Season of Prophecy
As our 1959 baseball issue goes to press, we have been glancing over the weather reports with a good deal of satisfaction. No word of snow anywhere in the baseball latitudes at press time, and fahrenheits coming in like this: Boston 61°, Chicago 65°, Cincinnati 74°, Cleveland 65°, Detroit 62°, Los Angeles 69°, Milwaukee 61°, New York City 60°, San Francisco 64°, and so forth—all reasonably encouraging intelligence for the American people at this vital turning of the year. Furthermore, you can take it on the word of the U.S. Weather Bureau's long-range forecast for April that most major league cities are due for normal or near-normal warmth and normal or below-normal precipitation.
Since prophecy is part of the very nature of spring, we venture some more here after a look at baseball's April schedules. In the National League, where such lusty contenders as Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will be going at each other in home-and-home games, it will be a month of rousing headlines and highly satisfying box office—even though, the weather bureau notwithstanding, San Francisco fans will come nigh to freezing on a couple of nights. And in the American (or Yankee) League, deep thinkers will be asking themselves whether baseball is losing its hold on us. Nowhere will this be more true than in New York, where the Champions of the World are going to play just six games all month. This is a sad fact for the New York fan, already bereft, but it will give the deep thinker a chance to find out if the national game is really missed in the capital of the world.
Stirrings in Sweden
Phlegm, according to early physiology, is one of four humors or fluids, including blood, choler and melancholy, which determine a person's health and temperament. Phlegm is supposed to be cold and moist and to cause phlegmatism and is a humor traditionally associated with Swedes. It takes some doing to put a Swede in a better humor, but Ingemar Johansson has done it.
As June 25 approaches, when Ingo will meet Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship of the world at Yankee Stadium, Swedes are becoming increasingly passionate, an Italianate temperament caused by blood, which is supposed to be hot as well as moist. Swedish travel agencies are preparing for a passionate pilgrimage to the United States, the greatest migration of Swedes since the 19th century, when years of drought forced such large numbers to emigrate that today there are almost half as many Americans of Swedish descent as there are Swedes in Sweden. Anticipating that perhaps 4,000 Swedes will go over for the fight, the agencies have reserved that many beds at two New York hotels and the same number of seats and berths on 10 airlines and the M/S Kungsholm.
The agencies are also offering three package deals ranging from $550 to $660 which include sightseeing, hotel accommodations and transportation but no food or tickets. Newspapers are publishing detailed reports and expertise on the daily doings of the two heroes; the spring lotteries are offering round trips and ringside seats as prizes rather than the usual cars and boats; both Stockholm evening papers are running competitions in which the winners receive round-trip tickets and ringside seats. Even the Norwegians, who consider themselves the elite of the north and who have never really forgiven Sweden for not caring more when they seceded in 1905, are proud that a Scandinavian, at least, may become champion.
But Sweden's pride, passion and joy is tempered by the dour fact that the Swedish state radio implacably refuses to broadcast the fight. Last spring, after a motion to suspend state subsidies to boxing clubs on the grounds that it was a dangerous and cruel sport was defeated in the Riksdag, state radio piously announced that it would no longer broadcast fights because boxing is not really a sport, is indeed dangerous and cannot have a beneficial effect on listeners. Last week, a Socialist M.P. rose in the Riksdag and asked the Minister of Communications whether he intended to do anything about persuading state radio to change its mind. The minister replied that it was undemocratic and unconstitutional for the government to influence the radio. A Conservative M.P. could not refrain from pointing out at this point that the chamber was full for once and that he was sure that if the bout was broadcast half the members would tune in.
"State radio doesn't care whether boxing is good or bad for the listeners," says Johansson himself. "They decided to abandon boxing broadcasts only because they are stingy. Before they had their ridiculous prohibition they asked dozens of times for permission to broadcast my fights, but they were never prepared to pay what it was calculated I would lose on ticket sales if a bout were broadcast."
Unless Svenska Shell Oil goes through with its plan to beam the fight in from Denmark, it looks as though the Swedes will be in the dark, but only figuratively. No one in Sweden need go to bed the night of the fight, which will be held about 4 a.m. Swedish time, for June 25 is a day of the midnight sun in Scandinavia. The sun won't set and Sweden will give itself to festival—especially if Ingo wins.
The Kid at the Gate
As a kid in South Bend, Ind. some 30 years ago, Joe Kuharich, the son of an immigrant lathe operator, nursed a William Steig Dream of Glory. It was the vision of himself as head coach at Notre Dame. At every Saturday game Joe and his raffish and penniless schoolmates would be hanging around the stadium gate hoping for a chance to sneak past the eagle-eyed guards. As often as not, remembers Joe, "when the Notre Dame team came running through, the players would grab us and hustle us in with them. It was the thrill of our lives to have Christy Flanagan or Red Hearndon rushing us past those guards."
