Lucy to theShower
The National Anthem is meant to rouse feelings of pride and re-dedication inAmerican listeners, not to provoke laughter. It is our duty to report that theLucy Monroe public address system version of The Star-Spangled Banner at theWorld Series in Yankee Stadium last week was a musical fright which broughtembarrassment, smirks and giggles to attending thousands and listening millionsacross the country. It's time to send Lucy to the shower.
Does anyone in this season of World Series baseball feel like shedding a tearfor the Dodgers, those onetime world champions now fallen on hard times? Well,our advice is: don't. Despite a rather less than spectacular season on thediamond (they finished seventh), Mr. Walter O'Malley and his boys did fairlywell in the land of their adoption during the 1958 season. Herewith, compiledby West Coast experts with a shrewd knowledge of the business to guide theirguesswork, is a close estimate of what Mr. O'Malley's books will reveal comeincome-tax time:
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Where there'ssmoke there's ire. The smoke coils pungently from the barbecue grill of Mr. andMrs. Anthony Vasco of Marlow Heights, Md. The ire smolders like a dampbriquette in the breasts of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Johnson of Marlow Heights,Md.
Since oneparticularly redolent night last August not a word has passed over the commonfence separating the semidetached backyards of the Vascos and the Johnsons. Onthat night, as the odors from three steaks charcoaling on the Vascos' 24-inchgrill wafted through the Johnson residence, the Johnsons decided they had hadenough. Mrs. Johnson swore out a warrant for the arrest of Anthony Vasco as a"public nuisance" whose outdoor cooking is jeopardizing the Johnsons'"life and health." Anthony Vasco posted $30 on a $500 bond pending acourt hearing.
"We don't knowwhat we're eating," claims Mrs. Johnson. "I sit there with knots in mystomach watching the stuff come in," claims Mr. Johnson. Mr. Vasco, abarbecue buff who has a 12-incher for simple fare and an electric spit andshield for his 24-inch model, claims he never uses any seasoning stronger thanan occasional clove of garlic. Mrs. Johnson claims the smoke has contributed tothe decline and death of five weigela shrubs. Mr. Vasco points to his healthyrose bushes in refutation.
"This mayaffect every homeowner in the country," says Mr. Vasco.
Wanted: Tuna MatchAlive
The FifteenthInternational Tuna Cup Match at Wedgeport, Nova Scotia, angling's mostrespected competitive event, ended the other day in dismal failure. Only fourteams participated where there were once as many as 10. And, for the first timesince the beginning of these matches in 1937, not one tuna was taken or onestrike reported in three days of competition between Cuba, Mexico, BritishCommonwealth and the U.S.
This bitter endingwas hardly unexpected. For a decade the catch from Soldier's Rip and otherWedge-port waters has been steadily declining. In 1949 sportsmen boated 1,760giant tuna at Wedgeport, 72 of them during the match. By 1956 the summer catchhad fallen to 55, the match score to 4. The entire 1958 season produced onelone tuna and brought the match face to face with the problem of survival.
That the cup matchshould survive there can be no question. At Wedgeport the spirit of contest wasalways subordinate to that of international camaraderie. Year after year,friendships were made and views exchanged in a quiet atmosphere devoid ofresort trappings. Men journeyed from as far as Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Rioto enjoy this atmosphere. But they journeyed also to fish for tuna. Now thetuna are gone. Perhaps they will be back, perhaps not. But, if the match cannotsurvive without tuna, it can be relocated for the time being and carried onwith all its dignity and tradition in an area graced with a dependable supplyof tuna.
There are suchareas but, regrettably, officials of the International Tuna Cup Match areshowing little sympathy for this course of action. They have set dates for nextyear's match at Wedgeport and announced that if there are no tuna it will bepostponed. S. Kip Farrington Jr. of East Hampton, N.Y., a founder of the matchand chairman of its executive committee, has said: "The match will be heldat Wedgeport or not at all. It is true that the tuna have frittered away, butthere is more to this match than tuna. Sure, everybody and his dog want thematch transferred, but any place I've heard of so far hasn't anything likeWedgeport to offer. My answer to transferring the match elsewhere, eventemporarily, is a flat and emphatic no."
With all duerespect to Mr. Farrington's many efforts in behalf of sport fishing, there arethose who will find his statement unrealistic. Keeping the match in a Wedgeportbereft of tuna accomplishes no useful purpose for anyone concerned. The lobsterfisherman who converted his boat every summer to serve the sportsman, andshowed fine sportsmanship himself, will feel the loss of seasonal business noless acutely. The province of Nova Scotia which underwrites the match and whichreaps worldwide publicity from it gains nothing if the publicity is poor.Certainly a genuine international gathering of anglers cannot be expected tosupport a fishless match year after year. A glut of fish is no prerequisite fora successful match. But there should be at least a few on hand and a fewcaught.
