DECISION AT BURNING TREE
A golf course is not always the proper stage upon which to conduct diplomacy; there is something about the game, in fact, which sometimes lacerates a man's central nervous system to a point at which he cannot resist breaking a club across his knee—thereby staving off the wild impulse to break it over his partner's head. Both the personalities and athletic capabilities of the Messrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Nobusuke Kishi, however, seemed to complement each other last week when the President took Japan's Prime Minister—with whom he was engaged in a series of top-level talks—to Washington's Burning Tree Club for 18 international holes of golf.
The engagement was launched on a note which must have afforded both men a good deal of pleasure. The President, aware that Kishi is a very decent (high 80s) golfer, called Max Elbin, Burning Tree's professional, on the telephone some days ahead of time and ordered a gift (charged against his personal bill) for his opponent-to-be: eight irons, four woods and a putter tailored to fit a 5-foot 4-inch 130-pounder. Kishi was delighted, as most golfers would have been: they were Ben Hogan clubs and the bag containing them bore a gold plate on which was inscribed, TO PRIME MINISTER KISHI FROM PRESIDENT EISENHOWER.
The President (who wore tan slacks, a short-sleeved cotton sport shirt and a fashionable straw hat) could hardly have been human if he did not feel a certain added kindliness toward the Prime Minister as they stood on the practice tee. Kishi (white cap, black polo shirt, gray slacks) had trouble with his backswing, was obviously nervous and hit his shots badly. The President was relaxed and showed it. When he introduced Senator Prescott Bush, a fine golfer, who was to be Kishi's partner, he started: "He's a Harvard man." Bush interjected: "Oh, no, Mr. President—Yale," and the President threw both arms into the air, laughed, and cried, "Oh, no—a Whiffenpoof."
When the Prime Minister belted his first drive into the rough the President shouted: "What's that long word—Moichido!" (freely translated: take a Mulligan) and beamed in a proprietary manner when Kishi then hit one 170 yards down the middle. Ike also looked extremely satisfied when he himself then hit a sound drive of 225 yards. The game was not quite that lopsided, however; the Prime Minister's short game was more effective than his driving. In the end, Ike and Takizo Matsumoto (a member of the Japanese Diet and an old friend of Kishi's) and the Prime Minister and Bush came out all even—muscles loose, honor satisfied and a truly diplomatic atmosphere achieved.
It would be improper to suggest that the game had anything at all to do with the fact that the U.S. agreed, shortly thereafter, to withdraw its combat ground forces from Japan. Just say simply that at Burning Tree both parties involved afforded the world an exhibition of give-and-take such as seldom openly occurs between the leaders of great powers.
THE 24 HOURS
To a French farmer in a distant barnyard, the roar of Le Mans is like the drone of bees. From near by it is a gigantic sound that writhes unceasingly in the air for 24 hours. It began at 4 p.m. last Saturday, and with it began fear and apprehension. Two years ago, 83 were killed at Le Mans when Pierre Levegh's Mercedes hurtled over a barrier and into the crowd. Last year there were changes in the track and pits, made in the interest of safety. There was also a limitation on fuel consumption which made the race dull and slow. Now the fuel restrictions were relaxed, and the prospect was for greater speed than ever. With it came the possibility of another disaster.
As night fell, mist rose here and there on the 8.4-mile course. The headlights of the racing cars streaked through it like tracer bullets. Behind the grandstand and in woods along the road, carnivals set out to attract with their rival noises some of the 250,000 spectators who came to Le Mans. There were freaks, thrill rides and a tent-show revue called The Pearl of the Nile.
For the first 25 laps the race had developed as expected into a duel between Italian cars: Maserati versus Ferrari. From the second to the 25th lap the English driver Mike Hawthorn kept his Ferrari grimly—and barely—ahead of the Maserati driven by Jean Behra of France. Then Hawthorn pulled into the pit with mechanical trouble, and Behra took the lead only to lose it in his turn—and for good—with a leaking fuel tank. First place was taken over by the Englishman Ivor Bueb in a Jaguar.
At 4 a.m., the halfway point, the first four places were held by Jaguars. That of Bueb (and of his co-driver, Ron Flockhart) was still No. 1, with a five-lap lead. The drivers of the proud Italian cars (four of each were entered) saw their chances diminish as mechanical problems and pit stops continued.
The one serious collision took place on a 90° turn when an Aston-Martin skidded off the track and was hit by a Porsche as it careened back on again. But though the Porsche was wrecked, neither of the drivers suffered much more than shock and bruises. There were two hours of drizzling rain during the night, and two hours of heavy fog in the early-morning hours. Through it all the battery of Jaguars roared on. At 4 p.m. on Sunday they finished one, two, three, four—with that of Bueb and Flockhart still No. 1. It was a familiar feeling to both drivers and a three-year victory string for Jaguar: Bueb had helped drive the winning Jaguar in 1955, Flockhart in 1956.
