RELIEF FOR THE FAN
In New York's Yankee Stadium, where the World Series opened, the bullpens are deep in right and left fields, far from the view of most of the spectators. Hardly anybody in the crowds could tell who was warming up, a matter of no little interest to the baseball fan. While televiewers were being kept right up to the second on such details, paying patrons were forced to rely on the scoreboard. And what was the scoreboard doing? In typical Yankee fashion, it was shilling for the souvenir program and flashing worthless records in meaningless messages.
We wonder if this isn't the time for the people who run baseball to discard their traditional hauteur and begin treating fans as customers. The scoreboard would be a good place to start. Let them tell the paying patrons who is warming up, why the umpire ruled as he did on that strange play at home, what Joe's won-and-lost record is, who has just been ejected from the bench for harassing the umpire. After all, people watching on television—for free—get all this information, and it helps spice up the game. We'd like to see major league scoreboards relax from shooting fireworks for a while and just shoot out some good, old, useful information.
The latest innovation in football is a gadget that cleans and dries wet footballs in 60 seconds or less. The sales slogan: "Toasty footballs on frosty nights."
Last week the state of Wisconsin made it mandatory for all 1962-model automobiles sold in that state (an estimated 150,000) to be equipped with seat belts. Next year new cars sold in New York, Connecticut, North Carolina and Ohio will have to be equipped with seat-belt brackets. The safety belt has been a controversial item for motorists for two reasons: it costs money (about $20), and it can be an annoyance on very short trips. But recent studies indicate that 5,000 lives might have been saved last year if all occupants of automobiles had been using seat belts. We hope more states make them mandatory.
Horseplayers buy a lot of "information" in the form of tip sheets like "Manny's Purple Card," "Roscoe's Red Sheet" and "Paul's Burnt Sienna." Whether they really contain information has puzzled serious minds at race tracks for years. Now a New York judge has rendered a learned opinion. The question before the court of Justice George Tilzer was whether tip sheets are subject to the 3% New York City sales tax. The distributors' attorney argued they contained absolutely no information but were filled with opinion and guesses and should be tax exempt. The court said otherwise, and we hope the future proves him right. The past certainly hasn't.
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
After the suspension of Dennis Ralston for being a naughty boy, we did not think U.S. prospects in this year's Davis Cup matches could get much bleaker. Well, they could and they have. Tut Bartzen has come down with bursitis and won't be able to play. And now Bruce Thomas, dean of Trinity University in Texas, has talked Chuck McKinley into staying home and studying his lessons. This means he will not go to Italy for the next round of Davis Cup play. McKinley is the best of a poor-but-honest lot of U.S. amateurs. We don't know what the Italian trip would do to his education, but we do know what his and Bartzen's absence will do to U.S. cup chances. Captain David Freed can confidently plan to spend Christmas at home with his family, far, far from Australia's blazing heat.
Divine Child High School of Detroit is winning big this year, and the whole parish is uneasy. "There's no joy in winning any more," lamented Coach Tony Versaci after his team walloped Our Lady of Sorrows 67-0 for its third straight runaway win. The coach has been accused of rolling up the score, when, in fact, he has frantically yanked regulars to hold down the score. Still, Divine Child, only in its second year of varsity football, wins by huge margins. Someday there may be a headline something like: "Divine Child Slaughters Our Lady Queen of Peace." Said a nervous parish priest: "Now wouldn't that look nice?" Another suggested that maybe Divine Child's competition isn't praying hard enough. Which brings to mind one priest's evaluation of what the Lord would do if two football teams prayed for victory with exactly equal fervor. "I imagine," said the padre, "He would just sit back and watch a whale of a football game."
MOTHER, GO HOME
People are too nervous about love. Especially people's mothers are too nervous. Take Ronald the duck. He fell in love with a girl duck. But the lady who looks after Ronald, Mrs. Erland Jordan of Gardiner, Maine, wouldn't hear of it. What bothered Mrs. Jordan was that this girl duck was a plastic lawn-ornament type of duck.
So instead of letting Ronald go ahead and work the thing out for himself, she tried to get rid of the girl, the way mothers sometimes do. But Ronald went into a terrible decline and stayed away from home, the way young people sometimes do. So then Mrs. Jordan began using the poor plastic duck to lure Ronald back.
Well, it worked. And when Ronald returned, Mrs. Jordan whisked him off to the city and found him two flesh-and-blood girl ducks so he would forget the summer romance. Which, of course, he did, being young.
And that should be the end of the story, except that we find this whole thing faintly disturbing. We realize there is a lot to be said for arranged marriages, not letting the young people make lifetime mistakes and all that. But this thing of Ronald's was something different. Nobody talked him into liking the plastic duck. Nobody pretended it wasn't plastic. He just liked it. And why not? She certainly wasn't going to get him into trouble (or run out on him); and she had many of the virtues—among them beauty, durability and silence—which all men look for in a wife.
