A RAISE FOR SOLLY
Last Tuesday night in St. Louis a lippy 36-year-old manager named Solomon Joseph Hemus searched his bench for a pinch hitter, finally made the wild choice of raw recruit Charley James. The rookie slapped a two-run single, and the Cardinals won their fourth straight game, 3-2. Said Solomon Joseph with becoming modesty:
"I had a hunch."
Nobody keeps statistics on successful hunches, but Solly Hemus has had more than his share. He manipulated his players and his hunches well, kept a tight bit in his jaws and wound the Cardinals all the way up to a fight for second place.
It was a long step upward from last year, when Hemus had tangled with his own players and umpires alike, managed to get kicked out of eight ball games, and in general displayed all the gall of the loudly insecure. When he sent Gene Green down to the minors Green yelled, "I'll be back in the majors, and that guy won't be around when I get back." When Green finally came back—to the Orioles—there were Solly Hemus and his Cardinals, firmly in the first division, and full of high hopes for next year.
Solly himself admits, "I wasn't a good manager last year. I made a lot of mistakes. I was learning." The day after his hunch paid off last week, the Cardinals decided Solly had indeed learned, gave him a $10,000 raise and a fat new $40,000 contract.
NEW HAT TRICK
Rupert Fothergill, a lantern-jawed Englishman, is senior game warden in Southern Rhodesia, and a ruddy good show he puts on. The other day he had to evacuate a one-ton lady rhino left stranded on a small island after a flood. Fothergill and his helpers boated across and shot a drugged dart into the old girl's shoulder, then trussed her up and loaded her onto a raft for the trip to the mainland.
There, Fothergill untied the ropes and sluiced buckets of water on the somnolent animal. This brought her somewhat more than to. She charged a nearby motorboat, ripping three gashes in its sides and dumping its occupants into the drink. Then she spotted the cause of all her travail, Rupert Fothergill.
Up she trundled and lunged at Fothergill. Rupert removed his bush hat and whacked it ever so smartly across the enraged animal's horn—whoosh! whoosh!—each time she charged him. Soon the indomitable warden had put the rhino to flight. Onlookers, safely shielded in a nearby boatwell, gave Fothergill a moist round of applause for this display of courage. Fothergill modestly accepted their tribute and then set off into the forest, trusty bush hat at the ready, looking for elephants.
THE ONE-BALL TWELVESOME
Golf courses, for some deep, primordial reason, bring out the wildest side of men. The latest exposition of this axiom comes from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, where all this week the boys were racing around the course swinging their three-irons. Their special game goes as follows: There are 12 on a side, all using three-irons. There is one ball. The first "golfer" tees off. Far down the fairway, the second golfer watches the ball in flight, rushes to its landing place, gives it another swat down the fairway to a point where a third member of the team is waiting, three-iron poised. In this manner the ball is finally nudged into the cup, whereupon the golfer who holes out grabs the ball, rushes to the next tee and sends the ball whistling down the fairway to another golfer, etc., etc. The best score to date in Dawson Creek is 10 minutes and 48 seconds for a nine-hole course.
A Kansas City sports editor came back from lunch one day last week to find the following note from the switchboard operator:
"Your friend Pete called. He wanted to know the final score of the game between East Texas State and Abbe Lane Christian."
THE INSIDE TRACK
•Behind Jack Kramer's announcement of an all-pro Kramer Cup is a vast impatience with the failure of amateurs to establish open tennis. Kramer's competition will begin on an international basis next year.
•Baseball cynics accuse Gillette of forcing unneeded travel days into this year's World Series in order to insure a Sunday game and a big viewing audience. Commissioner Ford Frick insists that the real reason is to avoid the confusion caused by rushing from city to city overnight.
•Jamin, the French trotter and consumer of artichokes, has now developed a taste for grapes. Trainer Jean Riaud will bring along a shipment when Jamin heads for Yonkers Raceway next week.
•San Francisco Giants' stockholders may be leading the league financially. Back in the Polo Grounds days, they collected an annual dividend of about $5 a share; this year they'll make close to $25.
•The personality clash between White Sox Pitcher Dick Donovan and Manager Al Lopez, concealed by both men from Chicago fans, probably will lead to Donovan's being traded this off season.
Northwestern is using the lightest jerseys and pants in college football, according to Coach Ara Parseghian, in order to provide freer movement and avoid early-season heat problems. Parseghian also has 38 sets of thermal underwear ready for cold weather. "We don't want the boys piling on sweaters and jerseys under their uniforms," he says.
THE VOICE OF THE CRICKET
It is the time of the eighth moon in China, and the hot, angry voice of the cricket is heard again on the land. The British have played cricket since the 18th century, but the Chinese have had cricket matches since the Sung Dynasty, a thousand seasons ago. In the Oriental version, rice-fattened crickets square off and fight to the death.
The Chinese Communists have banned this entomological version of cock fighting, but it is still very big in Macao, the anything-goes Portuguese colony near Hong Kong. Last week the faithful crowded around a yard-square sand-covered table in the Voice of Autumn Club and laid bets ranging from 3¢ to $40. Each cricket was the pick of his stable. Each had been mated the night before with a selected female cricket, a practice considered sound for fighting crickets.
The match began, as always, with the two judges inspecting the antagonists, which are kept in a ceramic-bowl cage with covers of carved teak and red cloth. When all was pronounced ready ("Both you crickets know the rules of the Macao Athletic Commission. Now I don't want no..."), the trainers stepped up, whipped out ivory cases and removed their mouse-whisker brushes. They carefully tickled the crickets' antennae, and the contestants took this, as crickets always do, as an insult. The fight was on. Rubbing forewings together to make the characteristic chirping noise, the crickets circled each other. One bobbed and weaved for an opening, then lunged forward and chomped down on his opponent with two beaverlike front teeth. Amid a multilingual roar of excitement the two contestants whirled, pushed and shoved. Suddenly the bitten cricket slumped to the sand. His trainer sprang into action with the trusty mouse-whisker brush, but it was no go. The judges stepped in and declared a merciful Chinese version of the TKO.
This, with infinite variations, is cricket fighting. Oriental folklore is filled with tales of it. A favorite concerns the cricket seller who was about to deliver a load of first-class crickets to the governor of his province, only to discover his young son had set them all free. The father beat the boy, and the boy ran away from home. The next day, the father could find only one puny cricket, which he shamefacedly presented to the governor. The cricket turned into an unsurpassable champion, and even belt a rooster. At the end of the season the undefeated cricket died, and the cricket seller's boy came home. He told his father that he had been asleep, and he had been dreaming. He dreamed he was a champion cricket.
THE MAIN RUNNER
A Denton, Texas schoolboy dispatched the following letter to Fort Worth City Secretary Roy Bateman:
"If possible please tell me all you can about the way the city government runs. Also please send me a letter telling me just who the main runner is."
CAST OF CHARACTERS
The president of Xavier University of Ohio has figured out the perfect football season: equal wins and losses. Said the Rev. Paul L. O'Connor, "If you finish above .500, the NCAA will investigate you. If you finish below .500, the alumni will investigate you." ...Stanford Coach Jack Curtice describes an opposing football team: "Those guys may be too big to form a huddle." Curtice is working on a supersecret new offensive system which he calls "coach in motion." ...Green Bay Packer Coach Vince Lombardi is always drumming into his players: "You've got to be mentally tough." The other day he complained to his wife, Marie: "This damn knee of mine is acting up again." Said Mrs. Lombardi: "You've got to be mentally tough." The Lombardis are speaking again, but it took a few days.