One trouble with being last year's pennant winner is that so much is expected of you it can almost get in the way of winning this year's pennant. Consider the eighth-place New York Yankees, some of whom are in such demand for special appearances that they must carry two sets of uniforms—one for ball park, one for ballroom assignments. Last week, putting pennants temporarily out of mind for NBC television's Arthur Murray Dance Party, three of them put their minds to fancy steps and petticoats.
The Yankees in Mr. Murray's dance contest were Norm Siebern, Andy Carey and Whitey Ford. Bob Cerv, an old Yankee gone on to higher and better things with the fourth-place Kansas City A's, was hired (like the others, at $155, union scale) to fill the schedule. Siebern, tall and massive, was the first at bat on the program. He announced he was a left-handed hitter and (chuckle) a left-footed dancer. He said he would "try" a rumba, which he did with a studied expertise picked up in rehearsals the week before (when he and his teammates were getting their lumps from the Indians and the White Sox).
Carey, up next, said he and his wife were about to have a baby. Mrs. Arthur Murray, the mistress of ceremonies, said how nice and did they hope for triplets. Carey, who had also rehearsed, said he wasn't hitting that high this year and while everybody laughed out loud he commenced to waltz. Carey didn't burn up that league, either, and the willowy professional assigned to him undertook to lead.
Bob Cerv came on and said even so the Yankees were dancing better than they were playing, and swung into a polka. It was some polka, and if you looked hard you could see traces of Lawrence Welk in his style. The cleanup man was Pitcher Ford, who told Mrs. Murray that the people who give him the most trouble on the field are the batters, and that when he gets knocked out of the box (as he did in the first inning one night later), the only thing he wants to hear from his wife is, "The kids are in bed and dinner's ready." He would execute a jitterbug, he said then, and he did it by standing on the mound and picking off the Murray girl in mid-flight as she whistled by. At length, audience applause indicated Andy Carey was the best of a bad lot, and Mrs. Murray gave him $500 in cash, a color TV set and an invitation to come back some time for a grand prize dance-off.
May 31, 1959
Are Yankee baseball players better or worse than Murray's usual contestants? "Decidedly worse," said a member of Murray's staff. Are they better or worse baseball players? "Well, yes," said the Murray man.
Outfielder Siebern, in rumba division, got a slugger's grip on his flying partner.
Pitcher Ford, in the jitterbug division, stood his ground while Arthur Murray's dancing girl, petticoats billowing, hung on gamely to business end of his throwing arm.
Infielder Carey, waltz division, won dance league pennant. Observed one fan of last-place Yankees: "They should have played Dancing with Tears in My Eyes."