GLOVES ACROSS THE SEA
Terry Downes, who won the non-NBA middleweight championship from Paul Pender in London and now owes Pender a return fight in Boston, would like to get out of the commitment. Not that Downes is afraid of Pender. It is Boston that terrifies him. "I know Boston decisions are very fair," the Britisher once remarked. "If you knock a man out in one round, you at least get a draw." It is incontrovertible that Boston has been kind to Pender: he has won 25 and lost four there, and in some of the decisions it was plain to see that the judges bore him no animosity. On the other hand, Downes has been carrying his anti-Boston campaign a little beyond the edge of reason. He charges that in his first fight with Pender in Boston, "a 6-foot-6 referee pushed me all around the shop." And the weigh-in scales were fixed to read 160 pounds no matter who stepped on them, Downes charges. This presumably was to assist Pender, who sometimes has trouble making the weight.
Downes's charges range between gross exaggeration and just plain untruth. Boston is certainly guilty of an occasional home-town decision, and so is London, but fixed scales and monster referees sound more like something out of pulp fiction. Downes would do better to quiet down and put up his dukes.
"Did you feel any pressure?" young Johnny Sellers was asked last week after riding eight consecutive winners at Atlantic City Race Course. "No," he said, "none at all. Pressure is a big word, and athletes, in my own mind, are seldom under great pressure. They are under something, sure, but real pressure? Not too often. I had ridden the last three winners on Tuesday's card and felt very happy. I got a good night's sleep and went out to the track on Wednesday to go to work.
"I won the first race on a 5-to-1 shot named Swifty Bill. I moved him at the top of the stretch and we won as we pleased. I won the second race to make it five straight winners on Our Jennifer, another fairly long-priced horse [$11]. That one was easy. When I went out to the walking ring for the third race the crowd was buzzing. I won the third race by five lengths and the track announcer told the people that I now had ridden six winners in a row. The people applauded and then, for some reason, they started to boo me. I guess a lot of people were betting against me because they figured the law of averages should have caught me and gotten me beaten.
"I won the fourth but it was hard and I didn't think I was going to get up in time. This time the crowd didn't boo. In fact, some of them might have applauded to take care of the others who booed before. When I got back to the jocks' room all the jockeys seemed to be rooting for me but I knew they'd beat the devil out of me if they could. I won the fifth easily and tied the world record for eight consecutive winners [set 10 years ago by Howard Craig at Waterford Park]. I was happy and excited but I lost with my next mount.
"I went home and my wife, Janice, was packing so that we could leave Atlantic City and move on to Garden State. I said, 'Guess how many winners I rode today?' She said, 'How many?' 'Five,' I said. 'Five on top of the three yesterday to make eight in a row and it ties the world record!" "Oh!" she said, 'that's fine,' and went right on packing."
BY ANY OTHER NAME
Michael Angelo Musmanno, a justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, has spent a good deal of time fighting Communism. Recently he wrote Fred Hutchinson, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, suggesting that they change their name to something more American. Justice Musmanno is filled with horror at the prospect of some such headline as REDS MURDER YANKS. He thinks it might cause as much mental fallout as Orson Welles's message from Mars. The trouble with Judge Musmanno is that he has written to the wrong man. The Cincinnati Reds have been the Reds since 1866, some 50 years before the Soviet government came into existence (the Russians do not claim to have invented baseball) Let the judge write Khrushchev and tell him to change the Russian nickname.
THE TROUBLE WITH STEAK
A report in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that the emphasis on steak for athletes may be—if you'll pardon the expression—overdone. Normally athletes eat steak before performing because of an age-old theory that it gives added energy. Lately players on two football teams, the University of Nebraska and the Detroit Lions, have begun gulping a liquid called Sustagen before games. An average serving of Sustagen provides 925 calories and seems to eliminate pregame nausea, "cotton mouth" (dry mouth) and muscular cramps. Many of the athletes who have used the drink claim that it improves their strength and endurance during play. The athletic departments, for their part, approve the liquid because it costs about one-fifth as much as steak. We wouldn't be at all surprised to learn shortly that Sustagen is being adopted throughout the nation and that America's athletes are spending less and less time at the old training table, and more and more time drinking.
THEY SAID IT
•Walter Brown, owner of the world champion Boston Celtics and president of the last-place Boston Bruins, after sizing up his 1961-62 hockey prospects: "I only wish Bob Cousy could skate."
•Rice's Football Coach Jess Neely, explaining his team's 24-0 defeat by Georgia Tech: "I think we oversold the boys on their steady play the week before against Louisiana State; against Tech they were almost stationary."
•Art Rooney, millionaire owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers: "You know what's nice about owning one of these clubs? You get to sit in the press box, ride the elevator if there is one, eat free hot dogs. You can't beat that."
•Jimmie Dykes on Jimmy Piersall: "I didn't have a bit of trouble with him. He can play ball. If anybody thinks he's crazy, they're the ones who are crazy."
•George Shaw, Minnesota Viking quarterback after hearing Baltimore Colt fans booing their own Johnny Unitas, "If all those people were as perfect in their jobs as they want Unitas to be on every play, they'd all be presidents of their companies."