For weeks, National Leaguers had known that Charley Dressen's Milwaukee Braves were extraordinarily gifted at guessing what pitch was coming next. Was it psychokinesis? Masculine intuition? Dumb luck? It was none of those. The Braves had been engaging in dirty pool.
The case was cracked in Chicago. Wrigley Field's bleachers, like bleachers everywhere, are the happy haunt of those odds characters, the gamblers. Now if there's anything gamblers can't abide, it's a fix (unless it's their own fix). One of the gamblers spotted Milwaukee Pitchers Bob Buhl and Joey Jay seated in their midst, stealing Cub Catcher Elvin Tappe's signals with binoculars, and flashing signals to the batters with a scorecard semaphore.
One of the bleacherites tipped the Cubs' bullpen, and now the news is all over the league. With remarkable charity, most National Leaguers say they doubt that Dressen knew anything about the spying. Wonder where he thought Buhl and Jay were spending the afternoon?
July 17, 1960
THE QUALITY OF MERSITY
The big football yell at Rice had always been:
Rooty toot toot, rooty toot toot,
We're the boys from the institute.
But now Rice is a university instead of an institute. What to do about the old yell? John Fowler, poet laureate of Rice University, fell on the problem like the gentle rain from heaven. His new yell:
Rooty toot toot, rooty toot tersity,
We're the boys from the university.
RICKEY VS. BROWN
In the red glare of the Bessemers, in Pittsburgh's smart cafes, in the bleachers at Forbes Field, the argument continues: Who really built the Pirates—Branch Rickey or Joe Brown?
That such a debate could go on is itself a reflection of changed times. The scrubbed and clean new city has a scrubbed and clean new ball club, solidly leading the league. And now that there is credit to dispense, who gets it?
Well—Rickey signed and brought up four players, Face, Groat, Clemente and Skinner. Rickey signed Daniels, Mazeroski, Stuart, Christopher and Green, and Brown brought them up. Brown, on his own, signed and brought up Oldis, Umbricht, Gibbon and Nelson and traded for Smith, Virdon, Cimoli, Giel, Mizell, Burgess, Schofield, Hoak, Baker and Haddix.
From here, it looks like Pittsburgh would have to bring up a Philadelphia lawyer to determine responsibility for Pirate success.
PERILS OF JOURNALISM
Intrepid Harvey (Bud) Boyd, his intrepid wife Betty and his three intrepid children (aged 8, 12 and 15) are at this very moment tucked away unsafely in the deep wilds of northern California, there to conduct a hazardous experiment. Boyd, outdoor writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, is trying to find out what might happen to "the last family on earth."
To spice up the little game, the happy family group has taken along only one ax, five pocketknives, a 50-foot length of clothesline, the clothes on their backs, a ball of twine and a box of salt. No food, tents, sleeping bags, utensils, soap, coffee, matches, cigarettes or Martinis. They have one gun, but it is sealed, and if the seal is broken, Boyd will deem the trip a "failure."
Most Americans would find it difficult to survive at Broadway and 42nd Street with such limited equipment, but the Boyds have tried to make a bad situation even worse. They deliberately selected a spot inaccessible by car or plane and abounding with bears, mountain lions and spooky calls in the night. Another good thing about the site, Boyd observed before leaving, is that the fishing is rotten.
If all goes well, the Boyds will come out in six weeks. The world can only watch and hope. Five Boyds have walked into the wilds; will five Boyds walk out?
A WALK ON THE WATER
Wayne E. Wilson is a 59-year-old draftsman who laughs constantly, acts on impulse and in general has a high old time. One day he was riding along Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River "and the water looked so nice, I just visualized a bubble and me inside of it."
So Wilson went back to his home in York, Pa. and built a bubble with him inside of it. The bubble was just a happy whim, but suddenly Wilson found himself with a boat which opened up uncharted waters. The Wilson Water Trotter is a plastic bubble 80 inches in diameter, with two holes for entrance and air. Wilson gets inside, and wondrous things-happen. He explains:
"Wherever my feet are, that's the center of gravity. So that part is on the bottom. If any other part happens to get on the bottom, I just shift my feet. I move it by walking around inside it, just like a squirrel in a treadmill. As for steering, when I want to go to the right, I just walk to the right of the center line, and-the bubble automatically leans on its axis and it goes that way."
