Golf Lesson for a Politician
"My wife makes the friends for the family; I make the enemies," says J. Bracken Lee, former Governor of Utah. At one time or another he has done battle with the U.N., foreign aid, federal income taxes and even schoolteachers. But Lee, now the freshly elected Mayor of Salt Lake City, never knew how many enemies he could really make until last week when he decided to close a city golf course before it ever opened.
Mayor Lee started innocently enough with a crusade to cut the city's budget. Amidst much public applause he rescinded city pay raises and lopped off employees. Then, heady with success, Lee discovered that $35,000 was going to be spent to finish a new 18-hole public golf course. He bade city commissioners stop further work on it. Told that $215,000 had already been spent and that the course was 86% completed, Lee was adamant.
Any duffer could have told the mayor what would happen next. Golfers phoned, wrote letters and invaded City Hall in person to tee off on Mayor Lee.
February 1, 1960
"He doesn't play golf or he would not do such an insane thing," cried perceptive golfers. (Lee fishes, hunts and shoots trap.)
Giving ground slightly, the mayor scheduled a public hearing last week. Five hundred citizens jammed the hearing room while another 100 stood in the hall. "Looks like the first tee on Sunday," said a spectator.
Mayor Lee arrived tight-lipped, was greeted with boos and hisses, was obliged to listen as he was told the facts of golfing life in Salt Lake City: roughly 200,000 rounds of golf were played on the city's three courses in 1959; waiting time is two hours on weekdays, and reservations are a must on weekends; moreover, the city courses made a $46,000 profit last year.
"The city has more urgent needs," Mayor Lee suggested lamely. "Let's study the matter further."
But the city commissioners, more sensitive to the sporting mood than their executive, had heard enough. They joined, an emphatic foursome, in voting to complete the new course. Mayor Lee had to retreat.
Any duffer could have told him: J. Bracken Lee had got himself into an unplayable lie.
The New York Boat show closed Sunday after record sales and orders of $32 million, an increase of 18% over last year's record sales and orders. Contributing to the boom was Joe Choate, manager of the New York show for the past 11 years. Carried away, Choate decided to buy a boat himself, a 14-foot sloop for $1,075. It is the first he has ever owned. "I guess I always had too many chances to use other people's boats," he said.
It's 1960 All Right
The week's headlines were full of familiar names—names that made headlines through the 1950s, even the 1940s. But the news about them had a special sound. Sugar Ray Robinson, pushing 40, came back to the ring after a long layoff and lost his middleweight title to a lad of 29. Sam Snead, 47, made the news by catching a handsome bass in Lake Okeechobee—he was letting a lot of younger fellows go after the $50,000 Crosby Open in California. Ted Williams, 41, got into the papers in Boston: it was chilly, miserable weather, and an old neck pain was bothering Ted. If the pain keeps up, he won't play ball this year, Ted said. Yes, it was 1960, all right.
It was a week in which major league ballplayers opened their mail and studied their new contracts. Stan Musial, 39, of the St. Louis Cardinals, was asked to take a cut (from $100,000 to $80,000). Musial, manfully, said the cut was overdue. "In fact I'm glad to sign this contract," he said, "because a couple of times in the past the Cards have had me sign for more than we agreed upon orally. This year I thought I'd be kind to them."
Philadelphia's veteran pitcher, Robin Roberts, hid whatever else he must have felt when he said: "I have to admit I deserved to be cut. It wasn't a tremendous slice, and for a man who lost 17 games and won 15, it was justified." Whitey Ford of the Yankees was resigned to a cut but wasn't asked to take one. Although he lost 10 games while winning 16 ("Who did I beat? Kansas City and Washington!" he grumped), he was promised the same salary as last year, $35,000. "The first thing I did was look for a stamp," said Ford. "I wanted to sign that contract and get it back before they changed their minds."
But one man's winter can be another man's spring. It was all sunshine and crocuses, for instance, for Larry Sherry, 24, of the Dodgers; he got his pay doubled for winning the World Series for Los Angeles. And for Harmon Killebrew, 23, about all there was last season to the Washington Senators' firepower (42 home runs); Killebrew got more than double his 1959 money in a contract calling for $22,000. And for Cleveland's Rocky Colavito, 26, who tied Killebrew for the American League home run title; he was offered a raise from $28,000 to $33,000.
Colavito, however, doesn't impress as easily as Sherry and Killebrew, and he sent back word his signature was really worth $40,000. Any Cleveland schoolgirl with an autograph book would probably agree.
The Belly Series
Some football people call it the winter Belly Series. A racing writer calls it the annual Steaks Race. Call it what you will, the sports banquet season is at its peak, and medals, honors and anecdotes are pouring forth. Herewith a conscientious selection of the quips having greatest success:
Early Wynn, the White Sox pitcher, has a strong line ready whenever he is introduced as "a guy who wouldn't give his own mother a good pitch to hit." "Mother," says Early, "was a hell of a hitter."
