It doesn't takemuch time to make a hero in this country, sometimes no longer than nineinnings. A week ago Tuesday it took just that hallowed length of time to turnan obscure Lithuanian-American country boy into one of the best-known andbest-liked people in the United States.
What did he do?Well, John Joseph Podres, a left-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, shutout the vaunted New York Yankees in the final game of the 1955 World Series togive the baseball championship of the world to Brooklyn for the first time inthe history of that bizarre borough.
In effect, John,a baby-faced young man of 23, had slaughtered the cruel giant and freed hiscompatriots from an age-old yoke of tyranny, a heroic feat indeed. But heroismin this country requires more than achievement. It demands personality, and ofa special, appealing nature. John Podres had it.
First of all, hewas young. More than that, he looked young: pink cheeked, blue eyed, yellowhaired. He came from the country—a tiny village squeezed between the AdirondackMountains and Lake Champlain in upper New York State—and the country is thebest place for heroes to come from. He was vastly pleased by his success andproud as a man can be, and nothing is more appealing than the sight of a manopenly and justifiably pleased with himself (most new fathers, for example, andall successful fishermen).
Then, after thegame, he went to the Dodgers' victory party at the Hotel Bossert in Brooklynand danced far into the night. Shades of Paul Bunyan! This was the stuff oflegend.
He drove home inthe rain from New York to Witherbee and had a real good fight with his bestgirl. He had invited her down to see three games of the Series and anenterprising newsman had inferred that the two were engaged. No such a thing,John said, and with a direct courage lacking in older, more experienced men,called the girl and bawled her out for saying it. She, to everyone'sadmiration, snapped right back at him, saying angrily that she had never saidany such thing, John Podres. It was a nice, honest quarrel, just like the oneyou had with your wife last week. The country loved it.
There werepictures of John in Witherbee, John in the barber shop, John at home with hisfamily: mother, father, kid sister and three little brothers. Every Americanheart surged with feeling. What a wonderful thing for a small boy to have—a bigbrother who was the hero of the World Series.
The final touchwas delightful. A newsreel clip made in Podres' home had Johnny showing abaseball to his 5-year-old brother, Jimmy.
"This was thelast out," Johnny explained to Jimmy. "You remember Pee Wee fielded thegrounder and threw to Hodges for the last out?"
Jimmy, entrancedby the lights and the cameras, nodded happily.
"Well,"Johnny went on, "Gilly give it to me. He said he'd like to keep it himself,but he said he thought I deserved it. Wasn't that swell of him?"
Young Jimmy justgrinned, but all over the country people nodded. It sure was swell ofGilly.
But he was right,Johnny. You deserved it.
The army mule andthe Navy goat are only moderately ancient mascots but neither West Point norAnnapolis has an altogether satisfying record of how the two animals achievedstatus in military society. West Point says vaguely that its cadets selectedthe mule as mascot "near the turn of the century." Annapolis saysfirmly that its first official goat mascot was El Cid, chosen in 1893, butthere is a tarry legend which holds that, three years before El Cid, navalcadets swiped a grazing goat from land near the non-com quarters at West Pointon the very day of the first Army-Navy football game. Navy beat Army that day,24-0.
It is onlynatural, then, that there has already been some confusion about the U.S. AirForce Academy mascot, chosen just the other day. So that history may be betterserved, a true account of its selection follows:
Academyfledglings, building tradition with jet speed and swept-back efficiency,nominated a long line of mascots, then narrowed them down to the golden eagleand falcon after eliminating a highly improbable mountain lion. An officer whohad been lobbying for the falcon then addressed the 300 cadets something likethis:
"The falconis a bird with a long and honorable history. It is famous for its swift flight,its powers of vision, courage and ferocity. It is especially noted for itscourageous defense of its home nest. It has a flight speed of 100 mph and itsspeed in a dive is classified information. The golden eagle is a scavenger. Youwill now vote."
The falconthereupon won a flaps-down victory. Then the confusion set in. The Denver Postillustrated its election story with a 1951 photograph from its morgue. Thepicture showed an airman with a goshawk and the caption described it as "aperegrine hawk, called a goshawk, the type of falcon chosen Tuesday by U.S. AirForce Academy cadets.... "
The picturecaught the hawklike eye of a telephone company man who is by avocation afalconer, Harold Webster of Denver. A falcon, Webster curtly informed the Post,does not look at all like a goshawk. On the assumption that the Air Force hadsupplied the picture and written the misleading caption, he invited it to comeout to his place and see what a real falcon looks like. So the Post, forgettingit had written the caption itself, snickered that the cadets "apparentlywouldn't know a falcon if one swept down from the skies and bit a hole in theirfootball." The news services picked up the story without checking andspread it around the country. Though the Post corrected itself next day, thenews services didn't.
