SI Vault
June 29, 1959
Red Christmas, Chaps
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June 29, 1959

Events & Discoveries

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Nobody dominates the American League scene quite so thoroughly. Umpire Ed Hurley is Quickest to Eject Players, Ed Runge is Best on Balls and Strikes, Hank Soar is Best on Bases, and Bill Summers is Most Respected by Players and Managers.

Nothing we have seen lately illustrates the ambivalence of the baseball fan's attitude toward the umpire, but we have heard no complaints from fellows like Dascoli and Conlan. On the other hand there has been a roar of dismay from National League Umpire Augie Donatelli. Why? Donatelli, a member of Jocko Conlan's squad, led all the rest in one category: Most Diplomatic.

"What the hell does that mean?" bellowed Donatelli. "I average about 10 ejections a year. I unload fast." Then gesturing with his thumb: "Just like that and they're outta there. This 'Diplomat' thing can damage a guy's reputation. Suppose [Cubs Manager Bob] Scheffing is out arguing.... Do you think I go up and say 'Now, Bob, old fellow, let's have a cup of tea and talk this over'? Hell no! He says the magic words I unload him. I'm just a coal miner from Pennsylvania and I don't know too much about this diplomat stuff. It's a bum rap."

Fashion Notes

Opening day at Royal Ascot saw the traditional well-dressed crowd assembled, with one significant differance: the biggest fashion news was the appearance of bare feet. The Queen wore a yellow lace two-piece costume, with matching picture hat, and yellow roses on her shoulder; Princess Margaret was in pale mauve silk; the Duchess of Marlborough wore a charcoal alpaca box jacket with gray picture hat underlined in white. And hundreds more of Britain's most glamorous females appeared at their most elegant in a break from the tradition of wearing suits for the first day of Ascot.

But they weren't much noticed. All eyes were focused on the toes of Mrs. Frances Lyndon Smith, a startlingly beautiful young woman who arrived barefoot. Since Mrs. Lyndon Smith wore a Ceylonese dress, and since bare feet, with matching silver-lace ankle and toe ornaments, are appropriate in Ceylon, her bare feet weren't as sensational as they might have been had she worn western garb. As it was, reporters noted she crossed the hot concrete from the parking lot without apparent discomfort. It was when she came out on the green grass of the paddock that she really made news: the newspapers described her "superb walk"; cameramen caught her delicately on tiptoe. At least one fashion editor, hastily queried, advised all Englishwomen to go barefoot, at least part of the time.

As for the race, the Queen's Above Suspicion, a disappointing fifth in the Derby, won the �3,919 St. James's Palace Stakes. Other fashion notes: Mob hats are everywhere. Mob hats, in net, organza, cotton or silk, completely overshadowed picture hats. (Mob hats are shapeless bonnets that look as if they were fastened to the head by a cord tied around them, like a cord around a sack.) By the end of the day, however, these developments had been overshadowed. Mrs. Lyndon Smith's bare feet, recorded the Daily Telegraph , had become the talk of London.

TV-leggers in L.A.

For his own protection as well as that of his family and friends, the hero of this story must be known only as Baseball Fan X. The fact is, we are taking a grave chance in telling the story of X at all, for if Commissioner Ford Frick were to find out what X and his friends are up to in Los Angeles, he would probably take away their TV sets, and that—as everyone in mid-century U.S. knows—is tantamount to shutting off a man's food, air and water all at once.

According to the law of organized big league baseball, of course, Mr. Frick would be perfectly justified in punishing Mr. X. And yet X himself is not really a criminal type. The president of a thriving Los Angeles metalworking company, he is a good father, a good husband, a former college ballplayer himself, and a loyal Dodger rooter who seldom misses a chance to watch the home team work out in the local Coliseum. Mr. X's only fault in fact lies in his failure to accept the major league edict that a man can have big league ball in the ball park or big league ball in the living room but he cannot have both. Telecast from coast to coast for the benefit of towns too small for a big league club of their own, baseball's Game of the Week is rigorously blacked out of living room screens in major league cities. San Diego can watch the Dodgers when they're playing in Pittsburgh; Santa Barbara can watch them; Los Angeles cannot.

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