To The horseplayer whose constant lament after losing a race is "There must be some way to beat the nags," we offer the following tip which, by past performance, should be a sure winner. Our information comes not from the horse's mouth, or even from the form sheet, but from the stock quotations. The tip: put your money on the race track, not on the horses.
Race track stockholders are cleaning up, even if the bettors are not. Happily, over-the-counter racing issues fit every purse, ranging from $2.50 a share for Sunshine Park to $65,000 for a share of Santa Anita, the most expensive stock in the country, which originally sold at $5,000 per and now pays a $5,000-a-year dividend. The man who bought $100 worth of Roosevelt Raceway in the early 1940s now has holdings worth almost $24,000. Yonkers Raceway, which sold at $16 about a year ago, is now at $35.
Just as enticing, perhaps, is one of the extra dividends passed along by most of the tracks to their stockholders: free season passes. Of course, owning stock in a race track won't quell the urge to bet, but at least the stock owner has the satisfaction of knowing, when he tears up his losing ticket, that he is putting money back into his own pocket. Well, a percentage of it anyway. So don't tell us you can't make money on the ponies.
July 19, 1959
Bulls in the Living Room
Riding the crest of an electronic wave that is already breaking on the beaches of golf and baseball, an ABC network vice-president recently announced plans to bring video-taped bullfights into U.S. living rooms.
The V.P. in question is Sterling Quinlan of Chicago's WBKB-TV, who got the notion when a Mexican colleague, Emilio Azcarraga, who televises an enormously popular bullfight program weekly over Telesistema, told him that Mexicans believe American sports are as brutal as most Americans consider bullfighting to be. Quinlan decided to televise a bullfight largely as a matter of promoting international understanding. He argues that television has a duty to show aspects of the world beyond the horizon of the everyday life of the viewers. Bullfighting, he says, is too much a part of the ancient cultural and sporting traditions of the Latin-American world to be ignored. Advance mutterings indicate there is going to be a terrific protest from humane society groups, but Quinlan is prepared for them. "I don't feel that television is a hothouse plant in the communications garden," he says.
All of which certainly deserves the plaudits of the U.S. televiewer. There is, however, one aspect of the plan which Promoter Quinlan seems to have overlooked, i.e., the quality of the bullfights. Using tapes of three separate Mexico City events of last spring, the first televised bullfight in this country is to present three figures of somewhat less than major league caliber: Carlos Arruza, Alfonzo Ramirez and Juanito Silvti. With all due respect to the Senators and Red Sox, this is a little like trying to show Spaniards the thrill of baseball by treating them to a re-run of some last-year pitching duel between Russ Kemmerer and Willard Nixon.
It so happens that in Spain at present a great event of modern bullring history is coming to a climax. The corrida's two greatest exponents, Antonio Ordonez and his brother-in-law, Luis Miguel Dominguin, are meeting in a hand-to-hand series which has led critics to declare a new golden age of bullfighting has begun at last. These two great performers have previously been separated by a family feud (Ordonez thought the Dominguin family had snubbed him) and met for the first time in a spectacular corrida at Zaragoza, followed by a triumph at Barcelona that ended when both were carried by cheering aficionados out the main entrance of the bull ring, through traffic-filled streets to their hotels. They have displayed such mastery that run-of-the-mill matadors are stunned, and oldtimers say the great days of Juan Belmonte and Joselito are returning. It isn't necessary to endorse Ernest Hemingway's views of the mystique of bullfighting to believe that their forthcoming meetings—about a dozen are to take place this season—might be of interest outside Spain. In any event, the focus of attention would be on the quality of the sport at its highest. If we're going to have bulls running loose in our living rooms, let's—for heaven's sake—have competent toreros to fight them.
Alias Joe McBride
To the best of our knowledge Joe Gordon of the Cleveland Indians is the only major league baseball manager who ever served as a war correspondent. His career in journalism began and ended on a single day in 1945 and, as far as we know, has never been recorded for posterity. At last, thanks to a newshawk named George Jones, a college classmate of Joe's, now a Washington magazine editor but once a New York Times correspondent, the whole truth can be told.
The occasion was a challenge issued to the correspondents during a lull in World War II by the Navy censors at Central Pacific headquarters—a challenge to a softball game.
"A day or so after the challenge was issued—and accepted," Jones recalls, "I noted that Pfc. Joe Gordon and several other major leaguers, now wearing Air Force uniforms, had arrived at Tinian Island to play some exhibition games.
"Joe, of course, I had known at school. When I mentioned this fact, a group of my colleagues arrived at the logical inspiration: Why not get Joe down to Guam, somehow, and slip him into our lineup as a 'war correspondent' under an assumed name?
"We got busy. An Air Force press officer joyfully entered the conspiracy against the censors; he agreed to get secret orders to fly Pfc. Gordon to Guam. On the day of the game, sure enough, Joe arrived—somewhat puzzled over the whole business—and was smuggled by the Air Force officer into our barracks. When we explained what was up, Joe became interested immediately. We took off his enlisted insignia and gave him a correspondent's collar tab. (This automatically raised Pfc. Gordon to a rank equivalent to that of major.) We also gave him a new name; as far as Joe and I can now recall it was 'Joseph McBride of the Philadelphia Bulletin.'
"Then we had a few beers.
"That afternoon, we straggled casually onto the makeshift diamond. Introducing Joe to some of the censors as a newly arrived correspondent, we asked if he could play. A couple of the censors eyed his husky build dubiously but finally agreed, and the game got under way. It was Joe's idea that it would be better if he remained in reserve until the right moment. That moment came in the first inning; with the censors leading by a couple of runs, two of our men got on base on the misplays usual to a game of this kind. Up to bat came Joe McBride as a pinch hitter.
