Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, reports the Associated Press, "has no idea" whether the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants are going to California. In the same state of ignorance are all baseball fans from coast to coast. It is certainly high time the commissioner did have some idea, but of more immediate concern here is the arrogant manner in which fans are ignored—or deliberately misled—when their prospects of watching their favorite sport are bandied about.
The Brooklyn and New York baseball lovers, who stand to lose, are told no more than those in Los Angeles and San Francisco, who stand to gain—or those in Minneapolis, who can only read in the papers a rumor that their club may be sold from the Giants' farm system to that of the Indians. After all, the "loyalty" which baseball owners are constantly demanding of their fans is a two-way street, or ought to be.
Let's get one thing straight. This magazine would be delighted to see major league baseball in Los Angeles and San Francisco at the earliest possible moment. These cities, by their size and traditions, rate the best. Their competition would give big baseball a truly national character. But one can only view with serious alarm the prospect of all National League representation being withdrawn from New York, and this for two reasons.
The first is the implied judgment on the part of the businessmen who own the clubs that they can no longer command adequate support from sophisticated New Yorkers. The Brooklyn club—despite an obviously undersized and antiquated ball park—has shown a good profit in recent years, and the Giants could have done the same. But the O'Malleys and Stonehams now seem to figure they can do better by taking their clubs to towns where big baseball is a novelty. Novelty, however, soon wears off, and eventually there will be no new towns to invade.
The second objection to New York's exit from the National League is that it would be an almost unimaginable act of defeatism. Is the largest city in the U.S. to be deprived of half of the best in baseball? The departure of the Dodgers and Giants means more than the loss to New Yorkers of Willie Mays and Sal Maglie. It means that never again will they be able to watch the lethal wriggle of Stan Musial, the beautiful wrist snap of Hank Aaron, the grim concentration of Lew Burdette, the promise of Von McDaniel and the maturity of Red Schoendienst or the similar qualities of their successors. The frivolous attitude of NL President Warren Giles—who said recently, "We left all of New England to the American League when the Braves moved to Milwaukee, and we don't regret that"—could never be shared by those who love baseball.
Is it too much to ask that Commissioner Frick and Owners O'Malley and Stoneham make the baseball public a part of—or just keep them in touch with—their future plans? If the Dodger and Giant managements want to move west, that is their business—and privilege. However, if they are concealing their intentions with the devious design of maintaining local patronage for a few more months, then simple honesty compels them—and Mr. Frick—to announce their intentions. The metropolis of New York will always be able to support a National League team and should be given the opportunity of finding another representative if the Dodgers and Giants are really pulling up stakes.
The death of the Aga Khan last week aroused a good deal of discussion about his successor as the spiritual leader of some 20 million Ismaili Moslems, but there was no question as to a successor of the Aga Khan in Thoroughbred racing. Nobody could succeed him. There had never been anyone remotely like him before, and doubtless there will never be another racing potentate of such international scope and enthusiasm. His grandson Price Karim, a Harvard junior, became the fourth Aga Khan under the old autocrat's will and, while Karim played on the freshman soccer team and enjoyed hockey, he said, "I'm no sports fan, and I don't intend to operate a racing stable." Most of the Aga Khan's stable was taken over by his son Prince Aly in 1956, yet no one thought that this amiable playboy and shrewd horseman could quite be to racing what his father had been.
For the Aga Khan's record was unparalleled. He was the only man ever to win five Epsom Derbies. His horses won 745 races in England, and 300 in France. His first Derby winner, Blenheim II, which was sold into stud in the U.S. for $225,000, sired the magnificent Whirlaway. The Aga Khan's Mahmoud won the Derby in 1936 in the fastest time ever recorded, and he too was sold for stud purposes to Americans, leading the list of American sires from the winnings of his get in 1946. Nasrullah, sold to Americans for $372,000, sired Nashua, the greatest money winner of them all.