Feb. 18, 1960
"We don't regard the games as test contests—Los Angeles fans already have shown they appreciate big league sports," Marty Blake told The Times leading up to the Lakers' games at the Sports Arena against the St. Louis Hawks. Blake, a longtime NBA official and draft guru, was identified as the Hawks' business manager. "Of course I can't say who will get a franchise there or when but I know the Lakers are interested in moving to your town."
Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Feb. 5, 1960: The Lakers were inching closer to a new home in Los Angeles.
The team's owner, Bob Short, was complaining about life in Minneapolis while the team was adjusting its schedule to play two games in February at the new Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Short said the Lakers' previous owners should have sold two veterans, George Mikan and Jim Pollard, to get some money before they retired. "Other teams better fixed financially can get by with letting their veterans retire," Short said. "In this business when you want to stay ahead of the sheriff you keep moving."
Speaking of moving, the Lakers announced two days later plans to play the St. Louis Hawks in L.A. on Feb. 21-22. Short said he wanted to see if fans would support games on consecutive nights. If the Lakers moved to L.A. without another NBA team heading west, back-to-back games would be scheduled to reduce travel costs.
More than 10,000 fans attended a Lakers game at the Sports Arena despite what The Times called "inclement weather." Wonder what it was like in Minneapolis that day?
“You Remember Her?”
NBC used to have an opera company. Amazing, no? Although I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Virginia Copeland (Gordoni), David Poleri or Chester Ludgin.
“Goliath and the Barbarians” in Colorscope!
Paul Zimmerman takes a look at “Hot Rod” Hundley of the Lakers and Guy Rodgers of the Philadelphia Warriors.
|Feb. 1, 1960: Republican National Chairman Sen. Thruston B. Morton (R-Ky.) comments on the results of a Gallup poll showing that the party was losing strength. He talks about the effect of Vice President Richard Nixon being unchallenged as GOP nominee and praises President Eisenhower, while saying Eisenhower has "concentrated more on running the country than on building the party. Morton also notes: "Complacency has been our serious weakness." |
Donald Williams testifies about a murder-for-hire plot in the Finch killing.
Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.) challenges Vice President Nixon to a series of debates with potential Democratic candidates.
“Cash McCall” is opening in Los Angeles.
|Jan. 19, 1960: A DC-3 carrying the Lakers from St. Louis to Minneapolis makes an emergency landing in a snow-covered cornfield near Carroll, Iowa. Elgin Baylor says it’s a miracle the plane landed safely. |
"Terry, What's Wrong?"
A B-24 Liberator that vanished on a bombing run on Naples, Italy, on April 4, 1943, is found in the Libyan desert with no sign of its crew: 1st Lt. William J. Hatton; 2nd Lt. Robert F. Toner; 2nd Lt. D.P. Hays; 2nd Lt. John S. Woravak; Tech. Sgt. Harold S. Rispslinger; Tech. Sgt. Robert E. La Montte; Staff Sgt. Guy E. Shelley; Staff Sgt. Vernon L. Ford; and Staff Sgt. Samuel R. Adams.
Chamberlain would be part of the first NBA game played in the new Sports Arena Oct. 1. His Philadelphia Warriors would play the St. Louis Hawks in an exhibition game to help open the arena. It would not be Chamberlain's first pro appearance in L.A. He played a game with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Stories about coaches being hired or fired are tricky. If things aren't finalized, there's every reason for caution. So it's not unusual to read a story that says a team is close to hiring a coach or is expected to fire a coach. This story about the Lakers' search for a new coach was a little different.
Bill Sharman, the coach of the ABA's Los Angeles Stars, was expected to be named the Lakers' new coach, according to sources. What's weird abut Mal Florence's story was the quote from Sharman:
"I keep hearing things through the back door. But I've had no contact with the Lakers--anyway nothing direct."
You don't often have the potential coach go on the record like that. Maybe Sharman was campaigning for the job, or perhaps he was that close to being hired. Sharman eventually got the job, but had to wait a couple more seasons.
He went with the Stars when the franchise moved to Utah and they won the ABA title in 1970-71. The next season he was back in L.A. and led the Lakers to an NBA title. Makes one wonder if the Lakers missed a chance for a couple more championships.
Richard Nixon and South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu agree to meet. View this page
Butch Van Breda Kolff resigned, headed to Detroit after two seasons as coach of the Lakers. His decision "for the best interest of all concerned" came after the Lakers blew a 2-0 lead in the finals to the Boston Celtics, losing in seven games.
The Times' Dan Hafner left no doubt why the coach was leaving: "Apparently Van Breda Kolff's days were numbered from the day the club acquired [Wilt] Chamberlain from Philadelphia." Player and coach didn't get along, and when that happens the coach almost always loses.
Speaking of Wilt, he was called out by the Celtics' player-coach, Bill Russell, for leaving Game 7 with an injured knee. Van Breda Kolff wouldn't put him back in, saying later that the Lakers were "doing well without him."
Russell said in a May 22 story, "Any injury short of a broken leg or back isn't good enough."
Wilt's response, a day later: "He is a man and I suppose subject therefore to his own opinion. Why he has chosen to enlighten the world with it, only he knows."
Tony Conigliaro was getting letters, not about baseball, but about his love life.
