The decision of the New York State Athletic Commission to deny Sonny Liston a license to fight Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson will cost the state more than a little in tax and other revenues, but it is worth it. The cynical acceptance of hoodlum control in prizefighting, even by those charged with enforcing the rules, has been basically responsible for the reduction of the sport to its present low condition. Along with California, which announced that it, too, would reject Liston, New York has taken a step toward the restoration of confidence in boxing.
Naturally, those who never have cared a hoot about who was in control so long as money was in the till are uttering sharp, confused cries of dismay. The New York Daily News printed a cartoon showing the commission stomping on Liston's hands as he clings to the brink of an abyss. It was a foul blow and should cost the News a round.
The word "rehabilitation" is being overworked in some sections of the press, while in others we are pointlessly reminded that archbishops rarely make effective fighters. All of this studiously avoids the central issue, which the commission made quite clear: Liston was refused a license because of his links with mobsters.
"We cannot ignore the possibility that these longtime associations continue to this day," the commission said (see page 18). "The wrong people do not disengage easily."
They don't, indeed. Only the naive or the corrupt could believe that Mobster Blinky Palermo would disengage himself voluntarily from a potential heavyweight champion—representing control of boxing and a vast fortune—except at the payment of a substantial price, a price so substantial that neither Liston nor any of his overt associates have it.
RETURN OF THE DOOZY
The first car ever to average better than 100 mph for the Indianapolis 500-mile race was a Duesenberg driven by Peter De Paolo in 1925. In 32 ensuing races a mere 38 mph has been added to that old record,an improvement of barely a mile per hour per year.
It seems quite fitting, then, that the pace car for the qualifying heats this Memorial Day will be a 1925 Duesenberg driven by Peter De Paolo. Restored with a sporty roadster instead of a racing body, the car is the contribution of William Harrah, Reno gambling house proprietor and owner of perhaps the world's finest collection of antique, classic and vintage automobiles. And none finer than that old Doozy.
Advertising Man Ed Graham ("Bert and Harry Piel," et al.) ran an April fool contest on New York's advertising row, winners to be awarded box-seat tickets to games between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. First prize: a box seat to one game. Second prize: a box seat to four games. Honorable mention: a box seat to every 1962 Mets-Phillies game in New York.
Two British Motor Corporation Mini-Minors were entered in the recent 3,080-mile East African Safari, the world's toughest auto rally. The Mini is 10 feet long and weighs just over half a ton. Last year one started. "We never saw it again," a local driver said. "I wonder if something ate it."
SPRING'S RUDE AWAKENING
When Charles Bradshaw took over this year as University of Kentucky football coach, it was expected that he would bring with him the "hard" view of the game he had learned as a player and coach under Bear Bryant, who some say invented "hard-nosed" football. Bradshaw did, and after going through some of his spring-training drills 19 of his players, including three lettermen, quit the squad.
Bradshaw admitted that he had instituted a new get-tough policy at Kentucky, but he blamed "a hypocritical recruiting system" for the player losses. "You have to lay it on the line," he said. "Recruiters too often misrepresent the picture. They do the prospective player an injustice by emphasizing Saturday, the day of the big game, rather than Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the days you get ready."
RUN THIS UP THE FLAGPOLE
There were 7,000 fans at the ball park in Portland, Ore. on the opening night of the baseball season. On an advertising billboard on the left-field fence was a short, crisp message. It read: "Why aren't you home watching KATU, Channel 2?" Next day's attendance: 700.
ROBIN HOOD AND HIS STUTZ BEARCAT
New York State has just passed a bill allowing a motorist who hits a deer to keep the carcass—if the car has been damaged. It used to be that if you hit a deer the carcass went to the nearest poor farm, and you got to keep nothing but the dents and scratches, which were considerable: deer rank just behind telephone poles in total decisions over moving vehicles. The idea behind the old law was that a car was an illegal weapon, and according to game laws you can't keep anything if you kill it illegally. The idea behind the new law is that, game regulations or not, anybody whose car is mangled could use a little venison to cheer him up.
This decision, it seems to us, opens up a whole new area of sport. The law says that the deer has to be clobbered on the road. But where does the road end? If there is a tender-looking haunch grazing on the divider, or on the apron, can you swing over and win yourself a free dinner? If the stag is scratching his back on one of the Queen's oaks a hundred yards to one side, can you snake off through the glen and blast him, pleading slippery road conditions later? And how damaged is damaged? If a driver becomes so skillful at the new sport as to be able to put away a deer without a scratch to his 190SL, must he then apply the jack handle to his fender before the game warden arrives? And, finally, if two motorized hunters hit each other, who gets to keep what?
THE INSIDE TRACK
•The Kansas Relays, next to the Penn and Drake events the oldest track meet of its kind in the country, may be nearing its end as a major event. To enlarge seating capacity for football games, the Kansas athletic board is planning to remove the running track from the Kansas stadium, lower the football field and add 7,200 seats in the space thus made available. The board says it will build a new track-and-field stadium seating only 2,500, even though more than 15,000 people attended this year's running of the Relays.
