That baleful time of examination questions is upon the country, and Walt Alston, manager of the Dodgers, was addressing a few to a Los Angeles men's club. "Suppose," he began, setting up the postulate, "the score is 0-0 in the ninth inning against San Francisco. Don Demeter singles with nobody out. Gil Hodges, Rip Repulski and Joe Pignatano are coming up next. How many of you would play safe and let Hodges bunt?"
About a third of the listeners slowly raised their hands.
"All right," said Alston, "how many of you would try to advance the man and avoid the double play by calling the hit-and-run?"
Another third cautiously raised their hands.
"How many of you would let Hodges hit away for the Coliseum's left field screen?"
The hands of the last third went up. Then all parties sat back to learn which of them, in Alston's book, had given the right answer. They are still waiting.
"You see," said Alston with a gloomy shrug. "No matter what I would do, it would be the wrong thing with two-thirds of you."
The Ploying Fields of Munich
Predictable business for the International Olympic Committee at Munich last week was settled predictably enough: Tokyo was awarded the summer Olympic Games for 1964, and Innsbruck, in the Austrian Tyrol, got the '64 Winter Games.
Less predictably, the 60-member International Olympic Committee surrendered to a power ploy by the Communist bloc. Either recognize Red China as the only China, the challenge went, or stand by for a walkout. So the International Olympic Committee expelled Formosa's Free Chinese from their membership (inviting them to reapply as the representatives of Formosa alone) and invited Red China to fill out simple application forms and take over for all Chinese. The vote, said IOC president Avery Brundage, "was almost unanimous."
Avery Brundage also said: "The moment political activities are permitted in Olympic affairs the Games are finished." This was a re-expression of the view that, really, everybody is, or ought to be, equally interested in the pure Olympic ideals of Avery Brundage. It overlooks the fact that, back in 1953, when the Red Chinese were speaking more softly, they were delighted to be admitted to Olympic competition on an equal basis with Free China; since then their demands have increased.
So as things stand now Red China has shouldered Nationalist China out of any claim to represent China. The minutes and around-the-table arguments, if any, at last week's closed-door Munich conference are not yet available. Avery Brundage may not be willing to acknowledge that Communist politicians have won a political victory on the green-baize playing fields of Munich. But we'll bet that Nikita Khrushchev, who is bucking hard to win another power game around a green-baize table at Geneva, must be whistling with admiration.
At 12:45 a.m. one day last week, three men went to the front door of 357 Crystal Lake Terrace, Haddon Township, N.J., and three men went to the back. Inside, a portly man with celebrated silver hair and over $2,000 in walking-around money in his slacks, was watching television. Moments after the front door bell rang, he bolted out the back door and hot-footed it across the dark yard. One of the men at the back, Detective Sergeant William Kreps of the New Jersey State Police, shouted, "Halt!" and, puffing slightly, Paul John Carbo, 54, known to his coffee-klatsching pals as Frankie, stopped running.
Carbo had been running, with noteworthy sleight of foot, since last July when he was indicted by a New York grand jury investigating boxing as an undercover manager and matchmaker (SI, Aug. 4, 1958).
"I thought it was a rub-out," Carbo told his callers in a plaintive dodge as old as the Sicilian hills. "I didn't know you were cops. You should have left me alone. I planned to give myself up in a couple of days anyway."
The next day, attired in gray down to his elevator shoes, Carbo, who gave his occupation as salesman, was freed on $25,000 bail over the protests of a New York assistant DA who vainly informed the judge that "He has a long history of disappearing after arrest."
While New York started extradition proceedings, Frankie Carbo returned to invisibility.
Stinkers in the Incas
In days of yore, England's glory was carried to the New World by such precursors of empire as Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh. Nowadays a somewhat more confining global situation has made a show of the flag more difficult for the proud inhabitants of the island kingdom. The lesser breeds beyond the law are no longer as submissive as they once were, but the Englishman of today can and does repeat with Nelson that "England expects every man will do his duty."
What then of the team of all-England soccer players who toured the New World for the greater glory of the land whose name they bore?
Sports pages in London's newspapers were bordered in black as they reported the team's progress. "Our players looked like cart-horses (old ones at that) alongside racing thoroughbreds," reported one sports-writer after the first game in Rio (Brazil. 2, England 0).
