SI Vault
February 23, 1959
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February 23, 1959

Events & Discoveries

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Las Vegas' opening line on the 1959 major league pennant races looked like this:

National League: Milwaukee 4-5, San Francisco 5-2, Los Angeles 3-1, St. Louis 5-1, Cincinnati 10-1, Pittsburgh 20-1, Philadelphia 50-1, Chicago 100-1.

American League: New York 1-2, Cleveland 4-1, Detroit 6-1, Chicago 8-1, Boston 15-1, Baltimore 20-1, Washington and Kansas City 100-1.

If you happen to be a betting man, don't break your neck getting there to pounce on that overlay on the Pirates, however. Somebody else beat you to it. Within a few hours a flood of Pittsburgh money had narrowed the odds on the Pirates to 5-2—which is a lot more like it. As for the short price on last year's seventh-place Los Angeles club, it loomed as no bargain from the start. By nightfall the Dodgers were up to 12-1—where they belonged, too.

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Horses & Budgets & Nonsense

New York newspapers are giving a lot of attention to the proposal by the city's mayor, Robert Wagner, that off-track betting on horse racing be legalized. His object is to raise $100 million by taxation on this new form of betting; that sum would get New York's budget about two-thirds of the way out of the red.

There has been a strong suspicion that the off-track betting project was never more than a political maneuver; it has been suggested that by espousing a project which has little chance of being approved by the Republican-controlled State Legislature, the city's Democratic administration might be able to shrug off some of the opprobrium which would be heaped on its shoulders when it eventually turned to, say, an increased sales tax in order to balance its swollen budget.

We do not know if that suspicion is justified; we do think that it tends to be justified by the document on which the mayor's recommendation is based. This is a 46-page report from a citizens' committee appointed by Mayor Wagner to investigate off-track betting, and it reads like something essentially designed to keep a good barroom argument going; in no practical sense can it be considered a serious job of work.

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