Those amusing tales of Mickey Walker winning tough fights while champagne bubbles still snapped, crackled and popped in his head are rarely appreciated by athletic trainers, who strive to bring athletes to physical perfection with exercises, a rigid training diet and plenty of rest and sleep. But every once in a while something happens in sport that makes one wonder if something more subtly mysterious than mere physical condition is not behind the great deeds of great athletes.
For instance, there was the inspired performance that Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers put on against the New York Knickerbockers last week. He not only scored a record 63 points from his guard position—which made him the fifth man in National Basketball Association history to score 60 or more points in a single game—but he excelled at the other end of the court, too. He was brilliant at floor control and rebounding. "The most fantastic single game I've ever seen in basketball," said Fred Schaus, Laker coach.
West had a rather simple explanation for it all. He attributed his fine performance to fatigue. "I was so darned tired that I was completely relaxed," he said.
And then there was Dick (Night Train) Lane, long one of the National Football League's top defensive halfbacks, who kept a date for the Pro Bowl despite severe illness.
"I never slept a wink Saturday night," he said. "If it hadn't been for the game I'd just as soon have died. I've never felt so weak so long in a game."
It was his seventh Pro Bowl game and one of his best. It was, indeed, Night Train who picked off a stray pass by Y. A. Tittle and ran 52 yards to the West's first touchdown. That was Sunday afternoon, of course. Early Monday morning Dr. Daniel J. Fortmann, Rams team physician, confirmed the diagnosis Night Train had made and kept to himself. He removed Lane's appendix.
FLESH, FISH AND FOWL
On top of that $3 daily double at Tropical Park, Florida bettors have had no end of conversation pieces thrust on them by track owners this season. The Flagler Kennel Club contributed the world's biggest tote board, an electronic gee whiz that lists 28 combinations of odds on quinielas along with the usual win, place and show figures. And now Hialeah, queen mother of southern racing establishments, has come up with a whale-sized seaquarium, though it already has a piranha-stocked lily pond and an aviary that annoys horsemen, who complain that the birds raise such a raucous racket that their horses can't sleep.
They have races, too, occasionally.
IN VINO VERITAS