DRUG CHARGES (CONT.)
I AM SURE DR. HERBERT BERGER IS A SINCERE MAN, ANXIOUS TO PROTECT YOUTH FROM DRUGS. A SERIOUS STUDY OP THIS PROBLEM WITH FAR-REACHING MEDICAL, MORAL AND SOCIAL ASPECTS WOULD BE MOST WELCOME. SINCE THE FOUR-MINUTE MILERS ARE INEVITABLY LOOKED UP TO BY THE YOUTH OF MANY COUNTRIES, DR. BERGER SERVES HIS CAUSE LEAST WELL BY ATTEMPTING TO DENIGRATE THEM WITH FOOLISH CHARGES WHICH HE APPARENTLY CANNOT SUBSTANTIATE. DR. BERGER'S COMMENTS ARE GRAVELY DEFAMATORY AND MIGHT, IF TAKEN SERIOUSLY, HAVE SLURRED MY ATHLETIC HONOR AND DAMAGED MY PROFESSIONAL REPUTATION. I DESERVE AND EXPECT AN APOLOGY. AS AN ATHLETE I NEVER EVEN CONTEMPLATED USING SUCH DRUGS.
•Dr. Berger's oblique reference to Roger Bannister was made not in his presentation to the American Medical Association group, but in the give-and-take of an impromptu press conference afterwards. When SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, cast in the role of go-between, read him Dr. Bannister's cable, Dr. Berger was quick to extend his hand across the sea and agree that Dr. Bannister "deserves an apology for an undeserved and unintended slight on his professional and athletic reputation."—ED.
BASEBALL: EXIT KRICHELL, WINKING
Paul Krichell was a nice fellow and one of the best scouts the New York Yankees ever had, but he didn't discover Lou Gehrig on an off day when the Columbia team was playing Rutgers at New Brunswick. This myth has been floating around for 20 years and reached a fine peak recently on Krichell's death (SCOREBOARD, June 17), but there was never anything to it.
The truth is that Lou Gehrig was perhaps the most famous high school baseball player this nation has ever known. In those days there was an annual championship game between the best Chicago and New York high school teams. Gehrig was playing with the New York High School of Commerce against (I think) Lane Tech at the Cubs' ball park in Chicago. In the late innings, with the bases loaded, he hit a ball a mile over the right-field wall and won the game. Since very few big leaguers were performing that particular feat in that period, the excitement about young Gehrig was intense. I can still remember the seven-column streamer on the sports page of the Chicago Tribune, and the same thing was true in the New York papers. It was a sensation and every baseball scout and true fan in Christendom knew about it.
I also think I know why Krichell passed on the pretty story to the innocent baseball writers in later years. At that time the Yankees made a practice of picking up promising youngsters at high school age and financing them through college. It had to be done under the counter to preserve the college eligibility of the young fellows, but everybody knew about it. After two years, Gehrig wearied of the books and Columbia wearied of his academic marks. He decided to play ball professionally and full time. The Yankees couldn't admit they had signed him in high school, and Krichell propounded the Rutgers fable with a loud wink. What started as a gag became a legend. Krichell must have wondered each time he mentioned it how long he could keep it up and just how gullible sports-writers could get.
•Kyle Crichton, a former editor of Collier's and the dramatist of the current Broadway success The Happiest Millionaire is best known in his home town as the sharp first baseman of an everybody-welcome softball team that takes on all comers each Sunday in LIFE Photographer Bradley Smith's pasture.—ED.
BASEBALL: I'M WORRIED
Except for sentimental reasons, the possible move of the Dodgers to Los Angeles does not bother me, since they will be playing the Midwest just as often as before. What does worry me is the possibility that Robert Creamer might not follow them to the West Coast and continue to cover the team for your magazine. This would be a catastrophe for us Dodger fans! No sports-writer in the country can interpret the Dodgers like Creamer.
•This week Robert Creamer deserts his Dodgers for the Chicago White Sox. See page 42.—ED.
For more than 50 years I have been a baseball fan. But anyone can see that the tempo of baseball is still of the horse-and-buggy era. Where other sports have been streamlined and speeded up, baseball, if anything, is slower than it used to be. It has become tedious, particularly on TV.
Two simple rule changes would result in games being played in less than half the time the average game now takes.
First, give the batter a walk on three instead of four balls. Second, call a third strike, even if the ball is fouled.
Batters would then concentrate on batting, pitchers on pitching, fielders on fielding, and coaches on coaching. All the time wasted on so-called strategy would vanish. The game would pep up and lose none of its basic interest.
With these changes, no pitcher would have to serve more than five balls to a batter, and much of the strain on pitching staffs would disappear.
Give this some thought, and let's find out if such changes wouldn't give a shot in the arm to the grand old game.
G. B. HAYES