First off, a rhinoceros won an election in Brazil. Then, almost equally improbably, Los Angeles became the baseball capital of the world, and finally, as the biggest shock of all these hectic days, Sam Snead lost a televised golf match.
The future of Los Angeles and the rhinoceros (a write-in candidate) are now left to your conjecture, but Sam Snead, it can be reported, is going to appear on a new golf program.
The teleshow where Sam found he could make money more easily than printing it himself in the back of his pro shop is All-Star Golf, which started its third year last Saturday on ABC from 5 to 6 p.m.
Snead, channeling his energy, so to speak, had won 13 straight matches and a potful of cash on last year's All-Star series. But last Saturday he was forcefully retired 69-72 by the British Open champion, Gary Player.
Jimmy Demaret mastered the ceremonies of the upset in his easygoing, gregarious fashion, handing Sam $1,000 for losing and Player $2,000 for winning, along with that all-important invitation to come back this week to test himself against a new opponent, Billy Casper. All-Star Golf, which filmed most of its matches some months ago, is still paying $500 for eagles and $10,000 for a hole in one, and has added a one-minute instruction session to make its sedentary watchers feel that their viewing time has improved their game.
But what you may not know is that cameras have also been grinding in recent weeks for a new challenger on the TV golf scene—NBC's World Championship Golf. Starting this Sunday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., with Bob Crosby (8 handicap) at the mike, World Championship will give watchers a further round of master golf each weekend.
"We'll be a lot different from The Other Show," a spokesman for NBC's newcomer says. "The Other Show is medal play [total strokes], but ours is match play [holes won].
"We've got top courses—Pebble Beach, Oak Hill, Colonial Country Club. The Other Show's courses, well...
"Our winner gets a total of $37,500, with $25,000 of that being won in the final match of the tournament. That match is the biggest payoff in golf today. Prize money totals $171,000 for the 32 golfers appearing in the series.
"We're using helicopters to film fairways, are including a TV tip of the week and will pay $12,500 for a hole in one." (More than The Other Show, but he didn't say so.)
World Championship Golf has also received backing from the Professional Golf Association in return for its contributing to a yet-to-be-established players' pension fund.
And who should turn out to be the biggest name in the new NBC show? Why Sam Snead, of course, fresh from The Other Show. It seems that most players signed exclusive contracts with one program or the other, but not Sam, who's as canny with the green stuff as on it.
Special to Mississippi
The way the Associated Press slanted the story, the 49-21 licking the New York Giants took from the Philadelphia Eagles early last week was complete and ignominious. But readers of the Clarksdale (Miss.) Press Register (circ. 5,000) got a more warmly tolerant account under the byline of a pretty young woman named Perian Conerly.
"Statistically," she told Mississippi fans, and truly enough, "it was a very close game(!)."
Clarksdale readers take Perian Conerly's word for it. After all, she is the wife of Clarksdale's Charlie Conerly, Giant quarterback. And in Clarksdale, which considers the New York team as its own, Perian is the most-read, most-appreciated sportswriter in the business.
To answer recurring home town questions about the Giants, about Charlie and about the big-city life of a small-town girl, Perian (a southern contraction of Perry from one side of her family, Ann from the other) began her "Backseat Quarterback" column three years ago. With a sprinkling of news and chatter among the statistics and game summaries, she writes one each week of the professional football season, sells it to the Press Register and the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger ("I'm mildly syndicated").
Like any good reporter, Perian sticks close to the subject she knows best, tries to work her husband of 10 years into each column. "What a muddy mess," she exclaimed after a Giants-Steelers game last year. "Charlie's uniform got awfully dirty—in the vicinity of the left knee, that is. (The only time he got into the game was to hold for extra points.)" More favorably to Charlie, her second column this year quoted Giant Coach Jim Lee Howell to the effect that New York's 23-21 win over Los Angeles was Conerly's best game since turning pro. Even more favorably, the column for last week omitted reference to a Conerly fumble that set up an Eagle score. "After all, he's my editor and checks over everything before I send it down to Mississippi," says Perian in magnolia-soft accents. "Why look for trouble?"
As editors go, Quarterback Conerly is not the worst. He sometimes massages Columnist Conerly's neck and shoulders while she hunches over her typewriter. He does not, however, have much to offer in the way of ideas. "What he won't tell me about himself, which is plenty," says Perian, "I have to find out by watching him play, digging and talking to the other players." To tap her sources, Perian, a member of the Football Writers Association of America, roams through New York's Concourse Plaza Hotel, where 15 Giant families live, gets some of her best material from Kyle Rote and Don Heinrich. "I also depend a lot on the wives," says Perian. "That's where you really get the inside poop."
