Baseball goes to Washington
The men who own baseball met in Chicago this week to regroup, to gather their quaking forces against the threat of a third major league, to sharpen their strategy against the evils of congressional legislation. Then, hides firmly bound, myopia in place, they descended upon Washington, prepared to fight to the fans' last dollar to preserve the status quo.
Arrayed against them was a strange trio: a Senator from Tennessee, an old man with bushy eyebrows and a silver tongue, a sharp corporation lawyer from New York. The weapon which Senator Estes Kefauver, Branch Rickey and Bill Shea were waving was something called S-3483: "The Professional Sports Anti-trust Act of 1960." Whether it was a good weapon or bad depended upon where you sat. S-3483, at times, had the look of something which might explode right in the middle of everything, blowing up the entire game. This was what Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick said he feared. To others, it appeared to be just the instrument to open up the present structure of Organized Baseball, providing an inlet for new cities and new teams. This was the belief of Kefauver, and the Continental League's Rickey and Shea. To a lot of fans—present and future—the only important thing was that S-3483 at least go off with a bang somewhere and do something—even if it was half wrong. Those on the sidelines were getting tired of waiting.
Best bet: S-3483 will go off, although it may never pass in its present form. Frick is right: there are deficiencies. Eventually both sides are going to have to give—and Organized Baseball will have to give the most.
May 23, 1960
Elliott's strained arrival
Herb Elliott, the world's best miler, arrived in California this week to run against U.S. challengers—and doctor's orders. Elliott strained a ligament in his left foot while training in Australia. When he reached Honolulu he had the foot examined. The doctor advised six weeks rest. Elliott disregarded this counsel to test the ligament in an exhibition half mile (he won by 70 yards in the slow time of 1:59.4). Afterward he said: "I felt good all the way. If the pain doesn't come back, I'm on the road to recovery."
For the love of the rules
With the golf world still rocking from a series of curious incidents involving the rules, and with weekend practitioners trying out a whole new batch of regulations proposed by the U.S. Golf Association, it is appropriate that the best book on the rules ever written by an American should be published at this time. This is a slim volume (102 pages) by Richard S. Tufts, a former president of the USGA, published by Mr. Tufts in his home town of Pinehurst, North Carolina. It is entitled The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf—surely one of the least catchy titles ever to appear in sports literature—and the dogged seriousness of the author is instantly reaffirmed in his dedication of the book "to all lovers of the game, with apologies for the fact that it is somewhat on the heavy side and the warning that it is intended for their education and not for their amusement."
All this is quite true. It is not easy going. What gives the book its distinction, however, is that for Mr. Tufts, as for few men, the rules of golf are and have always been "a beautifully balanced code, rich with logic, drama and the traditions of a great sport." He begins by establishing the two great principles of golf: "Play the course as you find it," and, "Play your own ball and do not touch it." He goes on from there to talk about the working principles that implement these two basic principles. As he makes his way quietly from point to point, what you really gain is access to the philosophy of one of the surest golf minds our country has every produced.
The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf probably would not make a very exciting movie. It is merely a minor classic, the pleasantest walk imaginable over the old hazardous terrain.
Win your own primary
Aboard Senator John F. Kennedy's campaign plane they're playing a new game called Convention! The idea is to try to get nominated for President of the U.S. Played on a board, the game includes smoke-filled rooms, bandwagon sentiment and even a credentials committee. The players go into various caucuses where delegates may be won (20 from New York for promising to bring the Dodgers back, 10 if Wall Street likes you) or lost (20 for offending the Mayor of Pittsburgh, 10 for confusing Dallas with Houston). In Convention! the Wisconsin primary is a key one, worth extra delegates. Winning in West Virginia, however, is worth nothing.
A porter and his bettor
One of the lesser-known facts about Prince Aly Khan, killed in France last week (see page 16), is that he was one of the biggest gamblers in the world. He bet often and he bet big. Most of the time he backed his own horses, as if to Vindicate his judgment of blood stock, but one of his greatest killings, ¬£50,000 ($140,000), was a bet on Suzy Volterra's Phil Drake in the 1955 Derby at Epsom.
Aly bet mostly in Britain, where bookmaking is legal. When he was at the race courses himself, he bet with bookmakers at the track. When he was out of the country, he bet through George Criticos, the Greek-born head porter at London's Ritz Hotel. Criticos, who had been making bets for Aly since the Prince was 18, estimated that he placed at least a quarter of a million pounds in wagers for him over the past 30 years. Aly would bet up to ¬£10,000 ($28,000) on a horse, usually "each way" (i.e., win and show). He would call or cable Criticos to place a bet, suggesting the price he should try to get. More often than not the bet ended up with Jack Wilson, Ltd., a bookmaking firm run by Dave Davis and "Beau" Goldsmith in London's Dover Street.
To the last, Aly's favorite races were the classics in which it is possible to bet at long odds months in advance. For the Derby June 1 at Epsom he had bets (now void, under British bookmaker rules) of ¬£50,000 on his colt Charlottesville.
Over the years, Aly won about as much as he lost—good betting, as any steady gambler can attest. Although bookmakers had to wait for their money when he was out of the country, he died owing not a single penny. "When he lost," said Bookmaker Davis, "he never complained about jockeys or anything like that. He was a very good loser."
In the bag
"Hey!" chirps an ad in the Sunday funnies. "Baseball teams and fans! Boys and Girls! WIN A $20,000.00 BASEBALL PARK FOR YOUR TEAM OR LEAGUE FREE!" All the Boys and Girls! have to do to be the first on their block to own four grandstands, two dugouts, fences ("keeps out little kids"), a backstop, a pitching machine, an electric scoreboard, a press box ("For reporters, radio-TV announcers and VIP guests"), night lights, etc., is to send in the most "empty" candy bags. While the contest is a team affair, the company warns that it is "the most bags per player" which determines the winning team. "What really counts," they add, "is initiative and good old-fashioned teamwork." And, conceivably, a good old-fashioned box of bicarbonate.
The price of deer
Texas ranchers may be raising the wrong kind of livestock. The state fish and game commission reports that in one area deer brought a net return of $153.28 per head last year in fees paid for hunting privileges, whereas the return on cattle, sheep and goats was only $28.82 per head. What's more, deer require no capital investment other than land. And the same land which can support one 750-pound cow will support six deer.
He blew the whistle
When angry soccer players in Sydney, Australia threateningly surrounded Referee Eric Ilk, he yanked out an ultrasonic dog whistle and gave one quick, inaudible toot. A German police dog, standing by for just such an emergency, rushed out from the sidelines and frightened the players away.
Off the old block
Toots Shor's son Rory attends a private school in Manhattan called St. David's, where the faculty and boys take lunch together. Recently a teacher noticed that Rory, not content with merely passing the food around the table, was on his feet serving each boy personally and acting the gracious host. "How nice!" was her instinctive reaction. "Like father, like son."
Not quite. Rory didn't call anybody a crumbum.