GETTING READY, MAYBE
It now seems Floyd Patterson will fight Tom McNeeley on Monday, November 13 in the green and gloomy Boston Garden. Originally the fight had been scheduled for late September, then "definitely" for October 23, but Championship Sports Inc., the promoters, now don't want to book Patterson-McNeeley too close to the middleweight title fight between Terry Downes and Paul Pender on September 23, also in Boston.
Boston hasn't been the site of a heavyweight championship since Joe Louis dispatched Al McCoy in six rounds in 1940. In 1940, however, the drawing power of Louis attracted 13,325 to the Boston Garden at a $10 top (capacity 14,000), even though Louis was favored at 20 to 1. McNeeley is virtually unknown—his last win was over one Kitone Lave of the Friendly Islands—but Championship Sports is planning to charge $100 top. This would seem to indicate a belief that Boston fight fans are either 10 times as rich or 10 times as stupid as they were in 1940—or, hopefully, both.
HAVING A BALL
Controversy over the liveliness of major league baseballs continued last week. Ford Frick* said the exciting AL "home-run derby" could not be interrupted, and that if something were wrong with baseballs, that would be looked into after the end of the season. Unsurprisingly, Frank Lane was blunter: "Of course the ball is livelier," he said. Dave Keefe, the traveling secretary of the A's, agreed, "The tests [Yes it's livelier, SI, Aug. 28] were very convincing in proving a valid point." Harmon Killebrew (37 homers) and Bob Allison (27) of the Minnesota Twins both disagreed. Killebrew said, "The ball is the same ball I've been hitting since I've been in the majors ." Allison said: "I think they just want something to talk about. You still have to hit the ball." Calvin Griffith, who, as owner of the Twins, employs both Killebrew and Allison, differed with his sluggers: "I think that story proves what we've known all along. The ball is livelier. Better wool and better hide are bound to make a better ball. We used to get balls that had oil coming out of them. But I think the fans want the home runs, and we need to stimulate fans' interest." Jim Gentile (39 homers) of the Baltimore Orioles complained: "Sometimes I don't think I even get good wood on the ball, and it goes out of the park. But over the long run, with wind to fight and all, I don't think it makes much difference in the number of home runs." Mel Allen, the broadcaster for New York Yankee games, declared defiantly: "Mantle and Maris haven't been hitting any cheap home runs this year."
The reaction we liked best, however, came from Pedro Ramos, the thoughtful pitcher for the Twins who has given up 35 home runs this year, more than any other pitcher. "The ball," said Pedro, "has to be livelier. Everyone hit the ball too far. Can't ease up on anyone. Can't pace yourself. Even pitchers hit the ball 400 feet. I think they should do something about it."
BRING BACK THE BILLBOARDS
One of the cigarette companies used to contend that "nature in the raw is seldom mild." They may have been right at the time, but they would be wrong today. That grand invention, the parkway/freeway/turnpike, which usually is free of billboards, people and other diversions, has proved that nature in the raw is often mild and, in overdoses, a bore.
Driving from New York City to Atlantic City, for example, one gets on the Garden State Parkway in the vicinity of the Amboys. Up to that point the roadside, a jungle of chemical plants and tank farms, has had a sort of horrid fascination. But for the next 70 miles the parkway coils and glides through a mesmerically identical succession of gentle meadows and gentle fields.
Driving down from Minneapolis to Chicago, the experience is the same. There is no dramatic variance in the landscape to engage the mind; the car rolls forward, 60 miles every 60 minutes, the view broken only by the motorist's glazing eye.