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June 02, 1958
The Asian Games
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June 02, 1958

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The Asian Games

The Emperor looked down on the throng as it marched past: men in turbans, in fezzes, in the varied costumes of the East. But he was not an old Asian conqueror, reviewing his captives. He was the mild-mannered Emperor Hirohito of Japan, and the occasion was firmly based on Western tradition: it was the opening, last Saturday in Tokyo, of the Third Asian Games.

The Games are modeled on the Olympics, and, in fact, had their beginnings at the London Olympic Games in 1948 when a man from the Philippines and a man from India discovered that each had been planning to organize an athletic federation to link the nations of Asia through their common interests in Western sport. The first Games were held in New Delhi in 1951, the second in Manila in 1954. Japan won them both, just as she is expected to do in Tokyo this year.

In most Olympic sports Asian athletes are far behind world marks, but they are gaining rapidly on themselves. The 1,500 meters, for example, was run in 4:04.1 in New Delhi and 3:56.2 in Manila. Ron Delany's time at the Melbourne Olympics was 3:41.2. The pending world record is 3:38.1. While Asian performances are improving, Asian enthusiasm is growing. The number of competing nations has jumped from 11 in 1951 to 20 in 1958, and the opening-day ceremonies, presided over by Crown Prince Akihito, with the Shah of Iran and other Eastern heads of state as his guests, were staged before 70,000 people.

The flame which roared from an urn in Tokyo's National Stadium was not kindled by the light of the Eastern sun, as the Olympic flame is by the sun of Greece. It was struck in New Delhi, originally, by a European safety match. This seems appropriate; both the symbol and the thing symbolized had their origin in the West, and both are thriving in the East. Among the nations taking part in the Asian Games this year are Pakistan and Iran, which, geographically speaking, lie not far from Greece. The Olympic idea, therefore, has not only endured for 25 centuries but has encircled the world. Measured against any other idea or ideal of mankind, that is a pretty good showing.

Remembering When

Richard Henry Kerr, better known as Dickie Kerr, a left-handed pitcher for the Chicago White Sox a generation ago, will go down in history as a man of character. While teammates were conspiring with gangsters to throw the 1919 World Series, little Dickie Kerr, too reputable to be invited in on the plot, went out and pitched two winning games for the Sox in that Series. Dickie Kerr will also be remembered in history as the man who converted Stan Musial from a so-so pitcher into a near-indestructible outfielder and persuaded him to stay in baseball.

These thoughts come to mind because, the other day, Stan Musial and his wife Lillian, in recollection of old kindnesses, presented Dickie Kerr, now 64, and Cora Kerr with a glistening new house in Houston. The Musials didn't have much to say for the press about this, but the Kerrs thought back and remembered when. The time was 1941, and the scene was Daytona Beach in the Florida State League.

"Stan was pitching for Dickie," Cora Kerr recalled. "It was spring training and he was losing and he looked kinda worried. He came over to where I was sitting and I said, 'Stan, you don't look good.' He frowned and said, 'Mom. I've got a wife here. She's at the hotel. She's a stranger and she's real lonesome.'

"We went by the hotel and got Lil and brought them out to our house to stay.

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