INDIANAPOLIS: ERRORS OF JUDGMENT
Much has been written about the catastrophic first lap at this year's Indianapolis "500" (Lessons of Indianapolis, SI, June 9). Always the public, and all too often the press, singles out one person on whom to place the blame. Ed Elisian's error in judgment was tragic yet not too surprising to those who know the "500." A first-lap debacle has long been overdue.
The most intelligent bit of writing I have encountered on this controversy is by the Detroit News' Harry LeDuc—a writer of tremendous experience in covering racing events. LeDuc said in part: "Ed Elisian is guilty of nothing more than trying to win the major part of $300,000. Toss that sum among any 33 young, tough and relatively fearless men any place—in an alley, on a football field, in a prize ring or on a race track—and you are going to have a fight, a furious one with few holds barred.... [The accident] was the consequence of a risk poorly calculated. Nothing more.... Of Elisian it may be fairly said that he was giving all he had—plus a try for something he did not have, which were the necessary skill and the judgment."
JOSEPH O. WILSON
•For news of Elisian's new chance, see page 24.—ED.
I am fully grateful and respectful of Mr. Hulman's control of the track (the many improvements he has completed) and hopeful that he will continue to preserve the traditions of "Indy." But it must be obvious to him and his track stewards that a change in the traditional start of the race is their biggest mistake. Last year they had a smashup on the pace lap, and now we have lost Pat O'Connor in about the same type of mixup.
Perhaps these mishaps two years running will induce Mr. Hulman to return to the traditional start, and we will have the Speedway back to normal and the great spectacle of sport that it has always been.
TURF: WHAT'S IN A NAME
Our family of racing enthusiasts tried very hard to name the colt by Count Fleet out of Gay Rhythm by Blenheim (19TH HOLE, May 26) and thought of such names as Cadence Count, Countdown, Noble Blend, Fleet Beat, Tempo Allegro. To get beat by a name like Hastytransit is ridiculous.
When my 10-year-old nephew wanted to send in Black Beauty we laughed him down, but the poor kid probably had the winner.
C. J. JOHNSON
In connection with the Kentucky Club Tobacco Contest:
Mrs. Dorn should dispose of Hastytransit to Hasty House Farm at Ohio.
From a sire Count Fleet out of Gay Rhythm, I'd like to know if the people responsible for the selection of Hastytransit have all their marbles.
All of Count Fleet's offspring have been aptly named in the past, and I am astounded at their calling the latest of his progeny—Hastytransit.
L. A. KOUSINS
•Some other offspring: One Count; Count Turf; County Delight; Counterpoint; Sub Fleet; Be Fleet.—ED.
BASEBALL: BREAK UP THE YANKEES
For some strange reason, sportswriters in general seem to avoid coming to a conclusion that has been prevalent among baseball fans for years—that the merciless formula for success would someday catch up with the Yankees and attendance figures would drop sharply. Les Woodcock is to be congratulated for putting his finger on this (SI, May 26).
Let us all stand up and take off our hats to those responsible for the huge success of the Yankees over the last decade. Then let us ask that they give the American League back to the fans and break up their present team. I couldn't imagine a more exciting year for the league than in 1959 to see McDougald in Boston, Skowron in Baltimore, Kucks in Washington, Larsen in Cleveland, Turley in Kansas City, Mantle in Chicago and Kubek in Detroit.
Connie Mack once broke up a great team (1931) to save the sport. It should be done again.
CHARLES J. SCHISSEL, M.D.
TRACK: HARES AND RABBITS
In Rabbits Should Run All the Way (SI, June 2), you severely criticized Drew Dunlap of Texas for not finishing the race after his pace-setting role in Herb Elliott's record-breaking mile run at the Coliseum Relays. Dunlap never denied the pacing; in fact, he contends that meet officials had asked him to set the pace and that Herb Elliott knew about it.
The meet officials approached Texas Coach Clyde Littlefield with a request that his miler, Joe Villarreal, be the rabbit. Littlefield declined, but he suggested that Dunlap be asked. Hoping to spice up the meet with a record or near record, meet officials then asked Dunlap to set the pace in the first half—which he did.
I agree that anyone who starts in a race should be an honest entrant trying to win; however, Drew Dunlap should be vindicated for his compliance to the request that he set a pace. The real villains are the professional amateurs who would like to see a record on the books—even at the expense of a rabbit!
•SPORTS ILLUSTRATED took its editorial stand against the principle of artificial pace setting, which seems to fall into the same category of athletic gimcracks as elevated jumping shoes and osmium hammers. Drew Dunlap, his innocence outraged, has since stated that he was asked by meet officials to set the pace with Herb Elliott's knowledge.—ED.
LETTERS FROM FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS
This is a fan letter.
I've never liked sports even as a spectator. My husband was captain of his college football team, yet I can't tell you what position he played. My knowledge and interest in sports was nil before we subscribed to your splendid weekly magazine.
Now I do Bonnie Prudden exercises, read Mr. Goren's page first—EVENTS AND DISCOVERIES second. Then I read your whole magazine—some other magazines must gather dust while I steal SPORTS ILLUSTRATED from my husband.
My devotion is nothing compared to the love my husband has for your weekly editions. The football issue for '57 is frail from so much use.
Just a suggestion, couldn't you come out twice a week?
MRS. F. E. ACKER
Rancho Cordova, Calif.
You cannot be commended too highly on your Big League Secrets series.
Aside from being of tremendous general interest we find it has captured our 13-through 15-year-old ballplayers as completely as comic books. Please don't wince at the comparison. If you know these teen-agers it is quite a compliment.
W. H. SMITH
HE SAID IT
I very much enjoy "They Said It" every week. Recently the sports editor of one of our papers has come up with a couple of good ones which deserve circulation.
On Silky Sullivan: "If Paul Revere had had Silky under him that eventful April day in 1776 we'd all be British subjects today."
On Tommy Manville's generous contribution to our Little League baseball program: "Tommy Manville has apparently discovered that diamonds are also a boy's best friend."
H. B. V. THOMAS
White Plains, N.Y.