BOWLS OF GRAVY
"Blackingout," a television term that means keeping an event off TV screens in ornear the city in which it takes place, has always been a special annoyance tosports fans. They would like to have the choice of seeing a local event inperson or watching it on a screen. The local blackout, however, must beconsidered a minor irritation compared to the major arrogance now underconsideration by some promoters in connection with football bowl games.
If the idea isapproved, people in Los Angeles not only will be unable to see a telecast ofthe Rose Bowl but will find the Cotton, Orange and Sugar bowls missing as well.The same super-blackout will apply in Dallas, Miami and New Orleans. In otherwords, you go to your local bowl game or you don't see any bowl game at all."It is my personal belief," said Stuart W. Patton, TV-radio chairman ofthe Orange Bowl Committee, last week, "that the blackout system must beadopted within five years. Television, which has been of vast benefit to bowlgames, is now becoming a menace. But the bowl people are concerned about thepublic opinion in such a blackout."
Mr. Patton and allother bowl promoters had damn well better be concerned about the reaction to aplan so clearly based on greed. The over-all average attendance at the four bigbowl games for the past five years was 82,177. At no time in these five yearsdid the crowd at any of them fall below 68,000. That ought to satisfy anypromoter.
July 2, 1961
•After 70 years ofbuilding wooden boats, Chris-Craft, world's biggest producer of pleasure craft,is going to try fiber glass. Within two months the company will announce a newline of plastic cruisers and runabouts.
•The Los Angelesteam in the new National Professional Bowling League will offer season ticketsfor its 68-match home schedule for $350 (about $5.10 per match), while ticketsfor individual matches will go for $4.95, $4.60 and $3.50. Other promotersdoubt that the bowling sponsors will be able to maintain these sky-highprices.
•The New YorkRacing Association will change the conditions of the middle leg of The TripleCrown for Fillies—The Mother Goose—so that all three races will be run on anequal-weight basis in 1962. Under this year's conditions, Bowl of Flowers hadto give four pounds to Funloving and was beaten by a head. A length, accordingto handicapping principles, equals three pounds at a mile. Bowl of Flowers wonthe other two legs of The Triple Crown and probably would have won The MotherGoose at equal weights.
Too often, webelieve, our colleagues on the political side try to illuminate a complexinternational situation by comparing it with one in sport—and the result islinguistic chaos. Here in evidence is the lead editorial from a recent issue ofthat noted British magazine, The Economist:
"Cricketingpundits say that England came within an ace of losing the first test match atEdgbaston last week largely because at a critical moment on the first afternoontwo relative newcomers to the side, Messrs. Allen and Illingworth, wasted aprecious three-quarters of an hour by patting balls back to the bowler along anadmittedly sticky wicket. No doubt these seemed natural tactics while the ballwas rearing up so uncomfortably at them, but the main practical result was toensure that, by the time their opponents came in to face their own off-spinbowling, the wicket had hardened in those opponents' favour. The big politicalquestion of the hour is whether the same mistake is now being made by Britain'sPrime Minister in relation to the Common Market."
Well, it lookslike Mr. Macmillan is in quite a mess. Or is he? Did he take a strike on ahit-and-run signal? Did he walk Cletis Boyer in order to get at Roger Maris?Did he slide into third only to find Babe Herman there already? Did he call fora punt on a third-and-one situation? Understanding the Common Market isdifficult enough. If we have to do it by way of illustrations from cricket (oreven baseball) we might as well give up.
It came as no newsat all last week when Cookie Lavagetto was fired as manager of the MinnesotaTwins. The team was slumping, the folks in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Fergus Fallsand Sleepy Eye were supposedly clamoring for someone's head to roll, and so, ofcourse, Cookie's rolled.
The Twins havebeen in every spot in the American League, from first to 10th, since the seasonbegan. They now rest uncomfortably in ninth place, only a breath ahead of theLos Angeles Angels, a team composed of a few guys from around the corner. Theirfirst-line pitching has been second rate, their fielding is appalling and theirbats seem broken.
Does this meanCookie is a bad manager, and is that why he was fired? The answer to bothquestions is no. The evidence is that Cookie is one of the best managers in thebusiness. Last year he drove and inspired this same club to a fifth-placefinish, far better than expected. Many competent observers believed he deservedthe Manager of the Year award. Lavagetto was fired for the tiresome old reasonthat when a team is in a slump the owner can provide the illusion he is doingsomething about it by getting rid of the manager. This, of course, is in lieuof supplying the manager with better players. Long before he moved this team tothe state of Minnesota, Owner Calvin Griffith was antagonizing Washington fansby his failure to supply such players.
