No one but a wet-eared, Ivy League-clad young fellow named Bill Rosensohn, virgin promoter of the Floyd Patterson-Roy Harris fight, was paying any serious attention to Goteborg, Sweden, where a big Swede by the name of, naturally, Ingemar Johansson, was taking on the No. 2 heavyweight challenger, Eddie Machen, in a fight that could attract only Swedes. Ingemar was an underdog in his own home town.
But the fight attracted, as a matter of fact, $280,000 worth of Swedes, and every one of them got his patriotic kroner's worth. Sugar Ingemar knocked out Machen in two minutes and 16 seconds of the very first round, putting him on the canvas three times to do it.
This made Pretty Boy Rosensohn's offer of $100,000 for Johansson to fight Champion Patterson look like very serious money. It boosted Johansson, hitherto No. 6 in very speculative ratings, to a position of equality with Zora Folley, No. 1 contender if you can forget how Machen and Folley evaded each other at San Francisco. It made it seem very likely that, perhaps late next spring, Floyd Patterson will be fighting Ingemar Johansson for the heavyweight championship of the world. It made September on Stillman's Stoop seem almost like old times.
Last week the Commissioner of Baseball took the trouble to list—along with members of the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Braves—those members of the Pittsburgh Pirates (yes, Pittsburgh Pirates) who will be eligible to play in the World Series if their team wins the National League pennant. It was hardly more than a gesture in recognition of a mathematical possibility; as of that day, the Pirates would have to win all their 13 remaining games while the Braves were losing eight out of 13. But for a team that was seventh in July, that has spent most of the last decade in the cellar, and that hasn't won a pennant in 31 years, it was a moment of sorts.
The climb of the Pirates has made Pittsburgh as happy a city as you can find in America just now. For the last two weeks, while many a major league team has been playing to crowds of only 5,000 to 6,000, euphoric gatherings of 20,000 and 30,000 have been turning up at Forbes Field to cheer their favorites: Second Baseman Bill Mazeroski, Pitcher Bob Friend (21-game winner), Slugger Frank Thomas (35 home runs), and Rookie Dick Stuart, whose 15 homers since he joined the club July 10 won six games. Business ground to a halt when the Pirates played day games; cab drivers neglected passengers to listen to their radios; a clerk put a sign in the dog license window of the City Treasurer's Office—WORLD SERIES TICKETS SOLD HERE—but had to take it down because there were so many requests. Wrote a local financial expert, letting his attention stray from the big board to the scoreboard:
Sizzle, sizzle, Pirates ball club, Now no longer boot-the-ball club; Could you be a take-it-all team, Make Milwaukee be the fall team?
Said Branch Rickey, who set out to rebuild the Pirates eight years ago: "The team has hardened, ripened. It's not a fly-by-night outfit. The Pirate rise is just a natural development. It has tested the patience of a fine public. I'm not predicting a pennant for next year, but we're dangerous."
Next year? Just about everybody in Pittsburgh took it for granted. Meanwhile, next week, the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce is staging a grand civic parade for the Pirates, just for finishing second.
Bertha, Olaf and Carleton