This year's Kentucky Derby notwithstanding (see page 20), the best 3-year-old horse in the country may still be Brookmeade Stable's Bowl of Flowers, who won six of eight races and $198,706 last season, and in her first start of 1961 last Thursday casually galloped away from a field of four.
Elliott Burch, Bowl of Flowers' trainer and the same young man who helped to make Sword Dancer the Horse of the Year in 1959, stood by his barn at New York's Belmont Park the morning after the race and answered a few questions about his filly.
Q. The Brookmeade Stable had nominated Bowl of Flowers for the Triple Crown. Why did you decide not to start her in the Derby?
May 14, 1961
A. Mrs. Sloane [Isabel Dodge Sloane, Brookmeade's owner] and I both felt that it was more important for her to win the Triple Crown for fillies, and we still think so. Bowl of Flowers will run in the $50,000 Acorn on May 20, $75,000 Mother Goose on June 10 and the $100,000 Coaching Club American Oaks on June 24.
Q. Some people have thought all along that Bowl of Flowers could have beaten this year's 3-year-old colts without too much trouble. Was a lot of pressure put on you to try the Triple Crown races?
A. Yes, although pressure is probably not the right word. An inordinate amount of interest might be a better way of expressing it.
Q. Neither Mrs. Sloane nor yourself has ever won a CCA Oaks, although you had a good chance in 1958 with Big Effort. How would you rate Bowl of Flowers with Big Effort?
A. I'd say that Big Effort was no such horse as Bowl of Flowers.
Q. Won't there now be "an inordinate amount of interest" to get her to run in the Preakness and the Belmont?
A. I suppose so, but she won't run in either.
Q. She hasn't raced in five months; why?
A. Over a winter many good fillies lose their ability. We didn't want this one to. We didn't want to rush her. We would rather have her tell us when she is ready to run.
Q. When will you run with the best of the colts?
A. Probably in the fall.
Q. How would you rate her with Sword Dancer at a similar stage?
A. That wouldn't be fair to either Bowl of Flowers or Sword Dancer. I'd rather wait a few months before answering that.
All lovers of racing must hope for a meeting this fall between Bowl of Flowers and the winner(s) of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and Belmont.
The American Football League, which had a bad season financially in 1960, is already busy promoting its product for 1961. In New York, for instance, Harry Wismer's Titans have taken two radio sports shows to help increase their ticket sales to the 17,000-per-game average they need to break even.
"I will admit that I lost $450,000 on the Titans last year and $75,000 on the league as a whole," Wismer said recently. "Aside from the radio shows, we are getting corporations to give their employees Titan tickets as part of their incentive programs. If a civic or fraternal group buys 100 tickets to a Titan game the Titans will provide them with a bus to and from the ball park. We're going to have a special blue-and-gold section between the 30-yard lines so that people can have a feeling of being together and rooting for the ol' home-town team. We've approved our contract to play in the new Flushing Meadows Stadium and hope to be in there by 1962. Once we get people in, our policy is going to be different from anyplace else in New York—treat 'em right! You know why New York has become a bad sports town? It's because the promoters haven't treated people right for years. Just open up the gates and take in the money, that's been the policy."
Over the winter months the National Football League has accepted some pointers from the upstart American League. On-the-field fights will be televised by the NFL this year, a direct copy of the AFL's policy. The New York World's Fair committee is toying with the idea of having the AFL champions play the NFL champions in 1964. We'd bet that the American League would be willing to play.
SING ALONG WITH JACK
As Jack Kramer's professional tennis troupe goes across the country, it is helping to plug a song called It's Tennis (words and music by Perry Botkin; copyright 1961 by Longridge Music, Inc.). A patron, if interested, can buy a record of It's Tennis for $1 or the sheet music for 60¢. The tune is played over the public-address system between matches, and Jack Kramer urges: "Listen for it and sing with us." Herewith the words:
Tennis...let's watch 'em play
Tennis...let's see 'em play
Turn your head right...turn your head left
Tennis...that happy game
Come ev'ry one...join in the fun
The ring of the racquet as it hits the ball
The sound of the ball as it hits the court
Watching the players, the crowd in the stands
We love this game best of all
Tennis...the greatest game
Tennis...we're glad for this
Racquet and ball...game for us all
Well, the word love didn't kill tennis, so we doubt if this song will.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
•Roy Smalley, former shortstop for the Chicago Cubs and now manager of the Class C Reno Silver Sox in the California League, explaining how he will handle his team this year: "I'm going to ask these boys to do as I say, not as I do. One year I led the National League in errors. They named a vitamin after me that year—One-A-Day."
•Woody Hayes, football coach at Ohio State, questioning Danny Murtaugh, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates: "Tell me, Danny, how do you fight complacency on your ball club?" Murtaugh: "If I knew what it meant maybe I'd know how to fight it."
