THE DRAMA OF OCT. 15
Last April I meant to write you to tell you that your Special Baseball Issue marked the coming of age of the best magazine in the country. I never did get around to doing it, and the same thing happened when your Special Football Issue came out early this fall.
But I've got to sit down now and tell you that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Oct. 15 issue was the most entertaining and worthwhile issue of any magazine I have ever read. The drama of the World Series was magnificent, a perfect blend of words and pictures to recreate that amazing cliff-hanger. SPECTACLE was truly spectacular—in fact, awe-inspiring. Your football coverage has been great from the beginning of the season, and the Vanderbilt story was told with precision and insight.
Congratulations on a job well done. In two years you have become old pros.
HARVEY H. H. CLENDENING
Orchids to your gambling editor for leaving two pages open in the Oct. 15 issue for the unexpected to happen in the Series. It did.
Gerald Holland's article Casey in the Stretch (SI, Oct. 1) was of particular interest to us because we made the offer to Casey to redeem for $483.05 the old uniform which he had taken with him in lieu of back pay when the Kankakee team disbanded in 1910.
As you reported, Casey was unable to locate the uniform in his sister's attic. He has now suggested to us in a recent letter that we donate the $483.05 to the local Little League teams. We will definitely do this and have asked Stengel to revisit Kankakee, where he began his baseball career, and personally present our check to the "future baseball big leaguers" in our behalf.
WILLIAM A. SCHNEIDER, President
Kankakee Federal Savings and Loan Assn.
The month is October. The forests are flame-colored, and the iridescent trout has gone the way of all summer's mysteries. Persistent autumn has nudged out the fleeting exuberance of summer. We are content.
Then we read William Saroyan's eulogy (SI, Oct. 22) to baseball and the Yankees, that great Univac of the diamond. And he has brought back all the sorrow, wretchedness, pain, disappointment, anxiety and bitterness which time has helped to heal.
Mr. Saroyan is an articulate reporter, but perhaps his perception has failed him, for he has missed a rather basic point. He has missed the guiding spirit, a very real spirit, which has commanded the Dodgers—this year, and last year, and 10 years ago when Ducky Medwick loped out to the field. Perhaps this spirit is beyond Mr. Saroyan's conception or understanding. It is a spirit which has impelled our beloved Snider, Campanella, Maglie and the rest to insane, impossible feats. It is a spirit which remains when the last player has left the clubhouse. It is a spirit that often pervades the ancient marriage of hero and hero-worshiper. We call it love.
Chances are there will never be a Robinsonville or a Furillo Park. Your formidable and gargantuan Yankees will no doubt go unscathed in the record books. But then, Ozymandias was once mighty, but he didn't have it—and neither do the Yankees.
•Miss Samuels might find comfort in William Saroyan's conclusion: "The Dodgers lost.... It might have happened to the Yankees, as many of sound judgment thought it would, but it happened to the Dodgers."—ED.
LIEBLING'S LAW CORROBORATED
With baseball's hot-stove season on us, now is the time for all good fans to gather round. As a St. Louis Cardinal fan, I am able to claim few distinctions for my team for the 1956 season. It is true, for instance, that the Cardinals had what was undoubtedly the strongest alumni group in the majors this year: seven of the 13 top batters listed in the final unofficial averages (I like to point this out to people in the hope that word will eventually get back to Frank Lane) were either Cardinals or recent emigres from the Cardinals.
That such a talented collection of athletes managed to restrain itself to fourth place seems to me to be a perfect example of Liebling's Law, a principle once formulated by a contributor to your pages (SI, Dec. 5 and 12, 1955). This is that if you play your Cards right, you can pick yourself up by the seat of the pants and throw yourself out into the street.
All this, however, is beside the immediate point. Having so few rewards for our pains during the recent season, we Cardinal fans hate to be deprived of any of them by mere editorial oversight. And that, sirs, is your offense in listing, all through the season, some athlete other than our own Don Blasingame as the leading non-hitter of home runs. Blasingame went 0 for 587 in the homer department—which is pretty near as good as you can get in that particular field. The only man close to him in either league, in fact, was Dick Groat of Pittsburgh, with 0 for 520. Your two candidates—Cardinal alumnus Schoendienst (2 for 487) and non-Cardinal Temple (2 for 632)—just weren't in it.
TENNIS: THE OLD GUARD
As a tennis official on and off for over 30 years, I want to congratulate you and the Messrs. Kramer and Talbert for the splendid articles they have been writing (U.S. Tennis Is Being Killed, SI, Oct. 8).
Sports Illustrated, with its wide interest, is doing a world of good for tennis, and is appreciated by the millions of tennis players throughout the country.
Mr. Kramer's reference to the domination of grass courts and the "old guard" is very much appreciated, because I am, perhaps, one of the old guard, having served for many years as a member of the USLTA Executive Committee and for five years as secretary, although no longer in the active official picture.
More power to you!
TENNIS: THE AUSTRALIAN SYSTEM
I do not mind Jack Kramer's elegy, but I do bemoan a sweeping statement that raised the hair on this former Aussie head of mine: "Down there we know that education isn't as important to a boy as it is up here...." I have taught in high schools in each country, and Mr. Kramer misleads his readers when he dismisses Australian systems of education so lightly. He implies either that Australia is happily raising nincompoops (male)—so long as they play tennis well—or that Australian Davis Cup players are content to border on the illiterate. Mr. Kramer does not know that some subject matter taught here in high schools has been covered in Australia at the grade school level, and that Australian high schools provide much material ordinarily the work of university freshmen here.
I should like to add two other comments. In the United States and Australia sports are on different levels. Here they are greatly in the hands of the big colleges and professional teams, involving money and coaches galore. There the ordinary man and woman goes out after his or her own sports—as participator, not spectator. There are countless clubs for a great variety of sports in towns, cities and country districts that compete the year round against each other on Saturday afternoons (shops are closed) or mid-week. All are amateurs and love their games.
Like Mr. Kramer I have often wondered why a country like the U.S., where tennis may be played all year in the South and West, does not have more tennis potential. Australia seems rich in potential, even though its total population is not much greater than New York's. Some of the U.S. players Mr. Kramer criticizes need to show the same urge to rise to the top as Babe Zaharias did in golf. She was her own taskmaster, disciplining her talent and pouring on willingness to be driven. Mr. Kramer seems disgruntled at the lack of interest by the USLTA in his big promotion scheme. He, after all, knows tennis now from the angle of big business and has perhaps forgotten the amateur's viewpoint.
RUTH M. SCOUGALE
Many thanks for the vivid word picture, together with the painting of the mammoth hunt (SI, Oct. 15). This is of terrific interest to us, especially my school-age daughters.
It seems to me that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED serves as an outstanding demonstration that there are no dull subjects, only dull writers. I find myself reading all sorts of topics, in which I have had no previous interest, simply because they are so well presented. And I marvel at the quantity of good writing in every issue.
L. E. McGIVENA