HARVARD PAINTS THE THAMES CRIMSON
On the morning of the 94th Harvard-Yale Rowing Regatta at New London, Conn. last Saturday, Harvard Coach Harvey Love looked up at the lowering overcast and uttered a heartfelt wish. "I only hope," he said worriedly, "that the weather allows for a good race. When a crew trains hard and well, no one who loves racing wants to see the boys compete under poor conditions."
For a few hours the doubt hung there. Heavy thunderstorms and strong winds swept the river during most of the afternoon, let up a bit and then struck with particular intensity just before the varsity contest. But after a 40-minute delay the rain turned into a light drizzle, the wind eased and the Thames became almost smooth. As thousands watched from both sides of the river, from some 200 craft on the water and from a 14-car observation train, the shells were ordered to the stake boats. Coach Love had got his wish, or at least as much of it as he could hope for.
Harvard, on the strength of its unbeaten season and its victory last month in the Eastern sprint championships (in which Yale placed third for its only defeat), was the prerace favorite. What Yale had going for its hopes was a certain tradition (it had won the last five regattas) and an uncertain distance (neither crew had yet proved itself over anything like the regatta's four-mile course).
"We broke off fast," said Barrows Peale, the senior coxswain of Harvard's sophomore-studded crew. "We settled at a cadence of 30½ and had a half-length lead after the first half mile. The crew was doing nicely, digging the blades deep, and we opened our lead to two lengths at the two-mile marker. Since we held the lead, we played it safe. We purposely went down to 28 to avoid the chance of making a mistake.
"With about a mile and a half to go, I heard the Yale cox yell, 'This is our bid.' I said to the crew, 'Let's take their bid and make it ours,' and called for a 29½. We kept moving out and with a mile to go were about three lengths ahead. Then we raised it to 30½, and for show we did the last 20 strokes at 33."
Ahead all the way, Harvard finished two and a half lengths ahead of Yale, was clocked in 19:52 in completing its first unbeaten season since 1942. But the Crimson's season is not quite over. Next month Harvard's crew will forsake Connecticut's Thames for England's, where it will compete in the Royal Henley Regatta.
For Coach Love, thoroughly exhausted but quietly happy, the Henley is still another occasion for a wish. "After a couple of days off," he said, "I hope we'll be able to start training again."
COWMANSHIP A LA VEECK
Not too long ago the spectacle of a second baseman milking a cow in the middle of a double-header would have been considered, well, udderly ridiculous. But for those who have been taking their good Veeck with the bad at Cleveland, St. Louis and Chicago, it was as acceptable and common place as night ball or a second All-Star game. There are those Stony Traditionalists, of course, who refuse to be cowed by White Sox President Bill Veeck's sideshow, who accuse him of demeaning, yea, milking, what they call, devoutly, the National Pastime.
A pastime, however, is that which amuses or makes time pass agreeably. Or as Veeck himself said the other day: "We can't always guarantee the ball game is going to be good. But we can guarantee the fan will have fun even if the game isn't so hot."
With that Veeck plunged a hairy fist into a box behind his desk and brought out a can of fried grasshoppers. "What do you think," he asked, "a guy would do with 500 cans of this stuff?" The question was academic at the moment, but before long some lucky White Sox fan will be presented with 500 cans of assorted fried grasshoppers, chocolate-covered Colombian ants and roasted caterpillars.
One might wonder why Veeck persists in donating doubtfully useful prizes. "You give a radio or a TV set—so what?" he explained. "What does that do for the imagination? Nothing. If I give him 50,000 nuts and bolts [he has] that gives everybody something to talk about."
If Veeck has his way, people are going to be talking about the pitcher who arrived at the mound in an armored car, the new White Soxer who came in by helicopter ("The announcer could be going over the lineup and then he'd say, 'Just a minute, there's a new man, and here he comes...' ") and a laundromat ("The gals could bring their dirty laundry to the ball park and take it home clean").
Veeck has been stunting alone all these years (notable exception: the Dodgers' sad experiment with the sad clown), but last week Kansas City joined him in the milkathon, which celebrated Dairy Week. It may be a sign of more colossal things to come, for Veeck has a jim-dandy which should be a natural for the Indians or the Milwaukee Braves, who have dropped some 200,000 in attendance this year. "Get a representative of every Indian tribe," advised Veeck, "and select an Indian queen."
The Stony Traditionalists may say that Veeck has old Abner Doubleday revolving in his grave. If anyone is revolving, it's the STs and at an antiquated 78 rpm. After all, at week's end the Sox were in first place, even if they did finish last in the milking contest, and the turnstiles were revolving at a rate to make cowmanship a profitable business.