"At our behest, Joe shambled up to the plate as if he didn't know a baseball from a typewriter. When he reached the plate, however, instinct prevailed. To our minds, at least, the hoax stood revealed in all its dreadful clarity. There, for all to see, was the American League's Most Valuable Player of 1942—muscles rippling and bat switching angrily as he crouched, loose and easy. At that moment, he looked for all the world like a panther ready to spring for the kill.
"There was a puzzled hush on the field. Infield chatter stopped. A somewhat pinched look came to the face of the pitcher—until then gay and confident. The pitcher hesitated, then threw. It was very wide, very high—but Joe went after it. He remembers: 'I figured they were getting on to me fast and I'd better take it.'
"Almost casually, he reached out and swatted the ball. Away it went, on a long and leisurely parabola high into the blue skies of Guam—up and out and over the cliffs that drop off into the Pacific.
"One runner crossed the plate, barely ahead of a swarm of censors—big censors, little censors—piling in from the field. It was a bedlam of howls and shrieks, with some of the noise coming from the sidelines where Air Force officers were laughing their heads off. One Navy censor's cry, piercing in its intensity, arose above all others, 'That guy ain't no correspondent!'
"In the showdown, there was little to do but confess the hoax. Joe was relegated to the role of umpire for the two or three remaining innings. But we did insist that the runs counted; to our reckoning (if not to the censors') the 'game of the century' ended in our favor.
"Joe remained not only in but above the ranks of the war correspondents until far into the night. The last we saw of Pfc. Gordon, he was being surrounded at the officers club by top brass eager to meet the Yankee slugger—otherwise known as 'the war correspondent from the Philadelphia Bulletin.' "
Arcaro Rides Again
A few minutes past noon last Friday, George Edward Arcaro, 43, walked into the jockeys' room at New York's Belmont Park, squirmed into a set of yellow-and-red silks and bounced onto the scales. "A hundred and thirteen," he said. "A hundred and thirteen. Good."
Old Banana Nose had been away from racing at Belmont for 22 racing days and 202 races since tumbling from Black Hills in the June 13 Belmont Stakes (SI, June 22). "There isn't a mark on my body," he said, "and I feel as if I had just come from a vacation. After spending four days in the hospital I went home and tried to watch television and read. But the picture and the words became wavy and I had to stop. Then I went up to Canada to do some fishing, and you couldn't beat the bass away." He rubbed his great proboscis and thought for a second. "But bass, you see, were not in season so I had to throw them all back. I came back home and played some golf and, just when my golf was getting sharp, the vacation ended. So here I am.
"Look at that," he said holding up a bandaged right thumb. "I was closing a sliding cabinet door at home and zip, I scraped the devil out of it. It's a funny thing about jockeys. They have to be like little rubber balls."
Two hours later Arcaro moved to the walking ring and when he reached it the crowds lining the black rails broke into a sustained 58-second applause. He pulled at his red cap and kicked the ground with his tiny black boots. He walked to his mount, Elliotts Jewel, and was pitched aboard. Again the crowd applauded him. "Eeek," one man shouted, "the Beak is back." "It's been lonely out here without ya," said another. "Arcaro, without you Belmont is worse than the trotters," said a third.
Arcaro smiled and rode out in front of the stands, and nearly 20,000 applauded him. "Five times," he said later, "five times I have returned to New York after winning the Kentucky Derby and when I cantered in the post parade the people would stand and applaud me and it made me feel all warm inside. But the applause today was louder than after all the five Derbies and I could sense a different meaning to it. Would they think I was silly if I said there were tears in my eyes?"
Arcaro finished fifth on Elliotts Jewel, then second in his next try and finally dead last on his first day back.
On Saturday, however, he went to the walking ring again, this time to ride Helmville. "Come on, Banana," shouted a fan. "Don't keep us waitin'." He didn't. He shook Helmville up entering the stretch and won quite easily. When he entered the winner's circle the people cheered him loudly. He won the next race on a long shot and his mission seemed completed. He did, however, lose the $25,000 Saranac Handicap by a head and was soundly booed.
"Funny," he said, "I suppose everyone wonders why people boo me and hoot at me. Probably it's because I'm usually riding the first, second or third choices in the betting and, well, they all can't win. But I'll tell you this, when I go around the ring or onto the track I hear those people. And many times when they poke fun at me I laugh. When they show enough interest to yell at me I can't help feeling that they are having a good time, and if having a good time means yelling at Arcaro, then it's all right with Arcaro. It feels good to be back."
O.K., Eddie, and it's good to have you back.
Can You Tie This?
This fisherman ties quite remarkable flies.
They're so lifelike that, to his dismay,
As soon as he's done,
They rise up, one by one,
And gracefully flutter away.
They Said It
Althea Gibson, first Negro to win the National and Wimbledon championships, on the Ralph Bunche-West Side Tennis Club controversy: "I don't think that tennis or tennis players and fans should be penalized by taking the Davis Cup or the Nationals out of the only actual tennis stadium in the U.S."
Casey Stengel, after hearing for the umpty-umpt time that his Yankees were just not playing on their toes: "What'a ya want me to do? Raise the wash basins in the locker room six inches?"
Ben Hogan, on putting: "Selecting a stroke is like selecting a wife. To each his own."
Joseph Tomaselli, attorney for boxing hoodlum Frankie Carbo, filing an appeal in New Jersey to keep his client from being returned to New York (where Carbo is under grand jury indictment): "Mr. Carbo is willing to go back voluntarily when the climate is more favorable."
U.S.-BOUND RUSSIAN TRACK STARS MAKE SHABBY SHOWING IN LAST MOSCOW MEET