact with one of his lenses. The game stopped, the players knelt, andmillions of watchers waited until Referee John Nucatola found what everybodywas looking for. The cameras followed Alfieri to the sidelines and watched himreplace his lens, and the microphones picked up the congratulatory roar of thecrowd.
Contact lensesare so new to basketball that both schools and players are still working outways of dealing with them. Some colleges pay for players' lenses and insureagainst their loss, and some don't. There are players who make a great fussabout washing the recovered lens, and need a mirror to get it reinstalled.Others merely wipe it on their trunks, spit on it—moisture of some kind isnecessary—and clap it back on their eyeball. The firmest policy on contactlenses is being established, here and there about the country, by the TVindustry itself: if the telecast is sponsored, the search for a lens offers afine opportunity to throw in an extra commercial.
House of 300
In Fort Worth abowling alley, which flaunts the modern public relations délicatesse that hasmade an alley into a lane by calling itself the Alley Bowl, is flourishingright now from publicity which no press agent could invent, or even improveupon: the establishment and its owner, Frank Lieck, seem to be getting helpfrom the supernatural. In six weeks, seven perfect games have been bowled onAlley Bowl's Lanes 19 and 20.
It started when aman named Bob Cruson dropped in one evening and bowled two perfect games, oneafter the other. (The score of a perfect game is 300; the good ordinary playeraverages about 160.) Two nights later he came back, asked for Lanes 19 and 20again, and bowled a third one.
For two yearsbefore Cruson's performance, no 300 game had been scored in all of the city's10 bowling alleys. Three of them in three days, therefore, attracted attention.Cruson, who had a rather poor reputation as a bowler, suddenly became known asa very good one indeed. People came from all over town just to lookrespectfully—or sometimes skeptically—at Lanes 19 and 20. One visitor, JimSapey, came to scoff but remained to play, and bowled the fourth 300 game onthe two wonderful lanes. Cheerfully, Owner Lieck paid out once more the $50cash with which he now rewards every player who scores 300 at Alley Bowl, andsat back to watch his business boom.
There were thosewho claimed that Lanes 19 and 20 were "slotted"—that is, slightlymisshapen by long use so that the very conformation of their hardwood tended toguide the bowling ball into a strike. But Lieck had the lanes tested withgauges and levels—this is required once a year, anyway, by the American BowlingCongress—and the Fort Worth Bowling Association announced firmly that 19 and 20were legal.
But while a fewpurists denounced Alley Bowl's two magic lanes as slotted, hundreds clamoredfor a chance to improve their scores on them, slots or no. After Jim Sapey cameJim Sharpe, who bowled his perfect game on Lane 19 alone. After Sharpe came RoyJarus, who, using both lanes, bowled two 300 games a week apart, bringing thetotal to seven.
Lieck nowadvertises Alley Bowl as the House of Three Hundred, and keeps busy turningdown people who try to reserve Lanes 19 and 20 days in advance. It's firstcome, first served, says Lieck, and business is up 20%.
In theneighboring city of Dallas, where a new bowling house opens every week or so,searchlights and movie stars are brought on to attract attention. When MickeyMantle opened his, he imported Tina Louise (SI, Feb. 2). This week the openingof The Cotton Bowling Palace will feature Jayne Mansfield in a gold lamé dress,rolling the first ball (gilded) at 10 golden pins. In Fort Worth, Frank Lieckreads of these costly wonders and smiles. He doesn't need Jayne Mansfield andgolden pins; he has Lanes 19 and 20. They haven't produced a perfect game forsome time now, but Fort Worth bowlers seem as eager as ever to be playing onthem when they do.
Challenge of theNorth Face
What is left fora mountaineer who has climbed Everest? For Sir Edmund Hillary, who scaled itwith Tenzing in 1953, there is the haunting, 29,002-foot challenge to do itagain. Only this time he means to go over the mountain's unconquered northface, and without the oxygen tanks that some students of the problem considernecessary. All that detains him is the Peking government of China, whichcontrols the permits for an ascent from the Tibet side. While he waits forpermission—two petitions to Peking have not yet been acknowledged—Sir Edmund ismaking his plans.
"When I was aboy first taking an interest in climbing mountains, the north face of Everestwas the traditional dream of everyone," he said in his Auckland study lastweek, where he is working on a manuscript recounting his traverse of Antarcticaa year ago. "No one who tried that north face could manage to get past28,000 feet. To me, that last 1,000 feet remains as one of the greatplums."
To beat themountain and pick the plum, Hillary hopes to launch an expedition in April of1960. (A rumor in mountaineering circles has it that a joint Chinese-Russianteam also plans a north-face ascent next year. If it goes, Hillary will notbecause "there is just not enough room for two expeditions on the same faceat the same time.") Most of the route has already been charted by earlierclimbers, and Hillary got a look at the perplexing last 1,000 feet on the dayin 1953 when he and Tenzing braced themselves against the summit winds andlooked down, as far as they could, along that north slope. Still, Hillaryadmits he knows little about it, except that it is weather-beaten, precipitous,and that foot-holds and handholds, geologically speaking, point downward."But I personally have the belief," he says, "that with a properprogram of acclimatizing it should be possible to get men to the top andwithout oxygen. We might have to use the gas for heavy work in setting uphigh-altitude camps, but my point is that two men—excused from the work ofmaking camp—could succeed." That the two may make it, Hillary's party willconsist of 30 Sherpa porters and six mountaineers. A half-dozen scientistswould probably go along to study the mountain and the reactions of the mentrying to climb it.
