SPRING TRAINING: THE FANS RECALL
Regarding James Brosnan's You Can Consider It Came from Me (SI, March 7):
TO THE PROFESSOR
SI said Broz was nine and six,
But records say, "Nein, dis is nix."
With St. Louis club last year you see,
He won but one while losing three.
For this he wanted 20 G's,
Der Bingle thought this quite a squeeze,
So Broz he gently whittled down,
Then later swapped him out of town.
Ole Jim has pitched on many mounds,
In big league land and minor towns.
Still in the record books we see,
He never was an MVP.
So could it be our big strong friend,
Should drop his glove and hold a pen,
And close his printed repartee
"Consider pal, it came from me"?
R. W. McCARTHY
Mr. Brosnan may recall Sal Maglie as being bombed out of a spring game into oblivion. I remember him differently.
I remember him as the dark-bearded pitcher who would stride arrogantly from his dugout to purposely endanger my beloved Dodgers' very life and limb, by throwing one duster after another.
I also remember him as one of the heroes who helped turn back the "unbeatables" in the 1954 World Series.
I remember the look on his face when he was mobbed after pitching a Series win for the Dodgers in 1956.
I remember him as the National League's most colorful pitcher and would pay a dear price to hear his name and number called once more in the now-legendary Ebbets Field or Polo Grounds.
Big Jim is a far better and more effective writer than he is a ballplayer. Maybe his "$20,000 symbol of success" would become reality more quickly and more often if he gave up trying to put the ball over the plate and concentrated on putting words down on paper. But not about baseball, please!
JERRY G. FRIEDMAN
For real baseball fans your article by Jim Brosnan on spring training was about the most interesting I've read.
ROBERT L. MAYER
SPRING TRAINING: NOBODY'S MIDDLE-AGED
My congratulations to Artist Marc Simont and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for a terrific job of capturing the look and feel of spring training (SI, March 7). Truly excellent work.
During a 14-year sportscasting period I have been called upon numerous times to talk about what spring training is really like. You have provided the perfect illustrations for my future remarks on this pleasant topic.
I also enjoyed reading Artist Simont's conclusion about spring training camps; namely, "Nobody appears to be middle-aged." This gives me the choice of sides. It's an easy choice too, for here's one spot where everybody is really young at heart.
HORSE-RACING: PRESIDENTIAL SPORT
You quote former President Harry Truman as saying at Hialeah that he began going to horse races with his father when he was 5 (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, Feb. 29). On TV from Hialeah he said he attended a horse race for the first time in St. Louis when he was 18, bet $5 on a mudder and won. Mr. Truman was also quoted by you as saying that while President he had no time to go to the races.
The Presidents who did attend the races: Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Van Buren, John Quincy Adams, Lincoln (who judged horse races), Grant, Hayes, Arthur, Teddy Roosevelt, Harding and perhaps others. Madison did not attend the races but he once owned part of a race horse.
WINTER OLYMPICS: AFTERTHOUGHTS
I am greatly disturbed over the results of the Winter Olympics just held in California. I get tired of our country so often taking second, third or fourth place, when I really feel we have the capabilities of standing higher on the totem pole. I do not like to see the U.S. being content with taking these defeats somewhat lying down. If we could have won these Olympics, it would have been a real stimulant to our morale. Being defeated might be a stimulant if our real ambition is to do better in the future.
Are our amateur requirements an improper penalty against us? I take it there is no such thing as an amateur in the U.S.S.R. or even in many other countries of Europe, and I feel that if this is a fact some of our people who are interested in athletics should work out this complicated question in such a way as to have the Games really properly competitive. If the rules do not penalize us, we had better wake up, from an athletic standpoint, and do a better job.
C. JARED INGERSOLL
I am writing in regard to the U.S.'s recent showing in the Winter Olympic Games. Although the aggregate team score is not officially recognized it is too important to be ignored. The valuable publicity gained by Russia could have been very easily used in this period when almost everyone is concerned with Russia's superiority in certain fields. Perhaps a re-evaluation of our national effort is needed. If so, I would like to submit the following suggestions:
1) Olympic organization and direction should be centralized under one individual or committee.
2) Financing should be completely or partially covered by the Federal Government.
3) Facilities should be built to give any interested athlete ample opportunity to develop his or her ability.
4) The team that is chosen to represent the U.S. should be given every boost and advantage available within the bounds of amateurism.
These and other suggestions would undoubtedly have to be re-evaluated before they could be adopted, but the principle behind them will remain, and it is every citizen's duty to see that our country makes its best effort in the Olympics or whatever it does.
You've given me three issues to treasure always—those in which you covered the Winter Olympics (SI, Feb. 15, 29, March 7). This was truly the show of shows. And you really captured the Olympic philosophy in your last report: we don't care who you are or where you came from; if you are willing to work hard enough, sacrifice enough, and possess enough courage and spirit to become the best in the world, we'll stand up and cheer your greatness. (Even if we have to swallow a lump in our throats, eh? Oh, those falls by Snite, Pitou, and the little Austrian speed skater!) Too bad we can't seem to remember in the interval between the Games that the world is made up of individuals. The size of nations or teams or reputations doesn't mean a thing when the contest is man to man. And isn't it always, ultimately?
Three hearty huzzas to Morten Lund (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, March 7), The graphic, eye-opening account of his impetuous, perilous plummet from the tip of Squaw Peak left me breathless from laughter. He deserves a medal.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
MOCKINGBIRDS: IT'S DIFFERENT HERE
John O'Reilly's article on mockingbird trouble in the North (Raider from the South, SI, March 7) is no doubt accurate, but that problem can be solved much easier than can our trouble with the marauders from the North who are giving us more trouble in south Texas than the carpetbaggers gave our forebears. Surely the mockers are tough, and those Rebels are fighting for survival because they are insect and berry eaters and are desperately grabbing for substitutes. But they will ignore seeds and grain, and the birds who like those items can dine in peace. But if the mockers do survive and nest in Bucks County let the natives watch out for their cats, because their very lives will be in danger if they molest the young of the mockingbirds. But the North will get its reward for tolerance when the mockers warm up and sing with a range and variety which will make the resident birds sound like a stuck record of a teen-age idol compared to a Met soprano.
