SI Vault
Edited by Robert Sullivan
September 22, 1986
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 22, 1986


View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

When the harvest wind blows chill, and we see all those football coaches in their cozy parkas and wool caps, the question arises anew: Why are baseball managers, who will shiver through a postseason that could end as late as Oct. 26, required to wear team uniforms on the job? Fact is, they're not. Back in the game's earliest days, when managers stayed on the sidelines and "playing captains" handled matters between the foul lines, managers wore conventional suits. Then, in 1869, future Hall of Famer Harry Wright assumed both jobs for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, and the distinction between manager and captain began to blur. By 1900, managers routinely entered the field of play, and uniforms were their standard dress. Besuited coaches, most notably Connie Mack, were seen as relics. "Connie was a different man, he was an exception to most rules," says Billy Hitchcock, who played second base for Mack's Athletics, but who wore a uniform during his own years as a manager. "In baseball, unlike in the other sports, a manager isn't confined to the dugout. You are part of the game. You have to be on the field occasionally to argue with umpires."

Baltimore's Earl Weaver, who has spent more than his share of time arguing with umpires since 1968, sees an even more pragmatic reason for uniforms. "Dugouts are dirty and fields are dusty," says the man who will soon hang up his uniform for good. "When the wind blows on you it gets dirt on your clothes."


Israel's Davis Cup team was so intent on beating Belgium and Holland in early-round play this year that it didn't look ahead to its European-zone final. Big mistake. The tie was scheduled for Oct. 2-5. Alas, the dates conflict with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which runs from sunset on Oct. 3 to sunset on Oct. 4. It would hardly do for Israelis to be playing tennis in Switzerland, which will host the tie, during the high holiday. "Somebody didn't look at the Jewish calendar," said a rueful David Rivlin, Israel's ambassador to Switzerland.

The blunder created a political and religious furor. Orthodox rabbis in Switzerland wrote a letter of protest to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres insisting Israel's team not play unless new dates for the match were set. A Jerusalem newspaper columnist replied, pointing out that Israel's Davis Cup team had played on Rosh Hashana before (in 1967, against Holland) and claiming that Rosh Hashana isn't even as holy as the regular sabbath, Saturday, on which Israel has often played Davis Cup matches. Throughout Israel, the debate raged.

The obvious solution was to reschedule the match. Even the Soviets, no great friends of the Israelis, had changed the dates of a Davis Cup tie with them under similar circumstances in the past.

But the Swiss weren't so accommodating. They turned down dates in late September, saying their players had previous commitments. Then they indicated that Oct. 1-3 (three weekdays) might be open if Israel coughed up a little money to cover lost ticket and television revenues. The Israelis nearly choked on this pearl of good sportsmanship, but there was no other option. Reluctantly, they agreed to pay Swiss organizers $10,000 and to foot their own $5,000 hotel bill in the host city of St. Gall.

If the Israelis win the zone final, they move into the main Davis Cup draw next year. You can bet they've already bought a 1987 calendar.

Any number of people stage nutty events to herald the end of summer. Most of these games and races are of little general interest, but we felt compelled to pass on just one. We swear this is true; we've checked it out. At the annual duck races held recently on the town square at Denting, N.Mex.—called Duck Downs for the occasion—the winner, Sunny, was entered by a human being named Robert Duck. The runner-up in the 400-bird field was entered by Bob's wife, Kathy Duck.


Continue Story
1 2 3