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Swimming began at 6 in the morning, and on opening day 173 swimmers were on hand to begin churning up and down the 71-yard pool. Congestion grew as the day—and most following days—wore on. To further its members' sense of patriotism the club gave free breakfasts to early swimmers and ladled out gallons of free soup and hot chocolate to those who arrived later. Friends and parents of swimmers kept track of the number of laps swum, but the daily collection of reports was so complex that they had to be run through an electric brain at a local aircraft factory in the interests of an accurate record. Five hundred and thirty-eight swimmers won club trophies by their efforts—65 of them for swimming 25 miles or more. Total distance covered: 12,522,065 yards, or more than 7,000 miles—about three and one-third times the length of the Mississippi itself.
SAGE AT THE CAGE
The Pittsburgh pirates had hardly gathered for spring training at Fort Myers, Fla. last week before Branch Rickey, a man who can pop out of retirement as authoritatively as a whistling marmot, was hard at work preparing them for the National League pennant. Mr. Rickey assumed his role of "available consultant" by hustling out to the batting cage, costumed in dark blue suit, dark blue hat, black tie, black socks, black shoes and a big black cigar, and by climbing to a platform which had been hastily constructed for him behind the netting. The Pirates' regular batting coach, George Harold Sisler, had been laid low by an abdominal operation and Mr. Rickey was taking over for him. He sat down on a chair placed upon the perch and got down to business.
"Come here, boy, and shake my hand," he called to Catcher Danny Kravitz. Then he summoned First Baseman John Powers and Outfielder Howard Goss. "How are you?" he said to each. "I'm glad to see you." He beamed. "Everybody comfortable?" His auditors nodded. "All right, all right," said Mr. Rickey, pointing at Kravitz. "Jump in there now. I want you to hit 10. Hit everything. Don't let anything get past you. That's fine. Slow that pitching machine down a little. And will somebody find more ball shaggers. We need help. Every minute is valuable. Fine, Danny, fine. All right, Howie, now it's your turn.
"Perfect stride," he said, approvingly. "Perfect stance. Look at that swing. Son, it's a shame for you to hit .265. Just concentrate on getting the fat part of the bat on the ball." He nodded to Powers. "All right, John," he said. "Watch out for blisters. Are you wearing that glove, John?" Powers held out his hand to demonstrate a light golfer's glove. "That's right," said Mr. Rickey. "Take care of those gloves, now. We only have 10 or 12 pair. Now, John—hit everything to left field."
Mr. Rickey turned to Goss. "Now you watch this. He used to hit everything down the right field line. He must have hit 300 home run balls in one year—all foul. But see there—" The pitching machine belched forth another ball and Powers dropped his left foot back and sent it whistling into left. "You see? Watch that back foot. He makes it look easy, doesn't he, Howie?"
"Yes, sir," said Goss. "Real easy."
"Well, you can too," said Mr. Rickey. "He used to be worse than you. You know why he can do it now? Tell Howie what that word is, John."
Powers looked around and grinned. "Intent," he said.
"That's right. Intent. How do you spell it, John?"