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Original Issue

19TH HOLE: The readers take over

I was one of the 57,557 people privileged to witness the most electrifying football game ever played in Baltimore, Maryland.

The people came, and sat, and cheered because Baltimore is a hungry city, starved for an athletic championship.

There is, indeed, a love affair in town (Love Affair in Baltimore, SI, Dec. 1). Actually, it is more of an adoration, a near idolatry. Marchetti, Donovan, Berry, Ameche, Unitas, Moore—oh that magnificent Lenny Moore! These names and all the rest are carefully discussed down on the waterfront, on playgrounds, in taverns, offices, clubs—everywhere. It is the conversation.

Seconds after the final gun signaled a 35-27 championship win over the 49ers, thousands of delirious rooters flooded the playing field to carry every Colt they could find to the locker room.

And these fans, these ecstatic, patient, hungry fans of Baltimore, not only screamed and cheered; many literally wept. For after all the years of defeat, near misses and frustration, they thought reverently, "We made it. My God, we finally made it!"

Roy Terrell's Best of the Toughest (SI, Nov. 24) was the most accurate and authentic account of the Big Ten football situation written in years.

Those alumni of Iowa who remember the B.E. days—before Evashevski—appreciate the task that confronted him and, more so, appreciate the way he and his staff went about tackling the seemingly impossible task.

As for entertainment, as mentioned by Mr. Terrell, one couldn't ask for better quality than that offered by the Iowa team and the Big Ten.
Davenport, Iowa

While thumbing through the pages of your Nov. 24 issue I was somewhat surprised to see the familiar countenance of my father, a member of the New York Baseball Committee (Baseball Coattails on Fire).

You might be interested to know that Clint Blume, a former president of the Real Estate Board of New York and now heal of his own company, was also a member of John McGraw's 1922 World Champion New York Giants.

The Giants won the year the picture below was taken, and I think my father's expression portends a very successful "season" for the committee, which is obviously not bluffing.
Bronxville, N.Y.

A third major league! A very lofty ideal! But this would mean an additional eight teams—which in turn means an additional 200 major league ballplayers. Where, oh where are they going to find 200 players of major league caliber, when with the current setup of 16 teams there are not enough good ballplayers to make the American League pennant race even vaguely interesting?

A better suggestion is to cut the present major leagues to six teams apiece, relegating Washington and Kansas City, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs to minor league status. Thus minor league ball would be strengthened, and this impetus to improve its caliber of ballplaying might eventually lead to the emergence of a third major league.
Jackson Heights, N.Y.

I've just finished reading my old friend Stanley Frank's The Great Numbers Nonsense (SI, Nov. 24). You have the wrong title on Stanley's article. It should be called Nonsensical Thinking by an Ex-Sportswriter.

Yes, the business of statistics is overdone, but I notice that Stanley failed to say one thing which he, as a former baseball writer for the Post, should know: the great game of baseball became the national pastime because somebody was smart enough to keep, and publish, statistics on hitting, fielding, pitching, etc.

Where Stanley sounds like an ex-sports-writer who obviously doesn't read the sports pages (certainly not those I read) is in what he says about us fellows. We have our brethren who take the easy way out, but not through publicity handouts, because public relations men are much smarter today than they were in Stanley's time. We do have our dull, colorless writers. But we also have more writers of wit and imagination than ever before, men such as Joe Williams, John Carmichael, Red Smith, Bill Roeder, Dick Young, Joe Reichler, the late Walter Stewart, Gene Gregston, Shirley Povich, Johnny Steadman, Lewis (Tony) Atchison, and so many others. I purposely refrain from naming Journal-American men, since that is the newspaper I work on.

When Stanley writes, "Few sportswriters had bothered to probe the whys and wherefores of the young man [Herb Elliott, of Australia] who broke four minutes in 10 mile races between January and September," I must concede that things are different today than they were in his day. Then, I guess, every newspaper would have spent the heavy sums involved in sending their men halfway around the world to get the Elliott feature. I suppose, in the same way, few sportswriters are bothering to probe the whys and wherefores of the young man (Jimmy Brown) who is breaking all National Football League records. Or are we hitting the very tender subject of numbers?

I resent, on behalf of my present brethren and myself, Stanley's statement that "the blunt truth is that my former colleagues are merely going through the motions of working and are shortchanging the fans by fobbing off publicity handouts as arresting news."

If my brethren and I who cover pro football are only "going through the motions of working," what were we doing geting up early to reach the Giants' dressing room in time to sit in on the late Jack Lavelle's report on the next team to be met? Why did we then have another meeting with Jack at which we asked him all the questions about the opposing team, with diagrams? Neither Frank nor I knew nearly as much football 20 years ago as my brethren and I know today.

I am a sports editor on a small daily newspaper called the Woodland Democrat. We have produced some nationally known athletes, and part of their rise to fame was because of statistics—and not meaningless statistics.

Mr. Frank speaks of meaningless statistics. I would like to ask him if this is one: Jack Yerman ran two two-turn 440-yard dashes in 46.6 as a sophomore last year, and I printed a story stating he thus became the fastest teen-age (he's 19) two-turn quarter-miler in world history.

My opinion is that any time a local athlete can be named the world's best at anything, he should be. This can't be too much to ask of a typewriter.

Is this a meaningless statistic? A few months ago Jack Mauger of Sacramento Junior College spoke here after watching the U.S.-Russian meet. A track coach, Mauger was known as the best left-handed pole-vaulter of his time and held the world's record in this capacity.

Announcing that he would speak here, I included Mauger's title as the onetime world's finest southpaw pole-vaulter. Is this wrong?

Here's another instance. While in the Army I served with former NCAA pole vault co-champion Dick Coleman of Illinois.

I told him he held the record for the highest vault by a left-handed Negro pole-vaulter, as he had reached 14 feet 7 inches. He got a kick out of it. Is this wrong? A meaningless statistic?

Here's another one for Mr. Frank. We had a sophomore high hurdler at Woodland High School by the name of Manuel Contreras, who ran 14.6 as a sophomore. Thanks to Dick Bank of the Track & Field News, I found out this was only one-tenth of a second off the national sophomore record set by John Smith of Maine High. School in Des Plaines, Ill. Thus our athlete, Contreras, is the second-greatest high school sophomore high hurdler in prep history.

Is it wrong to make such a claim via statistics?

Among my duties is to write pregame stories to draw fans to football and basketball games. With the aid of offensive and defensive statistics, the job is made easier.

It's more enjoyable to say and to read that "Joe Doaks, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior fullback, comes into the grid game with 800 yards gained rushing, 230 passing and nine touchdowns" than "Joe Doaks will start at fullback." Statistics help to describe—if nothing else.

I agree that selecting All-America linemen is impossible. Any player can be named All-America if his press agent sends out a picture with feature material that can be used by all newspapers a week before the picks are made.

I believe statistics make a season more interesting, but I also agree with Mr. Prank that some records are pretty farfetched.
Woodland, Calif.

I have been claiming for years that statistics have ruined baseball. With the Red Sox, at least, statistics long ago took precedence over victory. We have Grove and Foxx and Cronin in the Hall and Williams headed there. But we never have a pennant winner.

There was a great hullabaloo about Williams not getting the MVP award in 1957, but he actually was a detriment to the club. He never tried to throw a man out at home and didn't cover enough ground to hide an elephant's shadow. All the Sox players go for records today.

Statistics have ruined the game.
Boston Record-American