Hunt Breakfast, Maine style
The low, grumpy moan which is the mating call of the cow moose summoned 1,600 Maine deer hunters to ceremonial breakfast in Old Town's city park last week, three hours before sunrise opened the deer season in five counties. Old Town is known for its canoes, its hand-sewn moccasins and for the ability of Chief Bruce Poolaw of the Penobscot Indians to lift a birch-bark caller to his lips and sound the most enticing moose call this side of Guy Lombardo's saxophone section.
Hardy, red-clad men from 27 states and three countries responded to Poolaw's early morning blast by lining up for a lumberjack's menu of 4,300 biscuits, 400 pounds of ham, 87 gallons of coffee and 3,700 doughnuts. No one counted the beans which had been baking, Maine-fashion, in the ground all night, but they were said to have been enough to feed a lumber camp for a month.
The breakfast, consumed by the light of hardwood bonfires which also served to take off the 40° chill, is Maine's ceremonial way of announcing that it is legal to hunt deer at sunrise in Aroostook, Somerset, Piscataquis, Franklin and Penobscot counties. November 1st is the opening day in the rest of the state, over which 175,000 venison-seekers were expected to roam this season.
For the opening, Old Town strung Christmas lights everywhere and stores kept their lights on all night. By 8 o'clock the food ran out and Old Town was just about empty, its population, permanent and transient, dispersed to the big woods in a 50-mile radius. At noon, a Washington, D.C. physician bagged his first deer—a magnificent 15-point buck that field-dressed at 217 pounds. Good hunting, everyone said.
Tinker to Evers to Oops
It's been about 50 years since F.P.A. penned an eight-liner called Baseball's Sad Lexicon. The title has been widely forgotten; the poem remains:
These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double—Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."*
Unfortunately there remain, too, some statistics from that distant era of gonfalon bubbles. In 1906, for example, the Chicago Cubs won the pennant and 116 games, most in major league history. That season the Cubs managed exactly eight double plays that went Tinker to Evers to Chance. A year later the Cubs won another pennant and made seven double plays that went T. to E. to C. And in 1908 when the Cubs won for the third straight time there were just eight more made by the iambic combination.
Over the three years the Cubs were, of course, in three World Series. In all they played 16 Series games. In all 16 games there were no double plays that went Tinker to Evers to Chance.
If there's still life in the old legend, set out your rhyming dictionary and see what you can do with these facts. In 1954 the Cincinnati Reds made 194 double plays...40 of them went McMillan to Temple to Kluszewski.
Of bass and men
The island of Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) concluded its 9th annual Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby the other day and in ceremonies conducted in a vacant store on the main street of Oak Bluffs, one of the six island towns, Derby Director Ben Morton announced that the affair had been attended by 1,419 fishermen from 22 states and Canada and by more than 1,600 fish. Then Mr. Morton said it gave him great pleasure to present to Wallace Pinkham, superintendent of the Vineyard Haven Water Works, a U.S. Savings Bond in the amount of $500 for his 55-pound 9-ounce striper, a derby record-breaker. Mr. Pinkham, a mild-mannered man in his late thirties, had his thick, brown hair slicked down for the occasion and wore what is formal dress for the Vineyard: a white shirt with no tie. He stepped up, his eyes darting in obvious fear that he would be expected to make a speech. But Mr. Morton merely handed him his bond, shook hands and continued with his own speech, presenting other bonds to various winners and concluding with: 'And so, despite two hurricanes and another one this evening (it didn't arrive) we write 'finis' to one more successful derby. Thank you, good luck, see you all next September."
As Mr. Morton gathered up his papers, it became clear that he had no prize at all for a lean, long-necked man of 40 who now pressed forward to offer his congratulations. Wearing a cap studded with buttons that were souvenirs of other derbies on the Vineyard and Cape Cod, the reddish-haired man was grinning from ear to ear and was plainly the happiest fisherman in the crowded store. This was no surprise to Mr. Morton or to the others who knew him. For the happy fisherman was Professor Jerry Jansen of New York, probably the most dedicated surf caster anywhere, a man who more or less orders his life around the pursuit of the striper.
