VANDERBILT: A JOB WELL DONE
I wish to compliment SPORTS ILLUSTRATED on George Plimpton's very fine articles on the America's Cup races (The Vanderbilt Story, SI, Oct. 15, 22, 29; Nov. 5). The details are perfect and correct in every respect. In fact, all of your articles on yachting, a difficult sport to report, are uncannily recounted with outstanding accuracy.
Congratulations on a job well done.
NELSON E. JONES
Corinthian Yacht Club
VANDERBILT: I WELL REMEMBER...
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has never published anything better than the series on Harold Vanderbilt. I awaited with tremendous pleasure each of the four parts to read about this remarkable gentleman.
I well remember the night that my stepfather told us children that we were going to take our boat out of Buzzards Bay the next morning and sail down to watch the 1934 America's Cup race.
It was the most thrilling day in my life to sail into that mass of yachts, motorboats, sailboats of all sizes and the mighty J boats which were beautiful beyond comparison.
I hope that some day soon these races will again be an exciting, beautiful part of our American life, and I hope that I will be right there in all the swell and chop.
MRS. FINLEY T. WHITE
VANDERBILT: WHAT AN ERA
It's about time a great American and a great yachtsman should be accorded an honor long overdue. I saw the Cup races at Newport in 1934 and was fortunate enough to go aboard the Rainbow and get a close look at the craft.
I took a trip this spring to Bristol and the once thriving Herreschoff yards are merely a maze of rotting timbers. I suppose the J boats are a symbol of an era bygone, never to return, but what an era and what a sight those tremendous craft were racing off Brenton's reef.
HENRY W. KAISER JR.
VANDERBILT: DIFFICULT MANEUVER
I have found the series on Harold Vanderbilt really fascinating, but I confess that one thing has left me completely at sea. Are there any other landlubbers like me who got swamped trying to follow the details of Vanderbilt's invention called the tack-jibe?
•The essential feature of Vanderbilt's tack-jibe maneuver was that it enabled him to round the mark under the conditions shown in the diagram above without the loss of time and crew effort which would normally be required in trimming headsails and backstays. Vanderbilt elected to come to the mark on the starboard tack—position A. Before Rainbow reached position A her port backstays had been carried forward and her crew stationed. Thereafter no one aboard moved until, as Rainbow jibed at position C, her main sheet was eased and her genoa broken out. Note the headsails trimmed to windward, expediting the turning movement (position B). The tack-jibe maneuver enabled Rainbow to turn this mark 30 seconds quicker than Yankee to win the race by one second.—ED.
VANDERBILT: A MASTER'S APPRAISAL
I am not qualified to comment on Mike Vanderbilt's yachting ability, but as regards his bridge ability I can confirm Plimpton's statement that he is good.
Twenty-five years ago Mike Vanderbilt was certainly one of the 10 best players in the United States. Today he plays less bridge with experts than he did then and his game has suffered slightly as a result.
Your article stressed his thoroughness and his desire to win. He possesses both those characteristics to the greatest possible degree. When he spends a couple of minutes trying to make an extra trick he does so because he just hates not to play the hand with the perfect technique.
As regards his tennis game, I must take some slight exception to your article. Like me, he is left-handed and clumsy on the tennis court. However, his will to win combined with the fact that he has extremely long arms enables him to make some of the most amazing recoveries I have ever seen. His trouble is with the easy ones and it might be that he forgets and relaxes for a second when given a setup. Then, when he misses, his cry is not really anguish, it is more utter horror at the idea that anyone could make such a bad shot.
To close this letter I wish that I were as young at 53 as Mike is at 72.
•We never considered Mr. Jacoby anything but young ourselves until we read that he was eliminated by his own son in the '56 men's pairs bridge championship.—ED.
VANDERBILT: MR. SIMS'S MEMORY
In the Vanderbilt Story, Part IV you quote P. H. Sims as claiming an advantage in gin rummy through his ability to recall the order in which the cards fell in the previous game. Presumably, this advantage is gained because a perfect shuffle in which every card is separated from its neighbors is virtually an impossibility.
