It was true, too.
Campbell brought out each January a handicap rating of some hundred or more
three-year-olds. It was known as the Experimental Free Handicap—at first just a
roster, but since 1940 a true handicap event run at Jamaica during April. In it
the horses carried the weights assigned to them by Campbell, and more often
than not the Campbell favorites finished where they were supposed to. His was
an exhausting job of research and study. His fine sense of judgment never left
him. Some of his judgment and experience Campbell passed down during the years
to his assistant, studious-looking Frank E. (Jimmy) Kilroe, a 42-year-old New
Yorker and graduate of Columbia who did all right on his own as handicapper at
the Chicago tracks and at Santa Anita.
Last week Jimmy
Kilroe, named Campbell's successor in July, brought out his own first
Experimental Free Handicap ratings. Showing that he was a true student of his
master, Kilroe drove home the point that he wouldn't be swayed by popularity
polls, which, last fall, had almost unanimously selected Nashua as the leading
two-year-old of 1954. In the 1955 Free Handicap Nashua gets second billing at
127 pounds to his arch rival Summer Tan, in at 128 pounds. Third—just where he
finished in the Belmont Futurity—is Royal Coinage, with 124 pounds. Kilroe saw
fit to assign weights to 114 thoroughbreds in all, including 34 fillies and 10
Like his master,
he can't be expected to hit it right every time. But his public who take
exception to Nashua's runner-up position will do well to remember Campbell's
1950 rankings. Almost all right-thinking people said Hill Prince deserved the
top spot. Campbell put Middle-ground there. Middle-ground then went out and
beat Hill Prince in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.
the toastmaster said, "to quote his famous coach, Frank Leahy, who has
said, 'You may find a boy who is a better runner than Johnny, another boy who
is a better blocker, another boy who is a better tackier, and perhaps still
another boy who is a better passer, but you will find no boy who has the
ability to do all these things as well as Johnny.' And so it is with great
pride that I now present to you, John J. Lattner, the Heisman Memorial Trophy
Award as this year's outstanding college football player."
were delivered about a year ago at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City.
Similar sentiments were directed at Alan Ameche of Wisconsin this year. But
this is a report on John J. Lattner and what has happened to the big, rawboned
Notre Dame star since he accepted the Heisman Trophy and then went on to hear
other toastmasters in variations on the theme all around the banquet circuit.
By the time he had reached Pittsburgh last winter, there had been two
developments affecting his status as the nation's No. 1 college hero. For one
thing, he had been drafted to play professionally for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For the other thing, many a battle-scarred football pro was fed to the ears
with hearing about Johnny Lattner.
At the Dapper Dan
banquet in Pittsburgh, one of these pros could stand it no longer. Called upon
for a few remarks, Fran (Punchy) Rogel, the Steelers' fullback, blurted:
"If Lattner thinks he's coming to the Steelers just to pick up a big pay
check, he'd better just pack up his bag and go home!"
Rogel, of course,
didn't have anything against Johnny Lattner personally, and every Dapper Dan at
the banquet knew it. Rogel was merely voicing a professional warning that any
football hero would have to prove himself before being accepted in a league
where they eat All-Americas for breakfast.
Last week Johnny
Lattner was back at home in Chicago following his first professional season and
it was clear that nobody had had him for breakfast. On the contrary, the
Steelers had hastened to sign him again for next season at a salary of
approximately $11,000—an investment strongly indicated by his selection as a
member of the All-Star squad scheduled to play in Los Angeles on Jan. 16 and by
the following figures on Johnny's record for the season: 1) He led the team in
punt returns with 17 for a total of 73 yards. 2) He was first in kickoff
returns with 16 for a total of 413 yards. 3) He was second in scoring with 42
points, fourth in rushing with 3.6 yards per try and fourth in pass receiving
with 25 catches for a total gain of 305 yards.
But more eloquent
than the statistics were the comments of Johnny's teammates. Said Bill McPeak,
a defensive end, "You get skeptical of big-name players coming into the
league. So many of them are duds. But Lattner is a great football player and a
great guy, too."