The green fields of September are football fields, and the time has come to map them. This issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is given over largely to charts and guides and helpful hints for use on that tricky, white-striped terrain. Eyes have appraised the brawn of tackles and the speed of backs; ears have listened for the telltale notes of confidence (or bravado) in the voices of coaches. Estimates have been compiled, revised, made final. And it is all here, a football banquet at the beginning of the season instead of at the end.
We hope that the reader, once the banquet is digested, will feel the same way as the editors. We can't wait to see a football game.
The good burghers of Milwaukee are a steady lot, generally speaking, and not given to neuroses, but the other night the whole town seemed to be gripped by a curious kind of frustration. Milwaukeeans feel that they can personally do something about the hot National League pennant race—that if everybody in town hustles out to the ball park and yells for nine innings they can, by a process of spiritual osmosis, make the Braves win. But the night that Sal Maglie beat their heroes in Brooklyn last week they could do nothing but listen (no television) to their radios, heads cocked to one side like the Victor talking-machine dog, and mutter and clench their hands and gradually realize that Brooklyn was beating the Braves.
How Milwaukee listened! Erwin C. Uihlein, president of the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company, did not mind at all the fact that the broadcast was sponsored by Miller High Life beer—he concentrated instead on a sort of mental telepathy calculated to make Manager Fred Haney remove pitchers as soon as trouble reared its head. He felt that Haney was not listening and said so. At a sea food restaurant named Eugene's Juneau, Morris Friedman, the manager, stood at the entrance to the dining room, with the earphone plug of a transistor radio stuck in one ear, and disengaged himself from it with a sort of despairing jerk only when it was absolutely necessary to seat guests.
A walk down any street made it obvious that almost every radio in town was tuned to the ball game—in fact, a good many people, including Robert S. Stevenson, president of Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co., carried a portable from room to room at home to prevent getting out of earshot of the play-by-play for an instant. But it was primary election night, and some people were moved to vote. Poll workers at city hall were not permitted radios (on the ground that they might—unrealistic though the idea might have been—tune in on a political speech and thus illegally tout a candidate). But they got the news anyhow—an elevator operator had a portable in his car and passed on the news between trips.
Scores of young couples spooned as usual in their automobiles at the Victory Drive-in Theater and watched the double bill—Pardners and Earth vs. Flying Saucers. But they turned down the gadgets bringing them the movie sound and listened to the game on their car radios. Mayor Frank Zeidler attended a seminar at the University of Wisconsin in Madison but managed to hear the early part of the broadcast in a dormitory room. He was so disconcerted that he shut off the radio, went to the observatory and looked at Mars. Refreshed, he went back to the broadcast and was shaken all over again. "It was really sickening in the eighth...."
Milwaukee listened even harder and with greater difficulty the next day—the game began before the lunch hour and ran on after it—but the city listened. Mayor Zeidler had to go home for lunch (to baby-sit while Mrs. Zeidler was judging a doll contest), but happily the radio was working. Dignified bankers of the First Wisconsin National Bank huddled around a cigar stand where the proprietor had his set tuned in. At the instant the game was over and won and Milwaukee back in the lead, the horns of hundreds of automobiles let go downtown. "That," said Mayor Zeidler, a well man again for a while, "was more like it."
THE TROTTING FIX