Would not this ability to recall the previous order hinder Mr. Sims rather than help him? He can, after all, never be sure just when a sequence starts and when it will end. Basing his hand on anticipating cards could be as fatal as playing blindfolded.
•Mr. Sims derives his advantage primarily through an educated guess as to what cards his opponent is holding, provided he picks up his own cards in the order they were dealt. Mr. Sims then can refrain from discarding cards of use to his opponent.—ED.
HOT STOVE: SHAKESPEARE ON SHORTSTOPS
Being a Dodger fan I was inclined to agree with Mr. Burton Saperstein's hot-stove letter (19TH HOLE, Nov. 12). He concluded with a lineup of players that would win pennants for Brooklyn for the next 10 years. On this team, at shortstop, he listed—Pee Wee Reese.
I wonder if Mr. Saperstein could explain how he expects our great captain to last 10 more years!
Is this wishful thinking or am I underestimating Pee Wee?
•To Mr. Williams and also to Messrs. Roberts, Oak Lawn, Ill.; Brigham, Upper Montclair, N.J.; Ryan, Ann Arbor; Rillings, Atlanta; Friend, New Orleans; Beyners, Cincinnati; and Mesdames Sneyder, Los Angeles; Perinkler, Pittsburgh, and Smith, Los Angeles, Mr. Saperstein paraphrases Marc Antony's tribute to Cleopatra that age cannot wither nor custom stale the infinite variety of Pee Wee's charms.—ED.
HOT STOVE: ATTENTION MR. O'MALLEY
I was very interested in the trades Mr. Saperstein would like the Dodgers to make this winter, and as a Dodger diehard from Texas I have a few trades I would like to see them make myself. In my opinion they need a good left-handed pitcher or two.
Newcombe to the White Sox for Billy Pierce; cash payment to the Phillies for Simmons; Snider plus cash payment to the Pirates for Friend and Virdon; Virdon, Craig and Lehman to the Cards for Moon and Boyer; Cimoli, Gilliam and Erskine to the Cubs for Banks; Campanella and Jackson to the Reds for Ed Bailey.
Their lineup would be thus:
Pitchers: Friend, Simmons, Pierce, Maglie, Bessent, Labine.
Reserves: Reese, SS; Gray, 3B; Walker, C; Anderson, 2B, Amoros, LF.
Give the rookies like Demeter, Gentile, Anderson and Gray a year or two to come along and my beloved Bums will make mincemeat out of the Yankees.
EDWIN S. MAYER JR.
HOT STOVE; CLUTCH-HITTER (CONT.)
Your EVENTS & DISCOVERIES report on Charles F. Mullen's system of estimating a ballplayer's clutch-hitting ability is interesting and would be pretty tough on the Cleveland Indians this past year ("three on, none out, no score" happened too often).
Why not publish Branch Rickey's statistical system? He apparently picked some good men with it. Right?
RAY R. WELLS
•Although Branch Rickey's system was designed primarily to give a comparative ranking of teams, two of his offensive criteria, on base average and extra-base power, are applicable to individual players. The on base average is computed by adding hits, bases on balls and times hit by pitcher and dividing the total by times at bat plus bases on balls plus times hit by pitcher. Extra base power is computed by subtracting hits from total bases and dividing the result by times at bat. Mr. Mullen's clutch-hitting rating compliments Rickey's system since the Mahatma confessed to failure when it came to rating a player's clutch-hitting performance. For an over-all analysis of the World Series performances of the leading players see below.—ED.
HOT STOVE: LAMENT FOR A ROMAN
Thanks to whoever wrote "Lament For A Manager" in EVENTS & DISCOVERIES (Nov. 5).
As a White Sox fan since 1911 I can say that it takes an awful lot of believing to stay with them.
I think I agree with many, many Sox fans that when Grace Comiskey was hiring adequate talent to run it the club had a chance, but it sure seems obvious that Chuck is a very pale shadow of the Great Roman.
JOHN S. GRIER
Shift in wind at this mark
Course to finish 15 J miles away