BEFORE THE FACT
Ford Frick, the baseball commissioner, currently has his lieutenant, Frank Slocum, scurrying about to poll the players, coaches and managers of both the National and American League teams. From the results of Slocum's poll the All Star teams will be set for the first (yep, there are two again this year) All-Star Game, which will be played in San Francisco on July 11.
The commissioner's office will not reveal the names of the participants until July 2, but here are our selections for both teams. American League: catcher, John Romano, Cleveland; first base, Norm Cash, Detroit; second base, Johnny Temple, Cleveland; third base, Brooks Robinson, Baltimore; shortstop, Tony Kubek, New York; left field, Rocky Colavito, Detroit; right field, Roger Maris, New York; center field, Jimmy Piersall, Cleveland; starting pitcher, Whitey Ford, New York. National League: catcher, Smoky Burgess, Pittsburgh; first base, Orlando Cepeda, San Francisco; second base, Frank Boiling, Milwaukee; third base, Eddie Mathews, Milwaukee; shortstop, Maury Wills, Los Angeles; left field, Wally Moon, Los Angeles; right field, Hank Aaron, Milwaukee; center field, Willie Mays, San Francisco; starting pitcher, Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles.
Bob Cousy, of the Boston Celtics, a mature man and undeniably the best basketball player in the world, discussed the current college scandals last week with John W. Fox, sports editor of The Evening Press, Binghamton, N.Y. Cousy said:
"Our American society has become rotten to the core, and I find it awfully hard to make these ballplayers any more criminal than the 'point-shaving' on millions of income tax returns and illegal insurance rebates that nearly as many try to finagle. This is the society that these players have been brought up in, and to my way of thinking the players involved are the least guilty of anyone at all involved in creating their environment."
If American society is rotten at all, it is in the prevalence of the deterministic notion that no man can be better than his environment. We prefer to think that a society is as good as its individuals, rather than vice versa, and we have always thought Cousy was one of the people who helped make it better.
THE ICEMAN RETURNETH
Oakland Hills Country Club, site of this year's U.S. Open, was the subject of much awe and respect last week from the touring professionals getting their first look at it. "The best course I have ever seen, and the toughest," said Jay Hebert. "A 290 could win." "Beautiful; but, man, what trouble," said brother Lionel Hebert.
All of which brought pardonable little smiles from Ben Hogan, who won the Open at Oakland Hills just 10 years ago when this duffer's nightmare was tougher still. Playing a practice round with the Heberts, Ben couldn't help but recall the old days.
"See that trap, boys? It stuck out 10 yards farther in 1951.... There used to be only 19 steps between those bunkers. A man couldn't shoot a rifle through there.... This green has a cute roll in it that you fellows will really like, especially when the pin is behind the water on the right."
This nostalgic scene with an aging and honored athlete might have been appreciated by the Heberts even more if it weren't for the way Hogan was striking the golf ball. On the par-3 17th he hit a perfect four-wood 200 yards to the pin. "Now look over there behind that trap to the left," he said. "That's part of the green too, and the flag is sometimes there. Watch the ball bounce." Then Hogan hit another four-wood to that section of the green. His irons, too, were high, strong and straight, as they must be for demanding Oakland Hills.
"Ben has prepared his game just for this course," said Lionel, later. "I don't know how he does it, but he sure looks strong," said Jay. "From tee to green," summed up Lionel, "nobody is going to play this Open as well as Hogan."
Unmentioned was Hogan's great concern, his putting. "You've got to putt your brains out to do well here," said Hogan himself after a day of contending with the humps and hummocks that make Oakland Hills' greens the orneriest of this country's courses. "You've got to be a magician." If Hogan can find a little magic to go with the rest of his game, he is going to jolt the young men at Oakland Hills for the second time in 10 years.
A REAL CLIFFHANGER
Horses are about as unpredictable as bettors. In Australia recently a pacer named Concose was entered in the Divided Handicap at Wyong raceway. He was being transported to the track in a trailer float, towed by a truck. Aboard was his owner-driver, Robert Ferlazzo. The float broke loose from the truck and hurtled over a cliff. It rolled over and over, and Mr. Ferlazzo thought his horse was sure gone. But no, Concose got up, shook himself, and, except for a cut above his eye and a few bruises, was ready to race.
