SEE YOU AT THE BALL PARK
Baseball's spike-shod infantry is advancing, even now, upon the major cities of the country. The cheers of crossroads admirers are raised daily along the route of march, and by night—since this is the fortnight when every manager is duty-bound to maintain a Napoleonic assurance—the telegraph wires clatter with bulletins and pro-nunciamentos calculated to warm the blood of those who wait beyond baseball's 16 Seines. It is doubtful if there is a man, woman or child in the entire country who feels the slightest surprise in this phenomenon—or who imagines for a moment that there might not be an Opening Day, or that the pennant race will not be raging under banks of moth-festooned floodlights in humid August. Will there be a World Series in 1956? Ask around. A thousand throats will chorus: "You nuts, Jack?"
Nevertheless it is a question that a visitor from the moon or even from Moscow might reasonably ask. Your baseball, he could honestly say, is not so sacred as you think. What happened to the Boston Braves? What happened to the Philadelphia Athletics? Murdered by the dollar! Why must you follow the fortunes of nine gum-chewing young men every day for almost six months? There are troubles in the Middle East. You are not interested? What of the contest between your Kefauver and Stevenson? Don't you still like Ike? Can you say that politics in a presidential year is not a greater common denominator than sport? Why is this baseball important? Or is it?
Well, of course baseball is important to the U.S. Any fool knows that. Still, how could you answer a fool who didn't know it?—like love, the Great Game of baseball has an indescribable effect upon the human soul. You hate the world? You will positively not be arrested for rising in a ball park and screaming: "Drop dead, you bum," as long as your seat is paid for. Need reassurance? A civilization in which 16 separate big league teams can be absolutely committed to playing 154 baseball games has a certain soothing solidity; if you have a television set, furthermore, you can watch for nothing. As for baseball vs. The Larger Issues, let us just explain that no candidate would be fool enough to speak publicly during the hours when a World Series is being played. Not only would he lose his audience but he'd miss the game itself and he wouldn't want that—if he didn't like baseball he very probably would never have been nominated in the first place. But, of course, to get back to where this all started, people just don't go around asking about baseball and The Larger Issues, or whether baseball is as sacred as we think, or what happened to the Philadelphia A's. There's no need of it—which is one of the nice things about baseball. Will there be an Opening Day! Will there be a World Series! See you at the ball park, Jack.
CALIFORNIA STORY (CONT.)
The parade of witnesses continued in Los Angeles last week as Governor Goodwin Knight's investigating committee hammered away at boxing's dirty business. The principal target of Chief Investigator Jim Cox was Matchmaker Babe McCoy (SI, April 2), his brow furrowed, an ulcer on his hand picked raw from anxiety.
Among the witnesses who pointed a finger at McCoy was Alexander Dumas Jones, better known as Watson Jones, onetime California state light heavyweight champion. "I was just McCoy's little colored boy," Jones sobbed. "I loved that fat man, but he robbed me." Jones testified that McCoy told him to "get out early" (i.e., get knocked out) in a fight in 1950. Jones also testified that he had thrown three other fights, two on McCoy's orders, the other on the bidding of Sparky Rudolph, McCoy's cousin.
Another fighter who took the stand was Heavyweight Harry Wills (no kin to the Brown Panther of Dempsey's day). Wills testified that he was given a fight in Baltimore with Freddie Be-shore on the condition that he lose. He identified New York Mobster Champ Segal, a pal of McCoy's, as the man who ordered him to lose. Segal, said Wills, even promised he would get Wills "off the mob's black list" when he lost.
Wills went to Baltimore for the fight, but he changed his mind and won. It was a dastardly thing to do, but the mob gave Wills a chance for redemption two years later against Harry (Kid) Matthews. Wills worked hard to lose, and he did. "Did you put forth your best effort?" Cox asked for the record. "Naw," said Wills.
The case of Carlos Chavez was also on Cox's list. It was brought out that Chavez had told friends in November 1950 that he was to take a first-round dive against Art Aragon. Under oath Chavez readily admitted discussing a dive beforehand but explained that no moral question had arisen for him in the fight which went one round: "I had bleeding hemorrhoids."