Aside from football, Perian brightens her column with social notes ("We were sitting in Toots Shor's when Frank Sinatra came in"), theater reviews (The Music Man left her "a trifle disappointed"), and idle chitchat ("After the boys left for Philly the wives and children who live in the hotel gathered in my room for the annual get-acquainted party—affectionately called the snake-pit hour").
"There are two audiences I'm aiming at," says Columnist Conerly. "One is the football fans—like the high school principal's wife and the librarian—who think Charlie and the Giants are the greatest things around. The other is the people who don't believe life in New York is all the fun it's cracked up to be. I want to show Clarksdale it's right about the Giants and wrong about New York."
Four-score rowing men met in Philadelphia last week to pay tribute to John Kelly, onetime bricklayer, unsuccessful candidate for mayor (Democratic), father of Grace Kelly and the greatest oarsman of them all. It was the 50th anniversary of Kelly's start in competitive rowing, and the Philadelphia Bulletin remarked in a genial way that just about the only notable oarsman not on hand was the coxswain of Noah's ark.
Otherwise, everybody was there: 10 former national champion singlescullers, an entire championship eight of 1925, a Philadelphia eight that won the world championship in Belgium in 1930, such oldtimers as Harry DeBaecke, who rowed for the United States in the Paris Olympics of 1900, such youngsters as the members of the victorious American eight from the 1955 Pan American games, including John B. Kelly Jr. Rain was falling as they stomped into the dining room at the suburban Bala Golf Club—big, broad-shouldered individuals who exuded an air of well-being as in gentle foghorn voices they expressed satisfaction at being present.
What was remarkable about them, however, was not the span of rowing history they covered but the fact that they all somehow gave the impression of being about the same age. Kelly himself, a tall, slender man who at 70 appears to be at least 45, started rowing seriously when he joined the Vesper Boat Club at 20; until he was 65 he was on the river every day that it wasn't frozen. Called upon to say a few words, Kelly suggested that there was a direct relationship between the sport of rowing and the general friendliness and well-being of the veterans present, and that it might be a matter of temperament and spirit as well as of muscles. "We leave our feuds on the river," he said.
The only disappointment in Kelly's own spectacular career was that he did not win the biggest singles event of his time, the Diamond Sculls at Henley in 1920: he was not allowed to compete. The legend became fixed in rowing folklore that Kelly had been barred because, as a former bricklayer, he had worked with his hands. It was true that Henley then had a rule on its books (long since expunged) that no one who had ever worked for wages could compete. If anybody was ever entitled to feel rancor it was Kelly in 1920. "I was just disappointed," he said. "I knew I was right that spring, and I thought I could win it."
In the 1920 Olympics, a month or so after the Diamond Sculls, he beat Jack Beresford Jr., who had won at Henley. He also rowed in the doubles that year, the only time in Olympic history that anyone rowed in both events and won both. One reason that Kelly's feat awed his fellow oarsmen was that the races were run in heats, and the heats were so close together that after rowing and winning his heat in the singles it was time to start one in the doubles. In Kelly family history the Henley controversy was magnificently laid to rest when, in 1947 and 1949, Jack Kelly Jr. went over and won the Diamond Sculls as emphatically as Jack Sr. might have won them in 1920.
Last week the British authorities, combing through the archives for the Kelly anniversary, came up with a belated explanation for Kelly's barring. It wasn't because he worked with his hands. In 1905 a Vesper crew became involved in a conflict with Britain's Leander Club over British definitions of amateurism, and a ruling went into the Henley books that members of Vesper were just not amateurs, old boys. Kelly had been automatically refused entrance for that reason, and no particular slight to Irish bricklayers intended. From London came the word: Kellys all welcome on our river nowadays.
Phantoms and Ghosts
In the excitement surrounding the unveiling of Detroit's economy car lines these past weeks it wouldn't have been hard to overlook a note concerning quite an opposite automotive move. That genteel English firm Rolls-Royce Ltd. is coming out with a new model that, at two inches under 20 feet, is longer, more powerful and more expensive than ever.
To be known as the Phantom V, this new supersedan will sell for roughly $24,000, provided you don't want such extras as an espresso coffeemaker or hot running water.
The thought that a Rolls-Royce has grown to be longer even than, well, say a Cadillac, may disturb traditionalists who have come to revere an automobile company so conservative it hasn't changed its radiator grille design in 55 years. Now, as reassurance that a Rolls is a Rolls is a Rolls, comes another item.
