The striped bass now lurking off the coast of Cape Cod are getting ready for their annual dash back to Chesapeake Bay. Football coaches, as avid as parted lovers, are reading over letters of intent from promising high school athletes who, if there is no slip-up, will be reporting in a matter of days now. The Yankees and Braves (the man at the end of the bar was saying) are in like Flynn. Waitresses at the summer resorts are going back to college and so is Roy Harris of Cut and Shoot, Texas, who spent a profitable, if not entirely pleasant, vacation in California. August vacationers are home, looking insufferably rested by comparison with the wan and wilted people who spent the month in the hot, humid city. Persons born under the sign of Virgo (like Umpire Ed Rommel) can expect action after the 10th of the month, the horoscopes say. There will be days now when the first hint of fall will be in the air. In East Lansing, Michigan, the man who puts on hay rides and pulls thehay wagons with a tractor instead of horses will be available for parties. The young folks, most of them students at Michigan State University, will sing the old songs as they ride along, drinking beer out of tin cans. They will sing, among others, the old favorite, Shine on, Harvest Moon. It will be a good theme song for this particular September when man is shooting off things that may, inadvertently, knock that old moon right out of there.
A Rube in Bangor
Carlton Willey is a tangle of raw bones, freckles, gapped teeth and bashfulness who lives in Cherryfield, Maine. Even in Bangor they would call him a rube. They would except for this: Carlton Willey, a 27-year-old rookie with the Milwaukee Braves, has pitched three shutouts this year, won eight games and lost only four. And he is the only State of Maine man in the major leagues. He is, in his way, Cherryfield's answer to Cut and Shoot, Texas.
The son of a hunting guide and blueberry packer, Willey left Cherryfield (pop. 1,000) to join the old Boston Braves in 1950 for a mere $700. He went up to Milwaukee last June after winning 21 games for Wichita the season before. His father, with indigenous thriftiness, suggests Carlton "could've held out for more money at first, but I wanted him to get out and pitch." Certainly, that was what Willey was accustomed to doing. Whatever Cherryfield had not been (it does not even have a good blueberry crop this year), it had been a good baseball town while Carlton was growing up and, with the help of his father, a onetime semipro who played every position except pitcher, he learned the delivery motion he still uses. "Nobody else taught Cardy anything until he attended the Braves' clinics," Phil Willey boasts. "He had nine homers in 10 games at one stage. Used to be quite a hitter around here, but of course they don't teach him anything about itnow." (Willey is currently hitting .111.) In fact, the younger Willey was so much a part of Cherryfield baseball, the town team folded up when he went off with the Braves. "No pitchin'," says Father Willey with a shrug.
Not that anybody minds that nowadays. People for miles around, even in Bangor, stay up late into the night whenever Cardy pitches, just to catch the score. Shorty Nelson, a Cherryfield car dealer, is even trying to raise money for a banner over the main stem advertising the home town hero. "Of course, Cardy just hates publicity," says Mrs. Harold Nickerson, mother of his wife Nancy, "out the town sure would love to get some. Or something to improve conditions. Lord knows, we need it."
On Old Broadway
After 90 years of unswerving dedication to old people and old ideas, Saratoga, that staid and sylvan racing retreat in upstate New York, gave pause last week to some young people with a young idea of their own. Nine young ladies and nine old animals slightly resembling horses (two legs on each side) were allowed to walk in the same elmed, quiescent paddock that has served down the years as a walking ring for such common critters as Man o' War, Gallant Fox, Equipoise and Native Dancer.
With the inspiration of blonde Mrs. Faith Iglehart, the daughter of Concessionaire Frank Stevens, Saratoga ran its first Powder Puff Derby. The Powder Puff Derby as an art form originated at Pimlico some 19 years ago, and it involves, of all things, lady jockeys.
Saratoga's lady jockeys included Socialite Nancy Marr; Eddie Arcaro's 16-year-old daughter Carolyn; Barbara Cole, the wife of Jockey Sidney Cole; and Audrey Walsh, the daughter of Steeplechase Trainer Mickey Walsh. But the real attention fell on the 24-year-old exercise girl and Manhattanville College graduate, Betty Haight of New Bedford, N.Y.
While there was no sanctioned betting, Saratoga is not the type of town (see page 53) to let horses run without having a sentimental deuce on the outcome. The betting was man-to-man and quite heavy.
