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Before they can even approach the starting line in Rome this summer, Olympic hopefuls the world over will have to cross some hurdles calculated to make the strongest of them hesitate. These hurdles are not standards of performance required for acceptance, but a set of questions prepared by a socio-medico group working through the Italian Olympic Committee. The questions are nosy enough to nettle a psychiatrist.
Rome's questionnaire begins like any other, with a blank space for name, address, date of birth, etc. Then it gets sticky. Without warning, the athlete is asked to rate his social status in much the way New York's Daily News rates movies (i.e., three pluses, two pluses, one plus), and to tell whether he was breast-or bottle-fed. Then, pencil hovering, he must decide whether his marriage can be classified as 1) good, 2) mediocre or 3) bad. After revealing his sense (What school or college?) and his sensibilities (Does he like drawing?) the athlete is asked to rate his sensuality or sexual behavior—once again on Daily News scale (three pluses, two pluses, one plus or, alas, a minus).
That hurdle, No. 73, is the last on the track, which is probably just as well. But there is one more question—not on the list—which the U.S. Olympic Committee intends to ask: Is filling out the questionnaire compulsory? "Under the rules as they stand," said the U.S. committee's J. Lyman Bingham last week, "the only information an athlete is required to give is his name, date and place of birth, and his event."
Before a cheering audience of beer drinkers in the village of Alzing last week, red-vested, clear-eyed, non-allergic Willi Adler walked off with the all-Bavaria snuff-snuffing championship for 1960. His impressive score: five grams of snuff within the prescribed two-minute limit with no spills and no sneezes.
Error on Hornsby
Like a Spanish-American War veteran claiming there hasn't been a real battle since San Juan Hill, irascible old Rogers Hornsby was recalling the great days of baseball—the days when he himself was one of those who made it great.
"You can't even compare Williams and Musial with the real greats of the past," mused the Rajah. "They just aren't in a class with some of your all-time great hitters. Look at the record books and you'll see what I mean."
So, meaning no offense to Rog, we decided to do just that—and this is what we found:
Remembering that Williams has played 16 full seasons and Musial 18 while Hornsby's oldsters all played 21 or more, the records show Ted and Stan could shame much of the opposition with a baseball bat.
They rank fifth and sixth in total home runs, and Ruth is the only Hornsby era star with more. Musial puts the likes of Tris Speaker to shame: 412 homers to 115, 1,678 runs batted in to 1,559, and 1,239 extra-base hits to 1,132. Williams' .346 lifetime average is baseball's fourth highest among 15-year men and up.
Even the wondrous Honus Wagner, it was found, could hardly be bat boy for Williams and Musial with his .329 lifetime average and puny 101 homers. And that famed slugger Rogers Hornsby himself would hit lower in the lineup than the modern stars he says "can't compare." The Rajah's alltime .358 average tops them, but he hit fewer homers, batted in fewer runs and got fewer extra-base hits.
Well, Rog, the Marines were pretty good at San Juan Hill, but they did all right at Iwo Jima, too.
Iambic, Iambic, Rah Rah Rah
When Kansas State Football Coach Doug Weaver and Basketball Coach Tex Winter dropped over to Salina, Kans. the other day to plug their school in a lecture at a local civic club, they found to their dismay that a representative of their bitter rival, the University of Kansas, was delivering a lecture for the opposition at a hall just down the street.
That was bad enough, but what really hurt the State sportsmen was the discovery that the U. of K. man, Dean George Waggoner, out-drew them 115 to 89 with a lecture on—of all things—poetry.
Britannia Rules the Roads
In Britain last week, a jury of part time pedestrians decided that Stirling Moss, runner-up for last year's world driving championship, should be given an opportunity to do a little walking. After deliberating an hour and 50 minutes, they found him guilty of dangerous driving on a public highway and suspended his operator's license for 12 months. While the action does not bar Moss from future races, it does, for the moment anyway, put him right in line with a number of his countrymen who were striding vigorously through the news.
Of these, two were British sergeants recently arrived in the U.S. to better the current 79-day transcontinental walking record. As Sergeants Mervyn Evans and Patrick Moloney stepped out smartly from San Francisco on the first leg of their 3,000-mile jaunt to New York last week they were closely pursued (24 hours behind) by redoubtable, 56-year-old Dr. Barbara Moore.
Hot on the trail of the sergeants, Dr. Moore, the Russian-born wife of a British subject, paused only to emphasize she would complete the transcontinental hike in 45 days flat.
None of this, of course, indicated any permanent British distaste for that aspect of the American Dream which asks, "Why walk when you can ride?" At the opening of the International Automobile Show in Manhattan, British industry was proudly displaying a gold-plated Jaguar, valued at $25,000 and capable of attaining 125 mph. Its far-from-pedestrian accouterments included gold bumpers, gold ashtrays and gold tread pedals. "As an added measure of British thoroughness," a spokesman added, "the car has gold screws in every place a screwhead is visible."
Life of a Gamesman
Back in 1904 a fabulously prosperous young Wisconsin paper man decided that he was rich enough to quit work and start playing. During the next half century Sidney Samuel Lenz became, at one time or another, a champion table-tennis player, the amateur bowling champion of America, a golfer consistently in the 70s, an expert dancer, such an accomplished magician that he could easily have turned pro, and a famous card player.
Immediately after quitting work, Lenz traveled around the world, stopping for a year in India to learn the rope trick. This he soon abandoned in favor of a new variant of whist then fashionable among Britain's colonials—auction bridge. Six years later he was national whist champion, and four years after that national bridge champion as well.
Lenz's play, like his card tricks, was ingenious and deceptive—a combination that led him to shun gambling at the bridge table, lest opponents think he had cheated them with sleight of hand.
In 1926 the new book Lenz on Bridge became a bestseller, but its author steadfastly refused to give lessons, though offered as much as $1,000 for a single session.
A man of strong habit and firm opinion, who believed that cards should be held "tight to the vest," and that "hearty meals clogged the brain," Sidney Lenz sedulously practiced magic tricks for an hour a day for half a century and played a single game of solitaire every night before retiring—a custom allowed him by lifelong bachelorhood.
In all, he won 1,100 card trophies and prizes in tournament play, yet is best known for a defeat: the "Bridge Battle of the Century," a 150-rubber match, played to World Series-like fanfare, in which Mr. and Mrs. Ely Culbertson beat Lenz and his two partners, one of them Oswald Jacoby, while a young Army officer named Alfred Gruenther refereed.
That match established Culbertson as the country's bridge king and sent Lenz into gradual eclipse. But the death of Sidney Lenz last week at the age of 86 deprived the world of a man who, in the words of his famed successor, Charles Goren, was "without doubt the greatest card player of his era, if not of all time."
NEST FOR NEWCOMER
Here, pending final approval by New York City's Board of Estimate, is the nest in which the third major league may soon be hatched. Unveiled in model form last week, the new stadium to be erected in Flushing Meadow will seat 55,000, have 5,500 parking spaces, allow for future addition of 25,000 more seats (below) and a sliding roof.