"England were stinkers in the Incas," mourned the Daily Express after the second game in Lima (Peru 4, England 1). "Let's keep these wandering washouts at home and stop permitting picnic players to bring shame to England."
When the English team at last reached Mexico there was some slight stirring of optimism in the press. For the first time in the tour, London's Daily Mirror noted in dour irony, the team had shown some sign of fight: it has complained about the rooms in its crowded hotel. Almost immediately afterward, however, a 2-1 defeat by the supposedly mediocre footballers of Mexico put England back in the dumps. "We have sunk," moaned London's Daily Telegraph, "to the lowest level in our history." The Mexicans themselves, said the papers in funereal accents, were so disgusted at England's performance that when a bull refused to fight later that same day, the bullfight fans promptly dubbed him "Inglaterra."
In what was perhaps the harshest charge a British sportswriter could level at his own countrymen, the Telegraph's man went on to say that England's team had "shocked even Americans." These were bitter words indeed when everybody knows that Americans (of the U.S. type, that is) scarcely know what soccer is. As England moved on to face a hastily assembled group of scrub footballers in Hollywood, London's sports pages hid their faces in horror. "Our only chance," muttered one, "is to take on Donald Duck and the Marx Brothers."
As it turned out England won by a score of 8-1, but in London that was of no account whatever. Colonials, you know. "It has been," concluded the Express of the whole tour, "a shameful expedition."
Dascoli Is Dascoli
Remember Umpire Frank Dascoli's protests against our Umpire Bounce Averages of the last two years, showing that his four-man National League team usually leads both leagues (SI, April 13)? You'll recall that Dascoli did not quarrel with our statistics but only with the suggestion that he and his boys are thumb-happy. Well, through Memorial Day, Dascoli & Co. are well ahead, again, for 1959. Like this:
Connoisseurs should agree that Dascoli had one of his finest moments in Los Angeles on the night of May 20. Mightily displeased by the call of a third strike, and considerably emboldened because the call ended the game, Johnny Temple of the Cincinnati Reds directed a simple question to Dascoli, umpiring at home plate: "Do you think you're the Almighty?"
Said Dascoli with Biblical simplicity: "I am."
A few years ago, in the wake of a tidal wave of sub-four-minute miles and other record-rupturing phenomena, the athletic world was rife with rumors of doped athletes. Old records, it was said, were being broken not by superior effort and training but by the indiscriminate administration of medication known variously as "pep pills," "bennies" or, more officially, amphetamine sulfate.
Along about June 1957, the rumors became prevalent enough to engage the attention of the American Medical Association, and the A.M.A. decided to investigate. Under the direction of a special committee headed by Dr. Allan J. Ryan, the association launched a two-pronged investigation designed to find out, first, whether the pep pills were really being used in anything like the rumored quantity and, second, whether they were in fact affecting athletic performances.
The second of these questions was by far the easier to answer, and the answer came out as a definite yes. As a result of two separate sets of controlled experiments—one at Harvard and one at Springfield College—researchers found that in approximately three-quarters of the cases tested the administration of amphetamine improved performance in weight throwers as much as 3%, in runners as much as 1½%, and in swimmers from .59 to 1.16%.
The doctors were chary of offering an explanation of how the drug achieves its effect, but at least one football coach who admitted experimenting with pep pills said that in his opinion they had no effect on a player's ability but merely kept him from getting fatigued at the normal time.
As to the use of the drugs by coaches and trainers: in answer to a questionnaire sent out to the athletic departments of some 1,800 U.S. schools and colleges, only 1% admitted playing with pep pills of any kind. The vast majority expressed stern disapproval of the use of any kind of stimulating drugs on ethical grounds. And, according to medical men, even those who admitted experimenting with "pep pills" were referring for the most part not to amphetamine at all but to special vitamin preparations or concentrated sugar pills which were supposed to create extra "energy." Their effect, if any, was largely psychological. Almost any athlete, if given a small white pill and told it will make him run faster, will achieve at least a spiritual lift. Several athletes, even in the controlled experiments, did better on placebos and sleeping pills than they did when given no medication at all.
In any case, the special committee of the A.M.A., though not particularly worried, declared itself as against "the indiscriminate administration of stimulants" on the athletic field, and resolved further "to take action to prevent such abuse."
The motion to affirm is granted and the judgment is affirmed.
