DAVIS CUP: THE SPORTING THING
According to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Bill Talbert, the U.S. Davis Cup team is about to be defeated in Australia, because three U.S. players refused to join the squad (Dreaming of a Black Christmas, SI, Dec. 9). The excuse has been made, widely circulated and the goats selected even before commencement of the matches against the Philippine and Belgian teams.
There is little doubt that the U.S. squad would be stronger with Richardson, Patty and Savitt. There is considerable doubt that the U.S. team, thus strengthened, would be capable of retaking the cup.
These doubts are incidental.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Talbert have not done the "sporting thing" in attempting to blame the unhappy predicament of the U.S. squad on the failure of three men to join it. Accused of almost traitorous selfishness are: Richardson, a Rhodes scholar whose studies and marriage obligations he says have some prior claim; Patty, an international in-and-outer who obviously doesn't give a damn; and Savitt, who gave that excuse about work.
If Talbert, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and the country as a whole want to win tennis competitions, that goal may be attained by hitting tennis balls on tennis courts—not by throwing bricks in magazines.
JOHN H. NOTMAN
•Mr. Notman's defense of the missing players is spirited, but his rationale lame. You cannot "win tennis competitions...by hitting tennis balls on tennis courts" if the players are not there to hit them. William Talbert did not seek to excuse a possible defeat because Richardson, Patty and Savitt refused to join the squad but wrote that "We are the only nation in the world challenging for the Davis Cup without all of our best players." What Talbert did say was that a player who has committed himself to the game (and reaped the rewards) should live up to his responsibilities.—ED.
THE MINORS: SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME
I THOUGHT THAT SUPPOSEDLY VIRILE SPORTS ILLUSTRATED COULD NOT IN SUCH A FEW SHORT YEARS FALL INTO THE SENILITY OF IN-THE-RUT REPORTING.
YET, IN COVERAGE OF OUR RECENT MEETINGS IN COLORADO SPRINGS [Doom Around the Corner, SI, Dec. 16], YOUR FOUR ABLE REPORTERS ON THE SCENE PURSUED AN OLD SPORTS ILLUSTRATED THEME—DOOM FOR THE MINORS.
AT THE CONCLUSION OF OTHER MINOR LEAGUE WINTER MEETINGS PRESIDENT GEORGE TRAUTMAN HAS BEEN PICTURED AS A WORRIED INSOMNIAC, TOSSING AT NIGHT WITH CONCERN OVER OUR PLIGHT AND, AT THE CONCLUSION OF LAST YEAR'S MEETINGS IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, AS BEING UPSET OVER ANOTHER REBUFF FROM THE MAJORS.
THE MAJORS AS A GROUP HAVE NOT REBUFFED US. BOTH LAST YEAR AND AGAIN IN COLORADO SPRINGS, MUCH CONSTRUCTIVE LEGISLATION WAS ENACTED WHICH SHOULD HELP THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE OF ORGANIZED BASEBALL....
AT COLORADO SPRINGS, MR. TRAUTMAN WAS REFERRING TO THOSE MAJOR LEAGUE EXECUTIVES WHO PLAN TO TELEVISE SUNDAY GAMES WHEN HE WAS QUOTED OUT OF CONTEXT BY SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, "HOW CAN YOU HAVE LEADERSHIP WHEN YOU HAVE NO FOLLOWERS?" HE WENT ON TO ASK ABOUT THOSE SAME MAJOR LEAGUE EXECUTIVES WHO HAVE BEEN SO HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL IN OTHER BUSINESS ENDEAVORS—"HOW CAN THEY PERMIT THE STRUCTURE OF BASEBALL TO TOPPLE?"
DIRECTOR OF PUB. RELATIONS NATL. ASSN. OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL LEAGUES
•Mr. Lundquist sounds somewhat schizoid on the majors' attitude toward the minors. If he resents (and rightly so) the proposed televised Sunday games and views with alarm the obvious wobbling of baseball's foundations, then precisely what is the "constructive legislation" that Mr. Lundquist claims was enacted? The revised bonus law has virtually no effect on the minor situation. The new draft law will not help the minors. President Trautman was not quoted out of context. Mr. Trautman leads the minors, not the majors, and it is the constant dissent in minor ranks that make effective leadership difficult. As for the minors' future, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED sticks to its prognosis that we will see fewer, more easily handled, more efficiently aligned and organized leagues and that they will be entirely subsidized by the major leagues.—ED.
HORSES OF THE YEAR (CONT.)
Now that all precincts have been heard from, a look at the various polls for Horse of the Year seems in order. The staffs of The Morning Telegraph and Daily Racing Form nominated Bold Ruler. The racing secretaries who voted in the Thoroughbred Racing Association poll cast their majority vote for Dedicate, with Bold Ruler as Best 3-Year-Old Colt. Turf and Sport Digest, polling 175 sports writers, found for Bold Ruler.
