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WE GO BO
The Sporting News considers itself the bible of baseball, and we say, "Bully!" But we do wish that the good gray editorial writers of that publication would pipe down on the subject of ballplayers' behavior. Last week they climbed all over young Bo Belinsky, left-hand pitcher and pool shark of the Los Angeles Angels, and for what? Mainly for being colorful. " Mr. Belinsky apparently is being carried away by the sound of his brash quotes," said the editorial. "Some have been ridiculous. Others, if accurate, have displayed a callous disregard for the game."
Specifically, Bo should not have said, "I had more fun in the minors than I'm having in the majors; in the minors I could bet on myself." And, "I've had to learn a new pitch in the majors to replace the spitter I used in the minors." The Sporting News thinks that team officials should censure Belinsky before League President Joe Cronin (or even Commissioner Ford Frick) puts him down.
None of this would be pertinent if it weren't for the fact that baseball is being inurned these days by dreary businessmen of the diamond who conceal themselves behind a spate of clich�s: "We play these games one at a time." "I'd ride the bench if it would help the team." "They put their pants on one leg at a time like everybody else."
We would trade a teamful of such players for one Bo Belinsky. Who else would say of high school athletics, "I couldn't go for that sis-boom-bah stuff," or of minor league baseball in Georgia, "It was another country." We rejoice at the way he assayed his own career: "Me?" he said. "I'm going all the way." We hope so, and we hope he keeps talking en route.
His voice always came through in a tangle of treble and bass, as if the radio dial weren't set quite right. Words tumbled from the pebbled-rubber larynx one over another, joined by an inordinate series of conjunctions: "...and the count is four, and Schmeling is up, and Donavan is watching carefully, and Schmeling is down, the men are in the ring, the fight is over...." He was as exciting as he was excitable, the sportscaster with the intimate conversational style, the best of his age, Clem McCarthy.
Now the voice is still. Gravely ill for years, McCarthy died Monday in a New York nursing home at 79. But the other day we heard a record, newly released, and there it was again. "Max, Max!" it cried for the nation to hear as Schmeling was carried from the ring in 1938, knocked out by Joe Louis. "Max! Officer! Get Max Schmeling over here! Get him! Bring him over! Max! I'm trying to get him. Officer! Get Max Schmeling!"—then, resigned—"I can't get him..."
And again at Pimlico in 1947, rhapsodizing on the horse Jet Pilot and how he had just won the Preakness; suddenly the voice is subdued. "What am 1 talking about," McCarthy says. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have made a terrific mistake. I have given you the winner as Jet Pilot, and it is Faultless.... Well, Babe Ruth struck out once."
The record (Riverside, $3.98) was cut at the expense of the record company, NBC and Ed Sullivan, who supplied introduction and commentary. Proceeds were to go to McCarthy. Now it doesn't matter, but buy the record anyway—for the pleasure of hearing Clem McCarthy again.