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19TH HOLE: The readers take over


After three months of pursuing the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago White Six finally take over first place and are greeted by Les Woodcock's remark, "The White Sox played as if they might not fold this time around" (BASEBALL'S WEEK, July 27). Isn't it about time that this myth, so beloved by sportswriters, was retired in the interest of honesty and fair play?

A look at the records will show that the White Sox have been a consistent runner-up to the Yankees, and their inability to beat New York was a failing shared, until this year, by the balance of the clubs in the major leagues. In fact, the outstanding example of a team choking up against the Yankees was supplied by the National League champions in the 1958 World Series, who went into a coma when they almost had the Series won. Yet, oddly enough, these Braves are one of the more consistently praised teams in baseball.

The origin of the myth that the White Sox collapse when the pennant race gets hot is to be found in the "Go-Go" White Sox of some eight or 10 years ago. These teams, having little besides good leadership, speed and the willingness to give it a 100% try, would play over their heads until the inevitable would happen: other teams with more talent would grind them down. It is a sad commentary on our times that these teams should be remembered, not for playing over their heads for three-quarters of the season, but for failing to provide a miracle for 154 games. Perhaps some people might profit by that corny saying, "Look at the doughnut and not the hole."
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Fortunately, we in Chicago are not such a bunch of crape-hangers as is Walter Bingham of your baseball staff. (Exquisite Torture in Chicago, SI, July 13). White Sox fans—like all fans—suffer when their team loses (and it has been frustrating, even in the three years I've been a fan), but they also rejoice when the team wins. And in case you haven't noticed, Sox fans have been rejoicing pretty often these days.

You imply that because attendance was down last year the fans were tired of seeing the Sox fail again and again to win a pennant. Well, maybe this was partly responsible. But what the fans here are really tired of, what made them stay away from the ball park last year, are the courtroom battles between Chuck Comiskey and his sister for control of Sox stock. The fans are flocking out in droves this year, not to see the elephants or midgets, but because they know that Bill Veeck is doing all he can to bring the Sox home in front—an ambition sorely neglected in the Comiskey era—and also because the Sox have made it obvious that they will settle for nothing less than a first-place finish this year.

True, the White Sox are not a power-laden club. But just as a likable but none-too-handsome man is admired by his friends for his winning personality, so do White Sox fans love their team just for what it is—the fastest team in the majors, a superb fielding team, a hustling team. And if Sox bats occasionally produce the much-overrated home run, why, that makes the team just that much more exciting.

You do Luis Aparicio a grave injustice when you say he speaks "faltering English." Luis studied English as a teen-ager in Venezuela and, while he naturally speaks with an accent, his knowledge and use of English are by no means faltering.

Nelson Fox, I am sure, will be sending you poison-pen letters for calling him "well-spoken and polite." After all, he does have a reputation to uphold.

Heaven help the team that is considered to have class just because of the presence of Earl Torgeson. Torgy is the worst regular first baseman in either league, with a batting average somewhere around .225 and a fielding average that closely approximates that mark.

Isn't the best catcher in the league, Sherm Lollar, outstanding enough to rate a mention among the team's stars?

The only exquisite feelings Sox fans will experience at the end of this season will be the exquisite sweetness of the triumph that will flood the city of Chicago when the American League pennant is hoisted, for the first time in 40 years, on the flagpole of a jubilant Comiskey Park.

I have read, in English and Spanish, in American, Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican newspapers and magazines accounts of many different baseball games. But I can assure you that I have never read such a beautiful, ingenious, descriptive, constructive, detailed and humorous account of a ball game as Walter Bingham's The Joys and Agonies of Frank Lane (SI, July 27).
Tijuana, Mexico

I am quite familiar with our Golden Gate Park, with its beauty, its many attractions and its many activities. However, reading Horace Sutton's article (Golden Greenwood, SI, July 20) filled me with nostalgia for many of its beauties and activities which I have not recently observed or have become so used to seeing that I have observed them as a matter of course, giving little thought to the many years required to bring them to fruition, the 56 years of dedicated effort of its founding father, John McLaren, and the many others who have expended freely of their time and effort to bring us our magnificent Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco

Although I have lived in San Francisco for all of my 17 years, I never realized how attached I was to Golden Gate Park. Out of a beautiful recreation area Mr. Sutton has painted a very vivid and moving picture.
San Francisco

Our congratulations to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED on your two excellent stories on tennis, William F. Talbert's The Kramer Cast Lacks a Plot (SI, July 6) and the recent editorial The Pretense of Privilege (SI, July 20).

If tennis is to take its rightful place as a national sport, a new direction and businesslike organization in the controlling body is essential. Open tennis is surely one good method of stimulating the game. But until we have a national office employing a staff of highly skilled, well-paid experts in the many, many aspects of promotion, public relations and organization, tennis cannot get off the ground. USLTA employs one executive secretary and seven secretaries in the New York office—all of its officers are honorary.

