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January 06, 1958
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January 06, 1958

Wonderful World Of Sport

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Detroit newspapers, which, like Soapy and his fellow officeholders had not complained all year about the weekly blackout of the beloved reader-voter-fan, took up the cry. Papers sold like 50-yard-line tickets and the issue quickly became the Case of the People vs. Bert Bell. "Hundreds of thousands of Detroit fans are being snubbed," cried the Detroit Times in a front-page editorial. Bill Ford, a vice-president of the Ford Motor Company and a director of the Lions, was appealed to in behalf of the entire population of Detroit (without tickets, that is), whether auto workers or not. The people's case against Bert Bell came ridiculously close to declaring Detroit football a public utility.

By late Friday, Williams had received no answer from Bell, who by this time had arrived in Detroit and nestled comfortably in the presidential suite at the Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel. But Williams knew what the silence meant. Said his legal adviser, Alfred B. Fitt: "I'm afraid he's within his legal rights."

Bell had the last word: "I don't believe there is any honesty in selling a person a ticket and then, after you've taken his dollars, decide to put the game on television where he could have seen it for nothing. I've been condemned for a lot of things, but this is the first time I've been condemned for being honest. As long as I have anything to do with this league, home games won't be televised. Period."

Scott Crossfield, who said, "It's my calling

Ever since it became apparent that the U.S. will, sooner or later, dispatch some of its citizens on voyages of discovery in space, the mails to Washington have been bearing a steady stream of applications. A few offer to trade great risk for wealth (one man wants $2 million plus a carefree year to spend it), but most applicants are motivated by simple patriotism. Among these sober volunteers are teen-agers, a young woman schoolteacher from New England, ex-soldiers and a Greek immigrant who wants to "repay America for great opportunity." But the first U.S. spaceman—the first spaceman, probably, of any nationality, has already been chosen. He is a slim, black-haired civilian test pilot named Scott Crossfield and his selection was based on one unemotional factor—professionalism.

Crossfield was deemed the man best suited to fly North American's experimental rocket plane X 15. His acceptance was equally unemotional. But in the next few months he may nevertheless become one of earth's greatest adventurers—and sportsmen. When he is dropped from a mother plane the tiny rocket ship will shoot straight up at fantastic speed and carry him to true space, perhaps a hundred miles high. Eventually, for a time, he will experience weightlessness. Then he must attempt—after falling back to atmosphere capable of supporting his wings again—to glide to a landing.

Crossfield is a quiet intellectual and a family man—he has five children. Why is he willing to assume such enormous risk? "It is my calling," he told the New York Herald Tribune's Stewart Alsop.

"If you want to do big things," he ended diffidently, "you must accept an element of risk."

Ben Kerner, who said, "I'll buy"

In mid-November, Ben Kerner, owner of the St. Louis Hawks professional basketball team, noted the enthusiasm of his players for a new, flashy sports coat worn by Teammate Bob Pettit. The Hawks then had a so-so 4-5 record and Kerner wanted to stir them up.

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