SI Vault
March 23, 1959
The Blast to Come
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March 23, 1959

Events & Discoveries

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The Blast to Come

It won't be long now, an oldtimer was saying the other day, until the baseball park will spring back into life. "There'll be the umpire shouting 'Play ball!' and the crack of ash on horsehide," was the way he put it. "There'll be the husky shout of the hot-dog man and the throaty roar of the crowd."

Poor oldtimer. He's heard baseball and all the clich�s all right, but he hasn't heard of Walter O'Malley's latest. Mr. O'Malley, who last year changed baseball's geometry with a 250-foot left-field fence, this year is changing baseball's sound. To do it, he has authorized a bugle concession for the salesmen in Los Angeles Coliseum. And if all goes well (and in Los Angeles it will), the crack of ash on horsehide and all the rest of it will give way to the decibels of 20,000 bugles, priced within reach of just about everybody at $1. "And if the demand warrants," adds Danny Goodman, the Dodger concession manager, "we'll order more."

Horsaholics in Moscow

With all the talk about superior education, more powerful rockets, better basketball teams and the Kremlin knows what else, it is comforting to think that Moscow's man in the street has weaknesses just like the rest of us.

We have long had it on the word of bibulous Nikita Khrushchev himself that an occasional good Communist tends to nurse the vodka bottle too long and too lovingly, just as the subjects of the Czars were wont to do. Now we learn—sadly, to be sure, but with a grain of satisfaction as well—that the horsaholic, or compulsive bettor, is as familiar a figure at the tote windows of Moscow's race track as he is elsewhere in the world.

With sternly youthful disapproval, the official organ of Moscow's Young Communist League last week published a dossier of letters describing the decline and fall of a number of promising young Reds enchanted with the beguiling odds at the Moscow Hippodrome. There was, for one, the machine-tool operator Anatoli Pukhov whose life was "normal, even good, until a friend lured me to the races and taught me to play that accursed totalizator.

"Once I won," confessed Anatoli, "then I started losing. I gambled away all my pay, hocked my watch and even stuck my hand in someone else's pocket."

Sadder still was the case of a chief bookkeeper named Kachurin who in the course of a year at the betting windows gambled away a million rubles that were not his and hid out for five years in faraway Ashkhabad before the cops tracked him down.

The Communist Youth editors themselves cited the case of a brave ex-soldier who had lost his family since he took up betting, and that of a brilliant engineer who forgot all else once he found the tote machines. "Those vile and filthy mementos of the Czarist way of life," concluded the editors, "have got to go."

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