•Spencer Eddy, one of New York State's harness racing commissioners, discussing the problems of getting trotting tracks to accept some of the ideas of running tracks: "Many harness men do not like to mention the name of their competition. Some even cringe at the word Aqueduct and would like me never to use it. Well, I'll be darned if I'm going to refer to Aqueduct as the 70¢ spread."
THE BAD NEW DAYS
Connie Mack III retired quietly from the public-relations staff of the Kansas City Athletics the other day. Young Connie, 31, made the usual statements about the parting being amicable, but he told a reporter, "It wasn't the Athletics for me any more."
As a young boy of 12, Connie III began working for his famous grandfather, Cornelius McGillicuddy (Connie Mack), as a bat boy. His memories of life with grandpa provide some new insights into the old man's ideas and activities as a manager.
"Once I remember some runners got mixed up and passed each other on the base paths," Connie III says. "It was a terrible mess, and the umpires were as confused as anyone. My grandfather always wore street clothes in the dugout, and so never went on the field. But the umpires came over to him and he straightened the whole thing out for them.
"I roomed with grandfather on the road. He always left the room at exactly 7:55 so he could make breakfast at 8. But he wouldn't let me get up. 'When you're young,' he told me, 'you need more rest.'
"He managed until he was 88, quitting in 1950, six years before he died. And do you know what he said after managing 50 years? He said, 'I think I managed one year too long.' Outside of baseball the biggest things in his life were boxing and the movies," Connie III continues. "He knew the name and record of almost every boxer in the world, and took me to hundreds of movies, everything from Gone with the Wind to Dillinger. Sometimes I think of him as two different men—a great baseball figure and my granddad who took me to the movies."
Today's Athletics have a ball park painted desert turquoise and citrus yellow, a mechanical rabbit that hands baseballs to the umpire, a mechanical plate duster and fireworks after night games. For the first time in 60 years, however, the Athletics do not have a Mack.
JACK DEMPSEY'S PLAN
"Like it is, it's no good," Jack Dempsey said last week about the game of his life, and he had some remedies to propose. "We gotta clean boxing up and build it up," he said. "But it's a federal case. Fight managers can't get together and do it, state politicians won't." He thinks Senator Estes Kefauver is on the right track, and that a federal boxing commissioner would be an advance in the needed direction. The states, he says, have differing and conflicting rules and regulations, and one state won't go along with another state's decisions. "If a fighting man does something wrong, it don't matter if it's Massachusetts or California, he shouldn't fight anywhere."
"Sonny Liston?" Dempsey asked. "He should do what Senator Kefauver tells him to do about a manager. Rademacher? He needs a manager himself."
Dempsey believes the best way to build up boxing is to bring it back to the small clubs. "We aren't giving American boys a chance," he says. "Nobody owes anybody a living, and nobody owes me anything, but everybody's entitled to a chance. If we limit TV fights to the championships and put the rest of the fights back in the clubs, we might develop fighters and managers."
He also advocates a pension fund for fighters, the same as baseball players have. "Take 10% off the top," he suggests, "and then guys at 50 won't be broke the way most fighters are today."
Dempsey would like to see the point system and judges abolished, and he thinks the old Marquess of Queensberry rules are still good enough. "One good referee is all you need," he says. "Now you get confusion, and it costs money. Another thing I don't like," Dempsey adds, "is all these return bouts. Patterson fights Johansson, Johansson fights Patterson, Patterson fights Johansson. When Tunney beat me, Tex Rickard said to me, 'You don't fight him back, you fight Sharkey.' I did, I got lucky, and I won. You shouldn't start over again at the top, you should work up to it again."
THE WIND HAS NO REASON
Standing near the rail of his brigantine Albatross as she pushed across the Gulf of Mexico, Chris Sheldon saw that the sea was calm. It was almost 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 2. On board with Sheldon was a crew of teen-age boys and their teachers, who for the past seven months had been cruising and holding school classes on the 92-foot vessel. Five people were standing watch with Sheldon, the other 13 were below.
During the early hours of the morning watch, Albatross had stuttered in and out of minor rain squalls. The squalls, common in the Gulf at this time of year, had no real power in them. There was no reason to shorten sail, no reason to believe the wind would get dangerously stronger, no reason to think that anything out of the ordinary was going to happen. Then, suddenly, with no warning but with frightening power, a blast of wind struck the Albatross and knocked her flat onto her starboard side. (Later some of the boys called the blow a white squall, a vicious, sometimes tornadic wind that churns the water to a froth. Sheldon disagreed, but that morning the radar of the Key West weather station showed four tornadolike disturbances near the Albatross.)
The ocean poured in through open hatches onto the horrified watch below. Eight people fought their way up against the cascading water. Five others, among them Sheldon's wife, could not. On deck one lifeboat broke loose and floated clear. Eighteen-year-old John Goodlett tried to free another, but as he worked, Albatross sank, taking him with her. Moments later, Goodlett's lifeboat bobbed to the surface, but Goodlett stayed down, the sixth to die. Sheldon and 12 other survivors climbed into the two lifeboats—and quite suddenly the terrible wind was gone, vanished over the calm sea where it had been born.