Casey Stengel's current hospitalization with a fractured hip (below) recalled another year Ol' Case was unable to perform managerial duties, back when he was skippering the Boston Braves. The Braves that year were almost as helpless a collection of mediocrity and worse as today's Mets. The nearer it came to Opening Day, the clearer it became that they might be lucky to finish last. The day before the season opened, Stengel got hit by an automobile and landed in the hospital. Frankie Frisch, managing the Pirates, decided to cheer Casey up with a telegram. "Your attempt at suicide fully understood," Frisch wired. "Deepest sympathy you didn't succeed." Casey sat on that one until Opening Day two seasons later, when Frisch's Pirates played Cincinnati. A tight game, it appeared to be won when Pittsburgh's Jim Russell slammed a ball deep into the right-field bleachers with teammate Frankie Zak on first. It didn't count. Just as Bucky Walters delivered the pitch, Zak had called time out and bent over to tie his shoelaces. At the hotel that night, Frisch got a telegram. "Am rushing pair of button shoes for Zak," said the wire.
It may no longer be necessary for Pennsylvania shotgun owners to ask permission of Governor William Scranton each time they fire a shot. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives finally got around to voting for repeal of a law passed in 1751 requiring just that. Although Scranton's desk has not been noticeably cluttered by requests from hunters, he will be just as happy to have the statute voided. The law, incidentally, was intended to discourage colonial householders from firing a shotgun up a chimney to clean it out.
Because 7-foot basketball players are not as common as grass, not even in Kentucky, Coach Peck Hickman of the University of Louisville was almost ready to take a chance on the big, quick—and awfully thick—recruit. Hickman called the large young man in for the usual coachly heart-to-heart, stressing the necessity of a college education and stressing even harder the need for good grades, at least good enough to stay eligible. After an hour's nonstop sermon, Hickman stopped for breath, smiled confidently and asked, "Now, son, what is it you're going to need most of all?" "Coach," came the instantaneous answer, "I need a motorcycle."
Nobody around the U.S. Army's firing range in Augsburg, Germany was much surprised when the marksman kept pumping bullets into the target's bull's-eye. The shooter, after all, was Wyatt Earp. Earp, an 18-year-old private from Jacksonville, Ill. and a descendant of the old Tombstone gunslinger, had already taken a lot of joshing. Enough, in fact, so that he has made up his mind about one thing: no son of his will ever be named Wyatt.
Well, now, if you haven't heard that Billy the Kid was just about the best high jumper that ever lived, you purely don't know your western legends. That one is just starting to get wide circulation from New Mexico ranchers, some of them descendants of participants in the Lincoln County Cattle War. They have constructed a folk pageant, The Last Escape of Billy the Kid, around this prowess and now stage it annually at the old Lincoln County Courthouse. Oldtimers, they say, have claimed for years that when The Kid came up to a gate, loaded down with pistol, two cartridge belts and rifle, he would jump over it—boots, spurs and all—instead of opening it. The way the ranchers tell it, when Billy was finally caught and jailed in the courthouse, Deputy J.W. Bell used to take him out for exercise in manacles and leg irons. One day The Kid told the soldiers who came over from Fort Stanton to gawk at him that he could beat any of them high-jumping just as he was. He took them on one at a time, falling all over and sending everybody into spasms. When the deputy finally doubled over from hilarity, Billy jumped to his side, grabbed his gun and escaped.
Misfortune dogs Jim Marshall, snapping at his heels. Wrongway Marshall, who became a semilegendary figure as the pro football player who picked up a fumble and ran 66 yards to score a safety for his opponents, has since encountered a series of adversities. They range from shooting himself while unloading a pistol to taking the wrong plane on his way to receive the Bonehead of the Year award. The other day at the Vikings' Bemidji summer camp Marshall again had to be rushed to the hospital. This time he had popped a grape into his mouth, and the grape had stuck in his throat.
Followers of University of Iowa athletic fortunes were moderately surprised by an Associated Press report that Ralph Miller, Hawkeye basketball coach, had won the G-modified division in a road race at Independence, Kans., driving a Lotus 7A. They were quick to believe, however, that an Iowa coach could win anywhere, and particularly in Big Eight territory. Besides, the news was in all the papers. The story had been used all over Iowa, despite some skeptics in sports departments, because circumstances lent it credibility. It was known that Miller was on vacation and that he had relatives in Wichita, 120 miles from Independence. It was also reasoned that Miller, a licensed pilot, was the type who might be interested in racing. Alas, when the Des Moines Register and Tribune, seeking an expanded story, ran down the auto-racing Miller he turned out to be an automobile dealer in Wichita. Coach Miller, finally located in Colorado, had only this to say: "I've made a lot of mistakes and have done a lot of foolish things, but driving a race car is not one of them."
While the Queen Mother's birthday was being celebrated with royal gun salutes and press accolades in London, the Queen Mum herself was about as far away as she could get without leaving the British Isles. The Castle of Mey is located six miles from John o' Groat's at the northeast tip of Scotland, and it is there that the Queen Mother, clad in rubber waders and an old floppy felt hat, goes to cast for salmon in the Thurso River.
Noweta, an Atlantic Class sloop owned by New York mayoral candidate John Lindsay and skippered by Evan Thomas, son of former Socialist Presidential Candidate Norman Thomas, won its class race at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. For whatever it may augur, Lindsay's yacht came from behind at the last mark to beat a former class champion.