It is worth notingalso that Lavagetto is the latest of baseball's colorful personalities (others:Stengel, Durocher, Bragan and Grimm) to be drummed out of top jobs. The trendtoward the faceless manager continues.
Last week twowealthy, middle-aged gentlemen got together with two social-climbing youngladies in New York. Object: money and stature. Result: success. Del Miller, the47-year-old harness racing driver-trainer, won the $50,000 Harness Tracks ofAmerica Pace final at Roosevelt Raceway, driving Countess Adios. The Countessis a shuffling 4-year-old filly, the finest female standard-bred to be seen inmany years. She always seems to come up with her best races when the purses arethe highest. In seven starts at Roosevelt she has won five and taken $130,150from that track.
Eddie Arcaro, the45-year-old Cyrano on horseback, had himself an easy ride around Belmont Parkaboard Bowl of Flowers in the Coaching Club American Oaks. Many have maintainedright along that Bowl of Flowers is at least the equal of the best of the3-year-old colts. She has now earned $336,024 while winning nine of 12 racesand never has been worse than second.
In the comingmonths these two young ladies will go after honors normally reserved for themale of the species. Never in the same year have fillies been named Horse ofthe Year in both the runners and trotters. This may be the year.
Baseball's annualbonus-baby auction was in full swing last week. Boys clutching their newdiplomas in one hand and their new bankbooks in the other were snapped upvirtually on the steps of their high schools for prices ranging up to $175,000.The latter sum is reported to have been paid by the Pirates to Bob Bailey, 18,a shortstop who hit .500, .450 and .475 in three successive seasons with theWoodrow Wilson High School team of Long Beach, Calif.
Bonus babies are abig gamble, and they have often failed to fulfill their expectations. But onebig bonus boy, at least, has looked just fine so far. Lew Krausse Jr., 18, ofChester, Pa., for whom the Kansas City A's paid $125,000, gave up a total ofonly six hits and two earned runs, in 16 innings pitched, in his first twogames. Bonus babies of past years who came to fruitful maturity are JohnnyAntonelli ($65,000), Curt Simmons ($65,000), Jackie Jensen ($75,000), HerbScore ($60,000) and Lindy McDaniel ($50,000).
The scramble forkids is getting so frenzied that many critics see it as a step on the road tobaseball's ruin. Commissioner Ford Frick said recently that it destroyscompetition because only a few rich clubs can afford to pay huge bonuses. Headded, "It has to rob these kids of their incentive." Nearly all clubowners profess to be against the bonus race, and all the big ones claim to bein it only in self-defense.
Rogers Hornsby,now a scout for the New York Mets, who plan to get into action next year,insists no amateur is worth $100,000. Joe Cambria, 71, a scout for theMinnesota Twins, shakes his head at the bonuses and nostalgically recalls thedays when he signed Mickey Vernon, George Case, Eddie Yost and Walt Mastersonfor a total of $12.85. Cambria refuses to join the bonus race. "What do Ioffer a boy?" Cambria asks rhetorically. "I offer him opportunity,nothing more."
Arthur Ashe Jr.,17 and an honor student from St. Louis, won the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association'sInterscholastic Championship at the University of Virginia last week,fulfilling the high promise he has shown for a number of years. Ashe defeatedanother St. Louis youngster, Jim Parker, in the final 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. He hadbeen especially impressive earlier the same day in beating Cliff Buchholz,brother of Earl Buchholz, the professional, in the semifinals 6-4, 7-5.
Ashe is the firstNegro to win this tournament, and he is the last who will win it at theUniversity of Virginia, where it has been held since 1946. People inCharlottesville have been unhappy at the university's role as tournament hostsince Negroes began to appear regularly. Despite an agreement with the USLTAextending through 1963, Virginia asked to be excused this year, but reluctantlyagreed to hold the tournament on condition that it definitely be moved in 1962.The likelihood is that the new host will be Williams College, in Williamstown,Mass., where the sight of a Negro in white flannels does not upset whitecitizens as it apparently does in Charlottesville.