LET'S WAIT AND SEE
The change in baseball's strike zone, an instant trip back to the rule that prevailed 75 years ago and survived until 1950, has been announced officially, but it won't be known whether the change is de facto until the season opens in April. The men who really run baseball, the umpires, must pass on it first. After all, they have ignored for years the rule that second base must actually be tagged on a double play and, with the same insouciance, the one that calls for the first baseman to have his foot on the sack, not just inches from it, on a put-out.
In a Florida exhibition game between Milwaukee and Detroit a few years ago the Tigers pulled off what all considered a game-ending double play for a victory. Bui the second-base umpire yelled "Safe!" and Milwaukee went on to win. After the game the umpire said he and his colleagues had been ordered to end the "loose call" by which it had been accepted practice to call the runner on the front end of a double play out if the man making the play could drag his foot reasonably close to second base.
Came April, and the old "loose call" was back in vogue. Now the new strike rule will be given a try in exhibition games. But we'll believe it's really in effect when, during the regular season, a high pitch sails just under the chin of Mickey Mantle and the man in blue bellows "Strike!"
NO DECISION BOUT
After almost a year's examination of the state of professional boxing, a New York State joint legislative committee, purportedly contemplating abolition of the sport, called in the defense last week. Answering the bell were a soft-spoken minister named Henry Armstrong, a be-spectacled public relations man named Carmen Basilio and a poet named Cassius Clay, among others.
In all, boxing presented a good account of itself—its importance in the fight against juvenile delinquency, its historic value to the socially downtrodden. And, in the end, it seemed clear that, for all the committee's huffing and puffing, even to the point of drawing up a bill that would abolish boxing, no action will be taken at this legislative session. The committee has until March 31 to offer its recommendations and probably will propose that the sport be put on probation for another year.
THE DECOROUS SPORTSMAN
Amy Vanderbilt's New Complete Book of Etiquette is just out and, in a chapter devoted to decorum in sport, makes the observation that "Sportsmen are notably intolerant about non-conformist behavior." With this as thesis, and ignoring all that used to go on at Ebbets Field, it makes some points, including the fact that nonconformist Miss Vanderbilt prefers to score badminton by ping-pong rules. Among the points:
1) Tennis. "Spectators...have the right to watch the game without being jolted by loud hoots of triumph, yells of despair, swearing, shouted imprecations, racket throwing or other unseemly exhibitionism."