About the only character who has not moved in the National and American baseball league's postseason game of musical chairs is 82-year-old Branch Rickey, genius of the St. Louis Cardinals, who started the jukebox on which the slightly discordant music of the game is being played. As early as last August 10, in a memorandum to Owner Gussie Busch, Rickey gave up hope on the team for 1964, according to Bob Broeg, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports editor. That was three days before General Manager Bing Devine was fired. It was Devine, of course, who put together the team that won the pennant and Series.
Among other moves, Rickey suggested to Busch that Pitcher Barney Schultz, just up from the minors, be sent back. In the last two months of the season Schultz saved 11 games and won one. And, wrote Rickey, "I don't believe we can win the pennant in 1965 with [Mike] Shannon as a regular player...." In the Series, Shannon scored six runs, made six hits and fielded 1.000.
That egg on Gussie's face may have been thrown by Manager Johnny Keane when he resigned, but it was Rickey who laid it.
October 26, 1964
HORSE OF STILL ANOTHER COLOR
One white foot, ride him for your life.
Two white feet, give him to your wife.
Three white feet, send him far away.
Four white feet, keep him not a day.
For generations horsemen have intoned versions of this doggerel, composed around the superstition that white-footed Thoroughbreds do not make top racehorses. (Among those who have are Whisk Broom II, Pennant and Grey Lag.) Some say that white feet indicate a thinner lining to the foot, therefore weakness.
There was a similar superstition about gray horses.
"An old wives' tale," said Trainer Bill Winfrey last Saturday, and he should know, for it was Winfrey who helped to scotch it by training the great gray champion Native Dancer to world recognition. Winfrey had just proved at Aqueduct that top racers come in all sizes and shapes, in all colors, and with feet of black, brown or white. He had sent out Mrs. Henry C. Phipps's white-footed (all four) Bold Lad to win the $176,825 Champagne Stakes by seven lengths and wrap up the championship of the 2-year-old colt division. The son of the champion Bold Ruler, running his 10th and last race of the season, won his eighth race and his sixth consecutive stakes.
Winfrey and Mrs. Phipps have wisely decided that 10 starts make a season. Bold Lad, skipping such rich pots as the Arlington-Washington Futurity, The Garden State and the Pimlico Futurity, has won $387,471. Now he goes into brief retirement before going to Hialeah and a date in the Flamingo on his way to the 1965 Kentucky Derby. Nobody knows yet whether a son of Bold Ruler can win the Derby at a distance of a mile and a quarter. If Trainer Winfrey can pull off this one (he just missed with the gray Native Dancer) they might consider changing that verse to: "Four white feet, run him Derby Day."
ALL MANNER, NO BEDSIDE
What do doctors take for pain of headache, neuritis and neuralgia? They take a prescription blank and prescribe themselves a rest and a change of scenery, that's what. They do, that is, if they're like Dr. Yesid Trebert, the only physician accompanying the Colombian Olympic team to Tokyo. The Colombian contingent includes no women, and Dr. Trebert is a gynecologist.
A QUESTION OF RELATIVITY
A year from now, when the New York World's Fair closes for good and not just for the winter, Westinghouse Time Capsule II will be buried alongside Westinghouse Time Capsule I, which was a feature of the New York World's Fair of 1939-40. Both will be opened in the year 6939, if anyone is around then who remembers. The idea is to tell the folks of the 70th century what it was like in the good old days. Among things they will be told are matters having to do with sport and recreation.
They will be told, for instance, about the rise of Russia in Olympic Games competition, since it was the first time a nation successfully concentrated on such a goal as a matter of national policy; about the conquest of Mt. Everest; about the spreading popularity of basketball around the world; about the four-minute mile and the seven-foot high jump; about the rise in popularity of professional football in the U.S.; and about skin diving and sky diving.
All very sound, sociologically and archeologically, no doubt, but it neglects the significance of the asterisk that Roger Maris wears around his neck.
THE NUMBERS GAME
College football rules suggest that centers wear numbers in the 50s, guards in the 60s, tackles in the 70s, ends in the 80s and so on, but they do not command it. They are, in fact, rather vague about the whole business of the identifying numbers. Thus it would seem that Coach Louis B. Juillerat of Northwood Institute, a junior college in Midland, Mich., has been technically law-abiding this season. On occasion he has had a player line up at end with No. 83 on his back, indicating that he is an end, and No. 71 on his chest, indicating that he is a tackle. It has led to no little confusion among opponents defending against forward passes.
The week before its team was to play Northwood, Ohio Northern University informed game officials that it might well be tried again. It was not, however. The officials advised Coach Juillerat that if he tried the ploy they would apply the rule against unsportsmanlike conduct, which would mean a 15-yard penalty every time No. 83-71 played.
It was all a mistake on the part of the manufacturer who made the jerseys, Coach Juillerat explained. A small school, Northwood had only just enough jerseys to go around. No. 83-71 was given No. 48, indicating he was a back, and everyone was satisfied.
SIGN HERE, PLEASE
Two North Carolinians, Sam Sweeny of New Bern and Jack White of Fayetteville, went surf fishing last October. In two days they landed only 10 hogfish. The reason was obvious: working so close to the beach that surf fishermen could have cast a line over them were seven commercial trawlers using deadly efficient purse seines. The sloughs along the beach, havens for fish, were being emptied as if by a vacuum cleaner.
