To one small, grim group of fact-minded fans it matters little who tosses out the first ball at the start of the baseball season; what really matters is who tosses out the first ballplayer.
For those whose main interest is in the umpire's thumb, we are happy to report that the four-man team of judges headed by Umpire Frank Dascoli, last year's leading bouncers, got off to a fine start by throwing two ballplayers (Alvin Dark and Herm Wehmeier) and one manager (Fred Hutchinson) out of games in the first week of National League play. Among competing umpires elsewhere: no bounces yet.
Holds and Handshakes
The phonographic recording of the Soviet national anthem, Hymn of the Soviet Union, was played over the public address system at the wrong speed and came out sounding rather like a lilting Irish jig, but the odd rendering had no visible effect on the Russian wrestlers, who were in New York last week for their farewell match with the Americans. And Russian Ambassador Mikhail A. Menshikov, who attended with his wife, and members of the Soviet delegation to the U.N. also kept their musical composure and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
They were part of the biggest crowd—1,400—ever to gather in the gymnasium of the New York Athletic Club, where in the past a crowd of 100 wrestling fans was considered good. Many who came chiefly because of curiosity about live Russians were caught by the interest of the sport itself and were surprised to find that international freestyle wrestling can be exciting to watch.
The Soviet team won its last series of matches as it had won in Oklahoma (SI, April 21). The over-all totals for the visit were 23 Russian victories, three losses and six draws. With competition out of the way, the Russians turned to sightseeing and last-minute shopping in Manhattan. Their choice of capitalist consumer goods might seem odd to most Americans: many of them stocked up on medicines. They bought liquids, pills and powders, antibiotics and patent medicines. One man described his father-in-law's symptoms to an American acquaintance and then asked what sort of medication he should buy to effect a cure.
By the time the wrestlers were ready to board their Russia-bound plane, something like a spring migration between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was well under way. In Moscow, a 23-year-old Texan named Van Cliburn had just won an international competition for young pianists and Russian cheers for his playing. In New York, Russia's Moiseyev dance company, whose artists are as perfectly conditioned as athletes, was playing to sold-out houses. Russian weight lifters were preparing to set out for the United States to compete in New York and Chicago, and American basketball players, both men and women, were getting set to fly to the Soviet Union. On a people-to-people basis, Russians and Americans were getting along fine.
There hadn't been such an exchange of handshakes and good will since the troops of General Courtney Hodges met the troops of Marshal Ivan Koneff on the Elbe just 13 springs ago.
The Name Is East Indian