One night last December at the ring of a telephone in Washington, the boyhood dream of Joe Kuharich became reality. "Would you," an important voice from South Bend asked the then head coach of the professional Redskins, "be available if the top job at Notre Dame were offered to you?" Subsequent announcements on sports pages all over the nation indicated that Joe's answer was yes.
It had been a long road for the scrawny kid who used to hang around the stadium hoping for a chance to see his heroes, but it had led with remarkable directness to the goal he had dreamed of then. Weighing a mere 145 pounds when he entered Notre Dame on scholarship in 1934, he managed to add enough lean beef to his frame to play guard on the varsity for three years. After graduation in 1938 and a few seasons as a high school coach and pro footballer, Joe, like many another physically fit young man, found himself in the wartime Navy. The tough discipline he learned and practiced in his rise from plain gob to two-stripe lieutenant in the years that followed was soon to leave its mark on football when Joe returned to his first love after the war.
"Speak well, dress well, and you can always get a job at Washington" was a standard sneer in pro football circles when Joe Kuharich took over the Redskins in the mid-'50s. The Redskins themselves still remember that ill-famed "Sadistic Sunday"—the first official press day at the practice field when all the news photographers were on hand to watch Joe put his boys through their paces and only five players were still on their feet when the session was done.
Now a large, massive man of 220 pounds displacement and a terse, direct manner, Joe is already showing the strain of the tight ship he plans to run at Notre Dame. Since taking over in January, he has flown more than
60,000 miles delivering speeches to alumni groups, presided over countless screening sessions during which he and his staff of seven assistants (three of them from the Redskins) have sifted some 600 reels of films showing promising young high school footballers. Besides combing the high schools for future talent, Joe keeps his staff endlessly busy sifting every inch of film from Notre Dame's own games of the last season. "I can't get football off my mind," he says. "Even at night when I'm sitting trying to talk to my wife Madelyn I'm still mulling over plays and trying to analyze how my opponents will react to this formation or that."
Despite this single-mindedness, however, Joe Kuharich deeply resents the insinuation that he is too professional. "Some people," he says, "think the pros play just for money. Well, let me tell you that without a real love for the game, nobody can be great. The toil and effort are too much. Money can't pay for them. At Notre Dame I want only the best of the best to be my football players."
Before practice began this week, Joe told the players themselves: "I want your conduct both on and off the field to be impeccable. The work is going to be hard; you'll spend long and grueling hours on Cartier Field. That is the price you must pay to be a Notre Dame player. It is the greatest challenge any of you has ever faced."
It seemed evident that the kid who once dreamed of becoming head coach at Notre Dame had no intention of letting them flub that challenge.
RAMAC Is Ready
The winter trials at Squaw Valley this March were a time of test and reconnaissance for many a stranger expected back next year for the Olympics. One of the most promising of all was a character called RAMAC; full name, IBM RAMAC 305, an 8,925-pound calculator, worth $189,950, which International Business Machines has lent for the Squaw Valley Olympics. Along with RAMAC came seven directing spirits, the chief of them a tall University of California graduate named Selmes Paul Funkhouser, who loves his machine so much that his hands shake when he talks about it. At least they did at the March trials as he explained why he and RAMAC were there.
"A year and a half ago the Olympic Committee asked IBM what we could do for the Games. We decided scoring was where we could help most. Do you know anything about figure skating? It can take six hours to figure out all those points. At Cortina it took them two and a half hours to figure out the ski jumping scores. And in Squaw Valley next year there are going to be 1,000 newsmen, 600 of them in the foreign press corps, and all waiting for these scores."
With RAMAC, they won't have to wait long. RAMAC will give the scores instantly, pausing to think no more than a split second and forgetting nothing. In fact, since it was born two and a half years ago, RAMAC has never forgotten anything it has been told—unless it was told to forget.
RAMAC's brain is divided into two parts. There is a processing unit, a magnetic drum that whirls at 6,000 rpm. Then there is the memory system, a stack of 50 metal disks covered with a material very like the tape on a home recording machine. Memory whirls at 1,200 rpm.
When you ask the machine a question by punching its keyboard or poking a card into a slot, Processing takes first crack at the question. If Processing doesn't know what to do, it asks Memory. If Memory doesn't know either, the machine acts like any good soldier and replies via its automatic printing device that it is an IBM RAMAC 305 from Reno, Nevada—in other words its name, rank and serial number. On the other hand, if Memory knows—and likely it does, since Memory has absolute recall on anything up to 5 million characters or about one million words—then Memory tells Processing what to do.
