Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons died last week without ever having disclosed which of his champions he considered the best. There was no doubt, however, about which race he wanted most to win. It was the Nashua-Swaps match race of 1955 and, of course, Fitzsimmons' Nashua was the winner. Writing of the race in this magazine, Sunny Jim spoke of Rex Ellsworth and Meshach Tenney, the owner and trainer of Swaps, as "two of the nicest fellows I ever met."
A year later Swaps suffered a leg injury, and were it not for a special sling-harness contraption sent to Ellsworth and Tenney by Sunny Jim—one of the nicest fellows we've ever met—Swaps might have died. "I would have done it for any horse in the world," he said.
THE BIG SHRINK
March 21, 1966
Down through history there have been costlier lines than Cassius Clay's "I don't have nothin' against those Viet Congs." It doesn't rank with Marie Antoinette's crack about cake, for example, but if Clay wanted to separate himself from good, crisp greenbacks, he was not doing half bad. As the heavyweight championship fight sagged out of Chicago and across the border to Toronto, with Canada's George Chuvalo replacing the disenchanted Ernie Terrell as Clay's opponent, the man best fixed to calculate the losses was Michael N. Malitz. Malitz, a Princeton man and former Navy lieutenant, is executive vice-president of Main Bout, Inc., the TV closed-circuit company stitched together to handle the Chicago action and the inheritor of the scraps that remain.
Malitz sat in his handsome suite of midtown Manhattan offices last week lighting up six packs of cigarettes a day and hearing nothing but bad news. So many theaters that were to show the fight had canceled by the week's end that Malitz was estimating Clay's maximum purse at no more than $150,000. That is approximately $600,000 less than Clay stood to take home from Chicago before he opened his mouth. Clay's take may dwindle to $75,000 or so—chicken feed for a heavyweight champ in a title bout—if Malitz cannot hold onto a nucleus of some 75 closed-circuit outlets.
WYNKEN, BLYNKEN-AND OUT
Umpires involved in rhubarbs with managers and players in this season's baseball games are due for some rare abuse, we suspect, in view of testimony heard last week in the antitrust suit brought by the State of Wisconsin against the Braves. Earl Jinkinson, the Braves' lawyer, accused Oliver E. Kuechle, Milwaukee Journal sports editor, of pretty rough talk in his column. He was especially pained by a reference to Warren Giles as a cherub and to Ford Frick, Joe Cronin and Giles as Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Kuechle defended his allusions ably, but puzzling problems of interpretation remain. "What did you call me?" some umpire may ask, say, Leo Durocher. "A cherub," Leo might answer. "That's a sort of angel without wings." Here is where the umpire must be on his literary toes: "Not in the Book of Ezekiel," he should fire back. "In the Book of Ezekiel a cherub is a beast with four heads. We can't have talk like that around here. Take a walk." Or if, in a fit of pique, Eddie Stanky should say, "What do you mean, he's out? You're worse than Wynken, Blynken and Nod. No offense, of course. They're three delightful nursery-rhyme characters." Umpire: " 'Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, /And Nod is a little head.' You can't tell me I'm falling asleep. Out."
The Black Hawks' Bobby Hull has his record-breaking 51st goal (page 26), and an avalanche of mementos is sliding down upon him—everything from a hockey stick embedded with 51 jewels to the shirt off Dick Butkus' back (Butkus wears No. 51 for the Chicago Bears), to a 51-year subscription to a girlie magazine (taking Hull up to age 78).
Other gifts are: 51 car washes, 51 litter bags for Hull's cattle ranch, 51 bottles of cleaning fluid, 51 candy bars, a 51-day subscription to the Chicago Tribune, 51 tubes of suntan oil, 51 jars of pickles, 51 Bavarian steins and 51 floor mops.
It is a good thing that Hull also receives 51 days of free storage in a Chicago warehouse.
BOWLING AT BIG CREEK
Big Creek may be the only grammar school in the country with its own built-in bowling alley. Located in California's High Sierra, where snow is measured in feet and yards, Big Creek suffers a recreational problem: from November through April outdoor activity is limited to skis and snowshoes. That's why the bowling alley was installed. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Ferne Putnam, school librarian, music teacher and bowling pro, Big Creek's pupils are making good progress. Fourth-graders have a 20-pin average; eighth-graders roll an average of 120.
