A chance at the majors
The new baseball and football leagues are bringing the promise of big-time professional sports to cities which never had such teams before. Conspicuously absent from the widening athletic map, however, are the cities of the South. One little-discussed but vital reason: segregation.
By law, policy, or a chilly reaction at the gate, major southern cities have shown they will not accept integrated athletic events, and no professional team would care to leave its Wilt Chamberlains, Willie Mayses and Jim Browns at home.
Last week, however, an Atlanta lawyer named Eaton Chalkley forced his city to face its sports future. He obtained an American Football League franchise for Atlanta, added it to the Continental baseball league franchise he already holds and turned to the city government. Either convince Georgia of the city's right to hold integrated events in a state-owned stadium, he told the city fathers, or build a stadium of our own with no racial barriers restricting the choice of players.
May 15, 1960
If the council does neither, the franchises will likely be lost, and Atlanta will remain in the minor league Solid South.
Colors of the cloth
For most people, the big race was at Churchill Downs last week, but for the Rev. John Gibson it was in Fort Erie, Ontario. The 84-year-old Anglican clergyman fulfilled a lifetime ambition when he saw his filly, She's a Gem, win her first start. Reverend Gibson's colors: black with white collar, white halo on left shoulder.
Joke on Frank?
Faculty representatives at a meeting of the Atlantic Coast Conference were informally talking last week about possible new restrictions on football scholarships. The thought horrified Frank Howard, Clemson's football coach. He planted his tongue firmly in his cheek and told the professors he had a six-point program for football de-emphasis entitled: If You Gotta Kill the Grand Old Game. The program:
1) Make the ACC an 11-member conference with each team playing a 10-game schedule against the other members. Post-season games would be banned.
2) Pool all gate receipts, and divide them up at the end of the season.
3) Pay all coaches the same salary; win, lose or draw.
4) Have a required academic curriculum for every player.
5) Limit each school to the same number of players.
6) Rotate coaches every four years ("Like the Methodists do with ministers").
Absurd? The other ACC coaches thought so, but Coach Howard may find some faculty members asking: "What's so funny?" (see page 22).
Pride before a ball
While four big leaguers were swinging like Little Leaguers in Chicago (page 32) one of them was dressing like a Little Leaguer in Washington last week. Jim Lemon, the Senators' strapping left fielder, batted against Cleveland wearing a kid-style helmet which resembled a cap with ear muffs. He got two hits and a walk for the day, but the resultant razzing made it plain his pride was more vulnerable than his head. Lemon hasn't worn the helmet since.
A ready raft
Because a retired Army general had a flat tire in Texas last year the Red Cross has a new lifesaving suggestion. The general, John O'Reilly, saw how much trouble a service station attendant had submerging his tubeless tire (wheel and all, of course) and wondered if inflated tires could be used as emergency life preservers.
He told the Texas Red Cross, which tested his idea. The Red Cross found that any spare tire, just as it is carried in the trunk of a car, will support six people hanging to its edge or one on top.
The heart of the matter
J. D. Steel, a senior lecturer in veterinary medicine at the University of Sydney, is getting to the heart of what makes harness horses go. After examining cardiograms of hundreds of horses at Harold Park, a Sydney track, Steel has devised a figure rating known as a Heart Score. Based on the size of the horse's heart, the Heart Score varies from 86 to 146. Steel is of the opinion that a horse must have a Heart Score of 110 or higher to be capable of winning three to six races at Harold, and, generally, his figures have borne him out.
Steel is coming here this week, but lest desperate system bettors besiege him for inside information: a disheartening word. Steel takes pains to point out that Heart Score is not a substitute for good training or driving, nor will it overcome a rough gait, bad barrier manners, unsound limbs, heavy worm infestations or wind defects. Nor, may we add, is it a substitute for the most intangible quality called heart.
Walden wild and wet
Walden Pond, on whose wild shores and idle waters Henry David Thoreau lingered more than 100 years ago, has, like much of that early, innocent world, been changed by bulldozers, a trailer camp named Walden Breezes, hot dog stands and old beer cans (SI, Oct. 28, 1957). In the name of recreation, trees were felled on the eastern shore to make an addition to the present beach area, a slope was stripped and a concrete bathhouse and a paved road to the water were proposed. On weekends, Walden Pond resembles a rustic Coney Island.
Last week the Massachusetts Supreme Court, acting on a suit brought against the Middlesex County Commissioners by a handful of Lincoln-Concord residents, backed by the Thoreau Society and a Save Walden Committee, ruled that the pond "must be violated no further." It ordered the commissioners to replant trees, restore landscaping and prevent erosion. Taking "judicial notice" of Walden, the court said improvements could be made only "so long as the physical aspect, character and appearance of the shores and woodlands are not essentially changed."
Bravo, and as Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote:
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Motorized carts have brought us golf without walking. Now, thanks to two Florida inventors who have marketed a magnetized metal tee which clings to clubheads, there is going to be golf without stooping.
Doubled off home
If Los Angeles, with its short (251 feet) left-field fence, is a pitcher's purgatory, Memphis is a hurler's hell. Forced to convert a high school football stadium into a baseball diamond after their own park burned down, the Memphis Chicks found themselves with a 40-foot screen in right field a scant 204 feet from home plate.
Last week, in the opener against the Birmingham Barons, 11 home runs were popped over the screen, and the Baron right fielder deserted his post completely, choosing to play behind second base instead, like a short center in softball. Southern Association President Hal Totten, appalled at the mesh, ruled that all balls hit over the screen from now on will be doubles, not home runs. A good ruling, but it still isn't baseball.
Change of fortunes
In his three years at Redemptorist High School in Kansas City, Mo., Coach Herb Higgins felt he had overcome all the vicissitudes of his business: injuries, bad bounces, flunked-out players and the rest. Riding high with a championship football team and a fine basketball squad, he was looking forward to next season. Last week diocesan officials turned Redemptorist into a girls' school.
Blaze of glory
As any devotee of Sherlock Holmes knows, Silver Blaze took the Wessex Cup after Holmes had solved the mystery of his disappearance. What the devotee may not know is that a jumper named Silver Blaze has won two races this year. No phantom, this Silver Blaze is owned by Allison L. S. Stern, a New York stockbroker and member of the Baker Street Irregulars, a group dedicated to the perpetuation of Holmesiana.
Doing his bit for Sherlock, Stern has named horses Speckled Band, Irene Adler, Mycroft, Naval Treaty, Baskerville, Dr. Watson, Young Stamford and Final Problem. The big race for Stern's jumper is likely to be the ninth running of the Silver Blaze Handicap at Aqueduct in September. A little irregularity by the Baker Streeters has just about convinced Aqueduct to make the Silver Blaze, formerly run on the flat, a steeplechase this year. Summer book favorite? Elementary, my dear Watson.