Throughout the stable area the exercise boys spread information, "Broadway (a stable pony owned by F. Ambrose Clark) looks like a cinch." "It's Broadway against the field." "Look who he's got ridin' him. Betty Haight. She's broken yearlings. She's exercised horses in the morning and she's been to college."
In the clubhouse Frank Sullivan, the author and resident wit, leaned against a white picket fence. As the battered field paraded past him he felt a tug on his right sleeve. "What do you know about Broadway, Frank?" a man asked him. Sullivan thought a minute and then whispered in the man's ear, "It's four blocks down and one block over."
When the horses went onto the track, Marshall Cassidy, Director of Racing in New York, brought them to a walk-up start. "I doubt," he said, "if half of them get away." But he was wrong. They went off in a line when the flag fell, and soon Broadway surged to the front with Betty Haight, crouching businesslike and expertly low in her saddle, riding for all she was worth. At the end of the quarter-mile, she and Broadway were easy winners, with Audrey Walsh second and Carolyn Arcaro a fast-closing third.
When the Powder Puff Derby was over, Saratoga went back to its quaint and quiet ways with but one exception: from now on, the race will be an annual event.
The Derby had also made a significant contribution to the lore of racing. The word is never bet on trainers' daughters, never bet on jockeys' daughters. Always bet on exercise girls.
Shocking Grouse Season
The grouse season opened in England the other day, and it must be reported that conditions were shocking, ranging (said The Times of London) from "the miserable to the modest." Driving mist on sodden moors, that sort of thing, in the south. Somewhat better to the north, some sunshine actually, but everything late because of stormy weather previously. Heather very late.
In Inverness-shire, the morning was sunny, afternoon clouded over. Even so, Mr. Ewan Ormiston and party took 190 brace. Good show, Ormiston's, since he has a standing order for 200 brace from "21," the New York restaurant.
Devonshire expects a wretched season because of the heavy rains which have damaged heather and killed thousands of birds. The report is that the Duke of Devonshire has quite abandoned all notion of shooting his 5,000 acres in the Peak district this season.
Outlook none too good anywhere. Evidence of tick disease at Altyre and Dallas, and on Deeside, birds are very small.
The news not completely bad, of course. In East Lothian, Lord Whitburgh, with six guns, shot at Mayshiels and took 52½ brace.
A chap was saying he had never seen the weather quite so bad. He blamed submarines churning up waters under the North Pole. Another chap took the view that the subseas craft had nothing to do with it. "In any case," he added, "mustn't grouse, you know."
Homers in the Heat
This has been one of the hottest summers in history in Phoenix, Ariz. and, through some mysterious interaction of heat and baseball, the league-leading Phoenix Giants are breaking the Pacific Coast League record in hitting home runs. One theory is that the heat makes the ball livelier. The veteran Dusty Rhodes, who has hit 23 homers so far, thinks the dry air handicaps pitchers. "They try to get their curves low," Rhodes says, "but they don't break so well here. They stay a little higher, and we hit the hell out of them." Hollis Thurston, the Chicago White Sox scout, while timing runners to first, made the astonishing discovery that fly balls stay aloft longer in Arizona. They seem to hover in the dry, windless air, in the hot nights of a region that has cloudy skies only 30 times a year.
Whatever the meteorological explanation, the Phoenix batters have been lofting them toward the desert stars. The Municipal Stadium out beyond the high school is big, the center field fence 430 feet from home, and the lights, moved from the Polo Grounds in New York, are the best in the minors, but the fences do not belly out between the foul lines and center, so that left and right field fences are only about 340 feet. Phoenix homers soar over everything, often heading for spaces over the fence on a line and then beginning a gradual rise just past the fence. It has been that way ever since the hot weather began last May. Except for three days when it dropped to 99°, 97° and 90°, the temperature has gone over 100° every day since June 14. In Phoenix, visiting teams and the Giants have hit more than 200 homers, less than half that many in the home parks of the visitors. On August 6, 7 and 8, when the temperature ranged from 102° to 104°, there were 10 homers in three games atPhoenix, and, in addition, a bat slipped from Relief Pitcher Joe Shipley as he was batting and sailed 125 feet, slightly injuring a spectator.
