Five years, six months, four weeks and an hour or two after Branch Rickey inaugurated his Five-Year Plan to bring a first-place team to Pittsburgh, the Pirates made it. The most electrifying baseball team of 1956 beat Milwaukee in the first game of a Sunday double-header, and the Jolly Roger flew at the top of the National League for the first time in eight years.
True enough, Milwaukee won the next game and dumped the Pirates to second again a couple of hours later. But the dramatic news of the week was that they had been in first at all.
Perhaps because they had been told many times by Mr. Rickey that this very thing would one day happen, the Pirates themselves were less dumfounded than anyone else. "Come on!" Manager Bobby Bragan shouted to his crew in the dressing room. "Act excited! Don't act like it's natural."
TELEVISING THE OPEN
Miss Imogene Coca, the comedienne, positively will not appear in the finale of the National Broadcasting Company's television coverage of the U.S. Open (see page 28) on Saturday, June 16. This should be welcome news for the millions who followed the Open by television last year. For as Jack Fleck was sinking his putt for a par on the 17th green and going on to birdie the 18th for a tie with Ben Hogan, the television audience was presented with the pleasant—but to golf fans slightly frustrating—antics of Miss Coca.
It couldn't be helped, really. For the Open was being played at San Francisco and the time differential brought it up to the brink of 9 o'clock in the East. This being prime television time, it would have taken a more reckless vice-president than any of the 25 or so NBC carries on its roster to order the Open to continue and Miss Coca to desist.
This year everything will be different. With the Open being contested at Oak Hill in Rochester there's no danger of a conflict with the big Saturday night variety shows. The broadcast will run from 4 to 6 p.m. E.D.T. and—NBC insists—if another Jack Fleck situation arises, the broadcast will run past the 6 p.m. deadline.
There is also heartening news from the sponsor ( Eastman Kodak this year), who has issued a strong memo to the announcers, directing them to let no commercials get in the way of important tournament action. "We would rather," said the memo, "sacrifice a commercial entirely."
Happily armed with this kind of support, NBC's directors, announcers and technicians have been busy since January planning the coverage. A crew of 40 men, two mobile units and nine cameras have been assigned to the job and six steel towers have been erected as vantage points for the cameras which (with telescopic lenses) will be able to cover almost all the action from the 15th to the 18th green. Just to nail everything down, there will be a dress rehearsal before the final round.