There is no replacement for Ted Williams as a box office draw. But if Ted is out all season things aren't likely to be too bad for the Red Sox as long as the lineup reads: "Thorneberry, If." Or rather, Throneberry.
THE HAPPY MILLIONAIRE
In a day when those who knew boxing best respected it as a sport, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle (Sr.) grew up to be its greatest amateur and, for all that he was a Philadelphia society figure, to earn the friendship and admiration of Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons, Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Jim Corbett and many another master. He was a judge at the Dempsey-Willard fight. He gave Gene Tunney, a fellow Marine, his first boxing lessons. He was one of the Forty (more or less) Millionaires (more or less) who joined Tex Rickard in building Madison Square Garden. He was first president of the International Sporting Club—not to be confused with the International Boxing Club ( James D. Norris, President)—and was a major factor in the re-establishment of boxing as a legal and, at that time, estimable sport.
During two world wars A. J. Drexel Biddle trained Marines in every sort of close combat—bayonet, jujitsu, judo, defendu, savate—to such a peak of pitiless artfulness that much of their heroic success at Belleau Wood and Tarawa was officially recognized as his own.
Now his daughter, Cordelia Drexel Biddle, whom he taught with fatherly concern to throw a right cross and patch an eye cut, has produced his biography, My Philadelphia Father, with the aid of Kyle Crichton. The book is described as "rollicking," and it is all of that, but the lady is clearly too modest in her estimation of the old man. In any less preoccupied age he would have been a hero for the classics. Taken just as a father image, A. J. Drexel Biddle makes Clarence Day's look like a lily-livered sissy.
In Biddle's day, boxing was the favorite sport of many a young society man.
"My grandfather, Edward Biddle," the author writes, "was a fine boxer and played tennis till his eightieth year. My uncle, Anthony J. Drexel, Jr., was a good boxer and all-around athlete. Father always said that Bernard Gimbel, still head of the great store chain, could have been a champion heavyweight; and Warren Barbour, late senator from New Jersey, was said to have been even better. Father naturally carried it to extremes...."
One of his extremes, from the standpoint of Philadelphia society, was to hire out as a sparring partner for Jack Johnson. In those days fighters wanting to make a bit of change sat on a long bench at the training camp, hoping to be picked.
"The day Father went down," Miss Biddle (Mrs. T. Markoe Robertson) relates, "he thought he was going to sit on the bench forever. Jack was out in his gargantuan red roadster, showing his wife the sights of South Jersey. He finally came back in a happy mood, changed slowly into his fighting clothes, and then looked over the row of martyrs.
" 'You, there, boy,' he said to Father, making a gesture with his glove.