"Here's one from a 75-year-old woman," he said to The Times' Ross Newhan. "She writes: 'How an innocent boy like you can get mixed up with somebody like her I don't know. I don't like the idea of you marrying her.' "
Conigliaro, the dashing young right fielder of the Boston Red Sox, had fallen victim to a familiar Southern California curse. He was dating an actress.
Mamie Van Doren's name and photo had been in sports stories before, as the girlfriend of boxer Art Aragon and pitcher Bo Belinsky. She had married and divorced a minor league pitcher, Lee Meyers.
Newhan wrote: "Conigliaro shook his head and said, "Most of the letters are sad ... you know, from 16-year-old girls who just don't want me to get married."
Conigliaro's life had enough subplots for a movie. He was one of baseball's brightest young stars when he was beaned by the Angels' Jack Hamilton in 1967. His injuries included a fractured cheekbone. He missed all of 1968 but fought his way back into Boston's lineup. He hit 20 home runs in 1969, then 36 in 1970. His reward was a trade to the Angels, of all teams.
It was a disaster. He played only 74 games and hit only four home runs, retiring in a bizarre early-morning news conference in Oakland after a 20-inning, 1-0 loss. Newhan's story in 1969 included assurances from Conigliaro that his vision was OK, but he described things very differently in 1971.
"When the pitcher holds the ball, I can't see his hand or the ball. I pick up the spin on the ball late by looking away, to the side, I don't know how I do it. I kept it away from the Red Sox," he said.
There was one more comeback in 1975. But he hit only .123 in 21 games. Conigliaro suffered a massive heart attack in 1982 and died in 1990.
Newhan's story ended with a discussion of romance and dating amid a batting slump.
"I'm tired," said Conigliaro. "I'm under a strain. I'm not going to have another date for a long time." He was asked to define a long time. He smiled and said: "About a day."
-- Keith Thursby
OK, ladies, fess up. How many of you dressed like this? The scarf on the arm thing is really intriguing--what kept it up? And those glasses! But to be honest, I usually enjoy the bold, dramatic artwork in the fashion ads, which gave the pages some style and elegance.
The Angels wanted to finish their exhibition series on an off day for both teams. You can't blame them for trying -- the Angels were 6-1 against the Dodgers since they began playing each other in spring training. The teams had each won a game in 1969, with the third game rained out.
You know the regular season is going badly when you're trying to line up a meaningless exhibition.
Dodgers Vice President Red Patterson wired Angels General Manager Dick Walsh to decline (this was long before the two executives could Twitter each other). Patterson said the Dodgers would want to use one of their starting pitchers against the Angels, and "with our club shooting for a division championship, breaking into the regular rotation would not seem too wise."
-- Keith Thursby
Otherwise, how do you explain the balloons?
In one of the oddest footnotes in modern professional sports, the Forum's rafters were filled with balloons that would be released when the Lakers won. "They might remain in their roost for some time to come," Mal Florence wrote in The Times after watching Boston's 108-106 victory.
There were plots and subplots galore.
--The Lakers were built around three superstars, with Jerry West leading the way despite an injured leg. He was named the final's most valuable player and got a car instead of a championship.
--Wilt Chamberlain injured his knee and left the game with about five minutes to play just as the Lakers were cutting into the Celtics' lead.
--Chamberlain wanted to get back in the game but was kept on the bench by Coach Butch van Breda Kolff: "I told him that we were doing well enough without him." The Lakers and van Breda Kolff would soon part company.
--Former Laker Don Nelson gave Boston a three-point lead with about a minute left when his shot from the free-throw line "as luck or fate would have it ... hit the front rim, bounced high into the air and then settled into the net," Florence wrote.
--West scored 42 points but took only one shot in the last four minutes.
--Parts of the game were far from pretty. Several players were in foul trouble and the Lakers missed 15 consecutive shots during one part of the third quarter.
You could feel the disappointment in The Times' coverage. Here's my favorite lead, from Chuck Garrity:
"The colorful balloons hung there in the dark rafters of the Forum. ... The USC Trojan band, hired to march around blaring "Happy Days are Here Again" quietly tucked their instruments back into their cases. ... The Lakers were non-champions of the world of professional basketball again."
The fourth quarter of Game 7 has survived on Youtube. Here's a section where the Lakers rally and Chamberlain hurts his knee.
The Celtics won Game 6, 99-90, at the Boston Garden to force a final deciding game back in Calfornia. Jerry West played despite a pulled hamstring and scored 26 points, which was 13 under his average for the series.
"You want to come up with the greatest performance in your life in the championship test but you're now in the 100th game and the body is weakening," Boston's John Havlicek said. "It's just a case that the body can take only so much."
West said the Lakers would have won if "I could have played a normal game."
Boston's player-coach Bill Russell didn't think West was limited because of the injury, a remark that might have been in jest but was pounced on the following day by Times columnist John Hall:
"The Celtics may very well win it all once again in the grand finale tonight in the Forum, and it is to their credit that they have hung in there again against the odds, but they should be thanking whatever lucky stars or planets one thanks that a freak muscle pull in the final meaningless minutes of a fifth game that was already iced did more to maintain their tradition than all the cigars in Red Auerbach's many mouths."
[Hey Keith--look at the ad on the runover! Learn how to raise chinchillas in the privacy of your own home!--lrh]