"He was a bit excited at first," Mr. Ferlazzo said, "but after we walked him around at the course he was in top condition, although we thought he would be sore and lame."
Concose had been 3 to 1 with the bookies, but after they got the word he had fallen off a cliff, Mr. Ferlazzo managed to get ¬£5 down at 8 to 1. Concose won by three lengths. "I've got a real horse there," Mr. Ferlazzo remarked after pocketing ¬£40 and the purse money. Concose got an extra carrot as a reward for his fine recovery and courage.
A few minutes before that noted flabby American, Archie Moore, started to scramble the handsome countenance of Giulio Rinaldi at Madison Square Garden last week (see page 14) the ring announcer, Johnny Addie, said, "We understand that the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson, is in the house. Would he please come forward."
Robinson got out of his seat on the 49th Street side of the arena and circled toward the ring in a jog. The crowd roared. Sugar was dressed in a marvelous gold-colored jacket spotted with black-and-green designs resembling a field of paramecia. He seemed to get into the ring, somehow, without touching the ropes at all. He was, of course, perfectly barbered and he flashed his big handsome smile and, even though the Garden was choked with former champions, no one looked at anyone else as he bounded around for a few seconds. The crowd cheered his footwork, his smile, his marvelous jacket; then, still effortlessly, he passed through the ropes and was gone. One wished for a miracle to make that man 20 years younger.
•Carry Back, who lost the Belmont in his bid for the Triple Crown, will not start in the July 15 Dwyer Handicap at Aqueduct, as has been reported, but will wait for the August 2 Choice Stakes at Monmouth Park.
•Ford Frick, baseball's commissioner, has a serious problem in the second All-Star Game, scheduled for Boston's Fenway Park on Monday, July 31. Because of double-headers on July 30, it is possible, under current commercial airline scheduling, that players picked from the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Braves of the National League may not even arrive in Boston until the morning of the game, while players from the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels of the American League will have to fly all night to get there. The game already has been pushed to a 3 p.m. starting time and the playing schedules are so thoroughly confused that if rain comes, the second All-Star Game will never be played.
NORTH, SOUTH AND, WELL, SHOOT
On other southern fields a hundred years ago, brother fought brother with musket and saber. In the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at Annapolis last week, where the names of battles like Tarawa and Kwajalein, Leyte and Inchon are etched in concrete, brother met brother again in the 20th annual North-South college all-star lacrosse game.
Leading the North lacrossers was Bill McHenry, 29, head coach at Williams College. Brother Bob McHenry, 26, head coach at Washington and Lee, handled the Gray.
"The South may have more finesse," said Bill before the game, "but we'll try and run them into the ground."
"We'll have to be a little more flashy because they are a little more burly," said brother Bob of the South.
As it turned out, the South had enough class to withstand the North's pressure and won 12-9. But the game was close, and a local favorite, Jay Taylor of Baltimore, scored three goals for the winners.
"Well, shoot, honey," said a young man to his girl as he waved a Confederate flag, "we all lost the war but we won the game."
Jeffrey Earl Harris, aged 12, is a freshman at Central High School in Philadelphia who literally stumbled on chess because other sports were overcrowded. He was playing baseball (his favorite game) when he collided with a 200-pound man who was playing badminton. The collision broke Jeff's arm, and his father, a Philadelphia businessman, bought him a chess set so he wouldn't go swimming while he was wearing his cast.
A short time after the cast was removed, Jeff entered a neighborhood tournament in Philadelphia, where he attracted the attention of Attilio Di Camillo, the famous chess master who had taught Charles Kalme, the intercollegiate champion, Lisa Lane, the U.S. women's champion, and John Hudson, co-winner of the armed forces championship, among others.
