Season of Prophecy
As our 1959 baseball issue goes to press, we have been glancing over the weather reports with a good deal of satisfaction. No word of snow anywhere in the baseball latitudes at press time, and fahrenheits coming in like this: Boston 61�, Chicago 65�, Cincinnati 74�, Cleveland 65�, Detroit 62�, Los Angeles 69�, Milwaukee 61�, New York City 60�, San Francisco 64�, and so forth—all reasonably encouraging intelligence for the American people at this vital turning of the year. Furthermore, you can take it on the word of the U.S. Weather Bureau's long-range forecast for April that most major league cities are due for normal or near-normal warmth and normal or below-normal precipitation.
Since prophecy is part of the very nature of spring, we venture some more here after a look at baseball's April schedules. In the National League, where such lusty contenders as Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will be going at each other in home-and-home games, it will be a month of rousing headlines and highly satisfying box office—even though, the weather bureau notwithstanding, San Francisco fans will come nigh to freezing on a couple of nights. And in the American (or Yankee) League, deep thinkers will be asking themselves whether baseball is losing its hold on us. Nowhere will this be more true than in New York, where the Champions of the World are going to play just six games all month. This is a sad fact for the New York fan, already bereft, but it will give the deep thinker a chance to find out if the national game is really missed in the capital of the world.
Stirrings in Sweden
Phlegm, according to early physiology, is one of four humors or fluids, including blood, choler and melancholy, which determine a person's health and temperament. Phlegm is supposed to be cold and moist and to cause phlegmatism and is a humor traditionally associated with Swedes. It takes some doing to put a Swede in a better humor, but Ingemar Johansson has done it.
As June 25 approaches, when Ingo will meet Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship of the world at Yankee Stadium, Swedes are becoming increasingly passionate, an Italianate temperament caused by blood, which is supposed to be hot as well as moist. Swedish travel agencies are preparing for a passionate pilgrimage to the United States, the greatest migration of Swedes since the 19th century, when years of drought forced such large numbers to emigrate that today there are almost half as many Americans of Swedish descent as there are Swedes in Sweden. Anticipating that perhaps 4,000 Swedes will go over for the fight, the agencies have reserved that many beds at two New York hotels and the same number of seats and berths on 10 airlines and the M/S Kungsholm.
The agencies are also offering three package deals ranging from $550 to $660 which include sightseeing, hotel accommodations and transportation but no food or tickets. Newspapers are publishing detailed reports and expertise on the daily doings of the two heroes; the spring lotteries are offering round trips and ringside seats as prizes rather than the usual cars and boats; both Stockholm evening papers are running competitions in which the winners receive round-trip tickets and ringside seats. Even the Norwegians, who consider themselves the elite of the north and who have never really forgiven Sweden for not caring more when they seceded in 1905, are proud that a Scandinavian, at least, may become champion.
But Sweden's pride, passion and joy is tempered by the dour fact that the Swedish state radio implacably refuses to broadcast the fight. Last spring, after a motion to suspend state subsidies to boxing clubs on the grounds that it was a dangerous and cruel sport was defeated in the Riksdag, state radio piously announced that it would no longer broadcast fights because boxing is not really a sport, is indeed dangerous and cannot have a beneficial effect on listeners. Last week, a Socialist M.P. rose in the Riksdag and asked the Minister of Communications whether he intended to do anything about persuading state radio to change its mind. The minister replied that it was undemocratic and unconstitutional for the government to influence the radio. A Conservative M.P. could not refrain from pointing out at this point that the chamber was full for once and that he was sure that if the bout was broadcast half the members would tune in.
"State radio doesn't care whether boxing is good or bad for the listeners," says Johansson himself. "They decided to abandon boxing broadcasts only because they are stingy. Before they had their ridiculous prohibition they asked dozens of times for permission to broadcast my fights, but they were never prepared to pay what it was calculated I would lose on ticket sales if a bout were broadcast."
Unless Svenska Shell Oil goes through with its plan to beam the fight in from Denmark, it looks as though the Swedes will be in the dark, but only figuratively. No one in Sweden need go to bed the night of the fight, which will be held about 4 a.m. Swedish time, for June 25 is a day of the midnight sun in Scandinavia. The sun won't set and Sweden will give itself to festival—especially if Ingo wins.