Not appreciated on this continent, Burns went round the world belting stiffs in Ireland, France and Australia, hotly pursued by Jack Johnson. Johnson caught up with Burns in Australia, and on December 26, 1908 they had a gory, garrulous fight. Burns reputedly tried to distract Johnson with curses, but in the 14th round Johnson pounded him silent.
Burns went on fighting in Canada until 1920. He opened a pub in London, then quit to run a speakeasy in New York, where one afternoon he felt what he interpreted as Heaven's hand on his shoulder. After he got religion, Tommy Burns preached millions of words, some of them confusing. When he died in 1955 in his 74th year, he was sure he had been saved. In his pockets were found neat white cards reading: "Tom Burns, demonstrator of Universal Love." Four people were at his grave and two of them were gravediggers. Boxing has fallen on bad times, but it ought to be able to afford a marker with a tribute for Tommy Burns's bare grave.
YANKEE, GO HOME
Roger Maris hurried home to Raytown, Mo. right after the World Series and proclaimed, "I want to get away from people." But last week, lured by a guarantee of $16,000, he consented to appear before his public in five home run contests in various North Carolina cities. Along for the ride, at $4,000 each, went Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew and Baltimore's Jim Gentile.
The results were disastrous. The customers just didn't seem interested; average attendance at each event was 948. The promoters took a bath for $20,000 and the cost of some 40 dozen baseballs. And Maris didn't even win the contest. Killebrew outslugged him 55 to 46, and Gentile, despite blistered hands, slammed 39. In Greensboro it took Maris 45 swings to lift a 325-foot homer, prompting a fan to shout, "Hey, Roger, what d'ya do, hit 'em by the hour?" Another suggested that he move over to Latham Park, the local Little League playpen.
Maris played his usual abrasive role throughout the trip. "Every place I go," he said, "I have to sit down with the newspapermen and photographers for an hour and a half. If it weren't for that, I could be sitting back and relaxing somewhere." Judging by the attendance, that would have been perfectly all right with the people of North Carolina.
LESSON IN LIVING
Stanley Matthews, C.B.E., the best outside right soccer has ever seen, 46 years old, an international legend, has gone back to his old local club, Stoke City, where he started 30 years ago. This, after 14 years with England's first-division Blackpool team. It's like hearing that Stan Musial has joined the Seattle Rainiers.
Matthews flies in the face of the DiMaggio-Marciano-Williams tradition that you should quit when you're still good. But is anything lost by playing past your prime? Matthews doesn't think so. "I never think in terms of my reputation," he says. "I don't see why I should retire in a blaze of glory. When I lose my enthusiasm, that'll be the day."
Then Stanley Matthews, the old wizard whose very appearance on a soccer field used to turn defenders' legs to jelly, went on to give a lesson in living. "You see," he said, "I may have a different outlook from a lot of people. I never think of what's gone by in the past. I always think what's going to happen tomorrow. I know what I'm going to do tomorrow—I'm going to enjoy doing it. Even if I only have a walk, I'll get the biggest thrill. I'm going to enjoy it. Sometimes you feel, well.... But I count 10, I think it's going to be a grand day, I'll make it a grand day."