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Original Issue

Events and Discoveries of the Week


There was no room for doubt in Weikko Ruuska's mind—pep pills had enabled some girls at last week's Olympic swimming trials to set records "30 seconds faster than their best previous times." The stimulants had been found in the locker room, he said, and the AAU was investigating. Since Ruuska is a swimming coach of some renown (his Berkeley, Calif. team won the 1959 national championship), his accusation reverberated throughout sports.

The unnamed but obvious target of the charges was Olympic Swimming Coach George Haines, whose own Santa Clara Swim Club girls had set most of the records. "Ruuska needs to go to a doctor," Haines replied impulsively. "He's being ridiculously jealous." The times at the trials, Haines said, were the result of hard, rigorous training.

At the end of the week, the AAU revealed its findings. The single, lonesome pill found in Detroit had been analyzed and found pepless—a harmless vitamin pill prescribed for an iron deficiency. One of the pill's users: Ruuska's daughter Sylvia, who qualified at the trials for her second Olympic team.


Pacific College is a small (95 students), respected (founded in 1903) theological (Free Methodist) school near Los Angeles, but it wanted a football team anyway. So last year the Pacific Panthers—minus free-spending alumni, high-pressure recruiters and weak academic courses—took to the gridiron. The first practice session was held after school hours—at night—by the glow of automobile headlights. (Not much light was needed; only six candidates showed up.) And although the Panthers eventually suited up 24 men, only 14 were players; the rest were on the bench to impress the opposition. But camaraderie ran high (a father and son played side by side on the line), and the Panthers ended the season with an honorable record of three wins, two losses.

This year, in the words of Coach Jim Brownfield, Pacific College has "a fantastic schedule" that lists Imperial Valley College, Bismarck (N.D.) College, California Western, China Lake Missile Center, Azusa College, Southern California College, California at Riverside and Fox College of Oregon. And how does Brown-field think Pacific College will fare? Well, he says, prospects range from not playing the games at all (if he fails to find enough players) to winning as many as seven of the eight. "Our game against California Western is a dead loss, though," Brown-field admits. "After all, Cal Western beat Pomona and Occidental last year, and how many schools can claim that?"

Win, lose or cancel, we take our helmets off to the Pacific Panthers. They make us yearn for those archaic days when college football was a game.


"It's no great fun to melt away," said Amos Alonzo Stagg, celebrating his 98th birthday this week. But who's melting? A football coach for 56 years, Stagg still mows his own lawn at his home in Stockton, Calif., tends a small fruit orchard, handles his own correspondence. And he will serve again this fall as an advisory coach at Stockton Junior College. "I plan to attend a few games, too," he said, "although I go home at intermission."

Of all those who marvel at Stagg's resourcefulness at 98, Stagg is perhaps the most amazed. "Just look at me," he says with delight. "I've never seen anyone as old as I am, you know. When I get up in the morning I look in the mirror. And I say to myself: 'Amos, you son of a gun, you're doing pretty well.' "

The crowd at the 40th annual Saratoga Yearling Sales last week was not large, but it was worthy. It included du Ponts, Vanderbilts, Woodwards, Mellons, Galbreaths, Englehards, Humphreys, Ryans and Paysons. The combined wealth of those present was estimated at $2 billion. In three hours they bought 54 horses for $972,200 (top price: Mrs. John W, Galbreath's $65,000 for a bay colt by Turn-To), a world record one-night for Yearling Sales.


Not all the athletes on the U.S. Olympic team are carefree collegians. Dick Moran and Arnie Demus, the West Roxbury, Mass. men who will represent the U.S. in tandem canoe racing, are, respectively, a $100-a-week welder and a $140-a-week crane operator. They have been working out daily on Boston's Charles River since last fall. "When the ice was in," says Demus, "we'd go down and chop a hole in it."

Last month, instead of vacationing, they used the time to step up their practice sessions, build their endurance still further. As a result, they have won four weeks in Rome, but on leave of absence from their jobs—without pay. Neither can really afford it. Moran, 27, has a wife and three children; Demus, 23, has a wife, a baby and payments to make on a new house. "I think I've got enough saved," says Moran, "but my wife's talking about going to work."

Both men clearly feel the chance to compete in the Olympics is worth the noncollege try. For Moran, at least, 1960 offers the last chance for a gold medal. "I'll be too old in another four years," he admits. "Besides, my wife would crown me."


Some secrets of baseball gamesmanship (the art of winning without actually cheating) were disclosed recently by Cleveland General Manager Frank Lane (SI, July 25). Now Bill Veeck, president of the White Sox and a man not to be outgamed by Lane, continues the confessional:

"When I was at Cleveland in 1948," Veeck says, "we had four different steps in preparing the infield to our advantage. We kept third base well-watered because Ken Keltner was having trouble with his legs and liked the ground soft. We kept the grass in front of the shortstop long because Lou Boudreau was a little slow. We kept the grass short in front of second because Joe Gordon still had his snap. We'd build the mound up high for Bob Feller, then bring it down for somebody else."

The outfield came in for attention, too, says Veeck. "Before a rule was passed to stop such things, we'd move the fence in or out before each series, depending on what sort of long-ball hitters the incoming club had. It worked wonders."

But most wondrous were Veeck's hot and cold baseballs. "When I was running the Milwaukee Brewers in the American Association," he recalls, "the bat boy used to soak the balls and freeze them. He'd give those to the umpire—and they were real clinkers—when the other team was at bat. When we came up the bat boy would supply balls he had heated. You could knock the living daylights out of the hot ones. Unfortunately, we got caught finally. They passed another rule, and that was that."


"It would be a big relief," said Jesse Owens last month, "if someone would get busy and break the record and get it over with." The record Owens referred to was his 25-year-old world broad-jump mark of 26 feet 8¼ inches. And the young man who last week got it over with is Ralph Boston, a tall, lean biochemistry major at Tennessee State University. Boston got it well over with—he jumped 26 feet 11¼ inches, three inches better than Jesse.

Tennessee State is an institution far better known for its women's track team (eight girls on the U.S. Olympic squad) than the men's group. "I guess you could say the men are overshadowed," Boston admitted last week. "But we do have a 9.4 sprinter named John Moon." He neglected to mention the rest of the Tennessee State team, which is named Ralph Boston.


Sammy Baugh, asked how he would compare himself with that other great quarterback Johnny Unitas, replied: "Can't do that. I never saw me."...

A Boston photographer, noting the presence of Representative Walter Judd at Fenway Park, asked Red Sox players Russ Nixon and Ike Delock to pose with the Republican keynoter. "I'm a Democrat," said Nixon. "See you later."...

Houston Grandmother Fay Harkey, 76, recently enrolled for free bowling and swimming lessons, proved a star pupil at both. Now she'd like to learn golf, but as she wistfully observes: "Nobody gives away golf clubs."...

Himalaya-bound in quest of an Abominable Snowman, Sir Edmund Hillary reassured prospective Yeti-lovers: "If we find one, we shall examine it. But then we'll let it go to carry on as usual."...

Scoop of the week from your Hollywood Reporter Jimmy Fiddler: "Because of the unrest in Africa, the next Tarzan picture will be made in the British West Indies...


In the 1956 Olympics, running a close second in the 400-meter hurdles, South Africa's Gert Potgieter tripped (right). He finished last. In 1957, playing Rugby, Potgieter broke his neck. He almost died. But in 1958, Potgieter set a world record for the 440-yard hurdles, and this year was a favorite for the Rome Olympics. Then, last week, he went driving with some Olympic teammates. The automobile crashed. Gert Potgieter, badly hurt, was out of the running again.