Jim Whatley, baseball coach at the University of Georgia, is telling of his undergraduate days with Sports Announcer Mel Allen at the University of Alabama: "As a freshman outfielder, Mel would run in on a fly ball shouting 'I've got it,' and then drop it. But Mel majored in English. When he was a senior, and better educated, Mel would run in on a fly ball shouting 'I have it,' then drop it."
One of the stories on the Texas circuit belongs to George Wright, sports news director of Baylor University: "A bishop and a football coach arrived at the pearly gates together, and the bishop was nearly ignored while the coach was greeted with a lavish parade and carried to a throne. 'If you do that for a football coach,' the bishop asked, 'what do you do for a bishop?' 'Nothing,' replied the guardian of the gates. 'We get a bishop a week, but that's the first football coach we've had.' "
But by general consent, the best-received speech in Texas, maybe anywhere, has been the short address of welcome that Blackie Sherrod, sports columnist of the Dallas Times Herald, delivered at a Texas Hall of Fame luncheon. Said Sherrod:
"I am indeed grateful for this opportunity to rise and welcome you, particularly since I have always admired greatly the men being inducted into the Hall of Fame, since two great teams, Syracuse and Texas, are present, and also since the program is long and this is the last chance I'll have to straighten my shorts."
The Pin Spotter Reaches London
The crowd was there to bowl but it was not precisely the kind you might expect to see in a Midwest shopping center on Saturday night. There was a detachment of trumpeters from the Queen's Life Guards. There were at least a dozen peers of the realm on hand. There was a blonde film star named Carole Lesley in a very low-cut evening dress who obliged by stooping agreeably low over a bowling ball. There was London Soccer Star Danny Blanchflower and a covey of his colleagues. And to roll out the first ball—encased in shining gilt—there was famed Sir John Hunt, the brave British brigadier who organized the first conquest of Mount Everest. And last, but never least, there was Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (who would be addressed as Sir Douglas except for the annoyance of being a U.S. citizen) to drop a sentimental tear because he had "once worked as a pin boy at Watch Hill, R.I. and earned half a dollar an afternoon."
Thus, last week, American-style bowling made its debut in London. The American Machine and Foundry Company, whose automatic pin spotters have long since done away with pin boys and helped to work a social revolution in U.S. bowling, hopes to make considerably more than Sir Douglas' half a dollar from its venture. It has done a quarter-million-dollar face-lifting job on North London's old Super Cinema and rechristened it Ten Pin Lanes, replacing its seats and moldy plush with gray wall-to-wall carpeting and lampshades fashioned in the shape of balls and pins, equipping what was once the auditorium with 14 gleaming alleys with an automatic spotter at the end of each one.
As soon as Ten Pin Lanes is a proven money-maker, AMF hopes to turn ownership and management of the British lanes over to local private enterprise, collecting its own profits by lease of machinery and equipment as it does now all over the U.S.
"By the time we get to the end of 1962," said AMF's British manager George Lord, "England will be covered with bowling lanes. I'm convinced it's going to be a palliative to all the evils we have in the world today."
Boxing for Gentlemen
While Londoners were devoting themselves to a celebration of bowling's glorious future (see above), other sports fans were attempting to revive the great past of pugilism at a boxing tournament in Oxford. The tournament was the first to be held by the Pierce Egan Boxing Club, an organization of Oxford and Cambridge amateur fighters.
The club, founded a year ago, was conceived by an Oxford medical student and named by Neil Allen, boxing writer for The Times of London, in honor of his great 19th century sportswriting predecessor. Pierce Egan was the author of Boxiana and creator of two of the most popular fictional fist-fighters of the English Regency, Corinthian Tom and Jerry Hawthorn, better and more simply known to history as Tom and Jerry.
"We wanted," said Allen, "to bring back into boxing the genuine spirit of the Amateur Gentleman, fighting for fun."
This sentiment was worthy of the club's immortal patron, who wrote of the favorite sport of England's Regency bucks that it served "to keep alive the principles of courage and hardihood which have distinguished the British character and to check the progress of that effeminacy which wealth is too apt to produce."
In Egan's day, besides gathering in meadows to watch the heroic battling of such great pros as Daniel Mendoza the Jew, Tom Cribb, Jack Slack and Martin the Bath Butcher, many a young lordling, including the poet Byron, took to the ring himself to fight as a Corinthian amateur. In line with this tradition, the Pierce Egan Club's first president is the 14th Duke of Hamilton, a famous flying peer who was once Scotland's amateur middleweight champion.
Among the club's younger Corinthians are a Bombay-born Cambridge engineering student named Inder Mirchanandani, who fights as a bantamweight; Charles MacKenzie Hill, a law student who, as a former marine, earned a reputation as "a toff who can give 'em all a fight," and an American Rhodes scholar named Kris Kristofferson, who describes a livid scar over his eyebrow as "50% boxing, 50% football."
In Oxford Town Hall before a capacity crowd that included the Duke of Fife and the Lord Mayor, the Eganites last week took on some of the Royal Navy's best boxers. The Eganites wore peacock-blue shorts secured in Regency fashion with a black bow at the back. Her Majesty's naval ratings wore ordinary trunks and won the matches 5-4.
