THE SPORTING SCENE
Slaughter on Massachusetts Avenue
As a loyal son of Harvard, I have a lot of problems on my mind right now. Take first base, for example. We can't keep on wasting the world's best outfielder there, and we don't have enough decent outfielders to go around anyhow. Third base is a problem, too, and the pitching staff isn't getting any younger. And how about Slaughter--will he have another great year?
No, we can't say it was an unmixed blessing that put Harvard into the professional baseball business. But there it is, and nothing can be done about it--Harvard owns a piece of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The facts are simple. The University has 10,000 shares of Anhouser-Busch (the Budweiser people) among its general investments; it was an anonymous gift which the administration can't give up for sentimental reasons. And it was Anhouser-Busch which bought the Cards last month from Fred Saigh, for about $3,750,000.
The University's fiscal report for 1952 lists the stock at $250,000, but this is just "book value" and it is impossible to determine its real present worth since the company is closely held and its securities haven't passed through the open market recently. One thing is sure, though--it is worth plenty more than $250,000. In other words, Harvard University's interest in Anhouser-Busch is the equivalent of at least one fifteenth and possibly more than a tenth of the price paid for the Cardinals.
So far, University Hall has refused to disclose its plans. If Treasurer Paul Cabot has taken part in player contract negotiations or exhibition game arrangements, he has kept it a well guarded secret. Members of his staff insist he has no comment. The deputy treasurer refuses to make any predictions about either pennant or attendance prospects.
Tom Bolles and Stuffy McInnis are clearly under orders from above to keep shut about the situation. Questioned on the subject, Bolles merely laughs nervously and blushes furiously; McInnis has successfully dodged the whole question.
But this ostrich policy can't go on forever. Some issues will have to be met squarely and publicly. For one thing, Commissioner Ford Frick will have to rule on the propriety of having a college team put smack into a major league farm system. Will this violate the restrictions on dealing with amateurs? What minor league classification will Harvard be put into? Will Harvard players be subject to the annual player draft? Can the Cards send us players on option? Can they step in and shuffle the team's personnel if they aren't satisfied with its performance?
And the University will have to shoulder some of the responsibility for running the Cards, too. Who will represent the Corporation on the board of directors? One of its own men? or Cabot? or Bolles or McInnis? Or will it be an elective position, filled every few years by vote of the alumni?
Also, how about a Harvard Day May 3 at Braves Field when the Redbirds first come to town, for a Sunday doubleheader? Will the Crimson Key arrange this? Could it be the climax to the All-College Weekend?
These are merely some of the questions that come first to mind. They aren't necessarily the most important, and they certainly aren't the only ones. But they make one thing very, very clear. The University is going to have to act fast and forthrightly before the situation gets completely out of hand. Things can't go on for long in this hopeless muddle.
Now, to get back to the first question. Do you think Bilko will ever hit major league pitching? Will Stanky's firing of Terry Moore hurt us at the gate? Is Mizell really a left-handed Dizzy Dean?