Di Camillo says that Jeff Harris is the most naturally gifted chess player he has ever seen. Jeff won his varsity letter playing first board for the Central High chess team (Philadelphia is one of the few U.S. cities with a highly developed interscholastic chess program). Each Saturday at the Franklin-Mercantile Chess Club he went through five hours of merciless analysis by Di Camillo of his errors. He also mastered chess literature and learned to pronounce names like Maroczy and Znosko-Borovsky. Last month in a casual chess club game he beat Arnold Denker, former U.S. champion. Then he entered the U.S. amateur championship tournament, tied for ninth among 141 contenders and made a better score than Bobby Fischer made in the same tournament at the same age. He has also produced his first poem (an English assignment), which dwells on Jeff's dissatisfaction with his name:
Were it Gligorich, Fajarowicz, Koltanowski or Spassky,
Oh, what a Master I'd be.
Even Golombek, Tarrasch, Tchigorin, or S√§misch,
The world would take notice of me.
But Harris, plain Harris, just makes me embarrassed...
Some 80 members of the National Association of State Racing Commissioners met in Toronto last week to kick around some of their sport's problems. We would like to be able to report that the commissioners resolved the question of Butazolidin, that controversial anti-inflammatory compound which is legal to use in some states and illegal to use in others. But we can't.
The majority of states ruled against Butazolidin, as they did a year ago, on the ground its use definitely does have an effect on the performance of a racing horse. Other states, notably Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland and Florida, will continue to accept the drug—in fact, there was some strong testimony in favor; a spokesman for trainers and other horsemen said that a majority of professionals want Butazolidin to keep all horses in the best racing condition at all times.
As we see it, the commissioners still have the duty of reaching a uniform decision on drugs. Butazolidin yes, or Butazolidin no, the verdict is theirs, and they should come up with one.
The Half Century 500, a 30-minute movie, is making its way around the country on television stations. It is probably one of the best sports shows ever made, for it brings to people who may care very little about automobile racing a feeling of actually being at Indianapolis on Memorial Day.
Produced by Racefilm Productions, the show goes back to the first "500" in 1911 when 40 cars entered and four smashed up. This part of the show is provided by silent film with captions and a brief narration. Most of the film deals with this year's race and shows, vividly, the accidents and spins during the practice laps and time trials, including the death of Tony Bettenhausen. The five car pile-up during the race itself was photographed head-on and a viewer wonders how any of the drivers managed to escape death.
One gets a feeling of the danger of the Indy, but the color and ceremony and the dedication of the participants also come through vividly. The show ends when a camera, mounted on a racing car, shows the old bricks in the homestretch. A cluster of balloons goes up in the air and the narrator says, "When these are gone there only remains the half-century-old bricks of the main straightaway."
When the show reaches your channel, make sure to tune it in.
THEY SAID IT
•Byron Nelson, onetime ruler of the PGA golfing tour, discussing the problems of his pupil, Ken Venturi: "I'm afraid Ken isn't leveling with himself if he says he doesn't fear Arnold Palmer. He's finding it harder to accept blame for a bad shot. He'll blame it on a camera, anything. He doesn't talk to me much any more about his troubles, but he's got such wonderful ability he can't play too badly. He's thinking too much about Palmer and that isn't good."
•Braulio Baeza, the jockey who rode Sherluck to 65-to-l upset of Carry Back in Belmont Stakes, explaining why he began flipping carnations from the victory wreath to the crowd: "Many people they think it is a Panamanian custom but that is not truth. Braulio does this because he is hoppy boy. Maybe now all jockeys will do this after they win the Belmont."
•Rocky Bridges, utility man for the Los Angeles Angels, talking about the press's methods of carrying leading hitters: "I notice in the papers that this is the sixth straight week I'm not on the list of the league's 10 top batters. But they neglect to say that it's the 15th year that I've been in a slump."
•Luther Hodges, Secretary of Commerce, discussing the problems of athletics in colleges: "Much of [the] trouble here—the reason for this lingering nonsense that old alma mater must have winning teams—can be traced, 1 think, squarely to us alumni. I think it's about time us aging rah-rah boys grew up and let up."