It is true thatthe precise atmosphere, boats and crews of Wedgeport will be hard to duplicateelsewhere. But is the bond between sportsmen so tenuous that a change ofscenery will shatter it? It seems unlikely especially when the change offersthe prospect of catching some tuna. Take Cape Cod. In September it offers muchthe same restrained environment that Wedgeport does and Cape Cod Bay is plumpwith tuna of all sizes in the fall. Other facilities are excellent. The same istrue of the Point Judith, R.I. to Montauk, N.Y. area. The Bahamas, althoughvastly different in climate and geography, enjoy a legendary and unflagging runof giant tuna every May and June. All these places in 1958 had very successfultuna competitions. If offers to support the International Tuna Cup Match aremade by them or any other legitimate tuna-fishing localities it is difficult tounderstand why they should not be seriously considered. After all, the WorldSeries would still go on, wouldn't it, even if Yankee Stadium were to slideinto the Harlem River?
Smoke Gets in YourEyes
Sometimes theimportance of winning at football is so great that it occupies a man's mindentirely. This is demonstrated on a large scale by Gerald Holland's The Coach,a fact-fiction dissection which you'll find on page 68. And it was demonstratedin a small real-life incident in a Little Rock hotel room just the otherFriday.
Baylor was to playArkansas the next day. It was the opening game of the new season, and the oldseason had not been good: 3-6-1, with Baylor finishing at the bottom of theSouthwest Conference. Assistant Line Coach Charley Driver was chalk-talkingearnestly at his blackboard while the Baylor team listened. Driver paused tolight a cigaret. He struck one match and the fire didn't take. The playerswatched in wondering silence as he tried another. Still no luck. Exasperated,Driver took the cigaret from his mouth and looked at it to see what was thematter. And the trouble was that it wasn't a cigaret, it was a piece ofchalk.
Long Shot inBronze
Wherever there isa gathering of old vaudevillians and horse-players—the terms are oftensynonymous—the talk will turn sooner or later to reminiscence of Joe Frisco.And once it has started, there is no stopping the flow of anecdote, forscarcely a soul in show business exists who hasn't a favorite tale about theman who lost more bets and made more friends than any other 50 railbirds.
"Remember thetime Joe came into the Derby with money dripping out of all his pockets afterhitting that long shot at Santa Anita?" someone will begin. "Oh boy, doI?" someone else will add. "That was the day he ran into Crosby andoffered him a sawbuck for two quick choruses of White Christmas." "Butthe real payoff," a third party will hasten to explain, "was thatFrisco was stony broke that morning and hit the Groaner for a C-note, then betthe whole bundle on this nag."
"Oh, Bingdidn't care," the first narrator will say, "everybody knew that whenFrisco made a touch it was just to play some hunch. If he lost, you lost. If hewon, boy, everybody was ace high till the next race."
Born Louis WilsonJosephs, the son of a hog-medicine salesman from Rock Island, Ill., the wispy,whimsical little man known as Joe Frisco was an entertainer's entertainer fromthe first. An appreciative crowd of pros at Lindy's or The Lambs was the kindof audience he loved the best, and as far as money was concerned Joe alwaysfelt that some bookie would get it sooner or later, so why worry? Whether hewas heading the bill on Keith time in his great days or filling in for peanutsat Charley Foy's Supper Club in L.A. in his leaner years, whatever Joe got, hepromptly turned in at the pari-mutuel windows, invariably betting a long shotto win. He rarely won and hence was in constant trouble with bill collectors,room clerks and the agents of the federal income tax bureau.
Joe never mindedtoo much. A perennial fall guy with an instinctive wry appreciation of histragicomic role in life, he would explain his troubles in the gentle stammerthat became his trademark and even offer to take on those of others. Once,after patiently explaining to the income tax men why he couldn't pay the $4,000or so they said he owed them, Joe spotted an old friend waiting in the taxoffice. "He's a g-good g-g-guy," Joe confidentially told the treasuryman. "Whatever he owes, p-p-put on my t-tab."
Nobody knows forsure by now which of the thousands of stories told about Joe are true and whichhave merely clung to him as legends cling to all great heroes. It is at least asix-two-and-even shot that he was the original of the railbird who touted afriend on five "sure winners" only to have them all finish well out ofthe money. Joe would have had an answer to that just as the tout did when hisfriend approached angrily at the start of the sixth race. "G-g-get awayfrom me," he would have cried. "You've been b-b-bad luck to m-m-me allafternoon."