—U.S. Supreme Court
With commendable brevity, the Justices in these 11 words last week upheld a lower court decision challenged before them, and wiped off the books Louisiana's law forbidding mixed athletic contests and requiring segregated seating.
Green Is for Nowhere
In its place, the color green can be one of beauty. It is, after all, the color of spring, and of money. But its place, say a good many Indianapolis "500" drivers, is nowhere near a racing car.
They were more green-conscious than usual on Memorial Day, at the 43rd "500." Some darned fool had painted his car that odious color—in a pale metallic shade called sage brush green. Not only that, the driver, Jack Turner, was wearing a green helmet, a jazzy, glow-in-the-dark green, by George, and the pit crew, green shirts.
"Who's worried?" asked Willie Utzman, the man who picked the color for the Travelon Trailer Special. Not Willie, chief mechanic and chief apologist for the car. "I'm partial to green," he said. "The only race car I ever made a dime with was a green midget I had on the Coast. Pat Flaherty had a green shamrock on his helmet when he won his race in 1956. He's back again, shamrock and all. By the way, we got here on the 13th of May; we were the 13th to qualify; and we're living on 13th Street while we're here in Indianapolis. All strictly coincidence."
Shivering imperceptibly, Willie's auditor edged away and sought out Jimmy Jackson, the driver who placed second in 1946 in a green car and kept his health in two other green Brickyard mounts.
"I always liked green," said Jimmy breezily. "Before I ever got into a green car at Indianapolis I went over the wall—that was when I was a riding mechanic in 1934. It was on the 13th lap and I broke all my ribs. I think this hoodoo about green started when a midget driver named Fred Friday got himself burned pretty good in a green car just before the war. It's just a foolish superstition, like drivers not having anything to do with peanuts at a race. And you'd better be ready to fight Tony Bettenhausen if you want to take his picture in the car before the race."
Needless to say, Bettenhausen, the national driving and superstition champion, was not in a green car. He was in an orange car, a good, solid Dutch orange, like the hue of a crock of Bols Gin. He was, however, lined up for the start smack beside the tradition-flouter, Willie Utzman's dandy, subduedly but indubitably gr——n one.
Bettenhausen, it must be said, did a sight better than Mr. Jack Turner in the Travelon Trailer Special. As a matter of fact, the green car's fuel tank ruptured during a pit stop and spilled gas onto the pit apron. The car was retired; Bettenhausen eventually placed fourth.
The moral of this story, as we see it, is not to rupture your fuel tank in the "500." Especially if you have a green car.
You Know—Running, Jumping
Horseplayers, it has been said, are an insular lot. This opinion was given support the other day at New York's Randalls Island, where an Irish bus driver had taken a load of passengers to attend a track meet. The bus driver was overheard telephoning his dispatcher to tell him that he was going to wait until the meet was over before returning so he would have a full bus. Their conversation follows, the dispatcher's lines, of course, being approximated:
Driver: They're having a track meet out here.
Dispatcher: A what?
Driver: A track meet. You know—running, jumping.
Dispatcher: Oh, a horse race. Yeah, you stick around and enjoy yourself.
Driver: I ain't watching it. I don't care for this kind of thing.
Dispatcher (incredulous): You don't like the horses?
Driver: It's not a, horse race.
Dispatcher: Then what's going on out there? Who's running anyway?
Driver (resigned): Men themselves.
This golfer has a wicked slice
And quite a follow-through.
That's why his partner, who stood close,
Is on the green in two.
They Said It
Dwight D. Eisenhower, registered supporter of the Washington Senators, happily parrying a suggestion that his press secretary, Jim Hagerty, a Yankee fan through good and bad times, fill in for Manager Casey Stengel: "Well, he couldn't do much worse."
Tom Pruett, assistant football coach at Baylor (3 won, 7 lost last year), spinning a retrospective yarn: "The football team has to walk across a busy street to reach its practice field, so a sign was erected that said 'Drive with Caution; Do Not Injure Football Players.' After we lost our fourth game, someone amended the sign by adding—'Wait for the Coaches.' "
Gabe Paul, Cincinnati Reds' general manager, offering an unusual theory as to why TV keeps people away from ball parks: "It used to be all you would do is check your home town weather before going out. Now those telecasts give you charts that show good fronts at home, but bad fronts here and there that might move toward you. So you stay home."