Many dedicated men and women have given years to promote the game, but their impact on tennis, their individual ability has been largely dissipated because tennis has no central organizing body whose sole business is tennis in all its facets. Tennis should not, and cannot, afford to depend on the good intentions of its honorary officers to run its affairs. One executive secretary, no matter how excellent, cannot possibly do the job which is required to bring tennis out of its infancy.
Bronxville, N.Y.

There is one member of your wonderful magazine who doesn't seem to get the recognition he deserves. I refer to the gentleman who does the lead cartoon in the EVENTS & DISCOVERIES section and who signs his name Peb. He is the most original and perceptive sports cartoonist I have ever seen, and I think that his "old man and the sea" cartoon in the July 27 issue should be a candidate for the Pulitzer Prize.
North Sacramento, Calif.

This is a conglomerate letter. First, I am afraid that my marriage is in jeopardy unless I obtain two recipes that you printed some time ago! My husband saw them and has been begging me for them ever since. Unfortunately, I forgot to save them. One is a rice recipe; the other contained avocado. [On their way.—ED.]

The track event at Franklin Field was a sight I shall never forget. Never having seen a sporting event of this significance, or even a track meet before, I was astounded. The sight of Russian and American flags flying side by side was, in itself, a great and provocative sight. It presented a whole new concept and idea to this American, who had thought only of the political aspects of the situation.

Inside the stadium all awareness of nationality and isms, of world tensions and political views disappeared as an ugly thought succumbs to a happy one. These were not just Americans competing against Russians. They were, most of all, men competing against one another. We sat there and wanted the crowd to applaud for the Russian who won as much as for the American who did not.

We waited with thousands of others underneath the stands, wishing the rain would stop and praying that Kuznetsov would make his record. We applauded his effort as sincerely as did the three Russians sitting next to us. Said the announcer, "You are the largest crowd that has ever waited for one event [the last decathlon race] in Franklin Field's history. It's a great tribute." And said a friend of ours who was helping to officiate, "Kuznetsov, although he doesn't speak English, is one of the nicest guys I've ever met."
Paoli, Pa.

Here are two comments on the U.S.A. vs. U.S.S.R. track meet in Philadelphia:

You might have noted in your caption on the photo showing Bob Soth being hoisted from the track that the fellow in the flowing white gown and Red Cross armband was one of the Russian doctors who rushed to the stricken U.S. runner's aid when it became apparent that Soth could not get up again and continue the race. Just one more instance of the good will that pervaded Franklin Field.

Kuznetsov may have lost his own "new" decathlon record when, in the pole vault, he elected to go to 13 feet 10, instead of 13 feet 8. On his second attempt at 13 feet 10, the mighty Russian grazed the bar with his chest as he descended and, all things being equal, would have been over had the bar been at 13 feet 8. He was credited with a 13-foot-6 clearance. The other two inches would have-given him enough extra points to break his approved and the pending records.
Jersey City

If the three Russian women pictured (SI, July 27) were some of the "dolls" you were referring to who represented the U.S.S.R. in the track meet with the U.S., I should hate to see a Russian woman who is not a doll. Let's face it, they look just as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED said most Americans pictured them: truck drivers with long hair. Give them credit for being good athletes, but please don't call them dolls.
Greenville, N.C.

American girls do not shun "the violent and often unbecoming effort implicit in track competition." They are very carefully taught by the physical education authorities of our public schools and our YWCAs that competitive sports are bad for the health of the growing girl.

This was a track competition between the U.S.S.R. and a few rebels against the U.S. education system. The slothfulness is not with our youth, it is with our adults.
Westfield, N.J.

What genius developed the scoring system that allows a contestant to score one point for finishing last?
Winston-Salem, N.C.

•Although each event was limited to two competitors from each team, the Russians insisted on the customary one point for fourth place.—ED.

As a charter subscriber, let me first congratulate you on a magnificent job of reporting on all sports. Your preview of the U.S.A.-U.S.S.R. track meet was up to your usual high standard.

However, I must admit that I was somewhat shocked by your review of the upcoming bullfight series on TV (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, July 27). Your statement that Carlos Arruza, Alfonzo Ramirez and Juanito Silviti were somewhat less than major league caliber appears to be a case of one of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S major errors. I am not familiar with the latter toreros, but no less an authority than Barnaby Conrad rates Arruza the greatest all-round performer of all time—even a better all-round torero than Manolete.

Ordo√±ez may now be great and Arruza may be over the hill, but he surely is of major league caliber. American writers certainly do not berate Stan Musial or Ted Williams as they near the end of their careers. Nor do they run them down in favor of Harmon Killebrew or even proven performers Aaron, Mathews, Kuenn, etc. Dominguín and Ordo√±ez deserve their laurels, but Arruza doesn't deserve his slap in the face.
Pacific Palisades, Calif.

•Carlos Arruza, now partially retired and fighting mostly from horseback, was indeed one of the great performers in the bull ring; no slight was intended.—ED.