THINGS TO COME
A convair with a six-foot-high baseball painted on its side came rumbling out of the deep purple haze of early evening over Los Angeles' International Airport. Barely had it landed when baseball's No. 1 space traveler, Walter O'Malley of Brooklyn, scrambled from his seat, hustled to the doorway and stood blinking in the glare of television lights and flash bulbs. As he did so, a roar went up from several thousand throats. Two bands tried manfully to drown each other out in rendering Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Photographers bellowed and cameras ground. Los Angeles, it seemed obvious, was O'Malley's. O'Malley flung wide his arms and beamed.
Everything that happened in the next few days seemed to confirm O'Malley's stage sense. O'Malley said the 1958 Dodgers would do okay, and the airport crowd cheered. O'Malley discussed indemnity payments to the Pacific Coast League with PCL President Leslie O'Connor, and the press applauded his fair-mindedness (although no one seemed to know what agreement, if any, had been reached). O'Malley visited the city council, and three councilmen who had opposed the Dodger move to Chavez Ravine turned up wearing "Welcome, Dodgers" neckties.
But it was when O'Malley toured the Los Angeles Coliseum that the logic of major league baseball's move to the Coast seemed most happily evident. It will take until 1959 to build the new Los Angeles Dodgers ball park in Chavez Ravine. Meanwhile, O'Malley indicated, the Dodgers may have to get along with such existing facilities as the Coliseum. Now, critics may sniff at the Coliseum's potential foul lines (shortest in the majors), but it is hard to sniff at the likelihood that when the Dodgers open the season on April 15, approximately 100,000 fans will be on hand to cheer them on.
Walter O'Malley, all smiles, had the look of a man who knew his new bride was rich, faithful and could cook.
HUMILITY IN CALIFORNIA
The california Golden Boy, Welterweight Art Aragon, was convicted last March of bribing an opponent to take a dive and was sentenced to jail. Out on appeal after a shattering night in the lockup, Aragon seemed to have undergone a remarkable personality change. Hitherto more brassy than golden, he seemed to have lost his facility for the irreverent wisecrack. Now the Golden Boy seemed to be trying to think before he spoke. He started to say something to reporters, then cut himself off.
"No, that would be flip," he said. "That's what got me into trouble. I got tried for being flip."
A California appeals court reversed Aragon's conviction last week, not because it necessarily believed him innocent but because the results of a lie detector test (which Aragon flunked) had been improperly introduced in evidence and because it felt the trial judge's instructions to the jury had been prejudicial.
The old-style Aragon would have greeted this reversal with a sassily triumphant wisecrack. But the new Aragon said gratefully, "I've never felt so humble." He may even have meant it. The past year was one of adversity.