•The National Football League may have a team in Houston in 1962, probably in 1963 and almost certainly in 1964. The move will be made either through expansion or by transfer of an existing franchise like that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
•Garland Pinholster, who had a 111-33 record in five years as basketball coach' at Oglethorpe University, will replace Bob Stevens as head coach at the University of South Carolina.
•The New York Giants are planning to deal very soon for a veteran quarterback who can take the place of retired Charlie Conerly as a substitute for Y.A. Tittle. If they do, Lee Grosscup, New York's perpetual third-string quarterback, is likely to be traded.
The kind of pride that goeth before a fall inspired the magnates of the Sally League to adopt the slogan, "It's a pitchers' league." The other night the Macon, Ga. team trounced Greenville, N.C. 32-5, and on the very next night Asheville scored 10 runs in a single inning, then lost 15-14 to Savannah.
EXCELSIOR FOR FAUST
One of 13 men in the world (five in America) who have cleared the high-jump bar at seven feet is sophomore Joe Faust of Mt. San Antonio Junior College in southern California. Even more fascinating than his jumping is Joe. The events leading up to his national junior college record of 7 feet 1¼ inches, accomplished at the Southern California Relays, make quite a tale.
Five days before the meet Joe Faust called on one of his girl friends. She was too tired to go out, so she and Joe and her father sat up until 1:30 a.m. talking about "life, space, the bomb tests, the afterlife," and such things, as Joe remembers. Afterward, Joe had some pancakes at an all-night restaurant, then set out for Los Angeles in his 1956 station wagon, intending vaguely to go on to the town of Arbuckle in northern California, where he had friends. As he has done before, Joe was thinking of larger matters than track and field. On impulse, he left his car in Los Angeles and took a 12-hour bus ride to Arbuckle.
Joe is a little mixed up, he concedes. He has been quickly in and out of a couple of colleges other than Mt. San Antonio. Last summer he entered a Trappist order to become a lay brother but stayed only 10 days or so. What was forming in his mind en route to Arbuckle was a decision to abandon athletics, work for a year, then enter a monastery. At Arbuckle he hopped a Yuba Junior College bus, arranged for a job driving a creamery truck, then borrowed some gear from the Yuba track coach and worked out, "with a girl holding the bar so it wouldn't blow off."
He stayed with his Arbuckle friends that night, got up next morning and had another impulse.
"I washed their truck and their car and along about 3 p.m. started hitchhiking to Sacramento," he recalls. With $1.23 in his pocket, he encountered some hoboes. He bought chocolate bars and tomatoes for them, chocolate bars and bananas for himself. In return, they showed him how to catch a freight to Sacramento, then hop a through train to Los Angeles atop a load of plywood. It was bitter cold and windy but the worst part was passing through endless tunnels with diesel and steam engines blasting out their fumes.
"I knew I couldn't stand it," Joe says, "but I couldn't get off either."
After more and more tunnels, Joe finally arrived, some 400 miles later, at the Los Angeles yards, his hair and ears full of grease. "I was just what I looked like, a hobo, and really pooped," he said.
He drove his station wagon back to college, slept all day and all night and awoke just in time to catch a bus to the meet, 45 miles away at Cerritos Junior College. There he made his record leap, third in the alltime list, and at that, says Coach Hilmer Lodge, he "slipped six inches on his takeoff."
FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY
The Broadway musical hit, Damn Yankees, one of the very few musicals ever to celebrate baseball, still is around, seven seasons after it first sprang Gwen Verdon on a grateful world. But, as in the major leagues themselves, some changes have been made. When it first played Minneapolis three years ago, the original script was followed exactly: the hero stars for the Washington Senators. Now Damn Yankees has returned to the Twin Cities, this time as a St. Paul Civic Opera Association production, but the Senators are no longer mentioned. Joe Hardy, the Yankee-hating young phenom, now plays shortstop for the Minnesota Twins—not only for provincial reasons but in keeping with the recent course of baseball history and the westward shift of the old Washington Senators.
THEY SAID IT
•Stan Musial, Cardinal outfielder, admitting he might not retire after this season: "When you make statements in February about retiring, you really mean them. Then the season starts and you get to going pretty good, and you find yourself thinking about next year."
•Sid Gillman, after receiving a new three-year contract as head coach and general manager of the San Diego Chargers: "It's not often that a general manager is handed a new lease on life after losing $1,250,000 in two years."
•John Bridgers, Baylor coach, in an address to former students in Fort Worth: "I realize that Baylor hasn't won a Southwest Conference football championship in 35 years. I assure you that if I don't win it in the next 35 years, I'll bow out gracefully."
•Young female fan, complaining about Milwaukee not coming home until 10 days after the opening of the baseball season: "It isn't fair. On Opening Day all the teams should be allowed to open at home."
•Pitcher Jim Brosnan, on the Dodgers: "The only thing they have improved is their ball park."