Webster did showthe Academy a real falcon and demonstrated its prowess. He took one to theAcademy and turned it loose. Then he tossed a pigeon into the air. The falcondive-bombed the pigeon into the ground and the cadets gasped at the speed andaccuracy of their bird.
Later, withWebster's help, the Academy acquired five young falcons. They are peregrinefalcons of a type sometimes called the tundra falcon and the best of the lotwill be fitted to a proper falcon hood in Air Academy silver and blue, made tolook like a jet crash helmet. Webster will house them until the Academy cansupply accommodations. He will try to train them to land triumphantly onmock-ups of the Army mule and the Navy goat. Meanwhile, according to Capt.H.H.D. Heiberg Jr., officer in charge of cadet activities, they are"eagerly feasting on mule and goat meat."
THE MADISONAVENUE HORSE
The captains andcrews of New York's big advertising agencies will seize on an offbeat idea asthough it were a pogo stick, but they also have a moody regard for money anddreams of baronial living (cross the offspring of a Wall Street banker and aHollywood writer, select the most active male in the litter, keep him away fromUCLA and teach him to make a dry Martini, and voilà—a. Madison Avenue type).When one wearer of the Madison Avenue uniform (charcoal gray suit and pinkshirt) decided, last winter, that it would be great to take up a collection andbuy a race horse, the money was forthcoming before you could say Batten,Barton, Durstine & Osborn. Well...at any rate, somemoney—$10,000—contributed by 142 track-happy shareholders in an enterpriseentitled Bangtail Preferred.
Since that daythe 142 have shared one big racing thrill and several lesser ones, but theyhave also gained a sobering insight into the care, feeding and financing ofthoroughbreds. Their teacher has been a 3-year-old gelding named Fly. It cost$6,000 of the $10,000 just to buy Fly from Alfred G. Vanderbilt, but he was ahorse you could dream about—his daddy, Discovery, had sired a spectacular lotof offspring. Discovery's kids, in fact, had won $4,450,000 in first-moneyalone. Fly, it developed, was a hearty eater; $400 a month had to be allocatedfor his stabling, feeding and training. Another $15.50 a month was necessaryfor shoes. Life insurance took a $337 bite from the racing fund. The initialsales tax lopped off $180. Paper work and legal fees cost $200. The Jockey Clubdecided that the name Bangtail Preferred lacked dignity; the owners paidanother $100 to register as the Madison Avenue Stable. Incidental expenses took$150 and racing silks (charcoal and pink, naturally) took $35.
Finally, however,Fly was entered in a race at Jamaica. Fifty faithful stockholders gathered tocheer him. He ran dead last. Four days later he ran eighth. Ten days later heran sixth. A fortnight after that he ran eleventh. Furthermore he developed asore back—starters, it developed, had kept him in control before races bytwisting his tail around the back of the starting gate. He was sidelined forrest and heat treatments. By July 1, however, he was in good health, and the admen's trainer, Jimmy McTague—recalling that Discovery had run well in distanceraces—entered him at a mile and an eighth. Fly came from behind and won in thelast jump. The delighted owners streamed to the winner's circle, then"adjourned to the bar and didn't see another race all day."
Fly had won$2,275. But 10% went to the trainer. Another 10% went to the jockey. Theexercise boy and the groom in attendance on him got $25 apiece, and a boy whocooled him out after the race got $10. Fly kept on eating. He also developed aninfection in one hoof. It took six weeks to heal; at that point a blacksmithfound a crack in another hoof. Then Trainer McTague had a heart attack. Fly hasnot run since. But horse and trainer are mending fast, and the Stable has highhopes for 1956. It has also received permission to increase its capitalizationto $50,000.
The power and theglory of the International Boxing Guild, a fight managers' fellowship devotedto the best interests of fight managers, was refurbished this week with thecapitulation of the Martinez family of Paterson, N.J. to the demands of HonestBill Daly, Guild treasurer.
Vince Martinez, aclever welterweight who ranks fifth as contender for Carmen Basilio'schampionship, was deprived of his livelihood after breaking off relations withDaly, his manager, in a dispute over what became of $3,000 in fight proceeds.Vince's father, a dour, gray-haired man, had demanded an accounting and this,in managerial circles, is an act of l√®se majesté. Daly stomped out of theMartinez kitchen and, it is said, vowed that Vince would fight no more. Itbecame very hard for Martinez to get a fight. Other managers sided withDaly.
