As a member of the New Breed I am raving mad at your calling the New York Mets the "worst team in the major leagues" (Scouting Reports, April 8). Even though they lost a mere 120 games, statistics do not tell the entire story.
A pitcher will still cringe at the thought of throwing a ball to Duke Snider, Frank Thomas or Gil Hodges with the right-field fence just over his shoulder. And I am sure that Charlie Neal would be given a star role on any other ball club. As for heroic Marv Throneberry—his ninth-inning homers speak for themselves. The weakest spot is the catching, but Norm Sherry will fill that role.
Give the Mets a few years of building and experience, and they'll be battling it out with the best.
The Baltimore Baseball Club is seriously concerned about the report on our club in your Baseball Issue. I think it is regrettable that such a report should be given national circulation. Your story is superficial, inaccurate and misleading, damaging to our team and embarrassing to our players.
Your Baseball Issue was excellent. However, you left out a couple of sentences in your summary of the New York Yankees. To wit: "The Yankees should repeat, not because they are a great team but because there is not much to beat. If the Yankees were in the National League they would finish sixth, behind the Giants, Dodgers, Reds, Pirates and Cards."
ROBERT H. CLARK
Let me be the first to say, "I told you so," when the Tigers win the 1963 pennant—and the World Series.
In many of your articles, including the Scouting Reports, you refer to the Dodgers as "blowing" the 1962 pennant and handing it to the Giants. The fact is the Giants won that pennant because they were the better team. In 1962 it was the survival of the fittest and the Giants were fit.
New York City
I don't see how you can say the Giants will stop the silliness of five different teams winning the NL pennant since 1957. It is the Dodgers who will stop this nonsense, not the Giants.
We especially enjoyed your article pointing out the glaring weakness of the Milwaukee Braves.
Your general coverage of baseball 1963 was interesting, as it is every year. Although I enjoyed most of it, I was terribly unimpressed by the cover spread and the article dubbing Harmon Killebrew as "the best home-run hitter" in baseball (Out of the Park on a Half Swing, April 8).
Barbara Heilman should know better. Sure Killebrew's good but, as far as being the best, how could he be compared to the likes of Babe Ruth, Roger Maris and Willie Mays? Everyone knows that Mickey Mantle is the best modern day home-run hitter and, if he'd played as many games in 1962 as Killebrew did, he would easily have hit 50 homers.
The Bronx, N.Y.
I want to add a note of praise to the many others you must be receiving on your Baseball Issue. The pictures are immense, the text definitive and, in short, you captured the spirit of the season.
Your article, Hockey's Officiating Mess (April 8), was timely and, all too sadly, true.
As a former official scorer for the Detroit Red Wings, and at present in the same capacity for the San Francisco Seals in the Western Hockey League, I have observed many hockey referees, good, bad and indifferent. Yet, on the whole, they are to be commended for the job they perform under tough, even hazardous conditions. They are subjected not only to the invective and taunts of the fans, but can be roughed up physically if they have the misfortune to be caught in the middle of a play.
Having known Mr. Clarence Campbell personally, I have always deemed him to be very fair, and solidly behind his officials. However, this is no game for pantywaists, so if they can't take it let them quit.
You will find few to quarrel with your premise that NHL officiating is a mess, but for a moment let us examine the possibility that one reason for that lies in the "messiness" of the officials themselves. By and large they appear to be characterized by self-pity, incompetence, ignorance of the rule book and personal hostility towards the NHL players. The continued use of such officials in a sport as tense as professional hockey is an invitation to incidents such as the ones you writers deplore.
By all means, let the league revise or strengthen the rules—then let it find a collection of officials willing and able to learn them and competent to enforce them fairly and intelligently.
K. C. MACLEOD
No sport can survive without proper officiating.
HERBERT A. LOEB III
I greatly enjoy the funny articles by Whitney Tower on the Kentucky Derby; he sure is an amusing man!
In his current passionate prose piece (Two Colts After One Derby, April 8) for Candy Spots and Never Bend, he lists nine others (who naturally have no chance but may try)—and never does mention the actual winner, which will be, of course, Crewman.
JACK C. ROSSETTER
Elmwood Park, Ill.
•Crewman conceivably could be the fastest colt, but the Derby will never prove it. He is not entered.—ED.
