A GAME A DAY
The American League has troubles coming: dark, deep troubles. When it expanded to 10 teams this year it also expanded from the normal 154-game schedule to 162, and this spring has brought bad weather to most American League cities. Just about every team is now forced to reschedule to allow for double-headers in order to complete the season by October 1.
The hardest hit team of all is the Kansas City A's, who must now play 126 games in 126 days; the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees must play 125 games in 126 days. Weighing fatigue, night games, double-headers, pitching rotations and physical endurance, it is not hard to see that before the season ends some pretty tired baseball will be presented to American League fans. The blame, of course, all goes back to the greedy owners of baseball and to American League President Joe Cronin and Commissioner Ford C. Frick. If the expansion of the American League had been a little less hasty and a little better thought-out there would be no trouble.
ON BEHALF OF MOTHERHOOD
June 4, 1961
We stumbled over a copy of the Father's Day News the other day, which says that Adlai E. Stevenson is the National Father of the Year; that Fred MacMurray is Television Father of the Year; that Phil Silvers is Stage Father of the Year; that Evan Hunter is the Literary Father of the Year; that Ralph Houk is Sports Father of the Year; that Phil Rizzuto is Radio Father of the Year.
We'd like to offer a more serious choice: Saggy.
PEOPLE WHO LIVE ON GLASS POLES
It is the ambition of Pole Vaulter Don Bragg to become the 13th movie Tarzan, and thus attain that fame which touched Buster Crabbe, Johnny Weissmuller, Lex Barker and nine others.
Last week, however, Bragg was concerned more with poles than with pictures. He seemed a little shaken by the fact that a 20-year-old sophomore, George Davies of Oklahoma State, had vaulted 15 feet 10¼ inches, surpassing Bragg's record by an inch (see page 19). Davies had used the new fiber-glass pole, while Bragg's record had been set with an aluminum alloy pole.
"The fiber-glass pole adds at least six inches to a vaulter's mark," Bragg said. "I think some action should be taken regarding it. It should either be declared legal or illegal or ruled as a separate event. It has a catapulting action rather than a vaulting action. Vaulting used to be 60% to 70% the man and 30% to 40% the pole. Now it's the other way around. With the aluminum or bamboo pole the human limitation is 16 feet or 16 feet 1 inch. With fiber glass it's 16 feet 6 inches." Bragg said that if the fiber-glass manufacturers could find a pole to hold his weight (195 pounds) he would be able to clear 16 feet.
That afternoon a manufacturer delivered one right to his very door.
CARMEN IN A BULL RING
N√Æmes, about 60 miles from Marseilles, has a Roman arena dating from the 1st century A.D. that often is used for bullfights. Recently it was the scene of a combined production of Carmen and a corrida with a real bull, with singers from the Paris Opéra and the world's greatest torero, Antonio Ordó√±ez, from Madrid. The ancient arena made a perfect stage setting, with a crescent moon and starry sky supplied by nature.
Two hundred and twenty extras in 1820 Andalusian costumes, a dozen horses and a batch of donkeys paraded. On the stage were 12 singers and a chorus of 60. A 60-man orchestra occupied space in the arena for want of a pit. A double barricade protected the players from the bull. "It's all right for Don José to kill Carmen," said the manager of the show, "but we don't want the bull goring the first violinist."
Ernest Blanc, baritone, made a big hit by intoning the famous (and misnamed) toreador song from the top row of the arena. Ordó√±ez arrived in a cal√®che, following Carmen in another carriage. Some spectators thought he resembled the barber in The Barber of Seville. Under floodlights, in the interval between arias, Ordó√±ez was rapid, clean, efficient, but the big brown bull, perhaps charmed by the music, lacked ferocity. Worse still, his horns had been shortened and dulled.
Before the fight began, Ordó√±ez threw his hat at Carmen, and she tossed back a rose. Both fell short and dropped among the horn players. As the bull was dragged from the ring Carmen and Don José began their death-scene finale. When José in the opera gave Carmen the fatal stab, one aficionado, who preferred his performance to Ordó√±ez's bullfight, hollered, "Olé, olé."
SOME QUESTIONS REMAIN
The first official action by collegiate authorities in response to the basketball scandals has now been taken. It deserves examination.
The University of North Carolina and North Carolina State College, both hit by player-bribery charges, have agreed that henceforth they will grant athletic scholarships to only two basketball players per year outside the Atlantic Coast Conference area (and will apply the same principle to football recruiting). They will prohibit basketball competition for their players during the summer. They will play only two nonconference games during the season, eliminating the Dixie Classic and other holiday tournaments.
The over-all intent of these actions—reasonable de-emphasis of basketball and the drive for profits from it—is laudable. The canceling of the strictly commercial holiday tournaments and cutting down on intersectional games that require so much time away from campus by players are both good moves. Furthermore, such rules can hardly be circumvented; a team's schedule cannot be faked.