There were five Jaguars in the race. The remaining one finished in sixth place, separated from its four mates only by a Ferrari which finished fifth. All the Jaguars were privately entered, but racing experts and technicians from the factory were on hand to help out with advice and service. Their winning in 1955 had been clouded by the dreadful death toll of the race and the withdrawal of Mercedes, and in 1956 by the fact that some of the safety limitations then in effect gave Jaguar an advantage over other cars.
This year there were no such clouds. And Bueb and Flockhart had set a new record at Le Mans for average speed: 113.8 miles per hour, for 24 hours.
FRATERNITY ON THE ROAD
Like most people who acquire a sports car, Jim Murray, a member of this magazine's West Coast staff, had a number of things to adjust to. His is an MG-A—"a little apple-green job with black leather and all sorts of snap-on things all over the place." He had to learn to shift gears again, to fit himself comfortably into less space than he was accustomed to, and to put up with the current wisecracks from nearby drivers at stop lights ("Where do you wind it up, Pops?").
"But then suddenly," he tells us, "it all became worthwhile. I was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway one afternoon when it happened. I noticed with some curiosity that another MG-A was approaching in the opposite direction. I looked it over thoughtfully. Suddenly the other driver looked up—the sun glinted off his smoked glasses and his madras cap tilted back. And he waved at me!
"My first reaction was to look back and see whether I had a flat tire. Then I slowed the car down so that I had to down-gear it twice to keep it going. Perspiration broke out all over me and I was almost desperate—until another MG swept by me from the rear. He waved, too!
"I realized what had happened: I had not just bought a car. I had joined a select fraternity. I could hardly wait to get back into town the next day and buy myself a madras cap and possibly a tartan scarf. I don't smoke but I put a package of English Ovals in the side pocket, just in case. It wasn't long before I was honking and waving sociably at every passing MG.
"Later I found out that this is wrong, that there is a definite protocol to be followed. For instance, if the MG is an old TC or other quasi-classic car, you give him the option of waving or not waving, as he sees fit. Then there is the business of mistaking other English cars in the twilight hours. One evening the driver of a white Triumph honked enthusiastically and waved, but as he pulled even with me and realized his mistake I saw the distress on his face.
"I have now learned all the laws and bylaws of this exclusive club I belong to. It is not a club for gentlemen only—you should see the lovely girls with blonde hair and wind-blown, MG faces who wave enthusiastically at me as they pass. And I wave back, too.
"Now I wonder why all car owners don't adopt this delightful habit. Why should the bonds of kinship extend only to the drivers of imported cars?
"I look forward to the time when Cadillac owners flick their cigars at each other or their wives flash their diamonds in Morse code as they pass, and when the Chryslers dip their fins in mutual salute.
"There is no telling where this kind of thing might lead—to each make of car's having its own highways, possibly. At least it would be unthinkable for one MG to crash into another (just not done, old boy), or one Ford into another, and that would reduce accidents by a small but steady percentage. Meanwhile, just dream of the possibility of Ava Gardner's buying the same make of car as you, and taking the same road some sunny day."
AMATEUR IN WAITING
Pete Rademacher is a large, pale bear of a man of Finnish ancestry from the Yakima Valley town of Tie-ton in the state of Washington. He stands 6 feet 1½ inches, weighs 210, is 28 years old and has little hair on his massive head. He has a B.S. in animal husbandry from Washington State College, where he played defensive guard in football. Until recently Pete was an amateur prize fighter of distinction. He had won 72 times (30 knockouts) in 79 bouts and gained a slew of titles, including last year's Olympic heavyweight championship. Although he has never had a professional fight, Pete Rademacher is very likely to meet Floyd Patterson for the championship of the world in Seattle the week of August 19, which would be a completely unprecedented undertaking.
Rademacher is a man of contagious confidence. He has carried the notion of challenging Patterson with him since the Olympics, but it was not until early this March that he did anything about it. Then, while assistant athletic officer at Fort Benning, Ga., he met Joe Gannon, a now-retired fighter who lost to Patterson in 1954. Gannon casually asked Rademacher if he intended to turn pro. "If I can get a match with the champion," Pete replied quickly. Gannon laughed indulgently. "You're crazy," he said. "Nobody gets the champion in his first pro fight." Rademacher shrugged.
But the idea lodged in Gannon's mind, and shortly afterward he approached Cus D'Amato, Patterson's manager. As Cus tells it, Gannon said he had something "so fantastic I don't like to talk about it."
"You're talking to a man who likes the fantastic," Cus replied. Gannon then told him.
"The more I thought about it," Cus relates, "the better I liked it. It caught my imagination. I got all excited. It'll go down in history, I said to myself. People will forget I was manager of Patterson, but they'll always remember my part in this fight."
"I'll take it," Cus finally announced, "if the money is right."
The right money was a $250,000 guarantee for Patterson, a figure Cus had been offered for Patterson to fight a ranked professional.
