For absolute childishness we offer you the case of the nation's two major professional football leagues. Last week, as 374,876 paying patrons showed up at four American Football League and seven National Football League games, most of the teams in the NFL refused to report the progress of games in the AFL, and vice versa.
As if this were not silly enough, radio and TV announcers for each league wasted much valuable air time demeaning the caliber of play in the other league. At the rate things are going, you may turn on the TV some week and hear the AFL referred to as "Brand X" and the NFL as "the seventy-cent" league. This is all foolishness. The fan is not interested in the intramural infighting. Let football take a lead from baseball and keep its fans fully informed. In the long run this will be best for everybody—especially the pros.
Apropos of Roger Maris' mission, we wouldn't want to be in the shoes of Casey, the IBM electronic computer that declared in August that Roger's chances of slamming 61 home runs in 154 games were 55 out of 100. Bettors who were touted onto the action by Casey and who accepted those odds lost $55 for every attempt to win $45 and are presumably waiting to dry-gulch him if he ever trundles out of his private room. But it may not be Casey's fault; perhaps he wasn't programed for the high, outside pitches of September.
Madison Square Garden has the world's best carpenters. They can change a frozen hockey rink into a wooden basketball court in 6� hours, and change that into a fight arena in 2� hours more. So last Friday everybody showed up at the Garden around 9 o'clock for the start of the big Six-Day Bike Race, but all they saw was about half a bicycle track strewn with random bits of lumber and the world's greatest carpenters. It seems that the carpenters had put the track together in sections down in the basement, and when they took it upstairs for assembly it didn't fit. Somebody had put a lot of clockwise-type boards in counterclockwise.
Well, they hammered and they sawed and they banged and they carried on (at $9.50 an hour), while the bike riders dozed and polished their machines, drunks and kids made forays out onto the track, a brass band played, and at least one fallible do-it-yourselfer looked on with infinite relish. At midnight the track was still cluttered, and practically everybody went home. The big Six-Day Bike Race is now a five-day race.
YOUR MOVE, COMMISSIONER
Baltimore's Jim Gentile hit a grand slam homer off Don Larsen in Chicago one rainy night last week. At 12:20 a.m. the A.P. reported: "Gentile walloped his fifth grand slam of the season to tie the major league record set by Ernie Banks of the Cubs in 1955." This was straight from the record book and incontrovertibly true, but it was an hour and 28 minutes before the A.P. remembered that these are exceptional times. It hastily sent out a message which read: "Gentile's record-tying grand slam came in Baltimore's 156th game. Since Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that New York's Roger Maris would have to hit 60 home runs in 154 games to tie Babe Ruth's record, it became questionable whether Gentile's homer would be considered in tying Banks's record. It now is another problem for Frick to solve."
It certainly is. And while you are about it, Commissioner, maybe you can find time to rule on dozens of other entries in baseball's record books which will become meaningless or puzzling after your decision to temper statistics with sentiment.