Bring Your Own Glove
A large grin across his face, New York's Bill Shea told the world last week that the Continental League had settled on Buffalo as its eighth and final city. Organizer Shea admitted that sizable problems remain; for one, providing adequate stadiums (upward of 35,000 capacity) for each of the ball clubs; for another, "just and reasonable compensation" for any minor league franchises lost in the shuffle. But this would be handled in good time; what was important was that the Continental League had met Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick's primary requirement for membership in the majors—eight good cities and true.
Did the awarding of the Buffalo franchise mean, someone asked Shea, that the league was now ready to sign up a ballplayer if one walked through the door? "Does he have his own glove?" Shea joked. "Sure, we're ready. Any member of the league can now sign up ballplayers." Did Shea expect the cooperation of the Baseball Commissioner's office? "I always hope for the best," he said, a sudden frown extinguishing his grin.
"Understand this," Shea continued, "we've got the teams now and we'll have the ball parks by 1961. We're also ready to pay indemnities to anyone we put out of business."
February 8, 1960
What were the Continental League's plans for broadcasting and televising games? "Every club will make its own radio and TV commitments," Shea said, "but two-thirds of all the money will go to the league treasury. It will be used to help the clubs field equally skilled teams while the league is in the embryo stage." Donald Grant, representing the New York franchise, interrupted. "Bill," he said, "I think it would be wiser if we just said a substantial amount will go into the treasury. We haven't all agreed on the exact percentage yet." "Sure, Don, sure," Shea said. "We can say a substantial amount."
League President Branch Rickey turned the meeting back toward unqualified optimism. "It's quite a task getting a whole family of children all dressed up and ready to go to church," he said. "I was reminded of this while we were trying to fill the league's membership. You know you will have trouble going to church together, but you also know you will surmount the difficulties."
Rickey leaned back in his chair, took a contented puff on his cigar. "It was 60 years ago on this very date," he said, "that Ban Johnson announced his eight clubs and the American League held its first meeting. As of today, with the addition of Buffalo, we are officially launching the Continental League, and we believe our own future is even brighter."
How Not to Hire a Sprinter
American Colleges have made noteworthy progress in the subtle science of athletic subsidizing. But last week, like a dunce who had even forgotten his ABCs, South Carolina's Furman University was at the foot of the class.
Furman's bad marks stemmed from the clumsy way it tried to give away a track scholarship. The object of its affection was Dave Segal, a fairly talented British sprinter. Charles Rohe, the Furman track coach, first heard of the 22-year-old Segal last fall when, with a fistful of scholarships at his disposal, he wrote to people here and overseas, seeking leads on promising runners. His letter to a columnist for the London Daily Mirror skipped lightly over academic requirements and read, as it was published, like a want ad: "[The boy we want] should be about a 10.6-second man in the 100 meters or 9.8 or 9.9 in the 100-yard dash...a fine 440 or 400-meter man or low hurdler." Dave Segal, a 9.6 man in the 100-yard dash, applied. Coach Rohe wrote back he would meet Dave's plane.
The British Amateur Athletic Association (BAAA for short) caught up with the letter to the Daily Mirror, sniffed subsidized athletics and sent a warning to Segal: accepting the track scholarship would jeopardize his amateur status and his chance to run in the Rome Olympics. In BAAA's view, the scholarship was "offered solely to raise the standard" of Furman's track team. Thus it violated a ruling of the International Amateur Athletic Federation against overt, athletic scholarships. "This one was absolutely blatant," said the BAAA.
Furman countered by offering Segal an academic scholarship. The BAAA was neither impressed nor amused. Their answer was still to the effect that "if you run in America on this deal you're risking your amateur standing."
Enrolled at Furman last week on a "general excellence" scholarship, Student Segal was applying himself to business administration. Coach Rohe is applying himself to finding another dash man.
Conditioning for the Cup
Any young man who plans to have a try at bringing the Davis Cup back from Australia this year had better make up his mind right now that the job won't be any lark. The newly appointed Davis Cup captain made that pitilessly clear last week.
A dark-horse choice by the USLTA to replace retiring Cup Captain Perry Jones, Salt Lake City Businessman David Lester Freed is a man who believes above all in physical fitness. Winner of the U.S. Senior singles title five years ago, Freed at 50 is a teetotaler who makes it a point to play at least an hour of tennis before breakfast every morning—weather permitting—and more before going to bed at night. Only in the dead of winter does Freed relax this regimen, and then he plays squash. Despite the fact that the Freed business interests range from livestock to finance, with some real-estating and trailer selling tucked in between, any caller at the Freed office during exercise period is sternly told that the boss cannot be disturbed. "If you don't set a high priority on exercise, you just don't get any," says Freed.
Of Freed's immediate predecessors, Billy Talbert approached the job of cup captain as an able field general, Perry Jones brought to it a considerable skill as organizer and administrator. Captain Freed, who will have clay-court champion and veteran Davis Cupper Tut Bartzen to assist him on the field as assistant captain, will approach the job from still another angle. "The greatest emphasis," he says, "will be on physical condition. The squad and I will get together and we'll talk and I'll tell them what physical conditioning means. The important time for me and for the players will be the 60 days prior to the matches. That's when the cup will most likely be won or lost."
