Judges, housewives, burglars and nursery school tots have been borrowing from the abrasive lexicon of sport for lo these many years, but last week a leather-lunged baseball fan in Los Angeles was impelled to borrow a phrase from U.S. Senate Room 318. As Red Sox Outfielder Jimmy Piersall wheeled to glare at a set of noisy critics in the center field bleachers, a countercry rose from the box seats. "Don't answer 'em, Jimmy," the voice implored. "Stand on the Fifth Amendment!" Dave Beck's sprained treasury was no doubt of greater concern to the country last week than Mickey Mantle's sprained foot, but some of the reaction to Beck took an oddly revealing form. Dave was hanged in effigy, just like a losing football coach.
From West Texas up along the Great Plains to Canada the great spring blizzard of 1957 was the dominant topic of conversation. Judge John A. Mullen of Manhattan General Sessions stubbornly insisted, amid a gale of argument from psychiatrists, that New York's Mad Bomber (a fellow who spent 16 years leaving dynamite in railroad stations and theaters) wasn't mad at all and should stand trial for his crimes. Texas had an insurance scandal. It was a big week in the big world outside the ball parks and gyms and golf courses, all right. But the pervading influence of sport in American life was curiously dramatized as a result—amid the rumble of larger events, millions went right on reacting to spring training, hockey, horse racing and even curling.
As San Francisco swept up after the biggest earthquake since 1906, its citizenry could not refrain from noting, with a certain pleased incredulousness, that 20,000 of them had crowded Seals' Stadium on the very night of the big shake to watch Ted Williams swing a bat in a preseason baseball game. President Eisenhower seemed closer to his personal flash point last week than at any time since the campaign when Reporter William McGaffin suggested, at the weekly White House press conference, that Ike was preparing to use Air Force helicopters for trips to the golf course—as why shouldn't he? The astounding influence of high school basketball everywhere was reflected in Indianapolis when Athletic Commissioner L.V. Phillips reported that 1,225,966 people had attended championship games in his Indiana alone.
Two Princeton freshmen resolved to dribble a soccer ball one hundred miles from Nassau Hall to the Biltmore Hotel in New York and back in May. And, in Chicago, Elvis Presley—tastefully garbed in brown with 24-carat gold shoes—confided to reporters that he has always wanted to play end for Ole Miss. "I used to eat and sleep football," he said. "I love it. Oh, every minute of it." Shortly thereafter at the International Amphitheater 13,000 teen-agers screamed happily at him—called him, one might say, for having his backfield in motion.
A GAME OF POST OFFICE
The Irish, they say, are impractical. On their green island, under their gray sky, they do little but cling to their old ways, talk incessantly, drink stout and dream. Well, that's what some people say; but this view fails to account for the Irish Sweepstakes, a wonderfully practical device by which the Irish sell dreams to the rest of the world for some $30 million a year.
A great deal of this money—perhaps as much as 65% of it—comes from the U.S. (Only the sweepstakes people themselves know the actual figure, and they won't tell.) Since our postal laws bar the use of the mails for lotteries, it is very clever of the Irish to get so many sweepstakes tickets into, and so many dollars out of, the country every year. But they do it; and, while they do some of it with the help of travelers and merchant seamen who smuggle the tickets in among their possessions, they do most of it by mail.
When the post office suspects that a letter contains a book of sweepstakes tickets, they stamp the envelope "Supposed to Contain Matter Prohibited Importation" and invite the addressee to come in and open it in the presence of a postal inspector. If the letter does contain tickets, the addressee can raise his eyes piously to the ceiling and declare that he never ordered any tickets and can't think what this total stranger meant by sending them to him. And that's that, as far as the addressee is concerned.
But the post office can confiscate the tickets and with them the message which invites the addressee to keep two tickets, sell 10 and send the money to a certain person in Ireland. The name and address of this Certain Person go on the post office fraud list, and any mail addressed to him thereafter is returned to the sender.