Even the greatest polo players are not celebrities, such is the well-bred and sporting background of the game. The name of Thomas Hitchcock Jr. is, it is true, known to a great many persons who are not his friends. But these people do not nuzzle and push to catch a glimpse of him when he appears in public as they do to see Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, William Tatem Tilden II or Robert Tyre Jones Jr. Unique among all U. S. games, polo has remained the property of players rather than spectators. Significant, for example, is the fact that Polo, the one national magazine (monthly) devoted ably and exclusively to the game, has a circulation of only 2,816.†
There is however a class of persons to whom polo is more important than life or death. To these, great polo players seem not celebrities but gods whose divinity no intimacy can impair. Grooms and rubbers and kids whose fathers work in the stables, they find some precious excitement in the smell of turf and horses, the feeling of rubbed leather. These were the ones who were most excited and least surprised last week when the Handicap Committee of the U. S. Polo Association announced the handicap changes for 1929.
Polo handicaps indicate the individual abilities of players. Each player receives a handicap of so many "goals." In a handicap match, the general practice is to add together the individual handicaps of the players and give the difference in the two totals to the weaker team. The highest individual rating is ten goals.
There were several notable shifts in last week's new U. S. ratings, made as a result of the international series last October in which a much-mulled-over U. S. team played three matches against the Argentines and won two of them. Devereaux Milburn, now retired from international polo, was lowered at his own request from ten goals to six, partly because he broke his collarbone last year. Malcolm Stevenson was dropped from ten goals to eight. Thomas Hitchcock Jr. alone among U. S. players remained handicapped at ten goals. His only peer now is Lewis Lacey of the Argentine.
Nine goals—Frederick Winston Churchill Guest, Meadow Brook, Westbury, L. I.
Eight goals—Malcolm Stevenson, Meadow Brook; J. Watson Webb, Meadow Brook; Harry East, Riverside, Calif.; J. Cheever Cowdin, Rockaway Hunt; Eric Pedley, Midwick Country Club, Pasadena, Calif.; A. P. Perkins, Midwick; Earle A. S. Hopping, unattached ; W. Averell Harriman, Sands Point Polo Club, Port Washington, L. I.
Seven goals—Earle W. Hopping, Bryn Mawr. Pa.; Robert E. Strawbridge Jr., Bryn Mawr; E. J. Roeseke Jr., Santa Barbara, Calif.; Capt. Peter P. Rodes, Army Polo Association; Stephen Sanford, Westchester Polo Club, Newport, R. I.; Capt. C. H. Gerhardt, Army; Capt. C. A. Wilkinson, Army Polo Association.