RACE TO ORGANIZE
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is hardly a sporting institution, judging by its past performances. But it is exhibiting an ever-greater desire to share the wealth of sports performers and promoters. It is now proposing to form a new Federation of Professional Athletes, which would organize all branches of professional sports in this country.
This is a somewhat grandiose expansion of an earlier Teamster move—the effort by Local 917 to organize back-stretch employees at New York Thoroughbred race tracks. That petered out temporarily, but the Teamsters threaten to renew their offensive when racing returns from Saratoga to New York City on August 28.
Last week the Teamsters moved into the stock car racing field, with the assistance of Curtis Turner, a top stock car driver. Some two months ago Turner lost executive control of the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Inc., and he would like to get it back—reportedly with the help of a Teamsters union loan. He met recently in Chicago with several other stock car drivers. Harold J. Gibbons, Jimmy Hoffa's executive vice-president who seems to be in charge of sports organizing, and Nick Torzeski, another subordinate.
August 20, 1961
Turner contends that race drivers should get bigger purses, have a pension fund and share in television and radio rights. The Teamsters hold out vague promises of further, undefined benefits if only the men will sign up. Bill France, president of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and a former teammate of Turner, says no union driver will ever race on a NASCAR track. France adds: "I'll plow up my race track and plant corn on the infield before I'll let the Teamsters union or any other union tell me how to run my business." Very brave, but is it very smart?
Proprietors of sports that are also businesses cannot reasonably expect to be treated except as businessmen operating in 1961 social conditions. Refusal to see themselves in that light invites intervention from outside—and sometimes malodorous—sources.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•A secret (until now) meeting of the Presidents of the Athletic Association of Western Universities (Stanford, California, USC, UCLA and Washington) will be held September 2 to consider reforming the old Pacific Coast Conference.
•A rash of jockey suspensions in the last three weeks (11 jockeys have been set down 13 times) has top California riders accusing stewards of making hasty judgments and imposing penalties for minor infractions.
•Jimmie Snyder, oddsmaker for the Hollywood Sports Service, makes Mickey Mantle a 7-to-10 favorite to hit 60 or more homers, Roger Maris an even bet. Snyder also finds the Yanks 1-to-6 favorites to win in the American League, and the Dodgers 1-3 in the National.
THE BIG STORY
Not since 1951, when the New York Giants rallied from 13½ games behind to win the National League pennant, has the sporting press been presented with such a natural, continuing story as the current drive of both Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to surpass Babe Ruth's highly respected record of 60 home runs in one season.
Last week both major wire services were constantly on the scene with reporters and cameras. The Associated Press serviced pictures of practically every move Mantle made in the field, and United Press International photographed the mayor of Maris' home town (Fargo, N. Dak.) dedicating a Maris Avenue. Shouldn't it, asked a caption writer, be called Maris Drive? Almost every paper was printing a chart comparing Maris and Mantle to Ruth, and some of the more imaginative sports editors used diagrams (see below).
New York's evening tabloid, the Post, printed a five-part series entitled A Man Named Maris, which told readers that Rog loves delicatessen food, that he is a "throwback to Superman" and that "his green eyes soften when he discusses his attachment for his mother, father, brother and how he misses his wife, Patricia, and the three children."
The Tokyo morning paper Hochi Shimbun planned a story on the M boys. The Chicago Sun-Times published close-up pictures of Mantle's eyes ("Mantle's eyes have it") and his hands ("Mighty Mickey's grip") as well as of Maris' eyes and hands ("These eyes and hands strike terror in hearts of American League pitchers"). Outside Yankee Stadium, hucksters were peddling a publication named Mickey Mantle that said, "Thrilling new photos." The publication had not been updated since 1957, but the price had been updated from 35¢ to 50¢, the old price being obliterated with a tiny gold sticker that said "N.Y. YANKEES, YANKEE STADIUM, N.Y."
Eddie Arcaro, horse racing's diplomat with a whip, was the subject of an hour television show last week on CBS' Summer Sports Spectacular. The show was entitled Eddie Arcaro—Little Giant. Arcaro, of course, is a perfect subject for a television documentary, for he possesses marvelous facial expressions, a good speaking voice and strong opinions on everything from the closing Dow-Jones averages to the opening of a Broadway show.
The best thing about Arcaro is the way he affects people and is affected by them. The wise-cracking banter of America's railbirds is constantly directed at Arcaro, and at times it approaches art. When Arcaro walked into Belmont Park a week after his near-fatal spill from Black Hills in the 1959 Belmont Stakes he was greeted at the gate by a clump of horse-players who applauded him loudly. One hollered, "Eddie, it's great to have ya back, ya bum ya."
