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EVENTS & DISCOVERIES
May 05, 1958
No Whiskey for Silky
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May 05, 1958

Events & Discoveries

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But in denying a Soviet reporter admission to Tulsa and Stillwater, the State Department reduced substantially the flow of news about this friendly meeting to the people of the Soviet Union, and thus nullified much of its effect. At the same time it gave Russian papers an excellent chance to point out, with flourishes of indignation, that the U.S. imposes censorship even on sports events. (The same papers could be counted on to leave out the fact that the Soviet Union started the whole thing.)

The Russians, on the other hand, managed their side of the affair more subtly. When Jeremiah Tax of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED applied for a Soviet visa in order to accompany the American basketball teams to Moscow, he received, day after day, courteous explanations and firm promises, but no visa. The basketball teams flew off without him. Finally the visa came through—hours before the opening game in Moscow, and too late to be useful. Only the Russians actually know whether Tax's visa was delayed in retaliation for Saveliev's being kept out of Stillwater and Tulsa, but a good many Americans will think that the Russians did it—what's the phrase?—"just to be ornery"

Spellbinder

"Dreams and illusion are no strangers to the Giant fan. Those passionate partisans following the fortunes of the old New York team through 68 years at the Polo Grounds had often to retire into roseate imagination to keep the faith, but keep it they always did, whether their team was in first or last place.

Last week, the Giants were once again in first place, and to many a still loyal New York fan it was easy to imagine that they were still comfortably established at the old stand instead of far-off San Francisco. For the deserted New Yorkers this illusion was happily abetted by a hardworking broadcaster named Les Keiter, who recounted the feats of the Giants over New York station WINS as if the boys were right next door.

The tools Keiter uses to work his illusions are simple and few. They consist of only a handful of record books, a drumstick, a block of wood, two recordings of noisy crowds (one calm, one excited), a curt play-by-play account of a game by Western Union wire and a vivid imagination. Transmitted directly from Seals Stadium, the Western Union coverage is torn from a teletype machine and handed by the half inning to Keiter as he sits in the studio. It presents only the barest bones of the situation.

Sample: LONG UP BATS LEFT, S 1 C (for strike one, called). But that's plenty for Keiter.

"Dale Long," he cries into the mike, "the Cubs' rangy first baseman, up there now with that club. Bats 'em left-handed." There is scarcely a pause as Keiter steals a quick look at a record book open before him; then he's off again.

"Long stands six-four, weighs 212 pounds. There's John Antonelli now looking down for the sign from Catcher Bob Schmidt. Long steps out, has a few words with plate Umpire Donatelli. Now he's back again. Now Antonelli goes to the rosin bag. There's a breeze blowing in from right field and the crowd is still drifting into the stands. Antonelli fires! Long takes it, strike one; a high, fast ball. He's quick...." If the ball is hit, Keiter strikes the drumstick (the bat) against the block of wood (the ball) and most likely signals the engineer to play the excited-crowd record.

Although he follows the Western Union account faithfully, Keiter doesn't hesitate to invent colorful details. "It's legitimate to embellish," he says. Totally imaginary characters pop up from time to time—perhaps a man in a blue jacket who just missed catching a foul ball, or a dazzling blonde back of the Giants' dugout. The impression is marvelously real, however, for Keiter knows baseball and when he isn't broadcasting he is watching two games on television as fast as he can switch channels, while listening, if possible, to another on his radio. "I study the players' idiosyncrasies," he says, "You must anticipate. The hardest thing is to keep talking. A real, live game would be easy after this. All you have to do is describe. This taps your imagination." Keiter even changes into his "game uniform," a pair of sturdy corduroy pants and a sport shirt, before entering the studio. "I found I was wearing my pants out because I slide around the chair so much," he says. Indeed, like a one-man band, he is in constant motion, gesturing a la Harry Truman, cueing the engineer, winking at an announcer, heaving himself out of his chair, tapping out those base hits, gulping water.

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