Hillary isconvinced the climb can be made this time, but he well recognizes thepossibility of failure. He pointed to a chair in his study. It was presented tohim by the City of Auckland after his first conquest of Everest. Its back restcarvings represent the shape of the tall mountain, and the north face affordshim a comfortable support for his head in reflective moments. "I willsay," said the knighted mountaineer, "the trip won't be quite as easyas this chair makes out."
One of the eventsof the London spring of 1892 was the fight between Peter Jackson, called theBlack Prince, who was born in the British West Indies, and Frank PatrickSlavin, who was born in New South Wales. The fight was for the championship ofEngland and Australia, and Jackson stirred the Empire by knocking Slavin out inthe 10th. One young Briton stirred as much as any was a 17-year-old Harrowschoolboy named Winston Churchill, who gave promise even then in some of thearts that were to attract him later. He sat down and sketched the drawing shownhere, which has just come to light.
The drawingturned up when its owner, a Brighton estate agent named Derek Owne, offered it,belatedly, for exhibition with the collection of Churchill art now on displayin London's Royal Academy. The Academy turned it down because"unfortunately we never add to an exhibition once it has been opened."Which is a pity, because it is evidence that Sir Winston, now a specialist indreamy landscapes, might have had a fine career as a prizefight artist.
Owner Owne'sfamily story of the drawing illuminates another aspect of Churchill's talents,however. Owne's grandfather was proprietor of the Harrow tuckshop. Winston hadrun up a bill catering to his sweet tooth and was out of funds; so Britain'sfuture Chancellor of the Exchequer presented Knocked Out "in lieu of debtsincurred."
As everybody mustknow by now, the breakup of the old IBC pattern in boxing has encouraged somenewer and younger figures to venture into the wild terrain of fight promotionin the good old-fashioned spirit of competition. The latest of these is anaffable young steel man named Cecil Rhodes Jr., 34. Cecil, who pronounces hisname with a long e but will not blanch if you pronounce it with a short e, isgoing to promote the fight between Floyd Patterson and Brian London, thescowling Blackpool bullyboy, at Las Vegas this spring (see page 34).
Cecil has neveryet promoted a fight, but he has undertaken other exacting and unfamiliar rolesbefore this. In one of them two years ago he appeared before millions ofAmericans in an isolation booth, on the now-departed Twenty One show, in fact.Cecil knew the name of the largest fresh-water lake in the world and the threestates which border it, the minimum age requirements for U.S. senators andrepresentatives, and so forth, and although he did not miss a question henevertheless lost to Vivienne Nearing, 21-17, by playing it on the cautiousside. Cecil was well prepared for Twenty One, having taught economics at threeschools (Harvard, Cambridge Junior College and Union Junior College), businesslaw at Suffolk Law School, and having received three degrees (A.B., Brown;M.S., Harvard; LL.B., Harvard). Cecil's field is corporate reorganization, buthe says he is no Cash McCall. "I believe in merger and shell operationswhere it is good for both management and labor, but not where it isruthless," says Cecil, who is presently vice-president of HoistingFabricators of Bayonne, N.J., a steel-fabricating concern he reorganized.Cecil's previous experience in sports came at Brown where he was asecond-string end on the football team ("I was considerably slimmerthen," he says somewhat bashfully) and ran the 100, 220 and 440, and asowner of Lady Ann Reed, a trotter for which he paid $60,000 and which rewardedhim by setting a mile record of 2:02[1/5] for 3-year-old fillies on a half-miletrack.
Cecil is oftenasked if he is descended from the Cecil Rhodes. "Cecil Rhodes nevermarried," says Cecil, "and therefore he did not ancestrate, but hisgreat-grandfather was related collaterally to my family." Cecil is alsooften asked why he is promoting this fight. "I have always been interestedin sports," he says. "My wife is reserving her opinion,however."
Make the Last OneCoffee
"Pioneer legislation of the week: a bill passed by the lower house of theIowa legislature provides a year in jail, $1,000 fine or both for drunken waterskiing.
They Said It
Pete Newell, University of California basketballcoach, on being told that his wife Florence had broken her toe shortly beforethe NCAA tournament (which his team won by defeating West Virginia 71-70):"That's fine. Thank goodness it wasn't our center Darrall Imhoff."
Maitland Jones, only member of the touring Yale squashteam to win a match against schoolboy Eton as the Elis lost 6-1, reflecting onthe reasons for the defeat: "It must have been all those years andtradition bearing down on us. Those playing fields have a terrifyingreputation. [Besides] Eton made us run around too much."
Ted Williams, 1958 American League batting champion,in a batting cage dream sequence overheard by the New York Daily News's DickYoung: "It's three-and-two—Detroit—last of the ninth—two runs behind—BigTed has got to hit a homer—boom! boom!"
William Faulkner, Nobel Prizewinning novelist, makingsmall of his broken collarbone after a fox-hunting fall from a horse outsideCharlottesville, Va.: "No worse than a bad hangnail."
Canada wins the Hockey Championship of the World inrough series at Prague; U.S. wins the Good Conduct Cup.—NEWS ITEM
FIRST IN PEACE