This concerns the Danish Veteran Car Club, which not so long ago got a tip from a coachman's son that a car had been walled up in Beldringe Castle on Zealand Island for years. The club remembered that the old Baron Raben-Levetzau, the castle owner, once owned a Rolls-Royce which disappeared 30 years ago.
Would the present baron let the club look around the castle grounds? Of course, said Johan Otto Baron Raben-Levetzau. The search led finally to an old carriage house, long since remodeled as a granary. There a brick wall seemed to seal off a dead space behind it. Hammer a hole, said the baron. Through the wall they went; and there, inside, was a magnificent 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, its tires rotted, leather seats hard as stone, but metal work and engine flawless. At first crank the motor turned over, and in short order the reconditioned Silver Ghost (cost in 1911 $16,000 or so, length one inch under 18 feet) was on the road, with the baron enthusiastically behind the wheel.
A man who thought he had no interest in automobiles, the baron, at 52, has joined the car club. "Very badly bitten," he says now.
Wait Till Next Year
When Mickey Thompson was a teen-ager in El Monte, California he somehow missed out on the common idol worship of his generation for Joe DiMaggio; his mind was too full of the doings of England's John Cobb as Cobb broke automobile speed record after speed record on Utah's Bonneville salt flats. When Cobb's twin-engined special set a land record of 394.2 mph in 1947, Mickey Thompson promised himself that he would beat that record some day. Early last week, in a home-built, four-engined special of his own called Challenger I, 30-year-old Mickey made Bonneville smoke with his speed. John Cobb's record still eluded him, but if ever a man was entitled to tell the world "wait till next year" it was Mickey Thompson.
His Challenger is a sky-blue guided missile of a car, designed on the exquisitely logical principle that if one engine drives a vehicle 100 mph, four engines will drive it 400 mph. Challenger won't get out of low gear until 210 mph, needs a parachute to slow it down and an oxygen supply for the driver to keep him from being gassed in the tiny cockpit where he lies nearly horizontal, rather like Mme. Récamier on her chaise longue. The car's four Pontiac engines sit in pairs at the front of the 30-inch-high hood. The forward engines, with transmissions facing the front, are linked to the front axle by two differential gears, while the rear engines power the rear wheels through a drive shaft.
Behind this mass of exploding energy, fueled with nitro and alcohol, is the driver, Mickey, working four clutches through a single operating arm and hoping he can keep the aluminum craft from taking off like an airplane.
After tuneup runs that included an American mile record of 330.5 in August, Mickey was ready for a 400-mph attempt on the salt flats by late September, but oddly enough the salt flats weren't ready for Mickey. Rain in the arid area had made them treacherously rough and soft. Days passed while official timers waited at $1,400 a day—an expense that, like many others, was covered by a gasoline company and engine-making sponsors.
With more bad weather coming, Mickey decided to risk a record attempt. On a morning run he averaged 363.7 mph running both ways through the measured course and breaking land speed records for 16 assorted distances. Then, as he thundered toward the measured mile once again that afternoon, his oxygen hose fell loose from his mask. He tried to hold the canopy open for a gulp of air, failed, and had to fight combustion fumes until "I couldn't read the markers along the straightaway. That was the signal. 'Boy, you've got to pop that chute,' I said to myself, and that's all I remember."
Thompson was unconscious before he could hit the brake, but the parachute brought the car to a long rolling halt. His pit crew pulled him from the fume-filled cockpit and revived him with oxygen.
At 10:30 that night, his brush with death forgotten, Thompson stood on the lonely salt flats and cursed the gentle rain that spelled the end of time trials for this year. He ordered Challenger trucked home to Los Angeles and headed back himself to his job as a newspaper pressman and to more tinkering in his garage.
Challenger, still never run at full throttle, will be back next September, and around the 1960 trials there may develop one of the most exciting contests of the year. For Thompson is not going to be alone on the flats this time.
England's Donald Campbell, who holds the world's water speed record, has a turbojet racer a-building. He is after John Cobb's record too. And he has promised to be on the flats September 4.
He raised his trusty gun. What luck!
The mallard was as good as plucked.
His aim was true, but then the duck
They Said It
Mrs. Christopher Chataway, on the current fitness of her sub-four-minute miter husband who just finished Britain's parliamentary elections 4,613 votes ahead of his Laborite opponent: "He's disgustingly out of condition."
Devereux C. Josephs, chairman of the President's Committee on Education Beyond the High School, on the need for wholesome recreation: "Our work week has shrunk in a half century from 52 to 40 hours. These 12 hours are not required for the necessities. Leisure, recreation, vacuity or mischief can fill them. We must learn to fill the time literally manufactured in our factories."