Corum Rises to Heights in New Post: Newspaper Writer Proves His Worth, Daily Racing Form, 1950-05-06


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tflp Corum Rises to Heights in New Post Newspaper Writer Proves Hi sWorth Major Bill Has Rough Row To Cultivate, Succeeding His Beloved Friend, Col. Winn By TEDDY COX CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky.. May 5. — As you headed for the general office at the end of the expansive grand- stand here, you were thinking of the day when you possibly saved the mans life? and of Narragansett Park and Whirlaway and Alsab and the "greetings" from the late President Roosevelt you had in your pocket. Whirlaway had just about collared the great Cinderella colt and the man was screaming until it seemed his lungs would burst and with each lunge by the Calumet comet the little man next to you in the press box edged farther out the window. At the finish, with the two horses locked in a stirring struggle, you found yourself grabbing the fellow by the leg, as his body protruded half out the opening, with a sheer drop of more than 100 feet, nothing to break a fall. Just Call Me Bill Ordinarily, such a frenzied demonstration could be expected from the average person, but when a man has spent the best part of his 55 years writing and broadcasting momentuous sports events, youd think it would take the fall of Troy or the ! Empire State building, or some such cataclysm to stir his emotion. But Bill Corum will ever possess tremendous enthusiasm. Hes been that way since he came out of a town called Speed, Mo., and today as president of Churchill Downs he finds it impossible to suppress such enthusiasm. While hes a Kentucky colonel by courtesy and holds the military rank of major and his given names are Martene Windsor, he insists "just call me Bill." His manner is infectious and William Veeneman and J. Graham Brown, majority stockholders-in Churchill Downs, are extremely satisfied that in choosing Bill, they selected perhaps the one man in America worthy and qualified to succeed the late Col. Matt J. Winn as "Mr. Derby." It was on March 1 last that he officially BILL CORUM— Conducts his first Derby. assumed office, and with his appearance came a package of tasty morsels weighing about 100 pounds from one of his well-wishing friends who operates a fancy bean-ery in New York. "Looks as if were all going to eat," Ray Hoertz, one of the officials here, remarked. Bill took it from there, and at noon called everyone to his quarters, including the Negro janitors, and they enjoyed a feast theyll long remember. Actually, it wasnt- an unusual gesture, but it was timed perfectly and broke a tension that never again can exist so long as Bill remains at the helm. There was nothing unusual about Cor-ums childhood. His parents insisted upon proper schooling and, other than playing baseball they say he could have been a major league second baseman, he con-Continued on Page Eighteen Corum Rises to New Heights In Post as Churchill Chief Major Bill Has Rough Row 4 To Cultivate, Succeeding His Beloved Friend, Colonel Winn Continued from Page Sixteen centrated on his studies. When World War I broke out he was in college and, because he had several years in the National Guard, he was among the first to respond to the call of duty. After a short period of training he was commissioned a first lieutenant, and as the war progressed his rank rose. He emerged from the conflict the youngest major of the war, and on the breast of his uniform was pinned a "fruit salad" that included the purple, heart, three silver stars and five bronze stars. After the war he went to the Columbia School of Journalism, graduated, and obtained employment on the New York Times at 0 per week". This, incidentally, was heavy wages for a cub reporter in those days. Bill drifted into the sports department and began to cover the usual minor events assigned to a youngster of limited experience. Eventually he was assigned to cover the Brooklyn Dodgers, a stint at the time not considered a choice plum, the Yankees and Giants being the big stuff in New York. It made no difference to Bill, though. His writings would have attracted attention if he -were covering a chess game. Impresses Brisbane Arthur Brisbane, one of the greatest of newspapermen, read some of Bills yarns and liked his style. However, he thought it had been written by another more established craftsman the Times seldom allowed their men by-lines then and ordered one of his assistants to hire this man. When he later was informed that it was Bill Corum who wrote the yarn, Brisbane did not change his plans. "I dont care who wrote it, see if you cant get him," the brilliant journalist ordered.- , . Bill was not anxious to leave the Times; but the difference between 50 per week and 0 decided the issue. Before long Bill was doing a column for the Journal. Later he fell into radio work for the Gillette Razor Company, and of late had been in television. Through all his years of sportswriting and sportscasting, the Kentucky Derby was a "must" among his assignments. He covered his initial "Run for the Roses," an appropriate title that he dreamed up himself in 1926 when Albert Johnson piloted Bubbling Over to a five-length victory, and has not missed one since. It was through these Derby visits that he became friendly with Colonel Winn and when the latter visited New York in the winter on his annual vacation he always put aside time for Bill Corum. Upon Colonel Winns death Bill was named to fill his late friends post Colonel Winns salary had been 0,000 annually and Bill was given the same offer. But because of numerous contracts, he was unable to accept the post on a full-time basis and suggested" that the salary be cut to 5,000. It is worthy of note and characteristic of the man that Bill insisted that either Brownie Leach, public relations director, or Russell Sweeney, resident manager, should first be considered to succeed Colonel Winn. Brown and Venneman assured him that Leach and Sweeney had been considered, but that they did not want to disrupt the organization, that they had decided on "an outsider" for the job. It was only then that Bill settled. His parting "shot" as a newspaperman at the Derby was one of the highlights of his career, for last season he not only picked the winner, Ponder, but selected Capot, Palestinian and Old Rockport in the order named, and thats where they finished. Bill says Babe Ruth was the greatest of all baseball players "during his time, that Joe Louis was the outstanding heavyweight, and that Ray "Sugar" Robinson is the greatest fighter pound-for-pound he has ever seen.

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