College football, that most illogical of sporting organisms, was aleapin' and ahoppin' last week with the schizoid energy which seizes it annually in golden October. It was the time of year when there seems to be no rhyme nor reason at all to the far-flung pattern of conflict in the nation's stadiums, when football seems to be played not to determine the best team, but to demonstrate that such a conclusion is completely impossible. U.C.L.A., having been all but stopped (21-20) by Washington a fortnight ago, massacred Stanford 72-0; good old Brown beat Princeton 21-20; Alabama beat Tennessee 27-0; thrice-beaten Pitt licked Navy 21-19. It was, in a word, a normal year.
?That heavy-eyed and irascible old debbil, Baseball, kept punching at the pillows and yanking at the covers and trying to settle down for a long winter's nap, but sleep refused to come?baseball clubs persisted in shuffling paper and managers all week, and Philadelphia made a last-minute grab and kept the A's just as Kansas City was picking them up to carry them away.
?Basketball yawned and stretched. Hockey yawned and tongued the first loose tooth of the year. Track & Field snored peacefully, whistled a bit and smiled dreamily at a pleasant, far-off tinkle?the sound of thousands of coins being dropped into slotted tin cans by football fans donating much-needed funds to finance the next U.S. Olympic team.
While pleading nolo contendere in the political row over Defense Secretary Charles E. Wilson's remarks on unemployment, SI feels duty bound to point out that he has definitely maligned bird dogs, one of which can be seen hard at work on the cover of this issue. The Secretary described them as a type of animal "who'll get out and hunt for food rather than sit on his fanny [like a "kennel-fed" dog] and yell." But no self-respecting bird dog worthy of appearing on the cover of a self-respecting magazine ever eats a bird. He retrieves it politely, and waits for dinner until he gets back to the kennel?where, Mr. Wilson notwithstanding, he is as apt as not to yell like a banshee for his kibbled chow.
It is difficult to share the view that the Athletics have been really saved with the eleventh-hour purchase of the team by a syndicate of Philadelphia patriots. It certainly seems that baseball would have been better served if the Athletics had been sold to Arnold Johnson of Chicago and moved to baseball-hungry Kansas City. The well-meaning syndicate which bought out Connie Mack for $604,000, Earle Mack for $450,000, and included Roy Mack in the purchasing group may have only postponed the rites for the impotent A's.
Meanwhile, the sorely disappointed Arnold Johnson can comfort himself with a rare?if immediately useless?baseball honor. The American League had placed its official approval on him as a man worthy to operate one of its ball clubs. This is a distinction not lightly conferred and it was won by Johnson only after the league had asked some sharp questions about his business connections. Did his part ownership of Yankee Stadium raise a threat of "syndicate" baseball? Did his Chicago hockey interests indicate he was "fronting" for the Norris hockey and boxing empire? In short, would he be good for baseball? The A.L. decided he would, and so baseball would do well to file a folder on this man the game may be hearing from?and needing?a little later on. A few facts for baseball's file:
Arnold Johnson is 47, tall, robust, dark-haired, a White Sox fan since his boyhood on Chicago's South Side. Married, father of two small children, a boy and a girl, he graduated from the University of Chicago ('28) and served a four-year hitch in the Navy during World War II. Chances are you've done business with him, for Arnold Johnson is?among many other things?the big wheel of a vending-machine empire that annually swallows up $70 million in nickels and dimes while coughing out hot coffee, milk, candy bars, soft drinks and change for a quarter if you've got it coming.
Johnson is what Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson would call a bird dog. He's got himself more jobs than you can count (his titles alone include president, director, chairman, treasurer, vice-president), and his companies publish books, operate hotels, sell hotels, buy hotels, play hockey (via the Chicago Black Hawks), own Yankee Stadium and the ball park at Kansas City. But what Johnson likes most is a deal, and the dickering for the Athletics had been right down his alley. Previously, he had made the sports pages with a complicated baseball transaction in which he bought Yankee Stadium and the Kansas City ball park from Dan Topping and Del Webb. Then he sold the land under the Yankee Stadium to the Knights of Columbus who thereupon rented it back to Topping and Webb. Somehow, the three-way $6,500,000 deal apparently made money for everybody concerned.