19TH HOLE: THE READERS TAKE OVER - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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I submit that the oil companies are right in their assessment of the recent Indianapolis 500: the principal areas of research for the next year must be in the fields of fuel and fuel safety (After the Indianapolis Fire: an Argument, June 22).

Perhaps the time has come to have compulsory fuel stops of, say, one-minute duration which are supervised by a track official. That way, the fuel capacity of the car could be limited to more closely approximate the fuel limits of a production car.

Also, the fuel ought to be dealt with in the same way as in aircraft, viz., under pressure with carbon dioxide or some other incombustible gas which would immediately control any outbreak of fire. To minimize movement within the fuel container, I wonder whether a baffle in the style of an icecube separator, if not already employed, might not be useful.

Introducing CO2 adds a hazard to the driver, and to overcome this I suggest the driver ought to wear a mask. Mindful of Parnelli Jones's narrow escape, one wonders whether an asbestos suit might not be something to be investigated, as well as the introduction of an enclosed cockpit with an ejection seat.
Manotick, Ont.

As a consultant and lecturer (at the University of Southern California) on the subject of aerospace safety, I would like to add my thoughts on the argument about fuel volatility and crash fires at Indianapolis. Previously, it was in the field of aviation-crash-injury prevention that there was a cry for kerosene in jet aircraft rather than the more volatile aviation gas.

But when controlled experimental aircraft-crash evidence was analyzed, the real bugaboo turned out to be the dispersal of fuel at impact into a fine mist or vapor. Under these conditions and in the presence of ignition points such as a hot engine, electrical sparks, metal scraping on asphalt or static electricity, the fuel characteristics become mostly academic.

An excellent solution being worked on by Aviation Safety Engineering and Research, a division of the Flight Safety Foundation, in Phoenix, Ariz. is the use of fuel tanks made of honeycomb material. This not only prevents the fuel mist from forming but provides an excellent energy attenuator to reduce the crash loads themselves.

It seems to me the automobile types might well look into this before leaping to premature regulations which may not solve the basic problem.
Buena Park, Calif.

We take exception to the item "The Fish Who Come for Dinner" (SCORECARD, June 15). There are some 16 varieties of piranha of which only four varieties are known to be vicious. An expert ichthyologist has trouble distinguishing one from another; and your New York pet shops do a thriving business selling another half a dozen variety of fishes that only look like piranhas.

Even among the piranhas there are species that refuse to come to dinner unless only the tenderest of aquatic vegetation is served.

Tell your scorekeeper to get with it! We don't want to have to drop a piranha in his Saturday-night bath.
San Jose, Calif.

In the first place, there is little likelihood any tropical fish fancier (and there are 20 million of us in the U.S.) would turn loose one piranha, let alone two. In the second place, the chance of two such characters setting up light housekeeping, even if they lived, is rather remote.

Harald Schultz, a famed aquarist who lives in S√£o Paulo, Brazil and probably knows the piranha better than anyone else in the world, has stated that the natives often swim in areas which are frequented by piranhas—and nothing happens! One can travel for hundreds of miles along the Amazon and not find a single person who has been bitten by them.

Like the octopus, the poor piranha is not as bad as Hollywood moviemakers would have us believe.

I was deeply disgusted that SI could even print an article on such a barbarous, horribly cruel "sport" (Grabbling for Those Crazy Mississippi Cats, June 15). "The grabblers dig catfish out of their spawning beds with bare hands, a feat that takes some dexterity and often a great deal of courage." This, in my opinion, is a ludicrous perversion of the word courage. What kind of man could come stalking up to an unsuspecting animal, violently root it out to its death while it is in the very act of creating new life and consider himself a courageous sportsman for his accomplishment? A cowardly man, an insensitive man, an ignorant man!

Animals have rights, too, and should not be slaughtered for the thrill of blood-lusting sportsmen.
Marysville, Wash.

•Perhaps the average, run-of-the-log Mississippi catfish would rather chew on raw fisherman than on barbed steel hook.—ED.

I have been reading SI for many years and have never seen you commit such a blunder—calling horse racing the world's favorite sport (June 8)! That you could have overlooked soccer is almost unbelievable.

It seems that you think that racing is the world's favorite merely because it has gained tremendous popularity over the past decade in big countries such as France, Australia and the U.S.; but these big countries number 10, possibly 15, and certainly no more than 20. Soccer, however, is and has been for many years the most popular sport—if not the national sport—of almost every one of the world's over 120 countries.
Gladwyne, Pa.

John Lucas is all wet with his philosophy that Buddy Edelen is not the best marathon runner the U.S. has ever had simply because he has never run in the Olympic Games or slogged away for almost 10 years (19TH HOLE, June 15). Who has decreed that longevity is the measuring stick for success in marathon running? Edelen has won in Britain and in Greece, he's been victorious in the famed Kosice (Czechoslovakia) marathon and, while still a virtual novice, he journeyed to Japan and finished a bang-up fourth when the event was still very new to him.

Europeans, and those Americans who are really knowledgeable, recognize Edelen as a real gold medal threat at Tokyo. The greatest? You bet your life he is.
Beverly Hills, Calif.

Reader Ric Rosenblum (19TH HOLE, June 1) and others have voiced loud claims that the N.Y. Yankees enjoy "a psychological edge over their opponents" in the form of a 44-inch wall which "has allowed dozens of cheap home runs, impossible in any other park." Mickey Mantle, Mr. Rosenblum would have us believe, crashes homer after homer into the second-row seats and bounces four-baggers off the foul pole, a mere 296 feet away.

The fact of the matter is that, in the last World Series, Mantle, batting right-handed against Johnny Podres in Yankee Stadium, completely ignored the beckoning foul poles and the home run porch in right. He savagely smashed a 440-footer to left center, a 410-footer to right center and a mere 400-footer to left—all of which were caught. Instead of belting three easy homers, Mantle blew the game by teeing off straight down the fairway.
Englewood, N.J.

I would like to contribute some statistical evidence in defense of Yankee Stadium. In its most productive season (1961) Yankee Stadium allowed only 171 home runs. Eight ball parks in the National League and five in the American League have exceeded this total. Yet the Yankees have led their league and the majors in home runs countless times. Ruth and Maris hit 32 and 31 of their record home run totals on the road.

The next time someone brings up the question of Yankee Stadium being a home run heaven send him a tape measure and direct him to the power alleys, where most of your homers are hit. He will find out that those distances far exceed the measurements of most major league parks.
Yonkers, N.Y.

It might be better if all baseball parks were the same size but, to my mind, what hurts the game today is a lack of good players. We do not have the players we had back in the years from 1900 to 1925. In those days boys played ball all the time, for that was all they had for recreation. There were teams in all the cities and towns. In my town (population 800) we had two good teams and two baseball fields. Today we have none. Today in New England, outside of college and high school, we have two teams, the Boston Red Sox in the American League and Springfield in the Eastern League. Back in the old days we had the Braves and Red Sox, the New England League, the Connecticut League, the New Hampshire State League and the Northern League. The boys today had rather ride in autos. It is too much work to play ball. The leagues are gone, and small-town baseball is a thing of the past. We just don't have the players anymore.
Bridgewater, Vt.