Jansen is a professor of surf casting, the only one—so far as he knows—in the world. Last spring, he persuaded a New York trade school to add a course in surf casting to its evening curriculum and so successful were his lectures, delivered over the roar of Manhattan traffic, that they will be repeated next spring. A busy man during the derby, Professor Jansen had agreed on the last night of competition to grant an audience to an SI correspondent but stipulated that it be at Squibnocket Beach where he planned to fish, with his wife, Lillian.
At sundown, right on schedule, the Jansens rolled up at Squibnocket in their gleaming red-and-white beach buggy bearing the boldly lettered legend CAVEAT ROCCUS which the Professor quickly translated as "Let the bass beware."
The fog was already rolling in and the evening promised to be pleasantly foul in surf casting terms (the bass keep well off shore on moonlit nights) and Professor and Mrs. Jansen proceeded at once to don their foul-weather gear which soon encased them in water-tight rubber from head to toe.
"This is my seventh derby here on the Vineyard," said the Professor, to get things started. "You can count the derby buttons on my cap. This is the third for Lil here. You see, we've been married just three years. Lil never had been fishing—never been fishing at all—before she met me."
"Now," said Lil, a petite blonde, putting the finishing touches on the most unflattering costume a woman could wear, "it's a matter of self-defense. Oh, I've learned to like casting, but if I didn't, when would I see Jerry?"
"I'm a plug man," Jerry said, strapping a knife around his waist. "Jigs and plugs—nothing but artificial lures for me. Surface fishing entirely. Throw it out and reel it in, that's my style. I wouldn't use live bait of any kind if it meant winning the derby. Now I don't mean to take anything away from Wallace Pinkham. He's a fine bottom fisherman and he took that 55-pounder off the bottom with squid, more power to him. But I couldn't throw a line out there and then just sit and wait for something to happen. I've got to have action. I did pretty well this year. Six fair-sized stripers so far."
"I got a 3-pound blue," Mrs. Jansen laughed. "Jerry has been calling me 'Champ.' "
"How about that?" the Professor smiled, hanging a light around his neck and stuffing a battery in an inside pocket. "But no, I mean there are different kinds of surf casters. Some guys are bottom, some are surface. Live and let live is my motto there. The same applies in other ways. There are two schools. One school believes if you find a good spot, share the good news with the other guys. The other school believes in telling 'em nothing. Why, do you know that guys will bury fish in the sand and if somebody comes along, they'll swear up and down they haven't had a strike? Or take a fellow like Ralph Grant, the best fisherman on the island. They'll trail him and he'll race all over the island until he shakes them. It's like Dragnet. One guy tore down a stone wall, drove his jeep through, then built up the wall again to cover up the trail. The other night I met a guy on the beach, I asked him if it was safe to go out on a certain sand bar. You should have heard him. 'Don't ever go out there,' he pleaded with me. 'It's treacherous!' I thanked him and moved on. I came back a little later and where was the guy? Out on the sand bar himself!"
The Professor selected a plug and fastened it to his line. "The old time surf casters," he said, "don't approve of my classes back in the city. They think everybody should learn the hard way. But I believe in spreading the gospel. I say there's no harm in showing the greenhorns a few short cuts. I say the more surf casters the merrier. There's room for everybody. It's a big ocean."
What did the professor do besides fish?
"I'm a foreman of painters for the City of New York," he said. "But that has no connection here." The Professor shook himself more comfortably into his gear, shuffled his feet, pulled his cap down on his head and then sniffed the thickening fog of the now black night.
"Beautiful weather," said the Professor. "We'll cast off the sand bar out there, I guess. Ready, Lil?"
"All set," said Mrs. Jansen.
With a wave of farewell, Professor and Mrs. Jansen turned and walked slowly away until they vanished into the fog and the sea.
Sound and fury
When CBS dubbed some old Mario Lanza records into a recent color extravaganza, giving the impression thereby that Lanza was singing rather than just standing around mouthing on his first TV appearance, there were those who felt that surreptitiousness had gone too far.