The Totem Pole
"It was a-comin' to me," said Willie Mays. "I deserved a raise." In these simple but heartfelt words at a mock signing for the benefit of newsmen (the actual signing had taken place in the privacy of Horace Stoneham's office a week before), San Francisco's Say Hey! boy last week acknowledged his newly won position as high man on baseball's salary pole.
As near as the sports page experts could figure from the doubletalk at this and other spectacular signings (actual figures are seldom released), Willie was going to earn $85,000 this year—$5,000 more than second-high man Stan Musial, who took a big cut from last year, and a good $20,000 more than the onetime top man, Ted Williams.
As confident of his own ability as Willie and with a comparable gift of rugged phrase was Mickey Mantle. Of the $65,000 offer from the Yankees that would put him in third place on the totem pole, Mickey said simply: "They cut me more than they shoulda."
Nightclub Golf Pro
The little club is a cheerful night spot in Manhattan's supper-club belt. Very chic, very little. It is also the first nightclub in the world to hire its own golf professional. He is Joe Campbell, 24, pro golf's rookie of the year in 1959.
"My friends and the people who come here were shocked and amazed," said the club's owner, Billy Reed, the other evening as he sipped a Pernod mist. "They all thought I was crazy. 'Waddaya mean you got a playing pro?' they asked me. 'What's a place like this going to do with a golf pro?' "
Well, it started a couple of years ago. Reed, who has been playing golf for five years, had read with interest about some of the young pros and how they go out on the tour with financial assistance from friends or from golf clubs. So he asked himself, look, if a golf club can have a playing pro why can't The Little Club have one too? Right?
Reed scanned the field of young pros, finally settled on Campbell after seeing him play in the 1959 U.S. Open.
Reed started negotiations, Joe dropped in at the club last October, and they signed a contract. Out on the tour Campbell registers his affiliation as The Little Club, New York. Each month Reed clucks happily and shoots out a check for $250, talks to Campbell on the phone in between checks.
"Nobody thinks I know what I'm doing except my wife, but it may start a trend," Reed says. "It's given me a tremendous—no—fantastic kick to go into this. It's like buying a race horse." As in racing, Campbell is swathed in his owner's colors. On tour, he is supplied with a choice of red or white golf hat and red or white sports jacket, each with Little Club insignia (a peppe mint-striped canopy) prominently displayed. He wears the same insignia on his golf shirt, and his golf bag has red and white stripes.
As Reed says, maybe this will start a trend. The day may not be so far off when Joe Campbell of The Little Club, New York (garbed in an outfit of peppermint striping) wins the U.S. Open as Cary Middlecoff, the Stork Club, New York (his golfing sweater a pattern of storks rampant), folds in the stretch, and bearded Tommy Bolt, from the Co-existence Bagel Shop, San Francisco, blows a three-foot putt on the final green, and flings his golf bag (blue demitasse cups and an exploding espresso machine) at the nearest caddie.
Hunting's Biased Bags
Historically and habitually, hunters exaggerate the size and numbers of their kill, be the quarry tigers or doves or dragons. But now the Fish and Wildlife Service, a government agency long bedeviled by such misinformation, thinks it knows how to cope with hunting braggarts.
The F.W.S. first realized it had a problem about five years ago, after its agents made on-the-spot checks at public shooting grounds, totting up the daily bags of hunters before they drove away. These recorded figures didn't jibe at all with the claims of hunters using adjacent land, when it came time for these hunters to answer the service's postseason questionnaires. So F.W.S. began a study of the "biases" that enter into hunters' reminiscences.
One is what the service discreetly calls "memory bias." This is what ails hunters who report their season's kill in multiples of the bag limit—if the limit was four, the report is 16 or 20—thus conveying the idea they shot their limit each day they hunted.
Another group has a "neatness bias." These chaps report in round numbers or in multiples of five, and the F.W.S. considers their accuracy suspect. A man who says he shot seven ducks, on the other hand, very likely did so, the service feels.
There is also a "superstition bias." Almost no hunters report killing 13 ducks.
And lastly there is a "prestige bias." If hunters killed as many canvasbacks and mallards as they claim, these prized species would be virtually extinct. Conversely, more of the less valued species are shot each year than hunters choose to admit.
With its bias categories in hand, the Fish and Wildlife Service next called in one of its own experts, Earl Atwood of Patuxent, Md., and asked him to develop methods for statistical correction.
The result is a system of "bias elimination factors," with which a psychology-minded F.W.S. statistician can evaluate a hunter's report, assess which bias group the hunter is in and "correct" the figures accordingly.
It doesn't just audit your report, it audits everybody's. Completely unbiased, you might say.
Hillary to the Heights Again
Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand beekeeper and mountaineer, was in Chicago last week preparing for another ascent. No, Sir Edmund is not about to climb Chicago's highest peak, the Prudential Building (alt.: 912 feet with TV tower). The mountain is in Nepal but the money ($200,000) is in Chicago, where a children's encyclopedia is financing the expedition that Hillary will lead into the Himalayas next September.
