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April 03, 1961
THE SINKABLE ADMIRAL JOHN
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April 03, 1961

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THE SINKABLE ADMIRAL JOHN

Last week the management of the New York Rangers hockey team dismissed its coach, Alfie Pike. Pike had been criticized by malcontents among the Ranger players who tried to blame him for their own ineptitude. One of them cracked, "Pike couldn't fire up a furnace."

Well, maybe not, but he was certainly eminently Arable. Pike was, in fact, dismissed to appease New York fans who are angry because their city has such a poor team. Admiral John J. Bergen, president of the Rangers and chairman of the board of Madison Square Garden, apparently is not depressed about the Rangers, perhaps because his club plays to a captive audience. (The nearest big league hockey rival is in Boston.) The Rangers charge the highest ticket prices in this country or Canada, and a peculiarity of the National Hockey League is that the home club takes all the receipts for its games. Thus it doesn't worry the Admiral that when his team is on the road it has probably the puniest drawing power of any of the six teams in the league.

The firing of Alfie Pike is not going to tighten Admiral Bergen's ship one bit; but we doubt that he or the Garden Corporation cares whether the Rangers sink or swim as long as the deck is awash with admission money.

MELTED SUGAR

The announcement by Sugar Ray Robinson that he intends to fight again gives us a curious little shock of disappointment. For years Robinson has stood far off from failure, examined it and led everyone to believe that he would never be part of it.

Throughout his years, in the ring and out of it, Robinson has been busy building the Robinson illusion. That illusion is a shrewd mixture of Robinson the dancer, Robinson the gag man, Robinson the soft touch, Robinson the boulevardier. But the mixture was always held together by the abilities of Robinson the boxer. He was, as so few boxers ever were, a prize fighter.

Anyone who saw Robinson's recent fights, either in person or on television, came away with the feeling that age had melted away his verve and that the sting was gone from his punches. We hope Robinson hangs up his mittens now. Of all people, he should be able to recognize the fact that the illusion itself is still there, fragile but durable, and probably worth a lot of money in other fields besides boxing. Nothing can really destroy it except two or three bad or embarrassing fights.

PROFIT AND PREJUDICE

George Preston Marshall, the owner of the Washington Redskins, has never employed a Negro football player. Last week, his new landlord (the Interior Department) served notice on Marshall that he would not be allowed to play in the just-completed stadium in Anacostia Park unless he ended discriminatory practices. Asked if Marshall would have to field a Negro player next season to comply, Interior Secretary Stewart L. Udall replied: "I'm not going to sit by an entire season. I may inquire and reach judgment by Oct. 15." That is the tentative date of the Redskins' home opener and dedication of the stadium.

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