• U.S.

Sport: Chicago Polo

3 minute read

Polo has never been a major sport in Chicago. Of recent years it has been played by scattered groups each dominated by the man who owned the field—domineering Col. Robert Rutherford (Chicago Tribune] McCormick at Catigny Farm, ambitious Paul Butler (paper) at Oak Brook (he has eight fields), successful John Hertz (taxicabs) at Leona Farms, and A. C. Barger at North Shore. At

Onwentsia Club in smart Lake Forest, polo has been less a one-man affair, more of a game, with Broker Charles Foster Glore and Major Frederic McLaughlin (Coffee, Irene Castle’s husband) as guiding spirits. There were a few Army teams to play with, but by & large Chicago polo was unorganized. Major McLaughlin last winter decided something ought to be done. He suggested to President Louis Stoddard of the U. S. Polo Association that a series of international matches be played at Onwentsia. Mr. Stoddard said that would be fine but they would have to be financed. Major McLaughlin and his friends dug up $20,000 for polo’s sake and arrangements were made to import the Old Aiken team, composed of four Long Island youths, and the Santa Paula team from Argentina which played in California last year. Last week the great moment came: Onwentsia was for a moment polo capital of the land.

The occasion gave excuse for a tremendous social stir. A bustling series of luncheons, dinners, cocktail parties and balls was organized. Chief organizer was grey-haired but vivacious Mrs. Lucy Blair Linn, cousin of Col. McCormick, wife of a Chicago stockbroker. To facilitate conversation, she sent around Spanish-English dictionaries to be placed beside each guest sitting next to an Argentine. When fierce competition arose between hostesses as to who should entertain whom the night of the first game, Mrs. Linn placed the names of all eligible guests in one of her hats, had the competing hostesses draw them out.

In the course of a practice match, a ball driven out of bounds came close to hitting Mrs. Linn. Cried she: “If they think it would help polo’s publicity, I’ll let one of the ponies run over me.”

When the international matches were finally ready to begin, the Argentines were favorites. Theirs was a rugged, seasoned team, held together by 40-year-old, eight-goal Manuel Andrada at back. Cokey Rathborne, Jimmy Mills, Stewart Iglehart and Elbridge Gerry have called themselves the Old Aiken team for the last four or live seasons. They have been playing together on fields at Aiken. Westbury, Harvard and Yale and on the tanbark of Manhattan armories for the last eleven years. They averaged 30 Ib. lighter, but 15 years younger than the Argentines. . In the first match, with 4,000 excited socialites craning on the sidelines, slim Ebby Gerry flashed through the Argentine defense to score seven goals. One goal he made after the head of his mallet came off, by turning the stick upside down and hitting the ball with the handle—a trick he had seen performed by Tommy Hitchcock ten years ago. His comrades made seven more. Though they rode desperately, the Argentines scored only eleven times. The winning edge was as much a matter of horseflesh as it was teamwork. About 20 of the Argentine’s 37 mounts had distemper.

Lake Forest went off to its cocktail and dinner parties devoutly hoping the Argentines would win on Wednesday so that there could be another Saturday game, another polo weekend.

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