The chore of raising the guarantee went to one Melchior (Mike) Chaplin Jennings, an extremely affable, 40-year-old Yale graduate and Columbus, Ga. sporting goods store proprietor who is Rademacher's friend, adviser and business partner. Jennings is obviously a persuasive man, for by June 1 $250,000 had been placed in escrow in the Fourth National Bank of Columbus, the sum being furnished by 22 persons, most of them Georgians.
Jack Hurley of Seattle was invited to promote the bout, immediately accepted and boasted that it would draw $500,000 in the town where Rademacher was recently voted the outstanding young man of the year. The August engagement, of course, depends on Patterson's disposing of Hurricane Jackson in their fight July 29.
What real chance would Rademacher have? Well, he is cunning, mature and possesses enormous strength. He has some boxing skill and can punch. But he has been knocked down, and, presumably, could be knocked out.
Cus is not taking the match lightly, and, realizing that it will be hooted at outside of Seattle and Columbus, is going to some pains to build it up. "When I first met Pete," he says, "I thought he didn't have a chance. The more I saw of him, appreciated his emotional and psychological maturity, the more I wondered. Why, you know if he gets lucky, he won't have to work another day in his life."
What did Patterson think about the bout?
" 'Floyd,' I said when I told him, 'don't smile when I say this to you.' He didn't smile. He looked surprised.
" 'You don't mean the Olympic champ?' he said.
" 'I do,' I said.
" 'Gee,' Floyd said, 'that'll be something.' "
PASSING OF A LEGEND
Tad Jones died last week in the fullness of years and honors, one of the greatest athletes and coaches in the 85-year history of football at Yale.
His achievements on the playing fields of 1905-07 earned him an undergraduate reputation almost equally woven of Frank Merriwell and the Chevalier Bayard. And the years he was head coach at New Haven (1916, 1920-1927) were marked by such fine teams and by so much devotion to the highest ideals of sportsmanship that a cloud of sentiment has settled over discussions of the era. When Tad Jones coached, Yale did not merely win: virtue itself was rewarded every Saturday afternoon. Tad became known to younger and more hokum-wary generations not as a great athlete but as a figure responsible for the corniest dressing-room pep talks: "Gentlemen, you are about to play football for Yale against Harvard. Never in your lives will you do anything so important."
Tad Jones could say such things with elemental integrity. It was literally true for him. A vivid, emotional character, he made playing Harvard as important for his generation as it was for him personally. He was playing self-taught football in Excello, Ohio with his brother Howard (who became an even more famous coach at Southern California) when he was spotted and started on his awesome way: a fluid and deadly straight-arming runner while at Exeter, a superbly poised varsity field general as a Yale freshman and, at last, a two-time Walter Camp All-America quarterback selection.
He emerged as an heroic figure not so much for qualities he possessed as for those he lacked. Calculation, smartness, wit, cynicism, all seemed to have been replaced by his unquestioning belief in the importance of the game he played or taught. In the 1907 Princeton game, Yale was so soundly whipped in the first half that the team sat stunned in the dressing room and did not return to the field when the intermission ended. The willfulness of Yale's delay of the game has been variously explained. But it is certain that when Yale finally did return to the field it was Tad Jones's performance, beginning with a spectacular run-back of a punt, that turned the tide for Yale. Tears streaming down his cheeks, he led his team to what The New York Times of the day called the most wonderful victory ever won "by a team seemingly defeated."
He could tell his teams that playing Harvard was the most important act they would ever perform, but not because he exaggerated the importance of football, Yale or Harvard in the scheme of the universe. He rather belonged to a generation that saw the ideals of sport as woven throughout life, an essential part of human existence, whose great moments were so wonderful the loftiest phrases could not do justice to them. As a prosperous oil dealer in his later years he still followed football, but "I don't see Yale much," he said. "I can't stand it."
This lady's fond of boats, one deems,
She sails them and she rows them.
In fact she doesn't caulk the seams
As others do—she sews them.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•Upturn in the Minors
While major league baseball was opening its books to Congress and the public (see page 12), the minors released some noteworthy figures of their own: early season attendance in 26 leagues from Canada to Mexico totaled 4,180,000 up to May 31—a gain of more than 100,000 over the same period last year.
•Turndown in Moscow
Plans to send a U.S. track team to Moscow for a two-nation meet in mid-July came crashing as the Russians balked at the prospect that their own athletes—like other visiting aliens—would have to consent to fingerprinting before being admitted to the U.S. for a return meet in 1958.
•Frisbee Pays Off
Princeton's national championship 150-pound crew flew off to England to defend their Henley title after raising part of their travel costs in a novel bit of enterprise: they sold $1,500 worth of platters for the game of Frisbee (SI, May 13) to alumni and well-wishers at the Princeton reunion.
Most disappointed citizens of Plymouth, Mass. were members of the First Unitarian church who long ago arranged a first-Sunday-evening-ashore dinner of welcome and thanksgiving for Mayflower II's crew. Not a single crewman appeared. They were all before television cameras, either CBS's in New York or NBC's aboard ship.