It was all quite legal. Other Atlantic Seaboard states protect these areas from exploitation by trawlers, but not North Carolina. Maryland prohibits all trawling in its waters. Florida prohibits trawling for food fish. Delaware and New Jersey forbid trawling within the three-mile limit at any time; Virginia prohibits it during June, July and August. A 1962 study of North Carolina's so-called "trash fishery," which produces fish meal, fish oil and cat food, showed that 80.2% of supposedly trash fish by weight were undersized food fish species.
Perhaps this will not be the case for long. Irate Sweeny and indignant White, both retired, have declared war on the state's commercial fishing interests. They have produced a thoughtful, well-documented, 45-page indictment of the situation. They are, furthermore, using another hobby, ham radio, to alert and enlist other fishermen. Dozens of anglers throughout the state are circulating petitions asking the next General Assembly to give the state's thousands of fishermen relief from regulations heavily weighted in favor of a small commercial fishing industry.
Consider this a petition, too.
BIKEOLOGY 1 AT YALE
It seems only yesterday that cramming as many students as possible into telephone booths was the in thing in education. It seems only last week that eating live goldfish gave status to scholars. Both pastimes are now, of course, passé, and as college terms began last month we wondered what would replace them.
The answer has just arrived in the mail from two Yale University sophomores, William Clell Howze Jr. of Tulsa and George S. Mittendorf II of New York, who report that their roommate, Mark Anthony Princi Jr. of Marlboro, Mass., "wheeled his Legnano bicycle around the living room" of Suite 1902 in Silliman College 102 times "to set the world record for number of laps around a 10-foot-by-12-foot enclosed wood track."
"The winning machine," the Messrs. Howze and Mittendorf attest, "was a 10-speed Legnano bicycle with low tires and a wicker basket inhibiting the use of brakes. The new champion pedaled the entire race in his stocking feet, in constant pain from a broken right pedal. Mr. Princi covered the 3,232 feet in less than 15 agonizing minutes. We are glad to give SPORTS ILLUSTRATED an exclusive on the story. Can your subscribers go without this information? We think not."
We think we will leave that to our readers, who may or may not wish to know that a few days later Princi did 150 laps.
A St. Louis fan complains that SI did not even mention the announcing team of Harry Caray and Curt Gowdy in our report last week on the dismissal of Mel Allen and the brilliant World Series broadcasts by Phil Rizzuto and Joe Garagiola. O.K., we'll mention them now. Gowdy was pretty bad. Caray was awful.
POLITICIANS AT SEA
"Oh, when will you ever learn? When will you ever learn?" goes the question in a once-popular pseudo folk song, and the answer, when it comes to many legislators, can only be never. If there is any single fact that experienced boatmen are aware of, it is that age has nothing to do with competence at the helm. The way to make a good sailor is to start him young, the younger the better. Yet the first and only thing that the legislators of New York State can think of to put in a prospective bill for the licensing of boat operators is a restriction on their age.
This magazine is frequently appalled at the incompetence of many of those who put to sea in pleasure boats. It may one day even be ready to concede that power to restrict them to the beach be granted to some responsible and informed national agency—perhaps the U.S. Coast Guard. Right now, however, it sees no greater peril facing the sport of boating than the likelihood that it will be fouled up by legislative landlubbers.
THE HORSE MARKET BOOM
If you would like to buy a fashionable Thoroughbred these days be prepared to face the fact that prices for the best of them are wildly inflated. The trend began late in July when the annual yearling sales at Kentucky's Keeneland produced record prices. A record gross of $4,743,800 was paid for 271 horses, an unprecedented Kentucky average of $17,505 per horse. A Bold Ruler colt brought $170,000, the most ever paid for any yearling anywhere.
The action switched to Saratoga early in August, and there Keeneland's price was bettered slightly, when 212 yearlings averaged a record $17,763. The magazine The Blood-Horse commented: "A billy goat on a shank would have started at $2,000."
In October, E. P. Taylor held his annual prix-fixe sale of half his yearlings at Willowdale, Ont. Two years ago no one would pay the $25,000 he asked for Northern Dancer, whereupon Taylor raced the colt himself and won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and a batch of other big stakes. So it was that this year Jean Louis Levesque, another Canadian millionaire, paid $100,000 for a full sister of Northern Dancer. That was the highest price ever paid for a yearling filly at public sale.
Not all high-priced animals return their board and keep, and oldtimers like to point out that the most famous colt of them all, Man o' War, was a $5,000 bargain and that Miss Cavandish, a 3-year-old filly who has earned $280,000 and is still going strong, could have been had for a mere $1,500 in 1962. But then, of course, even a hamburger used to sell for a nickel once upon a time.
THEY SAID IT
•Louis E. DePauli, district attorney of Gallup, N. Mex., refusing to act on Internal Revenue Service reports of World Series lottery pools at local bars: "This is a special time of year."
•Gomer Jones, on why he would want to follow as successful a football coach as Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma: "I'm doing it for the next coach. Think how easy it will be to follow me."