UP 29TH & CRENSHAW
The Sportsman Club, located at 29th Street and Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, was considered to be in a non-"rundown" area in Los Angeles, until Thursday, March 17, 1960, when I read your article (The Private World of the Negro Ballplayer, SI, March 21). As a matter of fact, it is within five minutes' walking distance of one of the country's best and most complete shopping centers. It is surrounded by legitimate business houses and fringed by comfortable homes inhabited by men, women and children.
CAIRO W. COLLINS JR.
My attention has been drawn to a letter addressed to you by, among others, many of my constituents. The principal signatory is Mr. Cairo W. Collins Jr., who is a constituent of mine. I heartily join, of course, in their statement to you that the area around 29th and Crenshaw Boulevard is anything but a "rundown" area, and the area contains exactly what they have told you.
I sincerely trust that you will publish their letter.
•Never too busy to help a Congressman with his constituents.—ED.
April 24, 1960
WRESTLING: OUR BOYS ARE DOWN
As a member of the U.S. Olympic wrestling committee, I was disturbed to read of the apparent indifference of one of the better wrestling coaches of our country, Charles Speidel, toward the outcome of the U.S.'s efforts at the forthcoming Olympic Games ("I Like to Bandy Words," SI, April 4).
It is tragic to observe the steady decline of American strength in Olympic freestyle wrestling since the resumption of the Games in 1948. In London we won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze; in Helsinki a single gold medal, two silvers and a bronze; and in Melbourne the best we could come up with was a solitary silver medal and one in bronze. This is particularly painful in a sport where we have always made a creditable showing in the past, and ranks second only to track and field in the number of gold medals.
The question is, why have we gotten so bad? We have enough willing talent. There are almost 400 colleges with full wrestling squads, plus several hundred competing clubs. The American boys are physically on a par with those of the other countries. (I can testify to this, having witnessed the best men of every major wrestling country perform on their native soil.) And certainly no one can dispute the fact that American youth has the will to win.
The answer, I think, is technical, but its import is easily understandable to anyone. In the U.S. the majority of amateur wrestling bouts are carried out under one set of rules, the college standards, while international matches and Olympic Games are conducted under the standards set forth by the International Amateur Wrestling Federation. These are also the rules used in AAU competition. Most of our finest wrestlers are admirably trained to compete with one another but woefully unprepared for bouts outside the country. Until somebody acts to bring the college rules in line with the AAU's and, incidentally, with the rest of the world's, I predict we will fare even worse in future international competition than in the past.
College rules should be changed anyway, because they impose restrictions upon the contestants which turn what should be a dynamic struggle into a bore. The avowed purpose of wrestling is to touch an opponent's shoulders to the mat. Yet college rules give credit for simply holding an adversary in a position of disadvantage and gaining what is known as "time advantage." Accordingly, the longer one merely stays on top of a man, the better chance he has to win. A wrestler is reluctant to try to throw his opponent for fear that he might escape to a neutral position. Victory, then, has become a matter of tying up an adversary so that he cannot move.
Under AAU rules, the fall or pin is the object of the bout and the throws and holds permitted to that end are far freer and less conservative than the collegiate style. One of the worst handicaps imposed on the college wrestler is the rule that he must hold his opponent on his back for two full seconds before a fall is effected. The AAU and the Olympic rules call for an instantaneous, or "touch," fall. The collegiate wrestler never dares employ a throw where he might lose control.
Charles Speidel, Penn State's wrestling coach, is mistaken when he says "Olympic wrestling puts too much emphasis on strength." It is lack of technique that is losing Olympic titles for us, and I put that responsibility squarely in the laps of the college coaches.
New York City
In your Jan. 11 issue there was an article concerning fishing through the ice in the Minnesota lakes by Coles Phinizy. It was very interesting to us, and I'm wondering if you can find the rules for the "hucklebuck" card game as played by the fishermen. We originally lived in Marbuck," as we called it, when it was too rainy to play golf. None of my friends can recall how to play the game.
West Palm Beach, Fla.
•Hucklebuck, or huckelty buck, is a five-card poker-cum-bridge game which is played by few other than the ice fishermen of Park Rapids, Minn. But it was brought to Park Rapids from the Marshall area by Bill Knowles, a former resident. Here are the rules for four players: Five cards are dealt and the top card of the deck is turned over and that suit becomes trump. At this point players can drop out or draw up to five additional cards. On the play, players must follow suit but can trump, as in bridge. A player receives one point for each trick taken. If a player cannot take a single trick he is penalized by a loss of points up to three points and an additional "X" penalty which is agreed upon before the game. First man to gain 15 points wins. If six play, 12 points usually wins and four cards are dealt to people who stay. If more than six play, two decks are used, with deuces, treys, fours and fives removed.—ED.
BASEBALL: WAY BACK YONDER
The passing of the New Orleans Pelicans (SI, March 28) evoked many memories. However, the Dixie Walker you mentioned is not the famous outfielder who subsequently became known as the "People's Cherce" in Brooklyn. The Dixie Walker of the Pelicans was a pitcher who had his best years between 1915 and 1920 and held the Southern League strikeout record for many years. I saw him pitch many times, and it was always a mystery why he did not have a successful major league career. The New Orleans club sent many notables to the majors; those who come to mind are Joe Sewell, Buddy Myer, Ray Gardner, Bob Smith (all shortstops), Boze Burger, Mel Harder, Roy Weatherly, Eddie Morgan, Carl Line and, way, way back yonder, George Rohe, who, I believe, played third base for the White Sox Hitless Wonders.
Also pretty far back in baseball history was the famous Sergeant Jim Bagby, a pretty good switch hitter, but more renowned for his fabulous pitching record with the Cleveland Indians. I think he was the first pitcher ever to hit a home run in World Series play. This was the same Series in which Second Baseman Bill Wambsganss of Cleveland made his unassisted triple play.
M. B. FRENKEL
•Mr. Frenkel is right. The Pelicans' "Dixie" Roy Walker is not the same man as the Dodgers' "Dixie" Fred Walker.—ED.