About the only character who has not moved in the National and American baseball league's postseason game of musical chairs is 82-year-old Branch Rickey, genius of the St. Louis Cardinals, who started the jukebox on which the slightly discordant music of the game is being played. As early as last August 10, in a memorandum to Owner Gussie Busch, Rickey gave up hope on the team for 1964, according to Bob Broeg, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports editor. That was three days before General Manager Bing Devine was fired. It was Devine, of course, who put together the team that won the pennant and Series.
Among other moves, Rickey suggested to Busch that Pitcher Barney Schultz, just up from the minors, be sent back. In the last two months of the season Schultz saved 11 games and won one. And, wrote Rickey, "I don't believe we can win the pennant in 1965 with [Mike] Shannon as a regular player...." In the Series, Shannon scored six runs, made six hits and fielded 1.000.
That egg on Gussie's face may have been thrown by Manager Johnny Keane when he resigned, but it was Rickey who laid it.
HORSE OF STILL ANOTHER COLOR
One white foot, ride him for your life.
Two white feet, give him to your wife.
Three white feet, send him far away.
Four white feet, keep him not a day.
For generations horsemen have intoned versions of this doggerel, composed around the superstition that white-footed Thoroughbreds do not make top racehorses. (Among those who have are Whisk Broom II, Pennant and Grey Lag.) Some say that white feet indicate a thinner lining to the foot, therefore weakness.
There was a similar superstition about gray horses.
"An old wives' tale," said Trainer Bill Winfrey last Saturday, and he should know, for it was Winfrey who helped to scotch it by training the great gray champion Native Dancer to world recognition. Winfrey had just proved at Aqueduct that top racers come in all sizes and shapes, in all colors, and with feet of black, brown or white. He had sent out Mrs. Henry C. Phipps's white-footed (all four) Bold Lad to win the $176,825 Champagne Stakes by seven lengths and wrap up the championship of the 2-year-old colt division. The son of the champion Bold Ruler, running his 10th and last race of the season, won his eighth race and his sixth consecutive stakes.
Winfrey and Mrs. Phipps have wisely decided that 10 starts make a season. Bold Lad, skipping such rich pots as the Arlington-Washington Futurity, The Garden State and the Pimlico Futurity, has won $387,471. Now he goes into brief retirement before going to Hialeah and a date in the Flamingo on his way to the 1965 Kentucky Derby. Nobody knows yet whether a son of Bold Ruler can win the Derby at a distance of a mile and a quarter. If Trainer Winfrey can pull off this one (he just missed with the gray Native Dancer) they might consider changing that verse to: "Four white feet, run him Derby Day."