After three days of interviewing Arcaro and four days of shooting film with six cameras, CBS managed to put on a tired, repetitious hour that failed to demonstrate Arcaro's skills or the esteem in which he is held by his fellow riders as well as owners and trainers. The show relied too heavily on film footage and never gave the viewer the feeling that Arcaro was capable of doing anything besides riding horses for a living.
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, Mickey Mantle agreed last week to stop publicly recommending a brand of milk that he didn't drink. This led Jules Alberti, the president of Endorsements, Inc., to announce that "better than 95% of the testimonials used in advertising today are true." Frank Scott, a well-known athletes' agent, felt impelled to add that performers would never endorse products that they themselves do not use.
It is reassuring to know that when Charlie Conerly is lounging around in those Marlboro ads, his TRIG deodorant will keep him from offending; that former champion Bob Richards thrives on the "Breakfast of Champions"; that Don Drysdale never has greasy hair and can show you a clean comb to prove it; that Jimmy Jones rubbed Iron Liege's ankles with Absorbine; that someday Frank Gifford, Bob Cousy and Ken Venturi, all wearing their Jantzen sportswear, may run into the entire Tottenham Hotspur soccer team in their Adidas sports shoes; that Gordie Howe, Dick Groat and Warren Spahn keep their gums active with Wonder Bread; and that Yogi Berra drinks Yoo-Hoo chocolate beverage when he's got his mask off.
One last question: does Mickey Mantle always cross at the corner (SI, Aug. 14)?
DON'T MOVE THE HAMBO
Harness racing's premier event, the Hambletonian, again approaches, and again there is talk of putting the race up for auction to the highest-bidding track. Promoters in New York, Massachusetts and the Midwest are preparing cash offers to be made to the Hambletonian Society directors at their meeting in Du Quoin, Ill. at the end of this month.
We want to repeat to the directors what we said last year: the quickest way to cheapen this classic is to move it from track to track, depending on where the most money can be made. At Du Quoin, on Don and Gene Hayes's beautiful fairgrounds track and against the background of a magnificent state fair, the Hambletonian is right at home. It belongs in this rural atmosphere and in the care of devoted sportsmen like the Hayeses. We hope it stays there a long time.
Last week Representative H. R. Gross (R., Iowa) got up on the floor of the House to express opposition to a measure that would permit qualified members of the armed forces to accept nongovernment scholarships for study here and abroad.
"A graduate of West Point by the name of Pete Dawkins, a football star," said Congressman Gross, "has been for two years allegedly studying at Oxford University in London [sic]. He has never served a day in the military service since he was graduated from the Academy, but has been playing cricket and said to be studying at Oxford University. Only recently his period of study was extended for another year. Apparently it will be three years before this Dawkins gives anything in the way of military service to his country. Is this bill designed to encourage that sort of thing?"
"This Dawkins" has other claims to distinction besides "allegedly studying at Oxford University." He was Army's 1958 All-America halfback. He was first captain of cadets and brigade commander at West Point, where he was also president of his class. He won a Rhodes Scholarship and, during his two years at Oxford (which is in Oxford, not London), Dawkins has been studying politics, economics and philosophy. He has played not only cricket—a crime in Iowa?—but also has successfully tried his hand at Rugby and ice hockey in England.
Of late years it has been considered important for future leaders of our armed forces to be well-grounded in a variety of important subjects. Pete Dawkins was a credit to his country at West Point and honors it at Oxford, where he is learning things about other nations that ought to help him contribute to the welfare of his own. Mr. Gross's remarks are plain silly, although their isolationist tenor does have the nostalgic charm (faint) of a bygone age.
THE MOST HAPPY PITCHER
As a part of its slow metamorphosis from a passionate conflict of personalities into a faceless game played by faceless players, baseball has adopted as its 11th commandment: Thou shalt not show emotion.
The player who hits a homer runs the bases nonchalantly, his face a study in professional ennui; he barely taps the outstretched hands of the next batter and the bat boy and waits until he reaches the privacy of the dugout before allowing that forbidden expression, the smile, to cross his face. Pitchers trudge off the mound after throwing shutouts, for all the world as if they were en route to the woodshed to get theirs. The last time a player tipped his hat to the roar of the crowd was in 1937, in the Sally League, and it turned out later that he was merely brushing away an annoying shad fly.
In such an era of sterility, exceptions are rare and worth noting. We honor, therefore, that masterly exponent of geriatric finesse, Mr. Warren Spahn. After beating the Chicago Cubs 2-1 for his 300th win the other night, Spahnnie did not rush off the mound. He stayed right out there in the light, doffing his cap to all points of the compass, blowing kisses to the 40,775 cheering spectators, shaking hands with all and sundry. When there were no proximate hands remaining to be shaken, Spahnnie raced around looking for more. A fine achievement, 300 wins, openly arrived at and frankly celebrated, as it should have been.