Roughing it gets smoother by the minute. The Ontario Research Foundation has developed what it calls a "foam-in-place shelter"—a sort of instant house. Sandwich-shaped, it can be carried on one's back like a bedroll. It weighs only a few pounds, and when you want to use it you simply light a match to one of its corners. This constructive arson causes the materials in the pack—principally epoxy resin in a powdered form—to foam up, and a house rises in front of you. Doors and windows are then cut into the material with a knife. The pilot project at the Foundation made the houses in the shapes of igloos and Quonset huts, since the experimental shelters were for the Canadian and U.S. military. But any shape is feasible, and eventual production by private firms will make the instant house available to sportsmen who might find it convenient on fishing or hunting trips. It weighs no more foamed up than it does in the pack form and can be moved from place to place. Don't forget the matches, though, or you might have to sleep out.
MEN TO REMEMBER
Jack Twyman of the Cincinnati Royals announced his retirement the other day after 11 years of professional basketball. It is always sad when a fine athlete finds he is too old to give his best to his sport, and it is especially so in Twyman's case.
Ever since his teammate, Maurice Stokes, suffered brain damage in March 1958, which caused almost total paralysis, Twyman has been his constant companion, encouraging and urging him along the painful course of rehabilitation. Singlehandedly, he has raised the thousands of dollars required to keep Stokes under special care at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati.
Now Twyman worries that, because of his retirement, people will forget Maurice Stokes and his continuing need for funds. "The most important thing," Twyman says, "is that I will be giving up the contacts that help keep Maurice's name in front of the public. As a player, I had appearances on radio and television and stories in the newspapers. I won't have those anymore."
We don't believe people will forget Maurice Stokes. Or Jack Twyman, either.
WIMPLES AWAY! TALLYHO!
Every spring the Old Surrey and Burstow Hunt stages a meet on the 700 acres of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Woldingham, England, and the fixture is anticipated with high excitement by staff and pupils alike.
First of all there's a stirrup cup of sherry in the library, and then the Hunt moves off to a rousing horn. Not the least enthusiastic of the followers are some of the 70 nuns who, with coifs fluttering in the breeze, tuck up their habits and scamper across plow and pasture behind all those pink-coated men.
Jolly good exercise, anyway, and a nice break from the daily routine. But this month the meet produced a very special event.
"It was a delightful day," said Mother Shanley, deputy headmistress of the convent school. "We actually made a kill in the convent grounds." Such a thing hasn't happened within living memory.
Now that Kelso has been retired $22,104 short of $2 million in earnings, you may be wondering whether another contemporary Thoroughbred has a chance to become a double millionaire. Well, the gelding Roman Brother, seventh on the earnings list with $943,473, can do it, if he can return to his 1965 form and retain it for another season or two. Time may be running out on other older horses high on the list, such as Hill Rise and Native Diver. The horse with the best money start in years is the Kentucky Derby favorite, Buckpasser, who has already amassed $677,516 and could pass the million mark before summer. If Buckpasser proves to be as good as his people think he is, he is likely to be retired to stud after his 4-year-old season next year. Even so, with the inflated purses of these times he might well come within half a million dollars of Kelso's record earnings by then—in just three seasons. Kelso raced for eight.
Increasingly annoyed by riders who turn up in the ring looking like Easter eggs, the American Horse Shows Association is getting tough. In a forthcoming rules book, the AHSA will bar all but traditional attire in equitation classes. Its officers hope that this move will hasten the demise of novelty apparel in other divisions. We share that hope. We would not care to see Mickey Mantle play baseball in anything but the customary Yankee pinstripe—the uniform is part of the man by now—and we think silks, brocades, sequins, far-out plaids and fancy hues are out of place in the horse show ring.
THEY SAID IT
•Casey Stengel, after sizing up the Mets' best pitcher in spring training camp: "Best thing wrong with Jack Fisher is nothing."
•John Denham Bernreuter, veteran Florida Keys fisherman, chided by friends for using heavy tackle: "No fish ever gave me an even break."