The chief purpose of the expedition is to collect facts on man's ability to adjust himself to extreme altitudes. Half of the party of 14 will spend nine months at 18,000 to 20,000 feet, and data on pulse and breathing rates and body temperature will be telemetered back to a base camp. As a final test, the climbers will tackle Mount Makalu (alt.: 27,790 feet) without oxygen kits. Mount Makalu has been climbed only once, by a French party using oxygen in 1955, and it is 1,000 feet higher, Hillary says, than the highest peak climbed thus far without oxygen.
While his mountaineers are cheerfully gasping for science, Sir Edmund expects them also to keep an eye out for Abominable Snowmen. Instead of tracking the hairy creatures, as others apparently have done, Hillary's men will station themselves at crucial outposts and hope a Snowman drops by. If one shows up, it will be bagged and anesthetized with a gun that shoots a hypodermic syringe.
But Sir Edmund is doubtful that the Snowman will turn out to be a humanoid. "I'm more inclined," he says, "to the view that it's some bear or a monkey that has somehow learned to walk on its back legs. It's also possible that the tracks have been made by one of the Sherpa holy men. I've really got nothing to substantiate my belief. One just has a natural skepticism of the unusual thing turning up."
Sir Edmund's party—six Americans, five New Zealanders and three Britons—is made up of scientists and climbers. "People tend to pick themselves," he says when asked how the members of the expedition were chosen. "The man has to have done some high-class climbing over a number of years. He would have had to pioneer some new routes, which I think is the mark of a great climber. We don't want somebody that will be brilliant for a while and then poop out."
Sir Edmund still likes to think of himself as an amateur. "I regard climbing very much as a hobby," he says. "Once one adopts a professional approach to these things, a lot of the pleasure and enjoyment goes out of it. The ideal is to be the amateur in heart and the professional in skill. We climb mountains because we damn well enjoy it."
The Ins and The Outs
Hank Aaron is in. Ernie Banks is out. Paul Brown is in. Amos Alonzo Stagg is out. Jimmy Brown is in. Johnny Unitas is out. Avery Brundage is in. James D. Norris is out. Bill Russell is out. Wilt Chamberlain is in, but spelled Chamberlin. What the ins are in and the outs are out of is International Celebrity Register, a weighty (five pounds) but buoyantly written book (George Weiss, for instance, is a man "whose face seems to run into his body without time for a neck"), which sells for $26.
Register's editor-in-chief is Cleveland Amory (in), who is both buoyant (spirit) and weighty (flesh) and owns a Van Cliburn (in) hairdo. Register's publisher is Earl Blackwell (out), who is courtly, has an accent as soft as a magnolia blossom and, as a boy, caddied for Bobby Jones (in). Amory's boyhood idol was Barry Wood (out). "He spoke to me my first day at Milton Academy when he was a top classman," says Amory with awe. Of the 2,240 biographies in Register, some 10% are of sports celebrities.
"A celebrity," says Amory, "is someone who was made by news and now makes news."
"For the first time," says Blackwell, "a book of this kind has brought sports up to where it belongs. Sports celebrities are strong celebrities."
"Gil McDougald," says Amory, "is not a celebrity. He's a workhorse. But Ted Kluszewski—I love that guy—is. Klu was the last one we put in the book. Here's what I wrote about him three weeks before the Series: 'In the World Series of 1959, the big fellow was not only much in evidence; he was, in many ways, the White Sox' only hope.... Only Klu...could be counted on for the long ball.' I'm the only guy who wrote the Series before it happened. I took one hell of a chance [Klu, fortunately, hit three home runs, batted .391], but that's the spirit the whole book was written in.
"Ted Williams [in]," adds Amory, "is the most dramatic sports celebrity there is."
"Sarazen and Hagen are out," says Blackwell. "So is Max Schmeling."
"This is not a history book," says Amory in the tones of a man who doesn't want to be thought capricious. But Amory does have an old favorite or two from the sporting chapters of history books.
"Jesse Owens," says Amory, "is a Clara Bow [in] type. He'll be in the book forever, no matter how many of his records are broken."
"We know two-thirds of the people in the book between us," says Blackwell.
"To say hello to," says Amory. "I mean, I say hello to Adlai Stevenson [in], but he's in another league."
A hike through twisting trackless trails
Can rouse his righteous wrath:
He likes terrain that's smooth and sane
But hates a psycho path.
They Said It
Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox boss, asked on TV why he dislikes New York Yankee General Manager George Weiss: "How much time do we have?"
Jack Spikes, TCU fullback, explaining why he signed with Lamar Hunt's Dallas Texans of the American Football League instead of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National League, where Baltimore's Gene (Big Daddy) Lipscomb plays: "One, Mr. Hunt said I wouldn't have to play against Big Daddy. Two, Mr. Hunt said I wouldn't have to play against Big Daddy. Three, Mr. Hunt said I wouldn't have to play against Big Daddy."
Governor Nelson Rockefeller, addressing New York baseball writers: "I'm not sure why I should be speaking at a baseball dinner. Maybe someone heard I was the ho. 1 spring holdout this season."