Horse Racing, inundated by supermarket tracks built for betting, rose in attendance and money handle. Yet patches of beauty remained—as at Santa Anita with its palms and mountains—to remind us that racing is still a sport.
Ice Hockey enjoyed sustained prosperity as the National Hockey League played to better than 90% of capacity. The color and excitement of the violent sport drew huge throngs to watch even habitual losers like the New York Rangers.
Golf, the spectator sport for participants, had an enormous boom. Attendance soared and purses followed. Weekend golfers crowded courses like Augusta's flower-bedecked National to see professional masters make their impossible shots.
Gambling, always one of man's favorite pastimes, picked up its pace, though the size of the crowds in continually expanding arenas meant only a few could share the thrill of dirt-shaking closeups like this of greyhounds rounding a bend.
The outdoor life appealed to everyone. Backyard swimming pools were a common sight. New resorts opened and travel boomed as modern highways and jet planes made the distant and inaccessible close and handy. Scuba gear and water skis, spinning reels and sports cars, became part of the mosaic of active living. Sales of sport clothes and equipment rose higher and higher.
The new decade came roaring in, rich with promise for sport. At Cherry Hills in Denver, Arnold Palmer moved his name to the very top when he broke through to win his first U.S. Open. Trailing by seven strokes as he began his last round, Palmer shot a record-breaking 65, and when he flung his golf cap in the air after sinking his final putt he was the winner by two big strokes.
With the scoreboard setting the scene—tie score in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series—Bill Mazeroski of Pittsburgh hit a homer (see ball above scoreboard), and the Pirates became champions of the world.
The Grand Olympics, they called the affair in Rome, partly because of classic moments like this: the barefoot Ethiopian, Abebe Bikila, winning the marathon against a background of the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum.
He had been dead for 13 years, but the magic name in baseball was still Babe Ruth, and the magic record Ruth's 60 home runs in 1927. Now another New York Yankee, Roger Maris, relentlessly pursued the Babe. Here, in a night game at Yankee Stadium, he hit his 60th home run and caught Ruth. On the last day of the season, Maris hit No. 61, and the Babe's famous record was gone.
Arnold Palmer's domination of golf was challenged when Jack Nicklaus walked into the picture. In the U.S. Open at Oakmont near Pittsburgh, Palmer waited three and a half minutes for this putt to drop, then reluctantly tapped it in. That infinitesimal stroke cost Palmer the championship. Nicklaus tied him after 72 holes and then beat him in the playoff to win his first U.S. Open.