Then came the football game between the University of Utah and Denver University. It was at Utah's stadium, 500 miles from Denver, and it was assumed that Denver's cheering section would be devoted but thin-voiced because of understaffing. Instead, Denver cheers outvolumed Utah's. Ute fans were, to state it as mildly as possible, stunned.
Denver, it developed, had brought along a sound truck which, at appropriate moments, blared out "Hold that line!" and "Let's go, D.U.!" with more than enough amplification to do credit to the Denver rooters who, unable to travel to the game, had previously recorded the cheers for release at a more opportune time.
Ute fans squawked. The sound truck, they complained, was raucous. It was toned down but continued to blast out cheers when Denver needed them. Utah, a pregame favorite by two touchdowns, looking for its 14th straight Skyline Conference victory, was beaten, 28-20.
Some years ago, when Mickey Owen dropped the third strike and the Yankees went on from that ninth-inning, third-out Dodger faux pas to win the game (and then the World Series), a young sportswriter stopped Grantland Rice on his way out of the ball park and, in high excitement, asked: "Granny, did you ever see such a finish to a baseball game in all your life?"
"Sure," Rice said. "Lots of times."
He had, too. In more than half a century of writing sports, he had seen just about everything. He knew that baseball's essential suspense lies in the ever-present possibility of such twists of fortune. They no longer surprised him. He had come to expect them. Many similar twists are recounted in his autobiography, The Tumult and the Shouting, published this week by A. S. Barnes & Company.
It is an odd kind of personal history. There is in it more of Babe Ruth and Bill Tilden, of Ty Cobb and Knute Rockne, than there is of Rice. Still, when Rice described some famous athlete he had known, he revealed a great deal about himself. He was a titan who was also a hero-worshipper, a modest, retiring observer who admired the brash and brazen and a gentle, kindly man who could discern gentility and sweetness in any great athlete, no matter how much of a roisterer the fellow might be away from the ball park or how vicious a rabbit-puncher he might be in the ring. He made it his business to find out what made them that way and, once the explanation was in, Rice was convinced of their innate decency. Else how could they be champions?
His all-time heroes in baseball were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. As for football, his all-time college team fielded this way:
Center: Germany Schultz, Michigan '06
Guard: Pudge Heffelfinger, Yale '92
Guard: Herman Hickman, Tennessee '32
Tackle: Joe Stydahar, West Virginia '35
Tackle: Bill Henry, Washington & Jefferson '20
End: Don Hutson, Alabama '35
End: Bennie Oosterbaan, Michigan '28
Quarterback: Sammy Baugh, Texas Christian '37
Halfback: Jim Thorpe, Carlisle '15
Halfback: Red Grange, Illinois '25
Fullback: Bronko Nagurski, Minnesota '30
He wrote of these and of Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, Babe Zaharias and Helen Wills—and lots more.
"It's been an endless highway of thrills," Grantland Rice concluded in the story of his life shortly before he died last summer.
As any fool knows, you tell a story to a Californian and he comes right back with one that tops you. It was recently reported in these columns that two Ohio high school teams, Zanesville and Dover, had managed between them to score three touchdowns in 58 seconds. Mild astonishment was the reaction in most sections of the country. But from California came the topper as reported by Harold H. Litten, director of publications at Whittier High School: In the third quarter of a game between Whittier and Monrovia, Gary Campbell of the Whittier Cardinals plunged two yards over center for a touchdown. Then Whittier kicked off and Craig Shoemaker of the Monrovia Wildcats took the ball and ran 88 yards to score. Monrovia kicked off, the same Gary Campbell streaked down the sideline 86 yards for another touchdown. Total points scored: 19. Total time elapsed: 38 seconds. Thus, the Zanesville-Dover record was lowered by 20 seconds. Final score, by the way, was Whittier 26, Monrovia 12.
Casey Tibbs, a lean, curly-haired fellow of 25, figures he is getting pretty old now and ought to be thinking about the future. He has been doing that. He looks to win the world's saddle bronc riding championship this year for the fifth time and then he would like to satisfy a couple of other ambitions more suited to his advanced years.