INDIAN LOVE CALL
When the April 8 issue of your magazine came I was thrilled to see an article about Grey Owl (Mysterious Genius of Nature Lore). I first became aware of his works when as a part of a group (about 30 in all) I was a guest of the Canadian Tourist Association at its annual convention held in Windsor, Ont. in September of 1954.
After one of the banquets we were treated to a lecture and a viewing of the film, Tales of an Empty Cabin.
It made me a little sad to read that he was really not part Indian as I had always thought. However, I shall always think of him as one. I am often reminded of him as it has been my pleasure to enjoy vacations at East Trout Lake in Saskatchewan near his burial place. Many Indians are employed there and I like to think of them as being "brothers" of Grey Owl. Also there are many beavers there to remind me.
"U.S. amateur ice hockey a disaster area" (SCORECARD, March 18; 19TH HOLE, April 15) is right, and to a degree this applies all along the Olympic front. But let's stop talking about it and do something.
One of the big features of the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley was the thrilling performance of the U.S. hockey team. And this magnificent performance, as well as the other great events that made the VIII Winter Olympics the best ever, was documented in the official Olympic film, Faster, Stronger, Higher. The owners of that film have now offered to match limited percentages on income from sponsored, paid showings of Faster, Stronger, Higher and to earmark such funds for the next Olympic teams.
Suppose one thousand organizations, such as ski clubs, fraternal groups, college athletic groups, boys' clubs, city athletic clubs and so on, sponsor this film for their own profit and charge an average admission fee of $1.50 per person for this greatest show on earth and attract an average audience of 1,000. Each club donates 10% of its gross share of income to the Olympic teams along with 10% of the film-owner's share: 1,000 x 1,000-1,000,000 x $1.50-$1,500,000, 10% of which is $150,000, which is a lot more than the $20 pocket-money allowance per hockey player that you described.
There are more than 500 ski clubs in the U.S. These, along with the Elks, Moose, Odd Fellows, Masons, Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts and who knows what else, could attract and collect, with their 10% "cut" to the Olympic teams, enough to send the U.S. off in grand style. For information they can write Marvin Becker, Winter Games Films, 915 Howard Street, San Francisco.
WILLIAM F. HADDON
KEEP IT SLOW
Once again, now that spring is here, people are beginning to recommend ways of speeding up baseball. Let them be silenced. Baseball may need a lot of things, but it does not need speeding up. Most sports must generate continuous action to create and maintain spectator interest. Not so baseball. It is a basically slow game.
The excitement generated by the game is in its strategy, not its action. How many times do you see a basketball or hockey coach second-guessed? Rarely. A football coach? Upon occasion. A manager? Always. After every loss—and some victories—the manager is subjected to the opinions of a fair percentage of the civilized world. They question his ability to lead anything from a one-car funeral to a group of girl scouts.
Baseball fans are a thinking group who have a good knowledge of their game. Most other sports have followers who, while they enjoy their game, do not know as much about it. They do not have to—the action, the physical excitement sweep them along. Now come these people who say baseball must be speeded up, but that is not what the game is all about. What it needs is less exposure. They play too many games each season. The season starts in April, when it is cold; it ends in October when it is cold. In between they try to make up all the games they missed because of the lousy weather.
Meanwhile the fan is bombarded with mediocre performances both in the strategy and execution of his game. Why not? Everyone out on the field is mentally and physically tired. Now, I am as loyal a Red Sox fan as ever lived in the shadow of Fenway Park (to admit it in public proves a certain blind faith), yet I find it hard to follow them through a series played in the middle of the week in mid-August. Granted they are tough to follow anytime, but even when they used to be close it still got to be too much.
If they played only 100 or 90 games each season, every game would be that much more important to the fans—and the ballplayers. I can't argue the economics of such a move with any great accuracy, but it seems to me that no club owner makes any money when his team travels to Los Angeles to play before 2,000 paid. If fewer games were played, better dates could be set up and the larger attendance at these games would offset the fewer playing dales. The brand of ball would improve considerably.
It is not the games that are too long, it is the season. Ball fans love to sit through a long battle, to watch the game unfold, to appreciate the winning strategy, to berate the loser—but not from Easter till Christmas. The club owners are asking the people to work overtime. We get tired.