Back in 1923 Salt Lake set the record with 204 homers for a 199-game season; at the present rate the Phoenix team should wind up with about 216 for a 154-game season. The Phoenix record would be higher, except that Leon Wagner, Felipe Alou and Willie Kirkland, who put in hitches this year with Phoenix, were called up to the parent San Francisco Giants just as they were going strong, Wagner and Alou having 30 homers between them at the time.
He crawled into his sleeping bag
And dreamed the beasts were tame;
Before the morning sun was up
The bag was in the game.
— Robert Fitch
Fish 'n' Ships
A couple of recent, highly non-secret reports have come to hand which suggest that boat designers ought to be giving more thought than they do to the efficiency of finned propulsion. First, from Stevens Institute in Hoboken, N.J. (home of the testing tanks that shaped the lines of the America's Cup yachts) comes the report that there is something mighty mysterious about the porpoise.
Resident engineers at Stevens found that if the obvious estimates are made as to the resistance of a porpoise-shaped object traveling under water, then the mathematics of energy indicates that the porpoise would have to eat an almost impossibly enormous amount of food in order to keep going. The answer, say the engineers, is that obviously the porpoise slips through the water with a lot less resistance than an inanimate object the same size. Why no one knows.
Stevens, you may be sure, is going to come up with some answers, and boating will be the better for it. In the meantime, an energetic fish watcher across the Atlantic has come in with a second report. The man is Edmund Watts, managing director of Watts, Watts & Co. Ltd., the London shipping firm. Director Watts says he has been keeping an eye on the tunny, trying to divine why it is able to make such a fat living off its natural prey.
After some thinking and watching, Watts decided that the unusual horizontal stabilizer fin of the tunny's tail was, in effect, its meal ticket, enabling it to outmaneuver nonstabilizer types. Unhesitatingly, Watts ordered a comparable fin fitted forward of the propellers of the steam vessel Woolwich, then in the company's service. Sea tests proved Watts little short of a genius.
"Crossed the Atlantic on her twice in February," reports Watts, "in very bad weather. Then we had a bit of bucketing around in the Mediterranean and finally came up against a northeast monsoon in the southern Red Sea. I spent quite a lot of time on my stomach in the bottom of the ship listening with a stethoscope to the water flow past the fins." Woolwich completed her sea test with an average speed record at least a half knot better than that of her sister ships, and was generally a faster-handling boat. Watts, belly-down, proved to his own satisfaction that it was fins that did it.
Obviously there is much more to be done in the study of finned propulsion. In fact, the splendid results produced by the very earliest fish watcher on record have yet to be matched in our own age. The man, Peter Pett, was a ship designer in King Henry VIII's day, and much fascinated by the speed at which the bulky whale could travel. He located an accessible whale, washed up on England's strand and got the body lines and sections down on paper. Pett's next ship, shaped very much like a whale underneath, outsailed other ships its size in the English Navy. At that point, Pett, the practical fish watcher, had, singlehanded, started England on her way toward sovereignty of the seas and provided all the encouragement that should be needed to get present-day designers down to the sea to start watching.
In the first round of the National Women's Golf Championship at Darien, Conn., Mrs. Edwin H. Vare Jr. was eliminated by a young Canadian, Rosemary Neundorf of Toronto. If the match itself was not especially newsworthy, the mere presence of Mrs. Vare in the tournament was. For Mrs. Vare is the former Glenna Collett, winner of six national championships. She won her first 36 years ago, her last in 1935.
Mrs. Vare, knowledgeable spectators observed, approaches the game with her old verve, and her swing (right down to that incredibly active left foot) is much the same as it was in the days of her top form.
After the match, some of her old friends were telling Mrs. Vare how good it was to see her in the tournament again. They expressed the hope that she would be playing in it more often in the future.
"Oh, if it's held in the East," said Mrs. Vare, "I'll certainly enter. I don't like to get too far away from our place at Point Judith in Rhode Island. I wish they'd hold the tournament there. On that course, I'm really tough."
Boaters on Lake Gibson, in Oklahoma, are sometimes startled by the sight of a lone water skier plowing smoothly down the lake, towed by a boat with nobody in it. Where, they ask themselves, did the operator of the outboard motor fall overboard, and at what point will the unpiloted craft splinter itself on the shore? Then the boat and the skier cut a precise arc in the water and go back the way they came, giving the weird illusion that the boat has a mind of its own.