Suppose, for instance, the ski jump is going on, with an entry of 50 contestants. It is near the end of the second and final jumping round, and Lars Schmidt has just jumped 89 meters, with point scores from the five judges of 18½, 18, 18½, 16 and 19½. A keyboard operator punches all this into the machine. Then Funkhouser pokes in a card that says, in effect, "How is the jump coming?" Processing relays the question to Memory, and Memory replies something like this: "Record the length of the jump in meters. Convert meters to feet. Then decide whether this is the longest, second longest, etc., jump so far, and score the jump on a maximum of 60 for the longest. Then take the five judges' scores on style, throw out the high and low, add the other three together, add the total to the jumping points, add this total to Schmidt's previous jump and decide who is ahead. If this is the best jump, or the second best, or whatever, change the points and positions of everyone who hasn't done as well. Then print up the answer for Mr. Funkhouser." Within 10 seconds Processing has done it—finished—for the top 10 jumpers.
If the jumping event is now over, Funkhouser pokes in another card, asking the machine to please print up 250-word biographies of the five best jumpers including what he told the machine that morning about Schmidt having been a Hungarian freedom fighter. The machine does so, all on duplicating stencil paper; and within 10 minutes each of the 1,000 men in the press corps has a copy of the results and the biographies.
Next year, when the machine at Squaw Valley grows up, it will have a 10-million-character memory instead of a mere 5 million. And besides printing the results in English (the home language) and French (the official Olympic language), it will punch out a special teletypewriter tape which automatically transmits the results to spectator centers, news centers and newsmen's living quarters in the surrounding towns.
Perhaps a calculator that can do all this should be praised and then destroyed before it learns too much. Then again, perhaps RAMAC should be spared, because its operators are quite human, and RAMAC itself is, after all, a very human-type machine.
"Sometimes people leave messages on it," said Funkhouser. "One time we asked it something, and the message came out, 'My name is' whatever her name was. 'My measurements are 37-26-37. My phone number is so and so. Call me.' And other messages."
Like go chase yourself?
"Yeah, that could happen too. Also, once, somebody left the windows open and when we tried RAMAC, it was frozen up. I guess you could say it caught cold."
One human frailty the machine does not possess, however, is the faculty for error. Once told, it never, never makes a mistake.
"Well," said Funkhouser, "the machine can make a mistake. After all it's a machine. But I'd say it's extremely unlikely."
'Some Day,' California
After what Victor Denny, president of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, termed "the most exhaustive study of the situation ever made," the USLTA administrative committee picked the same old location for the Davis Cup Challenge Round in August: the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y. A couple of other sites, Denny said, were seriously considered, including the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. and the cozy little (28,000 seats) football stadium at Boston College, which has no running track and therefore brings the crowd closer than usual to the players.
But though there are grand good reasons for staging the Davis Cup defense in California (SI, March 30), the USLTA cautiously chose not to do so. The most encouraging news is that the administrative committee struggled bravely to get out of its rut before settling comfortably back into it for a while longer. Forest Hills, said Denny, was in the end the unanimous choice of the committee because 1) holding the challenge round there would cost about half as much ($40,000) as holding it in the Rose Bowl, where grass courts and special seats would have to be installed and then removed; 2) for television, matches played in the East would fit the time zones better than matches from the West; and 3) Davis Cup Captain Perry Jones, 70, who lives in Los Angeles, could not be asked to take on the responsibility of managing the event itself as well as the U.S. team.
But President Denny acknowledged the strong claims of California, which produces much of the top-grade tennis that is consumed, so to speak, in the East. "Those people," he said—meaning Californians—"are entitled to a major event and some day they'll get it."
Open Letter to Almost Any Baseball Team
"Wait till next year"—
We heard you shout it;
Well, this is next year,
SO WHAT ABOUT IT?
—IRWIN L. STEIN
They Said It
Whitey Ford, New York Yankees pitcher, philosophizing over the fact that doctors have forbidden him to eat steaks and other meats under pain of gout: "It's surprising how much you can get to like cheese omelets."
Harold Haydon, dean of students at the University of Chicago, on being informed that his school had accepted a challenge from Cambridge University for an international tiddlywinks match: "Only students who maintain the university's scholastic standards will be eligible."
Rocky Graziano, onetime middleweight champion, on why his present career in show business is in no way attributable to the Actor's Studio: "They learn guys there to talk like me, so why should I go there? Marlon Brando and Paul Newman both copy the way I talk."