Jackie Robinson was receiving his plaque from baseball's Hall of Fame in Coopers-town. Distinguished guests were listening attentively. Robinson had paid tribute to his mother and his wife, and now he had begun, "And then there is the one man who guided me like a father, the man who..." He stopped short as a gruff voice roared out: "Turn up the loudspeakers!" Everyone turned to see Branch Rickey, a hand cupped to his "good ear," straining to hear the tribute to himself.
Branch Rickey was vain enough to cherish any compliment, but in this case it was fitting that he hear every word that the first Negro to play major league baseball had to say about him. It is likely that what Rickey did to break baseball's color line will be of more lasting significance than all his other accomplishments in the game to which he gave his life.
It was in character that, in November, Rickey left a hospital to attend the dinner celebrating his own election to Missouri's Sports Hall of Fame, and that he was speaking of courage when he was stricken. It was in character, too, that he attended the ceremony not as a half-forgotten oldtimer but as a still vigorous, vocal and controversial figure in the center of the sporting stage.
Many people loved Branch Rickey; others professed to despise him. But now the critics are still and only the best things are being heard. It might be nice, whenever eulogies are delivered, if someone would see to it that the loudspeakers are turned up high.
Sonny Liston fights for smaller stakes now. Sonny's latest headlined match—abruptly terminated by a court order—was fought for a nickel. A two-headed nickel.
Denver Waiter Ira Martin had borrowed the two-faced coin from Liston and never returned it. The Bear eventually cornered Martin in a barbershop, poked him in the chestbone several times with a massive finger and, so Martin claimed, called him a nasty name and threatened to kill him. Martin fled to a lawyer, who obtained a temporary restraining order against Liston.
In a hearing to determine whether the order should be made a permanent injunction, Liston told the judge that a) he was "only joking" when he told Martin he would kill him, b) he had no intention of causing Martin any bodily harm, c) he had poked the waiter with his finger "because I always talk with my hands" and d) he hadn't cursed at Martin "because I never curse." Anyway, his two-headed nickel had been returned in the mail by some anonymous person "who had come across it."
Judge Mitchell Johns, describing the affair as a "two-bit case over a two-headed nickel," dismissed the action.