It hasn't, though. The brain that steers the boat belongs to the man who rides the skis, a 37-year-old radio equipment salesman named Robert A. Miller. Tired of having his wife misinterpret his shouts and signals, he rigged about $100 worth of electric motors and relays to the outboard engine, stretched a control cable down the towline, and mounted four pushbuttons on his tow bar—one for more speed, one for less, and two for turning. Now Mrs. Miller stays contentedly ashore and watches.
For spills, there is a safety switch on the tow bar. When the skier releases his grip on it, the outboard motor stops. Spills, however, have been strictly experimental. Miller has developed such a skillful hand on the pushbuttons that he can ski in figure eights around the piers of a bridge that crosses the lake. He sends the boat away from the dock by itself and then follows it on his skis when the towline is all paid out. For landings, he comes in slowly, parallel to the dock, and cuts the engine. When he loses momentum and his skis begin to sink he just leans to one side and sits down on the dock. Why this arrangement? "It's just a matter of personal taste," says Miller. "I don't like to get wet."
The statistics above are dearer to the hearts of big league club owners than any batting average or won-lost record. They show how many people are paying to see ball games this season. Total attendance is about half a million ahead of last year's, but without baseball's newest franchises, Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is running half a million behind 1957.
There are a number of explanations for some of the 1958 losses. The cold, wet spring canceled many potential big-crowd games. By the time they were replayed, all semblance of a pennant race, in the American League at least, had disappeared. The Yankees were hurt by their own runaway lead, but attendance at home still averaged out at 21,995 per game. No team has suffered worse than the Chicago White Sox. Their fans had preseason hopes that this might be the year their team would beat the Yankees. When the Sox lost 18 of their first 29 games, the fans stopped coming.
Near the bottom of the attendance list is Cleveland, which may touch a new 13-year low. It is not surprising, therefore, that William R. Daley, board chairman, wants to move to Minneapolis. So does Calvin Griffith of the Washington Senators, whose attendance will be under half a million for the fourth straight year. In connection with a move by the Senators, it must be said parenthetically that a good number of the team's diehard fans believe that the problem would be solved if Griffith himself packed up and shuffled off and left the team behind.
Obviously, Cleveland and Washington both can't move to Minneapolis. One team will have to look elsewhere. Sitting patiently just outside the limelight is Houston, the largest city in the country (pop. 910,000) without a big league ball team.
But mere moving won't solve everything for baseball. The events of the past five years, during which the Boston Braves, the St. Louis Browns, the Philadelphia Athletics, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants have seemingly saved their shirts by pulling up stakes and performing before a new audience, suggest that nothing is better for ailing baseball business than a change of scenery. But the happy smiles now lighting up the faces of these interested geniuses who directed the moves may be only temporary, and their shirts may yet be in peril. Does it follow that their new-found fans will be any more faithful in the long run than those of waning faith they left behind in Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Manhattan? Certainly not. Baseball fans are human wherever you find them.
A SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reader, W. Travis Walton of Abilene, Texas, spelled out the basic problem in a letter to the 19TH HOLE (SI, Aug. 11). He pointed out that times have changed, that America is no longer a nation of watchers, but of doers. The implication is that from now on it is going to take a bit of doing to get the new doers to watch. Summing up, Mr. Walton said:
"Why should a guy with a boat in the driveway, golf clubs in the car, bowling ball and tennis racket in the closet, a trunkful of camping equipment, two boys in the Little League and a body full of energy left over from shorter working hours pay to sit and do nothing but watch a mediocre game...?"
Do big league club owners read figures like those above in the light of these facts of modern life? There is considerable evidence they do not.
They Said It
Billy Joe Patton, upon being named captain of the Americas Cup golf team: "I'm highly flattered—but I'm afraid it's only a sign you're getting old when they start naming you captain."
Dizzy Dean, addressing guests at St. Louis' All-Star baseball banquet: "I may not have been the greatest pitcher—but I was amongst them."
R. E. Wilson, Chester, S.C. high school football coach, after his defensive halfback had dreamed he was being chased by a runaway truck and thereupon had jumped out a window, breaking his collarbone: "Well, anyway, the truck didn't hit him."
"Now, Cus, let's climb Mount Rushmore."
"The basses are loaded!"