BELOW THE SUMMIT
Despite last week's explosion at the summit, athletic exchanges between the U.S. and Soviet Russia will not be affected unless diplomatic relations deteriorate further. That, at least, is the view of the AAU's Dan Ferris. Ferris does expect, however, that criticism, and plenty of it, will accompany the scheduled exchanges (Russian gymnasts to the U.S., an AAU basketball team to Russia). "There are always a lot of people," Ferris says, "who want us to steer clear of the Russians under any circumstances."
LUNCHING AT THE ASTOR
Two foreign horses were entertained at lunch at Manhattan's Astor Hotel last week. The lunch was a ballyhoo of a New York harness race track, and the honored guests were Caduceus (often called the New Zealand Wonder Horse, said the hosts) and Australia's Fettle (often called the Equine King of New South Wales, said the hosts). Lunch in the grand ballroom consisted mainly of roast beef for the people, and apples and carrots, served in a silver punch bowl, for the horses. When the horses were led in from a serving pantry, they were plainly frightened but maintained their composure, God bless their British upbringing.
Some people made speeches. One speaker said jovially that the owners of the New York track had discovered the down under horses in a manner comparable "to sending that V-2 [sic] over Russia." Some people left early. The horses, they had to stay to the end.
May 29, 1960
The Boston ivy ("tolerates trying conditions," said a horticultural sign on the lawn) was lush, green and growing fast on the walls of Kellogg Center at Michigan State University last week. But inside Kellogg conference rooms Big Ten coaches, athletic directors and faculty representatives were deciding they'd had enough ivy to last a lifetime.
It had been just four years since the same groups, pressed by faculty unrest about football overemphasis, had approved programs designed quietly but inevitably to reduce the stature of Big Ten football.
Most notable changes: adoption of a plan for a round-robin schedule which by the late '60s would have each Big Ten team playing its nine fellow conference members every year; adoption of a scholarship program which restricted athletic aid to a "need" basis (i.e. to students who couldn't otherwise afford college).
Last week the Big Ten seemed to feel deemphasis had all been a horrible mistake. In two years the Big Ten lost more than 100 top football prospects to conferences which recruited under the more lenient NCAA scholarship regulations (even the Ivies could outbid the Big Ten), and it lost football games as well.
Urged on by coaches and athletic directors, the faculty representatives—who alone hold policy-making power—voted to:
1) Set a special summer meeting to reconsider (and likely abandon) the need program.
2) Consider a revision of the round-robin schedule plan (a revision that would kill it).
3) Reverse a stand of two months ago and allow Big Ten teams to play in the Rose Bowl.
Michigan's faculty representative, Law Professor Marcus L. Plant, summed up the major reason for the change in Big Ten attitude. "We felt in 1956 we could maintain the caliber of football under the need program," he said. "But competition from outside raiders has showed us we could not." The Big Ten, in short, wants to recruit by everybody else's rules once again and forget about the Ivy.
What the Big Ten couldn't decide at its three-day meeting was what to do about one member, Indiana, which got caught recruiting without any rules at all and was suspended for four years by the NCAA. Indiana's plump, personable coach, Phil ("I didn't offer a boy as much as a postage stamp") Dickens, whose job hangs in the balance, went home with a two-week reprieve.
Why was more time needed when the Big Ten office, with its access to 60 part-time investigators, had already spent half a year gumshoeing after the Hoosiers and now also had the NCAA report as well? The evidence, said Big Ten Commissioner Tug Wilson to the faculty representatives, is not yet complete.
THE LOST TOUCH
Ben Hogan has been going through agonies common to duffers and pros alike: his putting, never the best part of his game, has gone really awry. From tee to green, he is almost the Hogan of old (he hit 63 of the 72 greens at the recent Colonial Invitation in Fort Worth). But once within holesight, all is lost. Something else is lost, too—witness this locker-room conversation between Hogan and Tommy Bolt:
"Say, Ben," said Bolt. "What's all this jazz you go through when you putt? You stand over the ball for hours."
Said Hogan: "I always putt like that. If I was alone, I would putt like that."
"Well, I don't get it. I been wondering about that putting of yours. I've even tried it. I've stood over the ball for a long time, and when I finally hit it the clubhead felt like it weighed a ton. The ball almost went in a creek. Why don't you just walk up to the ball, find the line and hit it?"
"I haven't ever found a line," Hogan replied.
"That proves it," Bolt said.
"That you don't have any confidence in yourself."
"Where do I get it?"
"You have to analyze yourself and find out what's wrong."
Hogan said, "We seem to be right back where we started."
"You're hopeless," said Bolt. "If you can't analyze yourself, that's a form of choking."
Nobody, not even Tactful Tommy, would have dared talk to Ben Hogan like that in the not-so-old days.
GREAT MEN AT WORK
It was the first time in 14 years that the major league baseball owners had met alone (without general managers tagging along). You could tell right off things were in good hands.
In the cloistered recesses of the Chicago Club, the owners privately discussed the bonus rule ("We had a good long discussion about that," said one), the Continental League ("We talked about that in a passive way—we don't think it will get off the ground") and the Kefauver bill ("We don't think some clauses in the bill will work"). They also talked expansion, mentioning ("very briefly—no general discussion at all") letting the National League into New York, the American League into Houston.
After it was all over, one owner said of his fellows: "I think they're a great bunch of baseball men."
CASE OF THE MISSING GREEN
Thieves, armed with a mechanical sod cutter, descended on a Minneapolis golf course the other night. The take: No. 6 green.
THE WAY OF A WINNER
Dick Wagner lost to champions and he lost to bums, but he always put up a good fight. In the early 1950s, the game light-heavy from Toppenish, Wash, might have been a loser, but he never was a bore. As victim No. 6 on Floyd Patterson's road to the heavyweight crown, Wagner was the first to go the route with Patterson. In a rematch eight months later, Patterson knocked Wagner into retirement in the fifth round.
For Wagner, this meant a job as railroad switchman in Portland, Ore., and oblivion. Last January, he was thrown from a boxcar and into the hospital with a back injury. Came a cheering letter from ex-rival Patterson, casually inviting him to the forthcoming championship fight. It was a nice idea but out of the question for an out-of-work switchman with a wife and four children.
But Wagner will go to the fight. In his mailbox last week were two $50 ringside seats and a check for $775. The donor: Floyd Patterson.
Last week in Cincinnati, 25 years after the first major league night baseball game (Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia), the first night color-TV game was played. On the luminous screen the playing field was emerald, the base path bronze and the caps of the home team vermilion. The Reds beat the Phillies 2-1 in the first night game; they beat the Giants 9-2 in their first night color game. Any more innovations, Cincinnati?
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Baltimore Orioles' catchers soon will have an oversize mitt—half again larger than regulation—to help them handle Hoyt Wilhelm's mambo-dancing knuckleball.
...Jo and Crip, among the few whooping cranes in captivity, hatched two chicks last week, lost one in New Orleans' Audubon Park. Estimated whooping crane census to date: 40.
...Don Cardwell, the Chicago Cub rookie who pitched a no-hitter against St. Louis last week, almost drowned while crossing a tide-swollen inlet during a 1958 hunting trip. Said he at the time: "I finally made it to shore, coughing up water and praying in thanks. It was then I realized I had a mission on this earth."
...Boxer John Twohads danced into the ring at Boston Arena, waved to the crowd, shucked his robe, put it right back on. Forgot his pants.