However, the other two actions are highly questionable. The prohibition of summer competition is both capricious and unwarranted. Why shouldn't athletes be allowed to play the sport they enjoy at summer camps, playgrounds or anywhere they choose, so long as they fulfill the requirements of remaining amateurs? And who will check on them after they scatter for summer recess? Who, also, will check on whether players outside the ACC area are given scholarships to Carolina schools, pay their own way or are financed by over-zealous alumni? The NCAA has no jurisdiction here; neither does the Atlantic Coast Conference. We would like to take the schools' word that they will adhere to their own rules. However, we believe that athletic directors, coaches, alumni and college presidents have been winking at similar rules for years. We'd like to see a strong, independent body enforce sound regulations and mete out really suitable punishment when they are broken.
ON THE AVENUE
Harness racing is constantly trying new tricks to elevate its image; to get itself, as a Madison Avenue man might say, out of the grandstand days and into the clubhouse ways. Last week Madison Avenue did its split-level best to hoist the image of one track, New York's Roosevelt Raceway, up the flagpole. Huge ads appeared in The New York Times and the World-Telegram and Sun which showed a wide-eyed, freckle-faced, all-American boy listening attentively to his father. The copy went like this: "You'll hear about him all your life, son.... He's the one-of-a-kind champion you find in every sport—like Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, Bobby Jones or Man o' War. Though I can't take you along to see him, you'll talk about the things Adios Butler had done just as you do about The Babe and his 60 homers.... Someday, when the talk gets around to champions who make history, you'll boast that your dad saw Adios Butler."
This week we hope that another ad will appear, and feel that the copy should read something like this: "You'll never hear about that stiff from me again, son. Lord, you were lucky to be able to stay home while I fought the crowds and the rain to see Adios Butler finish a nice, snug fifth at odds of 9 to 10. He'll go down in history with Clint Hartung, Pete Rademacher, Jack Fleck and Silky Sullivan. Someday, son, when the talk gets around to chumps, you'll boast that your dad is top drawer."
Of course, in his next outing the Butler could make a sucker out of that copywriter, too.
Exercise boys, grooms and hot walkers of three stables at New York Thoroughbred tracks are soon to hold their first election, by order of the State Labor Relations Board, to decide whether they want Local 917 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (James Hoffa, president) to represent them. Similar elections will follow this one, and eventually 1,400 to 2,000 backstretch employees of about 200 trainers will be involved.
Some trainers and owners say that if the Teamsters are successful they will have to leave New York and race elsewhere because of prohibitive costs. But the union plans to go elsewhere, too.
The union wants a minimum wage of $1.50 an hour for stablehands for an eight-hour day, six-day week, with time and a half for overtime, one day's sick pay and one day's vacation pay a month. New York trainers now get from owners an average of $15 a horse per day for food, training and wages of stable employees. If the owners are compelled to increase their rates, as some say they would have to do, there will be less racing, less employment and no Christmas and end-of-season bonuses for the help. (Currently, the New York Racing Association makes available life insurance, hospitalization and medical care.)
Relations between employees, trainers and owners have always been paternalistic. Horsemen not only dislike unionization in general but the Teamsters in particular because of their unsavory past in other industries. Union strategy is to deal with stables piecemeal because they probably could not win a large group election. If they succeed with a few stables, they could throw picket lines around the others, and union members who drive horse vans would not cross such lines.
Racing is a prosperous sport, but horsemen themselves do not have an easy time. Moreover, are the Teamsters the best bargaining agents on a race track? Certainly, the men who tend the horses are entitled to decent wages and living conditions, if only to help them resist temptation offered by gamblers carrying dope pellets.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
•Roy Harris, one of many nondescript fighters that Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson has beaten, recently was knocked out by Bob Cleroux, a nondescript fighter himself, for the second straight time. Manager Lou Viscusi summed up Harris' future: "Look, why kid ourselves? Roy has lost five fights now, and he's too nice a kid to keep on in this business—this is the end of the line."
•Blackie Sherrod, sports editor of the Dallas Times Herald, is not enthusiastic about the forthcoming All-America Bowl football game which draws its players from this year's college seniors. Wrote Sherrod: "At last count there were something like 8,256 all-star football games, but they're ordinarily contained in a period from August through January. Now we got us one on June 23, and if that's not like eating cabbage for breakfast, what is?"
•Much-publicized Press Agent Beano Cook of the University of Pittsburgh sent out a release last week heralding Roger Brown of Dayton and Connie Hawkins of Iowa as future basketball stars. The next day both were implicated in the basketball fixes.
•Joe Gordon, manager of the Kansas City Athletics, is getting more and more irked by interference from the A's new owner, Charles O. Finley. Before last Wednesday's game with the Washington Senators at Municipal Stadium, Gordon submitted his lineup card to Umpire Joe Paparella with this note appended: "Approved by C.O.F."
THEY SAID IT
•Cleveland Indian Manager Jimmie Dykes's theory on Casey Stengel's greatest asset as a manager: "He's independently wealthy."
•Kyle Rote, co-captain of the New York football Giants, after being forced into a race across midtown New York at lunchtime against a taxi, a horse and carriage, a Rolls-Royce and a motor scooter to help get publicity for the radio station that employs him: "This is the kind of assignment you get when you don't attend staff meetings."