COME ON, YO-YO!
Minor league baseball returned to the greater New York area last week, to the immense satisfaction of 7,155 cash customers at Jersey City's big Roosevelt Stadium. Former Giant and Dodger fans found themselves following with interest a contest between a team representing Jersey City and one from Columbus, Ohio—and, in fact, it was an almost flawless occasion. The weather was superb, golden light falling on the deep green of the salt meadows, buildings silhouetted like stage sets against the shimmering waters of Newark Bay, a band, a parade, ample parking, alert (if slightly stage-struck) players and a good game.
In three days, the Havana Sugar Kings of the International League (in fourth place) accomplished the rapid transfer to Jersey City, printed tickets, signed a television contract (home games televised into New York during Yankee road trips) and pretty much took New Jersey by storm. The reason for leaving Castro's Havana was simply put by ex-Milwaukee Brave Jim Pendleton: "You couldn't concentrate on playing ball down there. You could feel the hostility in the air."
There was certainly no evidence of any in Jersey City. True, a Miss Delphine Lisk asked her boss for permission to attend the welcoming parade and was thereupon fired, but the mayor appointed her Miss Jersey City, and she rode in the parade herself. Transformed from the Sugar Kings to the Jersey City Jerseys (subsequently changed to Reds), the team traveled by night from Miami, got an hour's sleep, paraded through the city, listened to speeches, signed autographs and, as the lights came on and the crowd really roared, played the Columbus Jets to a standstill for seven innings. The roar of the crowd was a little confused, since there were few Latin Americans present and the others did not know how to pronounce Izquierdo or Azcue. But everyone soon learned that Jersey City's brilliant second baseman, Pompeyo Davalillo, was called Yo-Yo, and solved the problem by shouting "Yo-Yo! Yo-Yo!" no matter what was happening. Columbus won 8-3.
July 24, 1960
THE SIX-MINUTE MILE
If track men can run the mile in four minutes, how fast should football players be able to run it? Five minutes? Six minutes? An hour and a half? Dallas Cowboys' Coach Tom Landry decided to find out. He measured off a mile course on the turf at the Cowboys' training camp in Forest Grove, Ore. and told the boys to get out there and break the six-minute barrier.
None did. The best time was 6:19 by Greg Altenhofen, rookie end from Oregon. Slowest time was a 9:06 by Bob Griffin, Arkansas center. The University of New Mexico's Don Perkins, who has run the hundred in 10 seconds flat, collapsed after five of the six laps, walked the rest of the way. Landry intends to keep the boys at it, and if football fields are ever lengthened to 5,280 feet, the Cowboys will be a team to be reckoned with.
USES OF ADVERSITY
Trying to qualify for the Portland (Ore.) City Amateur Golf Tournament last week, Kelley Stroud took a mighty swing on the par-3 16th hole, splashed his ball into the water. He took another cut, put another ball in the water. A third swing, a third dunking. Once more Stroud teed off. This time he fired a 148-yard shot straight into the cup. With penalties, it was a perfect hole-in-seven.
ANYONE CAN PLAY
Gamesmanship is the fine art of bugging one's opponent without specifically breaking rules. It is rampant in the major leagues. During the recent All-Star Game in New York, Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, sitting in the Yankees' dugout for the first time in his life, was one of the first to notice New York's contribution to the art. "Hey," he said, "it's air-conditioned!" As Robinson well knew, the visiting team's dugout is hot and humid and unblessed by such modern conveniences. The result, via gamesmanship, is a slight psychological edge, a feeling of comfortable superiority, for the Yankees.
Frank Lane, general manager of the Cleveland Indians, is an authority on this subject. "If you think that's a bad situation in New York," he says, "how about Kansas City? There the home team's dugout has a lavatory. But the boys on the visiting team have to walk a couple of hundred feet to the clubhouse. And everybody in the ball park knows where they're going!"
Lane also points out that some groundskeepers tailor their fields to suit the home club. "In Chicago," he says, "the third-base line is raised like the lip of a saucer. Why? Because Aparicio and Fox and a couple of others are good bunters. The White Sox play 77 games at home—77 games where a lot of bunts will stay fair."
And how does Lane, former general manager of the White Sox, know this? "I ought to know," he says. "I'm the guy who ordered that base line built up." Lane is also the guy who installed heaters in the Indian dugout but left them out of the enemy dugout, thus forcing visiting players, on occasion, to build fires for warmth in early-season games.
"I arranged for a number of heaters," Lane explains innocently, "but we ran out before we got around to the visitors. Of course, there was nothing to stop them from bringing in their own. We didn't search them."
A LOUD OOH, PLEASE
The jeweler, the designer, the goldsmith, the engraver, the polisher and the setter all worked overtime last week to complete Cus D'Amato's crown. They made it of 14-carat gold, studded it with 174 diamonds, 248 rubies and sapphires, 250 pearls. Cus had ordered it, and he didn't care what it cost. "I'm having it made to express what I feel," Cus said. This week, at a testimonial dinner in New York, he presents the crown to his fighter, Floyd Patterson—the heavy-weight champion of the whole world.
On the highest of its nine crests, the crown has a golden globe (to denote world supremacy); the color scheme is red, white and blue (to signify the return of the title to the U.S.); and there are a couple of jewel-studded boxing gloves (to keep first things first). So that Floyd will not get his crown mixed up with anyone else's, his initials are set out front in diamond letters one and three-quarter inches high. And to ensure a proper fit (Floyd's hat size is 7¼), the band's ermine trim can be adjusted.
"When the crown is presented," Cus said, "I want to hear loud oohs and ahs." One sure ooh-getter: its $25,000 price tag.
WILLIE TAKES HIS CUT(S)
When regular batting practice is over, baseball tradition calls for each starting player to step into the box for one (and only one) final swing. So it was at the second All-Star Game in New York last week. Bob Skinner took his cut. In came Willie Mays. He fouled one, begged another, lined a ball into left. In came Bill White. He took one swing and in came Mays again. "Hey, get outa there, Willie!" somebody shouted. Willie feigned deafness and took another cut. Smoky Burgess stepped in, and he was followed by—Willie Mays. This time Ernie Banks reached out and yanked Willie back into the base paths of righteousness. "Man," groaned Willie, "a guy just can't get a break around here!"
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Coach Lou Saban of the Boston Patriots finds he must enunciate extra clearly while training this year's squad. On the roster are Bob Fee, Bob Dee and Bob Lee....
Confessions of provincialism were exchanged by two everyday baseball broadcasters at the Kansas City All-Star Game. Said Harry Caray of St. Louis when Chuck Estrada came in to pitch: "I thought he was a left-hander." Said George Bryson, Cincinnati broadcaster: "It wasn't until today that I found out Bill Skowron bats right-handed."...
Olympic Official George Heinonen walked out in the second inning of a major league baseball game, observed: "Why should I sit around and watch a bunch of fat men who are obviously out of condition?"
FAREWELL TO HAPPY KNOLL
Roger Horlick has sent his last letter to Albert Magill, president emeritus, about the deficit at Happy Knoll. Old Ned will hear no more confessions at the bar, and Benny Muldoon's ambitions for the pro circuit have been quenched forever. Bob Lawton will never again have bright suggestions, shortswise, taxwise or otherwise, for the lights have gone out at the country club which John P. Marquand created in these pages. We were honored to have this great American man of letters as one of our early and most distinguished contributors. He died last week, and we mourn his passing.