Once more the baseball season is upon us, and once more the same situation prevails. There is only one major league—the National. Fans in Baltimore and Detroit may not like it, but the facts bear this out. National League teams have won seven of the last 11 World Series, twice doing it in four straight games. The Senior Circuit has won 13 of the last 18 All-Star Games to reach a decision. No one doubted the American League's superiority in the 1930s when they piled up Series and All-Star victories. No one should doubt the National's greater strength now.
The superiority of the N.L. is not an accident. It started when Jackie Robinson signed into that league. Almost all of the great Negro ballplayers of the next 10 years followed Jackie into the more integrated league. Until the past few years, only Larry Doby, Minnie Minoso, Elston Howard and maybe a handful of other Negroes were stars in the A.L. The N.L. boasted the Robinsons (Jackie and Frank), Campy, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Don Newcombe, Monte Irvin and many, many more. The National League had to be stronger. In the last couple of seasons the American League has narrowed the gap, but it is still far behind.
As your magazine stated following a pair of 1960 N.L. victories in All-Star Games—there's only one major league.
New York City
In my opinion, your article Destiny's Whipping Boys (April 5) is the most ridiculous, misconstrued, illogical story that has ever appeared in your usually commendable magazine. "Wrong place at the wrong time"—phooey! The chance that Frank Howard might not get a regular job this season is about as remote as the chance that SI might just publish a decent article about the Senators this year. Jack Mann seems to indicate that the Nats are composed solely of derelicts reeling from cruel blows struck by Dame Fortune. There are unfortunates like these on every team, and there are likewise those who have been treated more kindly by the Fickle Lady. On those rare occasions when you find it within your magnanimous hearts to write up the heroes of us residents of D.C. you might at least give them a fair shake by picking a decent theme.
I feel Jack Mann deserves some credit. Mann doesn't say it in so many words, but it looks like it could be another dismal year for the Senators. We Senator fans are always hoping that it will be the Senators' big year, but it generally isn't. Like most Washington fans—whether of the Redskins or Senators—I am proud of our two professional teams. The Redskins showed, after six of seven straight sellouts last football season, that Washington is a big-league city. If the Senators have any kind of a season they could also draw larger crowds.
EDWIN CASSWELL JR.
As a longtime Sam Snead fan, I did a slow burn as I read the "Hogan eulogy" (The Man Who Casts the Longest Shadow, April 5). The longest shadow is cast by the man who lets action speak louder than words. Hogan is a has-been.
THOMAS L. DETIENNE
New York City
Alfred Wright writes as if Sam Snead were put on earth only to torment his personal hero, Mr. Hogan.
A. L. EBERLY, M.D.
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Superb! Your article on Ben Hogan was, perhaps, the best of tributes to the greatest sportsman of them all. Thank you! (By the way, I'm not related.)
The Day the Cowboys Got Lassoed for a Loss (April 5) is definitely the best wrestling article I've ever read. Mark Kram not only gives a quick rundown of the meet but tells of the wrestlers themselves. Not many people realize the torture a wrestler goes through to be good or to just make the team. This man Kram expressed what many wrestlers can't describe about their ordeal.
Schiller Park, Ill.
Mark Kram's article was a welcome example of the coverage your magazine can give to an exciting and underrated sport—college wrestling. But, in some respects, Kram really missed the boat. Instead of providing the astounding success story of the boys from the corn country, Iowa State, he gave us all sorts of drab data on the Oklahoma State defeat and an equally uninteresting brief on the Cowboys' Spartan existence. Granted, OSU has a great wrestling tradition, but when they are knocked off the public wants to know more about the conquerors. Iowa State rates center stage for defeating the Yankees of college wrestling.
I was a little dismayed that you failed to mention which school Joe Bavaro (147-pound finalist) attends. It is not often that you find a finalist with Joe's ability attending an extremely small college (1,800 students) such as Gettysburg.
While I thoroughly enjoyed Jack Olsen's article on jai alai and Churruca (Fury at the From on, March 29), I must take issue with his failure to mention any of the other great pelotaris currently competing at the Miami fronton. In particular, Olsen failed to recognize the great Orbea, easily the world's finest front-court player (Churruca is a backcourt man). Admittedly, it is difficult and even unfair to compare the two. Churruca is physically agile, fast and powerful while the smaller Orbea must use amazingly accurate ball placement and cunning to offset his relative lack of physical assets. More important though, Orbea is a clutch player. Of the two, Churruca is easily the most spectacular and crowd-pleasing, but when the chips are down Orbea is El Maestro.
Thank you for another fine article on jai alai. However, please note that there is indeed a "gringo" professional player, namely, my brother, Richard Roberts, who played at Orlando, Fla. in 1962 and who began playing at the Tijuana, Mexico fronton this January 1. Dick works in San Diego by day, then dons a cesta to moonlight across the border at night.
We need to legalize jai alai in California and New York if we hope to produce players for possible Olympic play. Let's close the gap on the Basques before it's too late!
DONALD B. ROBERTS
Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C.
I personally think jai alai is the greatest game in the world, both as a spectator sport and as a participant sport for amateurs. Mr. Olsen failed to mention that a rubber ball is used at amateur jai alai in North Miami—not a regulation pelota. It would be suicidal for amateurs to use a hard ball, because only years of training can teach jai alai players positioning. As a person who has played on a real fronton, I do not think that the dangerous aspects of professional jai alai should be minimized. It is truly the world's most dangerous game.
TRUMAN T. DODGE
We read with pleasure your recent article about that most underrated of sports figures, Arnold (Red) Auerbach (They All Boo When Red Sits Down, April 5). Although Red achieved recognition only recently as Coach of the Year, he has earned this accolade throughout the past decade and more.
His detractors continue to rant that he has the best personnel, but at least three other teams in the National Basketball Association have players of comparable caliber (Cincinnati's Royals, Philadelphia's 76ers and Los Angeles' Lakers) and yet do not win. Only Auerbach has been able to establish a no-nonsense winning relationship with his team and particularly with his outstanding star, Bill Russell. Only Auerbach consistently has last choice in the player draft, yet manages to improve year by year on his already magnificent record.
Laker fans may boo all they want. We will continue to cheer a fine basketball coach.
Redondo Beach. Calif.
Mr. Harry (The Horse) Gallatin said it better: "Some people can handle success; Auerbach isn't one of them."
PETER J. KERNEY
I was interested to read the SCORECARD account (April 5) of the short (64-foot) Lykens, Pa. high school basketball floor and the players' success in driving for the basket with arm extended to brace for the collision.
Many years ago I played on a similar high school court with baskets on the end walls. In driving for the basket the good players and jumpers on our team would place a foot three or four feet up on the wall and let their momentum carry them up—if they were lucky—for an easy shot. This technique often demoralized the opposition.
F. E. TAYLOR