But over port after a dinner that lasted until the early hours of the morning, P. Ingress Bell, M.P. and onetime Oxford boxing captain, made the Eganite defeat sound almost like a triumph. "We box," he said, "because we like to, because we believe that this noble art has a lot to contribute to the British character. We are one of the last residues of the Corinthian spirit."
Against Tedium in Tennis
Before the meeting of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association in Scottsdale, Ariz, broke up last week, newly installed President George Barnes took a step to liven up the game. He appointed his Chicago neighbor Ralph Wescott to head a committee whose general mandate reads: "Make tennis a more interesting spectator and participant sport."
Among other things, Wescott's committee will consider certain rules changes that might encourage longer rallies. They will also consider moving some championship play off the hallowed grass courts and onto clay or composition.
As the amateurs prepared to ponder these radical notions, they found themselves suddenly and happily faced with a valuable assist from an old rival, professional promoter Jack Kramer. Jack announced that one-half of the matches in his 1960 pro tour will be played under his own new rules, which will outlaw service aces by requiring a rally of at least three strokes before a point can be scored.
"We believe," said Kramer, "that tennis audiences will enjoy a display of all-round tennis." Against the tedious "power game," Jack has uncorked an ace of his own.
Showdown in Mike's Place
It's no ordinary day when Mike Gilardi attracts a standing-room crowd to his bar at Kentucky and Washington streets in Petaluma, Calif. But then the California State Wrist Wrestling Championship is no everyday event, as Gilardi and all Petaluma well know. Accordingly, Mike turned his bar into an arena for 27 of the best wrist wrestlers in the West the other day, and his beer taps never had it so good.
Wrist wrestling, better known nationally as hand wrestling, is an elementary matter between two men facing each other across a table, often in a bar. Each places an elbow on the table and, after clasping the other man's hand, strives mightily to push his opponent's forearm from proud vertical to abject horizontal. From abject horizontal the loser's forearm is usually lifted to signal the bartender.
The sport got a firm grip on Petaluma six years ago when a local cowboy, bored with pitching steers over the corral fence, began inviting all comers to wrist wrestle. Once he lost, the cowboy went back to his steers, and for the past two years the championship has been held by Earl Hagerman, 23. Hagerman earns his living in nearby Santa Rosa interviewing applicants for retail credit, a form of wrestling in itself. His other credentials include a compact build, 5 feet 8 inches, 190 pounds, and massive hands.
The challenger in this year's championship match was Bert Crosby, a 200-pound, 6-foot telephone lineman from Ukiah, Calif. Crosby's hand is half an inch shorter than Hagerman's, but Crosby used it expertly as he strained up through the tournament brackets. Eventually, sitting solemnly before Hagerman, he looked the perfect man to upset the champion and carry the title home to Ukiah. But Hagerman, fresh and rested (the champion is excused from the preliminaries), chewed a stick of gum and waited almost casually for the "go" signal.
At the signal, the steely grip of the champion closed around the challenger's and began to force Crosby's arm back. But as the 280 spectators in Mike Gilardi's bar opened their mouths to roar for the quick finish, Crosby marshaled all his reserves, puffed his cheeks, popped his eyes and pushed Hagerman's arm straight up. The wrist-wrestling championship of California hung in exquisite suspense. Then Earl Hagerman remembered the shirt he was wearing: a red-and-black sleeveless number his recent bride had given him "to defend my title in." His enormous right arm quivered once, quaked twice, swept through a quick 90° arc. Bert Crosby, after just 3½ seconds of play, was a goner.
Crackdown on Show-offs
It smacked of exaggeration but it was close to the truth when an Atlantic Coast Conference basketball coach said after a recent game: "We really put on a show. I was off the bench 143 times, and the other coach was up 142."
Commissioner James Weaver of the ACC last week took note of the way coaches have been storming their way onto the floor, shaking their fists at referees and generally making bores of themselves. From here on, ruled Weaver in a pioneer decree, the schools of fist-shaking coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference will be penalized as follows: first offense $100; second offense (in the same season) $500; a third will result in a coach's being banned from conference games. Officials who fail to impose these penalties when called for, added Weaver with a deft touch, will look for work in some other conference.
Said Wake Forest's Coach Bones McKinney, an outstanding jump-up-man: "It's a pity when a man's water bucket is at one end of the bench and he can't get to it."
The duffer, stroking from the rough,
Had divot dirt in sleeve and cuff.
When asked if he'd improved his round,
He said, "I think I'm gaining ground."
They Said It
Dolph Schayes of the Syracuse Nationals, after hearing Wilt Chamberlain's new rock 'n' roll record: "I hope he sells a million copies. Then maybe he'll quit basketball."
Joseph Donoghue, vice-president of the Philadelphia Eagles, objecting to Marshall Leahy as National Football League commissioner: "Listen, that Leahy wants $75,000. We can get Eisenhower for that."
Jimmy Powers, voice of TV at the Paul Pender-Ray Robinson fight, when Sugar Ray threw punches after the 13th-round bell: "It's hard to hear the bell up there; there's a tremendous amount of smoke here in Boston Garden."