A three-man committee of the august Jockey Club, the oldest supervisory organization in racing, made an unprecedented double selection in nominating Bold Ruler and Gallant Man jointly as Champion Horse. Simultaneously, your Mr. Tower named three horses to that honor—Bold Ruler, Gallant Man and Round Table. Part of Mr. Tower's accompanying citation reads: "All three contributed so much to the quality of the season that it becomes foolish indeed to pick one as the best and leave the other two in the unfamiliar role of also-ran." I think that about sums it up.
C. L. VAN RENSSELAER
New York City
BOXING: CAST OF CHARACTERS
I read with interest the comments of Crusader Cus D'Amato on the subject of a Floyd Patterson-Eddie Machen title fight (E&D, Dec. 2). Wielding the enormous amount of influence that it does, your magazine would do boxing a great service by coming out strongly for such a match. Crusader Cus seems determined to keep Nasty Norris and Evil Eddie from getting a chance at the heavyweight loot, despite the fact that Eddie is rated the No. 1 contender in all ratings. Who's running the monopoly now?
Let's face a few facts, as painful as they might be to all Patterson fans. Against token opposition in his first two defenses of the title, Floyd looked good, but he has never been tested by a young, hard-hitting heavyweight, such as Machen. Machen wants the fight, the public wants the fight and Crusader Cus wants money, so the fight is a natural. Floyd is not a sure bet to defeat Eddie (remember the Oklahoma-Notre Dame game). Against stronger opposition than Floyd had ever seen, Machen has been developing steadily in the last two years into the hard-hitting contender that he is. Assuming that D'Amato can be pressured into giving Machen a crack at his own little monopoly, Fearless Floyd, Inc., Evil Eddie might just please his fans by sending Floyd and Cus back to the prelims where Cus "can look after his boys."
ROBERT M. HITCH
New Haven, Conn.
•The reasons which Cus D'Amato advances for not sanctioning a Machen-Patterson match are involved with the long, lonely war he is waging "to weaken and discredit the International Boxing Club." D'Amato says that Machen was offered a fight with Patterson last summer and turned it down. This refusal Cus feels was dictated by the IBC to show him that even though he was the manager of the heavyweight champion he would not be able to get suitable opponents unless he joined their camp. Cus further claims that subsequently the IBC glibly assured Machen that it would be able to get him a fight with Patterson, implying that D'Amato would eventually come around. "These people are a bunch of bluffers," D'Amato says bitterly, and he is determined to call their bluff.
If D'Amato were to permit Patterson to fight Machen, he would, in one stroke, have lost his war. He would, in effect, be endorsing all the wrongs which he feels the IBC has inflicted upon the sport, wrongs which have brought it to what he considers its present dolorous estate.
One result of Cus's battle, of course, is that the public may temporarily suffer by not being able to witness a Patterson-Machen match. D'Amato concedes this, but he feels that if he persists in his attempt to free boxing from the special interests of the IBC, the public should benefit in the long run by having more and better fights to watch between superior fighters.
Although D'Amato has a rather low opinion of Machen's abilities, that has no bearing on his refusal to accept him as an opponent. Machen, indeed, has not looked particularly good in his last few fights, and many of boxing's knowing citizens are beginning to sour on this young man who once appeared so promising.
The truth is that the present bunch of heavyweights is undistinguished, and the National Boxing Association recognizes this. NBA President Gilbert H. Jackson said last week that his organization will not enforce, in Patterson's case, its regulation that a champion must defend every six months because of an absence of qualified contenders.
"The only man I can think of," Jackson said, "and many people don't think he is ready, is Eddie Machen. Patterson is anxious to get fights, but he has a very narrow field to operate in."
D'Amato has been beleaguered by a spottily hostile press, which has begun to point out with caustic insistence that Patterson has suffered by being used as an instrument of battle in D'Amato's campaign against the IBC. If Patterson is indeed suffering, the symptoms have been marvelously concealed. D'Amato has done nicely by him financially; his gross purses for his first two title defenses amounted to $373,000. Rocky Marciano, the champion before him, received gross purses of $360,787 for his first two championship fights.
If Patterson is suffering from what one writer calls "title defenses," ridiculing the quality of his opposition by the quotation marks, it is again difficult to see exactly how. Patterson's first opponent was Hurricane Jackson, who at the time they fought was rated the No. 1 contender by the NBA. D'Amato cannot be faulted because Jackson did not turn out to be made of sterner stuff. Patterson's second opponent was Pete Rademacher, the visionary amateur. Rademacher was outclassed, but no more so than was Don Cockell, a lardy British heavyweight whom Marciano knocked out in 1955 with a minimum of ridicule.
If Patterson is suffering because D'Amato has not got him another fight, the diagnosis is certainly premature. Only four months have elapsed since Patterson last fought. Jersey Joe Walcott waited 11 months before defending his title, Rocky Marciano defended but twice a year. If Patterson follows this precedent, which is based largely on tax considerations and a desire not to exhaust a painfully limited field of challengers, and has two fights in 1958—not an unlikely prospect—he cannot be criticized.
One thing is certain: Cus is not prepared to abandon his battle plan.—ED.