Surrounded as he is by comfort and plenty, Mid-century Man may sometimes wonder whether, if called on, he could show the grit and ingenuity of his forebears. From the winter remoteness of British Columbia last week came a story which indicates that the human spirit is as strong as ever and can still, when challenged, prevail.
Frank Wharton, a watchmaker and gunsmith of Little Fort, B.C., shot a buck but found he could not eat it because he had no upper plate. He trekked 50 miles into Kamloops to get one but balked at the dentist's price. Racing home, he yanked a handful of teeth from the deer, fashioned himself a working set of uppers and triumphantly dined on venison. Achievement enough, perhaps, but, in addition, Frank Wharton is now known as the only man in British Columbia with real buck teeth.
Baseball Contracts were in the mail last week, both going and coming, signed and unsigned. The holdout stories were familiar, might even have been last year's carbons with names and figures changed. Among the more famous holdouts, 1957 edition, was Mickey Charles Mantle.
As usual, newsmen had to guess as to what Mantle was offered and what he requested. The average guess was $40,000 offered, $60,000 requested.
Since players acquired business managers and college educations, contract signing has been strictly business. The procedure is as standard as a page out of a School of Business textbook.
Mantle and the Yankees followed the rules accordingly.
The Yankees mailed the contract and a personal five-paragraph note which, among other things, offered Mantle $40,000.
Mantle didn't think much of the offer, returned the contract unsigned. The Yankees then invited him to "drop in" for a chat.
Mantle indeed "dropped in," found the front office unmanned except for the personnel manager, Lee MacPhail, finally caught up with General Manager George Weiss at a Chicago sports dinner Sunday night.