SI Vault
Jeannette Bruce
January 19, 1970
It's sometimes hard to see out there, but the fans and fanciers of astrology are convinced that a look into the void will help before the game begins
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January 19, 1970

Squinting At The Stars Of Sport

It's sometimes hard to see out there, but the fans and fanciers of astrology are convinced that a look into the void will help before the game begins

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Without warning, Astroflash, in dealing with Webster, suddenly switched to the third person, dropping its man-to-man approach and referring to Alex as "he" or, worse still, "the subject," as though what was coming might be a bit embarrassing. "The subject," it began, "can build an entire universe sitting at a table, the table on which he eats, drinks, works, calculates, schemes and builds.... All that is stable, weighty and tangible speaks to his instinct, which feasts on such prosaic joys as swelling furniture [sic], chests, cabinets and wardrobes in which to store and keep things."

Obviously the Giants couldn't be stuffed in a closet, not even after they lost game after game through the period, though the idea may have crossed Webster's mind. In an interview Webster had said, "I'll tell them [the team] that if they want to stay it will be only the good ones. The bad ones will go." (There's that touchiness coming out.) Astroflash, again taking on the paternal tone of a worried father, advised: "Beware of violent outbursts which generate instability, as you are already high-strung and liable to fevers. Beware of any temptation to give up, and avoid bringing havoc to those about you."

Ha! In December the skies cleared. Mercury took leave of the discord in Webster's 12th house and went off to his second house to unite peacefully for a time with the sun and Venus. "During this entire period," glowed Astroflash in a sudden happy turnabout, "your possessiveness and the ardor you put into accumulating assets will come to the fore." Assets accumulated in the form of Giant victories over the Cardinals (49-6), Steelers (21-17) and Browns (27-14).

The man who keeps his eye on the traffic instead of the sky tends to confuse astrology with other less profound parlor games involving Ouija boards, tarot cards, tea-leaf reading and just plain fortune-telling. This upsets astrologers, who insist that they only aim to point out favorable or unfavorable trends. Almost all agree, with varying degrees of intensity, that there is, in spite of other worldly influences, a percentage of free will available with which to avert potential disaster. However, astrologers continue to use words like "predictions" and "forecasts," words that, whatever their semantic shadings, are linked willy-nilly in the public's mind with soothsayers and oracles. A study of your natal chart will not reveal where it was you left your snorkel mask last week or who stole your Head skis or how the Vikings would do in the Super Bowl. Those who don't give a hoot anyway about that big electromagnetic field of space sending its waves and portents to earth probably go with the bookmakers, who liked Minnesota by 13 in Sunday's Super smash.

There are horoscopes other than natal charts to help one plot a course through life. That popular daily squib in newspapers ("This is a good day to have your tooth pulled, so don't be down in the mouth") is based on a "solar" or "tropical" chart, mathematically different from the "sidereal" calculations used by the ancient Greeks. Then there are "progressed" charts, "comparison" charts, "natural catastrophe" charts, "relocation" charts, "gardening" charts, "accident" charts, "medical research" charts and "horary" charts, the latter reputed to be the most useful for the sports buff who wants to pinpoint a particular athletic event. But they won't work unless he really cares.

In a 30-page pamphlet by Donald Bradley (who is highly thought of in astral circles), put out by Llewellyn Publications Ltd. and titled Picking Winners, a detailed system is outlined for determining the victor of anything from a horse race to a ball game to a prizefight.

"A horary chart for the time and place of the occasion—be it football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, boxing or a tennis match—will usually suffice to reveal the winner, independent of the personal fortunes of the players.

"It is our firm conviction, based upon the combined principles of astrology and social psychology, that the outcomes of competitive sports events, publicly attended, are surely more amenable to accurate prediction than are individual affairs. This is true because, psychologically speaking, the 'collective mind' is far more susceptible to planetary influences...than the singular mind of an individual."

The horary chart involves such minutiae as the exact moment of a game's inception, the correct houses and planets to which each team belongs, the fans and odds, the coaches and one's own personal stake in the game. "Unless a personal stake is involved," writes Mr. Bradley, "it would be rather unreasonable to expect the horoscope of an individual's passing curiosity to reflect the fortunes of two opponents or teams, as well as their emotional impacts on two vast throngs of fans." That means you can't be "individual" when everyone else is being "collective."

Now, then, picture Mr. Bradley back in 1948, on a balmy night in June at ringside, horary chart close at hand. The famous rematch between Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Walcott is almost over. To everyone except Mr. Bradley the outcome still hangs in the balance. Smoke fills the air, perspiring radio announcers scream into their microphones, journalists in the press section scribble notes. The fans are hoarse with shouting. Then a sigh, like a shudder, washes over the stadium. Jersey Joe is down for the count after 11 grueling rounds. "Joe Louis is still heavyweight champion of the world," shouts an announcer. Pandemonium reigns. Mr. Bradley looks upward and winks. Later in his hotel room, consulting his own notes on the fight, that is to say, the horary chart, he inserts a sheet of paper in a typewriter and begins his own account, not for those unsophisticated sports pages that will babble tritely about "feints to the left" and "uppercuts to the jaw" but for astrologers, who are still operating, largely underground.

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