Of the three noted baseball people who died within a few days of each other last week, Joan Payson, owner of the New York Mets, and Casey Stengel (page 41) had many friends and admirers in the game. Larry MacPhail did not—or, at any rate, his enemies and detractors were as many as his supporters. How else to explain MacPhail's absence from the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown? Amiable, friendly men who were not in MacPhail's class as a mover and shaker of the game are enshrined there, but the volatile, abrasive, often abusive Larry is not.
MacPhail introduced night baseball to the majors at Cincinnati in 1935 in the course of reviving a moribund ball club that had finished last four years in a row. He moved to Brooklyn in 1938, took the tattered, shattered Dodgers and built them into pennant winners and the most popular team in baseball. He brought night ball and daily radio broadcasts (by the incomparable Red Barber) to metropolitan New York over the vigorous protests of the stronger, better established Yankees and Giants. After World War II he came back to the game as part owner of the Yankees, put night ball into Yankee Stadium, broke the major league attendance record, won a pennant and a world championship—and quit.
His career was short and explosive, like his arguments with Leo Durocher, who got his first managerial job from MacPhail. Larry fired Leo and rehired him with regularity—later he was indirectly responsible for Durocher's suspension from baseball for a year—and he feuded with Branch Rickey, who had been his friend and patron. MacPhail's temper, his truculence, his vivid language, alienated a lot of people. Even so, his impact on baseball was enormous, and he should be in Cooperstown.
Around this time of year, when thoroughbred racing begins to run out of major events, followers of the sport like to scan the lists of 2-year-olds who have displayed some foot to see if they can come up with something that might do well in the 3-year-old classics next spring, particularly those horses that are named with grace or significance. Considering the times we live in, one has to like a colt named Tap the Line, by Sensitivo out of Call the Sheriff. And Love Tale, an evocative name since the filly is by Dusty Canyon out of Indian Heiress. There is also the sentimental Forty Nine Sunsets, by Sailor out of Her Ideal, and the sobering Bitter Taste, by Count the Green out of Hootenany Annie.
One of the best, bringing back as it does memories of youthful days at summer camp as well as the unforgettable races of the sire, is a Greentree Stable colt that won for the first time last week. By Tom Fool out of Sack Race, the youngster is named Snipe Hunt.