You'll remember that when we last left the courtroom the IBC was just getting set to defend itself against the U.S. Government's charge of monopolizing championship fights. Last week the IBC defended itself, and it turned out to be quite a week. For one, the trial came to an end after only nine days of testimony, something of a record for an antitrust case ( Judge Sylvester J. Ryan, however, isn't expected to announce his decision until late summer). For another thing, the small gathering attending the sessions in Manhattan's Foley Square courthouse was treated to the sight of James D. Norris, Arthur M. Wirtz and Truman K. Gibson Jr. testifying under oath. Finally, a dash of unexpected drama was added when the U.S. lawyers began to riffle through the private diary and documents of one of the IBC's own witnesses, Brig. General John Reed Kilpatrick, the chairman of the board of Madison Square Garden. The introduction of the Kilpatrick diary and documents was, in a sense, almost as much of a surprise to the Government as it was to the IBC. The U.S. had no idea that such a diary existed until two months ago when one of the Government lawyers caught up with a New Yorker profile on Kilpatrick which mentioned the fact that the general is a diarist.
The diary—and the documents it led to in Kilpatrick's files—substantiated what the Government already knew about the formation of the IBC monopoly, but substantiated it in intimate detail. They revealed the founders of the IBC, in 1949, as deeply concerned with the future of their large sports arenas in the dawning age of sports television—and almost equally-worried by the prospect of 1) somebody else getting a monopoly and 2) old-fashioned competition.
From a letter of Arthur Wirtz to General Kilpatrick, March 13, 1949 (Exhibit 263):
"Fights have not been a major promotion of ours in either Detroit or Chicago in the past....
"We would have been content to continue along these lines except for the development of television and the new coast-to-coast cable. The Friday on which you had the Pep vs. Saddler championship fight in the Garden, we were also running a fight in Detroit and in Chicago. We were caught completely unaware that the Pep vs. Saddler fight was being televised on a national hookup and it seriously affected our attendance because a great many people preferred to see your world's championship fight on television.
"Shortly before I came to Florida, Jim and I were reliably informed that Joe Louis was definitely going to retire and accept one of the substantial offers from interests closely aligned with radio and television, completely competitive to both the Garden and ourselves.
"...We had hoped that had you been able to come down this weekend, that we could acquaint you with the moves of the Tournament of Champions to stage two world's championship fights in the Polo Grounds this summer. We had the manager of one of these champions here in Florida and we feel that we have the inside track on this fight which would leave the Tournament of Champions with only one major fight for this summer.
"We have been approached with an interesting proposition from one of the top radio-television networks, but we are hesitant to consider the proposition because it might create a very competitive situation....
"...The policy of television companies in trying to control fights is a major threat to our business. Conditions might develop that certain attractions which are now held in our building could be televised from studios and our buildings lose the event completely. It is more apparent that we should work together now and keep the events for our buildings and not create a competitive situation which would be harmful to all...."
The general's diary also led to a sideline story about Joe Louis. The then aging champion, Kilpatrick recorded after an interview with Mike Jacobs' lawyer, Sol Strauss, was willing to take a retirement job with Jacobs' Twentieth Century Sporting Club at $25,000 or so per annum, but was inclined to think that his duties, for this amount, should be restricted to one day's work a year. Joe was quoted as saying: "I want to play golf." Louis was also quoted by Strauss, in Kilpatrick's notes, as asking for $100,000 ("under the table," in Kilpatrick's account) above and beyond the 40% of the gate he expected for a 1949 summer fight. In the course of his testimony, IBC Secretary Truman Gibson Jr., Louis' lawyer at the time (and presumably his business adviser), could not remember any discussion about "under the table" money.