Bad luck, likehis stammer, was Joe Frisco's trademark. It made him a host of friends, and itpursued him right to the end in the Hollywood hospital where he lay last yearforced to play out what he called "the Big Casino"—Joe's phrase for anincurable cancer. "It ain't that I really mind," he explained tofriends. "It's just that right now I got a line on some real good thingsgoing at Santa Anita."
Joe Frisco nevergot on to those good things at Santa Anita, and maybe that's a good thing too.But Joe's friends in Hollywood are determined that his memory will live on atone of the tracks where he dropped his biggest pile. The membership of theMasquers, a kind of West Coast chapter of The Lambs, are setting up a bronzestatue of Joe Frisco in the paddock at Del Mar in time for the August seasonnext year. Most of the contributors to the fund for this work of art are famedHollywood and Broadway characters, but at least one of them prefers to hide hisgift under a cloak of anonymity. He is a bookie who carried Joe Frisco on thecuff for five years.
The Old Man andthe Series
The old man waspushing 80. He sat in Box 13 at County Stadium and shook from the cold windwhich blew through Milwaukee, through his thin topcoat, raised dust-devils onthe base paths. The old man had first seen a World Series in 1906 and hadwatched 35 since then, but he had never had a seat like this one in theCommissioner's box with the bunting on the railing and the catcher's backsidehardly a good spit away.
The old man wasthere to throw out the first pitch of the 1958 World Series. He threw the ballright-handed with a two-finger grip and a lot of wrist action, an actionpracticed from dealing five-card stud on the green baize poker table of thePhoenix Press Club. The pitch went 15 feet and Braves Catcher Del Crandallcaught him fine and brought the ball back to the old man so he could give it tohis grandson, Jodie Hayes.
Jim Crusinberrygot to throw out the first ball because 50 years ago, on the last day of the1908 Series (the Chicagos took the Detroits, four games to one), in a Detroithotel room, 40 men sat down, hoisted a few and then formed the BaseballWriters' Association of America. Jim was one of the 40; only a handful areleft.
Later, aftercovering baseball for the old Chicago American, St. Louis Post-Dispatch andChicago Tribune—where he broke the details of the Black Sox scandal—New YorkDaily News and Chicago Daily News and writing sports for CBS in Chicago, Jimretired. Since 1948 he has been wheeling a Ford Tudor right behind the flockingbirds, to a two-room apartment in Phoenix in mid-October, to roosting places inChicago and other parts of the Midwest in mid-May.
After Bill Brutonhit one true and clean to the fence in the 10th inning and the first game wasover, Jim Crusinberry lit a cigaret and sat back at his ease. In 43 years ofbaseball writing, he had asked the questions. Now, someone was asking him. Hekind of liked it.
"The gamesdrag out too long," said Jim. "Pitchers have a tough time because ofthat lively ball. That lively ball! The people just wait for someone to hit theball over the fence and jog home.
"I'd rathersee a three-base hit finish in a cloud of dust. Why, I haven't seen anoutfielder throw a man out at the plate in 10 years. They have to play out toofar with that lively ball. There was more strategy, more base running, morethrills with that old ball. That's the game I prefer. I like to see 'em battlefor that one run."
The old manlooked up to the press boxes where a few reporters lingered over theirtypewriters. Most of them were in the clubhouse now or headed for the SchroederHotel's Crystal Ballroom for food and drink.
"Haven't hada drink of whisky in 22 years," said Jim Crusinberry. "Got disgustedwith the way my hands shook some mornings. You know, sometimes at night I dreamabout working on the Trib again, and I'm having a hell of a time getting mystory in the paper, bucking the deadline. Sometimes I wish I were a young mantoday...."
The old mantugged his topcoat about him with slender, veined hands.
"I hope thatpress bus is right outside the gate this time," he said. "I hate towalk across all that gravel. Hurts my legs. The legs aren't what they used tobe."
There once was afisherman named Fisher
Who went fishing for fish in a fissure,
Till a fish with a grin Pulled the fisherman in;
Now they're fishing the fissure for Fisher.
They Said It
Nikita Khrushchev, to Moscow visitor and Clevelandindustrialist Cyrus Eaton, as reported by Columnist Drew Pearson: "YouAmericans use your cars too much. You should walk to be fit. I don't play golfmyself, but President Eisenhower's intense interest in golf seems very sensibleto me. It gives him good exercise. Please tell him so for me when you gohome."
Leroy (Satchel) Paige, famed, ageless major and minorleague pitcher, confirming reports that he has been signed by Hollywood:"I'm not running out of baseball. It's just that maybe baseball is runningout of Satch."
Tiger on the Shelf
"Ten-minute break. You can each have a chocolate cigaret."