He and Del Flanagan, the stylish welterweight boxer, stay at the same hotel whenever they are in New York together and they talk a good deal about quitting while still at the top.
Casey's boyhood ambition was to be a boxer—hence his strong friendship with Flanagan—but now he wants two things more in keeping with what he has learned from rodeos. Looking like a cowboy even in his best blue suit, Casey wants to be just that—a cowboy, but a ranch-working cowboy on his own ranch, which spreads over 7,000 acres of South Dakota and supports 550 head of cattle "but could run 1,000 easy." His other ambition is to establish a World Series Rodeo or inspire others to establish it with a little help from him.
"Look what the World Series did for baseball," he points out. "My idea is we'd take the 25 top cowboys in the country and get stock from the best stock producers—real mean broncs and bulls that wouldn't just try to shake you off but would hook you after they shook you. That way we'd have the best competition and a real test."
Casey thinks the Southwest—maybe Phoenix, Las Vegas or Palm Springs—would be best for the Series and that it would prove a great tourist attraction in December, slowest month of the year for rodeo competition.
All this serious-minded thinking of the future sounds like a far cry from the impression created a few years ago by the ridin' kid from the Cheyenne River country who, at 19, was the youngest ever to win the rodeo championship and went right on winning it except for a near miss in 1950. He made a lot of money and lived it up.
"I'm not denying I threw a lot of money across them gambling tables," Casey says, "but you can't live that way and ride for long. You have to keep in condition like a boxer."
He does have a $1,000 bet with his nearest competitor, Deb Copenhaver (SI, Oct. 18), and is currently about 3,500 points ahead for the saddle-bronc championship.
"There are only three big rodeos left this year—Boston, the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and Detroit—and I'd have to do pretty bad to lose now," he says.
Then he'll start thinking some more about the ranch and the World Series Rodeo—the sort of thinking a man does in order to plan for his old age.
Spokesman for the Soviet Union have taken an increasingly benign attitude toward the once-hated czars and have recently intimated that some of the grabbier of them were really rather jolly fellows. But when English athletic officials attempted to present a czarist heirloom ring to Soviet three-miler Vladimir Kuc last week, leaders of the touring Moscow track team reacted as if their boy was being slipped a live rattlesnake.
The ring—an ornate bit of jewelry which bore 60 small diamonds and the double eagle of imperial Russia—was donated by a British businessman as an expression of admiration and consolation after Kuc was beaten by England's Chris Chataway. It was formally presented at a ceremony just before the Russians staged an exhibition at Manchester. But though Kuc reached for it, he never got his hands on the gift—Soviet Team Manager Sergei Pushnov pushed in at the last second and grabbed it. When a Manchester newspaper ran a photograph which showed the hapless runner with his hand extended the Russian officials fairly danced with rage.
One Gegori Nikiforov, an "Honored Master of Sport," demanded that all Manchester newspapers run stories denying that Kuc had accepted the ring. Officials of the Northern Counties Amateur Athletic Association protested that they had no power to order the newspapers to do anything. The Russians refused to believe them and cried that the whole thing was "dastardly"—a capitalist plot to make them look foolish. "This," shouted one, "is not our custom. We don't want any relations with your sly folk." A taxi was forthwith called, to take the ring back to the man who had presented it, after which Coach Gauziie Kozobkoff concluded the affair by announcing, coldly: "It is not a Russian ring. It is of no historical value."
All this hoorah presumably improved the regard with which the Messrs. Kozobkoff, Nikiforov and Pushnov are held in the Kremlin. It was quickly obvious, however, that they had passed up the chance for an ironical last laugh at the "sly" English. Vladimir Kuc, who was hustled off to Czechoslovakia for a race last weekend, not only beat the famed Emil Zatopek for the second time but, according to Radio Prague, broke Chris Chataway's 10-day-old world record by four-tenths of a second—a performance which would certainly have given even a Russian Communist a chuckle had he been wearing England's consolation prize at the time.
*"The Column Book of F.P.A." by Franklin P. Adams, copyright 1928 by Doubleday & Co., Inc.
"Sure it was a waltz, but I can lick any one of you bums."