I would like to protest violently the American League's Most Valuable Player pick for 1957. Regardless of how these writers feel about Ted Williams the man, the award should be made on ability alone. A 39-year-old man who wins his fifth batting title and hits 34 home runs deserves recognition. Was the MVP vote a popularity contest or an award for over-all ability? I feel that a new system of voting should be put into effect, or at least get rid of some of the prejudiced members of the MVP committee. This isn't the first time that Williams has missed out on the award because some "writers" couldn't bear to think that a man would stand up to their criticism and speak his mind. This is the only way they could get back at him.
Just as the fans made a farce of the All-Star Game, two sportswriters have made a shambles of the MVP award.
If ever in the history of baseball one man has carried his team the way Ted Williams did this past season I cannot think of the year or the man. It is sad that a few biased people can ruin such a wonderful tradition as the MVP award and take away from one of the world's greatest athletes an honor he so richly deserved. Had the voting been up to the players I would bet my last dime that Ted would have won by a two-to-one margin.
Syracuse, New York
As a loyal Williams supporter I will readily admit that his manners have often not been sportsmanlike. However, I feel that this has no place in deciding his value as a ballplayer.
The recent vote for the MVP shows just cause for an understanding as to what a MVP is and to whom he is valuable—the press or baseball.
Obviously, from comments of players (including Mantle and Sievers), Ted Williams was a "cinch" for the title but, because there is a select group of pseudo-baseball intelligentsia who don't care for Mr. Williams, he doesn't receive what is rightfully his.
I cannot understand why baseball writers enjoy such a vaunted position in a game which probably none have ever played. They are set apart from fan and player alike, and with a few lines on a typewriter make or break a player.
B. A. WAGNER
The writers who gave Williams 9th- and 10th-place votes should be challenged and asked to come forward and support their decision. I am willing to bet they haven't the guts to admit it in the face of adverse public opinion.
RANDALL B. HAYDON
•The Most Valuable Player is selected by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Three writers from each of the eight major league cities do the voting, which is secret to avoid hometown pressures. The winner is the player with the most cumulative points, 14 for a first place to one point for a 10th. Players are judged on their performances during the regular season only—the World Series is unofficial. This year's vote brings up another pertinent point, which was raised in print by the Washington Post's Bob Addie, a member of this year's voting committee: Just what does "most valuable" mean? "That term 'most valuable,' " says Addie, "still needs considerable clarification. Is a player most valuable only because the rest of his mates are talented enough to win the pennant or gain a first-division berth? That must be the answer because Sievers is the only man from a second-division club who finished in the first 10. I would assume 'most valuable' to mean what it implies—that a man literally is the most valuable to his team. So we get Sievers as most valuable to Washington, Williams for Boston, etc. Once this process of elimination is reached, we match one most valuable candidate against the others." Hence, as you can see, Mr. Addie is proposing that the most valuable player in the league be chosen from the eight men who are judged the most valuable to their teams. A logical idea. The members of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S baseball staff, Robert Creamer, Roy Terrell, Les Woodcock and Walter Bingham, are not members of the Baseball Writers Association and did not vote. Their choice for the most valuable player in the American League is Ted Williams and in the National League Stan Musial. Thus they disagree completely with the Baseball Writers committee which chose Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron as the two major league Most Valuable Players.—ED.
BASKETBALL: A REAL MAJOR LEAGUE
I am writing you concerning the new franchises in the National Basketball Association (SI, Nov. 4). Maurice Podoloff wants to make the NBA "a real major league," and he wants to do it by putting his present teams in "major cities." In doing this he is depriving the smaller cities of their teams and keeping many eager promoters from starting teams which would add color and interest to the league. When asked why he does not admit the big cities with teams of their own, he says that the supply of player material from the colleges itself would not be experienced enough to maintain the standard of play prevalent in the NBA. Nor is the supply of veterans adequate enough to stock any new teams. I have an alternate solution: Why not let each new team in the NBA have its choice of the top college draft choices in the year that they form their club? Then let them play one or two years with a full schedule against regular NBA competition. These games would not count toward the standings. After this trial period, they would enter the league as full-fledged members. Wouldn't this solve the problem of experience for the college players?
•It would take a team composed of college All-Americas a long, long time to do well against NBA pro teams, and the cities which were supporting those All-America groups would lose heart and interest. In addition, Mr. Fredenburg's scheme would penalize the present NBA clubs by depriving them of new talent. Finally, the best way for All-Americas to develop into really good pro players is to play on the same teams with established pros.
As for "depriving the smaller cities," they simply cannot give major league basketball adequate financial support. There is also the problem of a place to play with a good enough floor and enough seats to accommodate large crowds. Few smaller cities (few big ones for that matter) have such places. No one would think of proposing major league baseball for a small town. The same reasons apply to major league basketball.—ED.
FIELD TRIALS: WELCOMED AND WARNED
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has done a particular service in explaining the value of the retrieving breeds in both game conservation and adding to the enjoyment of hunting. The same may be said of your description of the complementary sport of field trials.
I was pleased to see you encourage the individual sportsman to train his or her own dog. The wins and places in stiff competition will not come as easily or frequently to the amateur as to the professional handler, but the gratification is greatly heightened when they do. An imperviousness to snow, sleet, hurricane and heat is almost as necessary as a good dog. Also, the newcomer will be bewildered by the apparent oblivion to the world around us while the trial is running and the complete preoccupation with dog work and dog talk.
An instance of this occurred when the wife of a well-known field trialer, after two hours at her first trial, was heard to whisper to a friend, "Let's get out of here before we either get wormed or bred."
Mrs. GEORGE H. FLINN JR.