RIOT AT ROOSEVELT
We have always disliked the twin double. recently introduced to New York racetracks, and other forms of this bet, which consists of picking four or more winners in a row. We dislike it because it reduces horse-race betting to the level of a lottery.
Per se there may be nothing wrong with a lottery. But when horse-race betting becomes a lottery it brings to the track an element not ordinarily present, largely composed of people who view the races not as a game but as an opportunity to get big money for practically nothing. Their mania is inflamed by publicity, such as the story in the New York papers last week of a bartender who won $79,000 for $2 in the twin double at the Roosevelt Raceway harness track on Long Island.
Just two nights after the big win, Roosevelt had the worst racetrack riot in memory. In the sixth race, the first of the twin double, there was a collision and pileup on the track, and only two of the eight horses finished. The winner was a long shot, and of the 85,000 twin-double tickets sold, only 3,000 were still "alive." Holders of the 82,000 losing tickets screamed for the race to be voided because of the spill but, quite properly, the result was ruled official. So the losers proceeded to destroy the Tote board and tried to burn down the whole place. Dozens of people were injured in violent fighting with police, and damage to the racetrack was vindictive and costly.
The twin double was introduced with the approval of the New York State government. This is the very same government that is forcing the New York tracks to add races to their cards when they don't have respectable animals to fill them, to extend their racing season beyond all reason, and to adopt gimmicks that demean the sport. Having done all this, this same government is opposing the legalization of off-track betting on moral grounds.
To men who run racetracks and the politicians who batten on them, we say—not for the first time—beware. Your greed may be your downfall. Remember Roosevelt Raceway.
Clarence Mitchell, one of the last of the honest spitball pitchers, died in Grand Island, Neb. last week. He was 72.
Mitchell pitched for a long time. He began his career in the major leagues with the Detroit Tigers in 1911 and ended with the New York Giants in 1932, pitching in two World Series the while. "You never heard of a spitballer with a sore arm," he once said, explaining his competitive longevity. In his Series experience he neither won nor lost a game, but he did acquire a Series record. A dubious one. In the fifth game of the 1920 Series against Cleveland, pitching for Brooklyn, Mitchell hit into an unassisted triple play—the only unassisted triple play in 61 years of Series history. Many remember that Bill Wambsganss, the Indians' second baseman, made the magnificent outs. Few remember that Mitchell hit into them. Even fewer recall that on the next time up Mitchell hit into a double play for five outs in two at bats.
NBC announced last week that it has canceled plans to televise the annual Blue-Gray football game in Montgomery, Ala. in December because Negroes will not be allowed to play. One long locomotive for NBC.