New Cast, New Critics
After ten months of legalistic and labyrinthine procrastination, World Heavyweight Champion Ingemar Johansson and Challenger Floyd Patterson at long last signed a contract to hold their return title match June 20 at New York's Polo Grounds. While waiting for the curtain to rise, the dramatis personae of the long-awaited show has undergone considerable change. Bill Rosensohn, the erstwhile promoter, is out of the picture. Onetime Patterson manager Cus D'Amato now does his prompting from far out in the wings. Vincent Velella, the original group's money lender, was shelved on three counts of perjury; and of the original supporting cast, only TelePrompTer's Irving Kahn remains (having bid a record $700,000 for the TV and film rights).
The fact that the production promised for June will be relatively free of the turgid plots and counterplots of the earlier play is largely due to the business acumen of the Swedish champ. But for all his shrewdness, Ingo, it seems, is not yet fully in the clear. An outfit calling itself Bio-rhythm Computers sees doom ahead for him. Bio-rhythm claims it can predict a man's good days and his bad days on the basis of physique and psyche. "Patterson will be in excellent physical condition on June 20," says Bio's George Thommen, "and his sensitivity cycle will be high. Johansson will be physically low, with his sensitivity cycle in critical condition."
Even more pessimistic is Peter Hurkos, a former member of the Dutch underground who claims he received his extrasensory powers after falling from a roof. "I have seen Johansson," he says. "I have observed his personality. He is going to lose." Well, someone asked, will Patterson knock him out? "Patterson, Patterson—who is Patterson?" replied Hurkos. "I do not know the name."
Bids for the Old Mug
After Sceptre's pitiful showing in the America's Cup races of 1958, wiseacres said that the old mug had had its day. Far from it. Last week Australia challenged for 1962. Spurred by their cousins and still smarting from their defeat, the English cabled that they too intended to challenge in 1962. Any other bids?
The Young Idea
Cub Reporter Sam McMurray, an 8-year-old New Yorker who covers the sports beat for the Greenwich Village Bank Street School News, is not a man to pull his punches. "I hate Mantle," wrote McMurray in his column last week, "and I hate the Yankees too."
Elsewhere in the sports world other youngsters with equally firm views were making their opinions known—the youthful Cleveland partisans of Herb Score and Rocky Colavito, for instance, whose indignation at Indian General Manager Frank Lane for trading off their heroes knew no bounds. True, Emily Fitzgibbons, 16-year-old president of the Colavito club, had her moment of wavering after Rocky left for Detroit. "I thought we might disband," Emily admitted, "but so many members protested that I felt like a heel for even thinking about it." Far from abandoning the Chicago-bound idol, the Herb Score club announced that it planned to advertise in the Chicago papers for new members.
In San Francisco, on the other hand, it looked for a while as if the young had already written off their heroes when local merchants reported that souvenir baseball caps bearing the insignia of virtually every team in the land except the Giants were selling at a hot clip. Turned out the Giants weren't in eclipse at all. It's just that the midget leagues and sandlot teams use the caps as their own official insignia. A cap with a P on it might mean Pittsburgh Pirates to the rest of the country, but around the Bay area it more likely means Panthers, Parachutists, Pumas, Pollywogs or even Pounders. As for the Giant caps, they are too sacred for such cavalier use on California playgrounds.
Just in Time
A new tunnel that burrows beneath the Swiss Alps may soon render obsolete the life-saving services of the famed St. Bernard dogs. For at least one of the heroic breed, a St. Bernard named Simon Bolivar who resides in the more comfortable climate of southern California, the news of enforced retirement will come none too soon. Only last week, on a hike in the San Gabriel Mountains, Simon's paws got so sore he had to be carried down the mountain on a litter.
Harness racing, once a casual country-fair entertainment for the blue-denim bunch, has grown into a spit-and-polish sport for the silk-tie set at tracks that gleam like supermarkets. To make sure that backwoods tracks conform to carriage-trade standards, Harness Tracks of America, an association of trot-track owners, has posted some rigid rules of etiquette:
1) All drivers must be neatly dressed, clean-shaven, have shined shoes and wear bright, clean racing silks.
2) All trainers must insist their caretakers look neat.
3) Drivers must not talk to fellow drivers during post parades or races, nor to the public in the paddock.
4) Women must not take horses to or from the track during the program.
Sparking the Flash
Facing a track of fresh cinders neatly arranged by a manure spreader and wearing a new pair of shoes designed by his coach (held by laces instead of elastic bands), the country's best miler decided at Eugene, Ore. last week to shed the casualness that has marked his running all spring.
Flowing past Stanford's pace setter, Ernie Cunliffe, at the three-quarter mark, Dyrol Burleson, the 19-year-old University of Oregon flash, puffed out his cheeks and blazed to the finish line for a new record. His time: 3:58.6—the fastest mile ever run by an American. "It's easy to follow when the other guy sets the pace," said Burleson. "I even had something left when the race was over. I know I can run faster."
Track Coach Bill McElroy of Loyola College is a man who believes the way to do it right is to do it yourself. He himself laid out the Baltimore school's new track, opened it with pride last week for a meet against Western Maryland College.
He was mildly surprised when a runner won the 220-yard dash in the snail's-pace time of 27.1; was astonished when 11 hurdles were needed to fill the track for the 220-yard hurdle event, instead of the proper 10; and was mortified when the truth dawned. His 220-yard course was 240 yards.
Like Old Times
Tacoma, Wash, welcomed its new Pacific Coast League baseball team with a burst of civic enthusiasm and ill-concealed delight at the long-awaited chance to stick an athletic thumb in the eye of its hated rival and neighbor, Seattle. But the occasion was not an unqualified success.
Opening day was rained out. Two days later, on a field dried by soldiers using napalm, Mayor Ben Hanson threw the symbolic first pitch, plunking the damp ball into the kidneys of Congressman Thor Tollefson, symbolic first batter. One double-header was completed in a 37° fog, but the next day's game was rained out, and so was the next and the next and the next. Eventually another double-header was played—in 32 cold.
The new team finally met (and beat) archrival Seattle last Friday, but the game was played through the rain after a fruitless wait for fair skies.
Apparently forgotten in the excitement of the plans for revival was the reason that Tacoma's last Pacific Coast League team left town in 1905: the weather wasn't fit for baseball.
MANSION FOR MASCOT
Philadelphia's John B. Kelly, who not long ago gave a bride to the reigning Prince of Monaco, last week benefited another dignitary. Fordham University's ram, Rameses XVIII, had been without a place to call his own since last spring, and loyal Fordham students had not been able to raise sufficient money to build him one. With all speed Sportsman-Brickmaker Kelly dispatched men and material from his masonry company to Fordham's Bronx, N.Y. campus, had a palatial mansion ready for Rameses within 24 hours (see above).