Between May—whenJulius Helfand, New York boxing commissioner, held a hearing and suspended Daly"for acts detrimental to boxing"—and this week, Vince got two fights.He is 26 years old and confident he can beat Basilio. This week Vince's fatherand Daly came to terms on a contract which re-established Daly as Vince'smanager, suspended in New York or not, for the next five years. It was aclear-cut victory for Daly and the Guild's managers. It was a blow to Vince'sbrother, Phil, who had fought to maintain Vince's independence.
"We couldn'tget any fights," Phil explained. "Unless Vince works he can't make anickel. For a year we held out. It was either go back or starve.
"I know onething. Without Daly I don't think Vince could fight for the title. Unlessyou're in the good graces of the boys in control you're nothing....
"We got whatyou'd call honorable terms, you know. But we didn't get terms for ourconscience."
The Chief Justiceof the United States, Earl Warren, swore in a new Governor of the VirginIslands a few days back and thereby touched gloves once again, in a figurativesort of way, with a fellow he used to try to flatten with a right cross.
Something liketwo score years have intervened since Mr. Justice Warren and Walter A. Gordon,the new governor, were accustomed to meet on the University of Californiacampus and spar a few rounds together. Their bouts began a long friendshipbetween the Negro athlete and the man who was to become Governor of Californiaand head of the Supreme Court.
Gordon, who is 6feet tall and weighs 240 pounds, made All-America on the California line andwon his letter in wrestling, too. He remembers another U of C man he boxed withonce, even though the fellow was a lightweight. Gordon's Stanford opponentbowed out of a match and, to give the crowd action, he and the lightweightfought a three-round exhibition.
The lightweightwas Jimmy Doo-little, who later became a general in the Air Force.
It was turningdusk, and the tiny silver Porsche Spyder, standing no higher than a man's beltbuckle, was racing west on California's highway U.S. 466 where it lies like apiece of gray ribbon across the barren flat-lands of the San Joaquin Valley.Gunning the throttle of this $7,000 plaything was a wistful looking young manwho was just starting to cash in on the Hollywood big time. Only a few daysbefore, James Dean had completed a movie as Elizabeth Taylor's leading man, andnow he was free of the studio prohibitions which had kept him off the racetracks while he was working. He was off to Salinas to put his new Porsche intoits first official sports car competition. Seated alongside Jimmy Dean wasRolph Wuetherich, a young Porsche specialist who would be in the pits for himat Salinas.
Highway 466 formsthe upper right arm of a Y before it ends at Highway 41 in this lonely stretchof California desert. Eastward along the stem of the Y in a conventional cardrove Donald Turnupseed, a college student, who planned to turn left at thejunction. To repeat, it was dusk, and he simply did not see the tiny silverroadster cutting across his route from the other direction. The larger, heavierconventional car crumpled the Porsche like a piece of waste paper. Dean's neckwas broken instantly, and Wuetherich survived only with violent injuries.Turnupseed was relatively unharmed.
This tragedy—anda deep tragedy it was to Dean's many friends—need never be repeated so long asthe drivers of small sports cars and indeed all drivers memorize its lesson.Dean may or may not have been speeding at the time of the collision (a policecheck showed he averaged 75 mph from the point where he received a ticket twohours earlier) but he was a good driver on a straight and comparatively emptyroad. He simply failed to realize his own obscurity in a small car. It is aneasy mistake to make, since small cars don't feel small once you get used tothem.
This is not apleasant story, but it won't be a senseless one if it makes that point withmotorists.
FOOTBALL √Ä LAEUGÉNIE
It was the secondquarter of the Notre Dame-Miami game, and Paul Hornung, Irish quarterback,faded back and looked for a receiver.
"Throw!Throw!" yelled the crowd.
Hornung threw,straight to End Gene Kapish in the end zone, and the crowd went wild. One manbroke into the Notre Dame Victory March. Another kissed a waitress. Anotherordered two daiquiris and a Scotch with water.