But pity the poor South, if our area is typical, because the North's red, red robin has not come bouncing along with all of its well-known charm. Literally tens of thousands of them are descending in huge droves on our beautiful berry bushes and have stripped them clean; they roost by the thousands in our live oak trees, above our patios and swimming pools, and they leave a sight which is horrible to view and nearly impossible to erase or to stay near. Some of our citizens have used Roman candles and firecrackers to try to dissuade these beautiful birds from bunking in droves in nearby trees, but their efforts have been unsuccessful so far. The starling problem in the cities is nothing to the problem of those residents whose yards have been selected by the robins, and it must be said that the robins know the best.
Isn't it strange that the very individual bird which you will cherish in the North next spring can be giving so much trouble while it is traveling this winter? While many are looking forward to "the first robin," we are looking forward to the last.
Things are different here in Maryland from what they seem to be in Bucks County, Pa. For years now we have given aid and sustenance to the clever and ornamental mockingbird, and our findings are quite different from those in Mr. O'Reilly's article. Our mockingbird will dive-bomb starlings and drive them out of sight, but he is never aggressive toward our chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, cardinals and other desirable denizens of the feeder. In fact, he disdains sunflower seed, the staple of the aforementioned feathered brethren, preferring peanut butter. The birds that really give us trouble are the evening grosbeaks and the purple finches. Both species are quite piggy and ) will sit in the feeder and eat and eat and eat until nothing is left, while the other birds flutter helplessly about, hoping for a chance at the seed. We could hope that . the mockingbird would drive these monopolizers off, but he is not interested in chasing anything but starlings.
One correction: the mockingbird is related to the catbird, but he is not the same size, being larger and more beautiful as well.
We like our mockingbirds, but anyone is welcome to the grosbeaks and finches.
DAVID T. DAVIS
I quake to discover that some nut has imported a European robin to North America (EVENTS & DISCOVERIES, Feb. 15). People who diddle with the ecology like that should be sent down a bobsled run, sans bobsled. It is just this sort of "bird lovers" who brought us the English sparrow blight. And others of the same ilk have brought us some lovely little beetles from Japan.
Steps should be taken posthaste to keep such "Newport sportsmen" off Venus, with the advent of interplanetary travel, lest they find something that likes people too much. There is more danger in such things as the Van Alen ecology meddling to interplanetary travel than the Van Allen belt.
BRIDGE: N.Y. VS. L.A. VIA CHICAGO
We were amused by the letters to the Editor by Ivan Erdos of Los Angeles and Ira Brail of New York (SI, Feb. 8 and 29) extolling the merits of bridge players of their home cities.
We do not contest the sincerity of their comments to the effect that they consider the best bridge to be played in their cities. However, instead of these two cities battling for first place, they should spar for second, since there is no question in any intelligent bridge player's mind that the best bridge is played in Chicago.
While it is not necessary to back up our statement, we should be happy to extend the hospitality of our city to representative teams for the purpose of proving our point.
Mr. Brall's letter suggested home and home matches between 12 or 16 players from Los Angeles and New York to be held in the aforementioned cities immediately before or after the Summer and Winter National tournaments.
Our suggestion is that the teams from New York and Los Angeles stop en route to or from the Summer and Winter Nationals as our guests in Chicago overnight during which time a three-teams-of-four match would be played under American Contract Bridge League supervision.
I am looking forward to the matches in Chicago.
ROBERT S. HEMMINGS
Chicago Contract Bridge Association Chicago
SOCCER: A PLACE IN THE SUN
Soccer—that's why I'm writing. Do you know an international league is being formed this spring in New York?
Will you please publish the schedule, at least? I know it would be asking too much for you to do an article on this event. After all, it is only a minor sport, played in every country under the sun, and outdrawing spectatorwise any and every sport known to man.
Does this sound like a completely unbiased opinion?
•Soccer has indeed gained a new foothold on U.S. shores. William D. Cox, founder of the International Soccer League (19TH HOLE, Nov. 9) has announced that the new league will kick off on May 25 with its first game at New York's Polo Grounds. Successive games will alternate between the Polo Grounds and Roosevelt Stadium and will wind up on August 4 when the winners of each section will play for the cup. Here is the schedule.—ED.
May 25 Germany vs. Scotland
May 26 New York vs. Ireland
May 28 New York vs. England
May 29 Scotland vs. Ireland
June 1 Germany vs. England
June 2 New York vs. Scotland
June 4 France vs. Ireland
June 8 England vs. Ireland
June 9 Germany vs. France
June 11 France vs. Scotland
June 15 Germany vs. Ireland
June 16 New York vs. France
June 18 England vs. Scotland
June 22 New York vs. Germany
June 22 France vs. England
July 2 Yugoslavia vs. Austria
July 3 New York vs. Italy
July 6 Sweden vs. Portugal
July 7 New York vs. Austria
July 9 Yugoslavia vs. Italy
July 13 Sweden vs. Austria
July 14 New York vs. Portugal
July 16 Sweden vs. Italy
July 20 New York vs. Sweden
July 21 Yugoslavia vs. Portugal
July 23 Italy vs. Austria
July 27 Italy vs. Portugal
July 28 Yugoslavia vs. Sweden
July 30 New York vs. Yugoslavia
July 30 Portugal vs. Austria