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Message for Dulles
General' Manager Frank Lane, brain-in-chief of the Chicago White Sox, allows that we are handling the Russian problem all wrong. "There's nothing to it," Lane has informed a friend of his. "All you have to do is sit Molotov down between Branch Rickey and Casey Stengel, and in four years Russia will have nothing left but Siberia and a couple of left-handed pitchers."
Track, field and theater
Like rowing, baseball and the utilization of canoes in courtship, track meets are traditionally associated with blue and balmy days when the turf is soft and trees beyond the stadium are in lacy leaf. But most of New York's dedicated track fans—and many of those in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington—wouldn't take a five-minute bus ride to watch runners compete after the ground has thawed. The big winter indoor meets, which have been a phenomenon of sport on the Eastern seaboard for almost a half century and had their beginnings long before that, afford the New Yorker his track season, and when they are done he yawns and waits for the next winter.
But though he sustains his enthusiasm for little more than five weeks, it burns bright and hot when it is at its peak. Madison Square Garden was jammed to the rafters last week (at prices ranging from $1.50 to $4.50 a seat) for the famed Millrose Games, first event of Manhattan's indoor season, and it will be jammed once a week henceforth until the Garden meets end. There is good reason for this midwinter habit: the big indoor meets are wonderful theater and, excepting perhaps a big day at the Olympic Games, tend to be more exciting than outdoor competition on quarter-mile tracks.
Almost all events are invitational affairs; famous men from the world of track are shipped in by the squad, the laggards are sternly culled and resultant races are apt to be fast and thrilling. The Millrose crowd not only saw Wes Santee upset by Denmark's Gunnar Nielsen in a riotous (and indoor world-record) Wanamaker Mile last week, but was privileged to watch the incredible Harrison Dillard flash over the hurdles, to gasp as the Rev. Bob Richards vaulted 15 feet 2 inches, and cheer a hatful of ex-Olympic sprinters and middle-distance men and the best of Eastern college relay teams.
Instead of occupying a lonely seat in an all-but-empty stadium, furthermore, the spectators sat jammed into a big crowd amid noise and band music and looked directly down upon almost all the action—the Garden's little 12-laps-to-the-mile board track with its sharp banked turns and short straight-ways gives foot racing an immediacy and sense of conflict lacking out of doors. All of this, despite the strangeness of the season, seemed logical enough; the first track meet of any kind in the U.S. was held when summer was long past (Nov. 11, 1868) and it was held indoors in New York.
It was, in retrospect, an extremely odd affair. To stage it, the fledgling New York Athletic Club took over a half-completed skating rink, closed its unfinished roof with a huge tarpaulin, and laid out an eighth-of-a-mile track on the soft infloored clay, between its foundations. When the competitors assembled, William B. Curtis, a NYAC founder, proudly unwrapped two articles he had just brought back from England—the first pair of spiked shoes ever seen in the U.S. Five different men wore them (they were large and loose) with varying results before the meet was over.
The winter indoor track meet has been a part of sport in the East ever since. Many of the early ones were held (as a good many club meets are still) on the flat hardwood floors of big armories. Often bicycle races and gymnastic contests were a part of the program and the track athletes engaged in events long since outmoded and forgotten: pole-vaulting for distance, shot-putting for height, and the standing long jump with dumbbell weights swung in each hand for added distance.
The advent of the invitational event (the NYAC's Baxter Mile, to be run this week, dates from 1910) and finally of the banked wooden track and of the very short, extremely sharp spikes which runners wear on them brought modern indoor meets to maturity. The Garden's present track, constructed of spruce boards six inches wide and one and one half inches thick, is only 12 feet wide and is built in eighty 15-foot sections which are bolted together to make an oval. It is springy and as fast as cinders—although splintered boards nevertheless must be replaced after every meet, and a man who falls on it is lucky not to lose some hide.