Strange businessfor the Orange Bowl. Sure, but it wasn't in the Orange Bowl. The crowd ofnearly 600 was 1,200 air miles away from Miami, Fla., packed into the CrystalBallroom of Detroit's Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel, sitting at white-clothed tablesinstead of on tiered stadium seats and dining on Chicken Eugenie instead of hotdogs. Almost entirely pro-Notre Dame, they were watching the game on a giantscreen as part of an 11-city closed circuit television hookup sponsored by theuniversity itself in cooperation with the Sheraton hotel chain. They had cometo enjoy (at $5 a head) football in a nightclub atmosphere.
For theweather-weary fan, this was football at its plushiest but it was still footballand this was a football crowd. They roared after each Notre Dame gain, gaspedwhen Miami began to move and booed the officials on every penalty against theIrish. When Hornung hit his second touchdown pass for the final 14-0 score(leaving Notre Dame unbeaten and unscored upon in three games), the crystalchandeliers tinkled like victory bells in the Sacred Heart Chapel at SouthBend.
As the crowdfiled out it was apparent most of them would be back—they had already begun toworry about the next Irish opponent. "I don't see how we can stop MichiganState from scoring even if we do win," a man said.
If he had knownthe two stocky young gentlemen he brushed past at that moment he would haveworried even more. They were Lou Agase and Bill Yoeman, Michigan Stateassistant coaches, and under their arms bulged scouting reports on the FightingIrish—as seen on the 9-by-12-foot television screen in the ballroom of aDetroit hotel.
Jacob M. (GreasyThumb) GUZIK is a jowly Chicago hoodlum with a long history, unlimited suppliesof folding money and a practiced ease in courtrooms. In his latest courtroomappearance, in Chicago the other day, Greasy Thumb refused to say whether heonce was a buddy of Al Capone's and whether he managed a bawdy house named theFour Deuces for Ca-pone back in the '20s. He clammed up when asked how well heknew a long roster of his contemporaries, characters known in Chicago'sgangland history as Shotgun Gussie, Little New York Campagna, Paul the WaiterRicca, Cherry Nose Gioe, Murray the Camel Humphreys, Loudmouth Levin, CrackersMendina, Screw Moore, Sonny Boy Quirk, Chew Tobacco Ryan, Fur Sammons, MopsVolpe, Three-Fingered Jack White and Sam Golf Bag Hunt (sometime bodyguard ofBig Boxing's James D. Norris).
What Greasy Thumbdid admit—in fact it led to his being in court—was that he had been buying upstock in Chicago's Arlington Park and Washington Park, the latter the scene ofthe Nashua-Swaps match race last August. Ben Lindheimer, manager of the twotracks, has been barring Guzik from the tracks—stockholder or not. StockholderGuzik went to court to demand a look at the track's books. Arlington andWashington are convinced Guzik and friends are trying to get control of two ofthe best tracks in the country and are asking the court to halt Guzik frombuying any more stock. The court is considering the legal niceties.
All of whichmakes it an excellent time to state a principle: there is no room in horseracing for the thumb of Jacob M. Guzik and the mob.
TELL ME ABOUTIT
Did they blockthat kick?
What did they do?
The guy in front of me
Blocked my view.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Tony Trabert has made up his mind to turn pro (seepage 30). Strong probability: Aussie whiz kids Lew Hoad and Ken Rose-wall willannounce similar decisions soon.
Michigan looked very much like the country's bestfootball team as the Wolverines beat Army, 26-2. The Michigan rooting section'scry of "Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl" can now be heard coast-to-coast.
Nail, a previously undistinguished long shot, becamethe second gray colt in three years to win the Belmont Futurity, traditionalfall test for 2-year-olds. The other: Native Dancer, who also showed up well ontelevision.
National Olympic Day, to be celebrated Saturday, Oct.22, will give spectators at football games and other sports events a chance todig into their pockets, contribute toward the cost of sending the U.S. team tothe 1956 Games.
Vienna this week welcomed home its world-famed butwandering Lipizzan horses, rescued from Russian collectivization in the fadingdays of World War II by General Georgie Patton's tankers. Forced into a 10-yearodyssey, the aristocrats of the horse world moved back in after the Red armypulled out of Austria.
Ronnie Knox's action of the week: eight minutes attailback for UCLA, during which he threw seven passes, completed five for 56yards and a touchdown. Harvey Knox's words of the week: Ronnie has alreadyreceived three pro football offers, but "I'm grooming Ronnie to become anactor or writer in the movies."
Ducks Unlimited happily noted earlier predictions of abumper waterfowl season were already beginning to come true: freezing weatherin northern Canada has touched off an impressive southward migration of ducksand geese.
"It's an import from Thrace. None of the bulk and ugly trim of our domestic jobs."