It started on a
New Year's Day, with pomp, parades, bowl queens and quarterbacks in a
traditional spectacle, and it ended hardly hours ago to the shush of skis
across a hundred mountain slopes, the tranquillity of a year-end sunset seen
from a thousand duckblinds and the last ice fisherman packing up his gear on
the frozen surface of Lake Minnetonka. This was Sporting 1960.
The year was
international in scope. The XVII Olympics assured that. It reached an
unparalleled audience. Television saw to that. And it infected the greatest
number of people ever with a desire to take part themselves in sport. Growing
incomes and a world at relative peace permitted that. Sporting 1960 was
dramatic, too, and some of the drama was in scenes of memorable distress:
Penny Pitou and
Betsy Snite, skis askew, tumbling through a treacherous bit of Squaw Valley ice
and snow called the airplane corner in the most exciting seconds of the Winter
brushing the flecks of sawdust from his arms after his last futile effort at
Rome, so obviously wondering how the world's best high jumper could lose the
one time he wanted most to win.
Stengel—young, young Casey Stengel, fired by the Yankees for being too old,
explaining bitterly, "The youth movement of America is for kids."
There was even
more drama in the personal successes: proud Floyd Patterson winning the
heavyweight title from jaunty Ingemar Johansson; Vernon Law pitching the
Pirates to a surprising and pleasing world championship; Navy's Joe Bellino
darting through frustrated enemy lines; and the Olympians.
Yet nowhere did a
1960 sports personality command his field with quite the overwhelming ability
and natural charm of that 31-year-old golf professional from Latrobe, Pa.,
Arnold Daniel Palmer.
Early last year
Palmer won three tour tournaments in a row, the first time that has been done
since 1952. Then in April he came from behind to win the Masters by getting
birdies on the last two holes in one of his typical final-day rushes to
In June he won
the National Open, starting the last 18 holes with a prodigious 346-yard drive
to the first green at Colorado's Cherry Hills Country Club—perhaps the single
most meaningful golf shot of the year, because he then went on to score six
birdies on the first seven holes and record the strongest finish in that
tournament's 60-year history.
He teamed with
Sam Snead to win the international Canada Cup for the U.S. in Ireland, and then
lost the British Open at St. Andrews by a single stroke when another driving
finish fell just short. ("I see a wee bit of Hogan in the laddie," said
one discerning old Scot. "Aye, but he is a warm boy," answered his