To prove the bubble's safety (it is all but unsinkable), Wilson already has run the dangerous Lachine Rapids near Montreal and now intends to shoot the entire Colorado River. After that, he plans to go adventuring in places like Florida's Okefenokee Swamp, the Everglades and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
"I can walk right up to a gator," Wilson says, "and look him in the eye, and he can't do anything to me. Big boats can't get inside the Great Barrier Reef, but I can. They're supposed to have giant man-eating clams and moray eels. I'd also like to go to the waters around Cuba that they say are full of sharks. Wouldn't it be the nuts to walk in among all of those man-eaters?"
THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON FIGHTS
When National Football League players get into fights, television cameras—by league rule—gently pan over the crowd, the scoreboard and anything except the brawl. "Tsk tsk," the announcer says, "there's a little disturbance down on the field, and now a word about Scrunchies, the new filter-tip cereal."
This annoying situation will not obtain in the new American Football League. Commissioner Joe Foss, the Marine hero of Guadalcanal, has ruled that viewers are entitled to see the same rumbles as the fans on the scene. Semper fidelis.
BAD FIELD, NO HIT
Sometimes history pays too little attention to losers, such as the Parmer Ave. Beavers of Nashville, Tenn. The Beavers are a bunch of kids who weren't good enough to make any of the dozens of Little League teams around town. A young lawyer named Perry Nochlin molded them into a beatable combination and the Beavers now have lost three games: 6-30, 5-17 and 4-9. They field not, neither do they hit, but they have a happy time. Which, come to think of it, is what kid baseball used to be all about.
ANOTHER NEW LEAGUE
After much soul-searching, analyzing and study, eight western colleges have decided to form a new collegiate conference. The reasons vary.
Oregon, Washington State and Oregon State don't like operating as independents. Arizona and Arizona State want better-rounded programs than they can get in the Border Conference. Utah, Brigham Young and New Mexico feel they can enhance their prestige by joining the new league.
Except for football, the new conference is likely to be the strongest in the West. Utah and BYU are top-rated in basketball; Arizona and Arizona State are strong in baseball; and in track, Oregon and Oregon State finished third and fourth in the NCAA.
The conference as yet has no official name, but Frank Gianelli of the Arizona Republic has come up with a nickname certain to stick: the Levi League.
COUP DE GRASS
Maclin Davis of Nashville mowed over a golf ball while cutting his lawn, flipped the ball into his poodle, broke the dog's right rear leg. He explained to his friends: "It was a short dog-leg to the right."
CAST OF CHARACTERS
President Eisenhower, warming up for a round of golf at Newport, R.I., commented: "There's a new thing I think we ought to get into golf, and that is an extra hole, a long one, about a par six, with every possible shot in it, so everybody would have to play it and use everything—and not count it."...
One Wimbledon press-box resident to another, on being asked if Queen Elizabeth ever shows up for the matches: "When the Queen comes to Wimbledon, it will be because the net has been raised six feet and all the players have been mounted on horses."...
Milwaukee's Hank Aaron predicted the Braves soon would pass Pittsburgh "like a jet." Pirate Third Baseman Don Hoak answered: "The next time Aaron slides into third base, I might just tag him in the teeth so hard he'll think there's a crap game going on in his mouth."...
Richard T. Cooper, confessed strangler of two women, went to the gas chamber in California last week after pronouncing these last words: "I'm very unhappy about the Giants. I didn't think Bill Rigney knew very much, but I don't think Tom Sheehan knows anything at all."...
Jeb Wofford, the Kansas horseman who fought the U.S. Equestrian Team for five years before losing his battle to make the Olympic three-day squad (SI, July 11), sportingly offered his three excellent mounts to the short-horsed team. Probable lineup: David Lurie will take Tingling to Rome, and Walter Staley will start with either Pat's Sister or Tres Puissant.