OUR OWN PETARD
The shock of seeing the U.S. baseball team lose twice to Cuba in the Pan American Games, and the first time by 13-1, led to quick suspicion that the Cuban team was made up of professionals. If so, it need not have been. The fact is that the U.S. never has won in baseball at the Games. Our best amateurs don't make the trip.
John H. Kobs, who twice coached the team, recalls that he had difficulty getting good players even when the 1959 Games were not only in relatively nearby Chicago but in September, a more convenient time of year for college players, who at this season are playing for their own school teams. Few college students can take the time off from their studies in the spring, and others, particularly those who want to show off for professional scouts, prefer to play where the scouts can see them. Players finally chosen were mostly servicemen and graduate students, who were forced to play at the beginning of the U.S. season against Caribbean and Latin American teams that had been practicing together for months.
The selection committee—composed of college and armed service representatives—did everything it could, down to scouting high school prospects, but there seems to be no easy solution to its problems. It's a little embarrassing. After all, we invented the game, didn't we?
PECK'S BAD LUCK
It is not difficult to imagine the bitter disappointment of Gregory Peck, who a mere three months ago bought a stouthearted gray steeplechaser, Owens Sedge, for �7,000 ($20,000). Owens Sedge promptly won Ireland's Leopardstown Chase and was a finisher in the Grand National. Last week the gelding killed himself trying to win the Whitbread Gold Cup, his third race for Peck. He almost made victory.
The Grand National (SI, April 8) was won by Ayala, an outsider and chance mount for Pat Buckley, 19-year-old jockey. The Gold Cup was won, as if fate were playing a very special trick, by Hood Winked, with none other than Pat Buckley up. Owens Sedge was heavily backed, and his supporters' hopes soared as, on the far side for the second circuit of the course, he seemed with each jump a little nearer to victory. Four fences from home he had moved up within a length of Hood Winked.
Then Owens Sedge hit the fourth fence hard and stopped on the other side so suddenly that his rider, Pat Taaffe, thought he had broken a hind leg and pulled him up immediately. Seconds later the gray horse sank to the ground and died. His Irish trainer, Tom Dreaper, said sadly that death resulted from a hemorrhage caused, almost certainly, by overjumping.
Another American owner, Captain Harry F. Guggenheim, has his strongly backed Iron Peg in the Epsom Derby on May 29. We wish him better luck.