Few members of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S staff hold the honor of having an athletic performer named after them, as far as I know. But it does belong to Jeremiah Tax, who in this issue has prepared the professional basketball preview. Here he is, visibly and proudly attached to the latest member of his clan.
The only four-legged Tax has the first name of Meadow and is a yearling pacer of distinguished heritage. His sire, Dudley Hanover, is one of the leading alltime money winners, won the Little Brown Jug in 1950 and seven times paced a mile in less than 2 minutes, a feat known in harness circles as the miracle mile.
When he is not covering basketball, Jerry Tax is likely to be making the rounds of the nearly 500 tracks which are the circuit of the booming sport of harness racing. Along the way he'll see his close friend, Delvin Miller, trainer, driver and breeder, whom Jerry has called "the finest all-round horseman that sulky racing has ever produced" (SI, June 30, 1958), a judgment that starts no arguments. Del Miller returned the compliment in two words: Meadow Tax. Jerry asserts that his namesake was the biggest bargain of the Delaware Yearling Sale, where he went to William Connolly for $1,300. If that starts an argument, it will have to wait for settlement until next year when Meadow Tax enters his first race.
I asked Jerry if he preferred to cover harness racing or basketball. "I've asked the question myself, and so have a lot of others," Jerry said. "I like them both, of course. There is one thing. Horses can't talk, and that makes it tougher. You'd like to interview them to find out what they've really been up to. I've never had much luck. It's hard to understand their language."
But basketball players can talk. Two who have been talking to Tax for a number of years are Wilt Chamberlain and the Boston Celtics' great Bill Russell. In his preview, Tax foresees an epic rivalry between Chamberlain, the most publicized basketball player in history, who now starts his professional career with Philadelphia, and Russell, perhaps the most superb defensive player the game has known.
As you will see, Jerry Tax understands their language—straight from the horse's mouth.