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October 02, 1961
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October 02, 1961


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Through all the uproar, AFL Commissioner Joe Foss refused public comment, contented himself with sending a private letter (contents not divulged) to Ramsey, who in turn announced sarcastically, "I received a very nice letter." This cloak-and-dagger approach would be laughable if it were not so unfair to the fans. They deserve to know exactly what punishment—if any—was meted out to Ramsey for what appeared to be a disgraceful and unsportsmanlike act. Such public misbehavior calls for strong and public punishment.


A baseball game in Los Angeles last week marked the end of an era of distortion. Some 12,000 fans turned up to see the Dodgers play the Cubs. It was—thank goodness—the last major league game to be played in the Memorial Coliseum.

Unfortunately, it will not be easy to forget the Coliseum. It was built for football, but Dodger Owner Walter O'Malley squeezed a diamond into it, put up a preposterous fence in the short left field, and invited Angelenos to what he laughingly called "baseball." A record 78,672 turned up for the first game in 1958. A year later 93,103 paid to see the Dodgers play an exhibition game against the Yankees, a record which may never be broken. In fact, almost every National League attendance record is held by the Coliseum.

Both Los Angeles teams move now to Chavez Ravine, which seats a mere 56,000, but where baseball will be played. To the glorious old Coliseum, we say hail and farewell and good riddance.


Until Billy Graham came along, the most successful American evangelist was Billy Sunday, who was also one of the best players in the early years of baseball. The story of this personal transformation from the diamond to the tabernacle, via a few saloons, is told in detail in a new biography, The Billy Sunday Story, by Dr. Lee Thomas, an evangelist himself.

Sunday started playing baseball for the Marshalltown, Iowa team, and his razzle-dazzle base running soon made him a local celebrity. "Cap" Anson, captain of the old Chicago White Stockings, gave him a job, and big league fans got to like his daring, speed and geniality. But Billy was dissatisfied with his life-and took to drink. Sauntering out of a saloon one Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1886, he heard his mother's favorite song, Where Is My Wand'ring Boy Tonight?, wafted from a rescue mission. He went in and got religion. As his biographer puts it: "The Lord went out to the baseball diamond, tapped a young center fielder on the shoulder, and said, ' Billy Sunday, I want you to play ball for Me.' " Billy signed up.

The first game he played after that was with Detroit. The score was 3-2 in favor of Chicago in the last half of the ninth. Detroit had men on second and third. The batter hit a high drive to the outfield. "I turned my back to the ball and ran," Sunday wrote later. "I could run one hundred yards an ten seconds flat. As I raced I offered up a prayer, something like this, 'Oh, Lord, if You ever helped me, please help me now to get that ball. And You haven't much time to make up Your mind.' "

Sunday made the catch.

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