SI Vault
August 10, 1959
The Death of Jean Behra
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August 10, 1959

Events & Discoveries

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"Then in '57 I had my trouble with the air conditioner. I took it out of the window and favored a bad finger when I was moving it. The next thing I knew I felt a wicked pain in my back. I've had a bad back ever since. I also got hit by a pitched ball, I broke my thumb and I broke a toe.

"Things were better in '58. But I did tear a muscle up high, up on my back, going for a ground ball Clint Courtney hit. I was out three weeks. And I hurt my leg running out a base hit in Kansas City and was out for two more.

"This year was the worst ever. In spring training, I hurt my back and was out for 10 days. I only missed the opener, though, so I shouldn't count that. At the exhibition game for Campy in Los Angeles I pulled a leg muscle. It cost me two weeks. After the All-Star Game I got hit in the head by Ike Delock. I kept playing, so that shouldn't count either. Then the back again. The last time was in Boston early last month. I still don't know how it happened. Maybe I had been sitting in a draft....

"The day I broke the wrist in Detroit, I asked Casey to play me. Just one inning. I didn't figure it could hurt. So there I was, the first inning back, the first chance I had. Hector Lopez threw the ball a little wide. I reached for it into the runner and there it went. It wasn't Hec's fault, it was mine. Casey came running out when it happened. He just took one look at it. He knew what it was. Then he turned and walked away.

"You know, I thought I was having a pretty good year, considering the injuries. Hitting around .300, leading the club in RBIs. Then this happens. But I'm not sorry for myself. I don't think things happen to me and no one else. What I do think about is that you don't get salary increases by playing 90 or 100 games, no matter how well you do. You get them by playing 150 games.

"One thing I am sorry about is making that statement that I consider myself a putty ballplayer. Some sportswriter stuck it in my mouth and I said 'Yeah, I'm a putty ballplayer.' I was sorry right after I said it, but I was feeling low. I was angry because the doc had told me I was out for the year. I said to myself, 'Two little bones broken and you're out!...You're out!'

"Well, that's all behind me now. They told me I should be getting out of the hospital soon. This morning they took X-rays and told me the bones are in place and everything's fine. It'll just take time to heal. Somebody said I might even play the last two weeks. But you know something? I knew yesterday that it was mending well—yesterday was the first time since I broke the wrist that I had the old craving for hot dogs."

Future of Dogs and Cats

Sir Ronald Fisher, a bearded English scientist of awesome repute, was interviewed in Australia not long ago, and in the course of some observations on genetics said that surgery would enable dogs and cats to "speak simple sentences." A stunned silence followed publication of his words, nothing being heard from newspapermen, other scientists or dogs. Now, however, an English writer, Paul Jennings, has taken up the matter in London's Sunday Observer with a querulous demand that science leave well enough alone. "We know what they're saying already," wrote Jennings. "If you spent �'l million on research and surgery to make our cat speak, she would say, 'I hate you. I hate everybody. Open this damn window and give me some milk.' Our dog would say, 'I love you, shloop, shloop.' "

Since Russian scientists have succeeded in grafting a second head on a living dog, it appears unwise to dismiss too casually these comments on animal communications: dogs and cats may start talking all around-us even while we are calling the reports nonsense. Launching our own inquiry, we have discovered that Sir Ronald did not mean that canine conversations were to be in the immediate future. What he actually said was, "I am convinced scientists will eventually increase the intelligence of dogs, cats and monkeys. Surgery on the brain and mouth, followed by intensive training, should enable these animals to speak...." But he said that at least 40 years of progress would be necessary, and that eventually monkeys might do factory work and serve as household servants.

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