VIEW FROM THE HILL
Your article, France Has a Picnic in Vermont (March 28), was cleverly written, but it did not touch the most significant aspects of the races. When the French, the Swiss or the Austrian skiers have their national championships, competition is restricted to the nationals of the respective countries. In this way the national champions get the recognition, publicity and acclaim they deserve. The Name used to be true of our national championships, except that those countries, like Canada, that granted reciprocal privileges, could enter our championships and win the titles. Recently, however, the U.S. Ski Association changed the rules to permit foreign skiers to run in our nationals despite the ban on American entrants in the similar European events.
I think our American boys and girls deserve the spotlight to themselves when they win a national championship. They should get the honor and acclaim and publicity which they deserve, not he relegated to the also-ran class. Not only is this right and just, but also it stimulates younger, rising competitors to strive for similar honors.
New York City
For too long there has been an ad agency tone to just about everything written concerning American competitive skiing. Thanks to Dan Jenkins for seeing through the clouds and writing something enjoyable and, most of all, believable. For a change someone has maintained a perspective that places us in a realistic position vis-√†-vis the Europeans and the Canadians.
DWIGHT W. SMITH
Your article, A Stadium Inside a Studio (March 28), could do with some amplification. It treats Gordon McLendon in an almost posthumous way, not even telling whether he is still alive. I happen to know that McLendon is every bit as active as he was during the days of the Liberty Broadcasting System, and I dare say he is even more successful. He is 44, owner of a nationwide chain of radio stations, theaters and has man) international interests in both real estate and oil. While he no longer does sportscasting, he still editorializes over all his own radio stations. I saw him in Chicago the other day. One remark that he made should be of more than passing interest. "Now that both Liberty and Mutual are out of the game-of-the-day business." he said to me. "I think there's room for a brand-new game-of-the-day network."
JAY J. G. SCHATZ
Lindsey Nelson's recollections of the baseball broadcasts on Gordon McLendon's Liberty network reminded me of what might have been Gordon's first baseball broadcast. As a member of an Armed Forces Radio Service team building GI stations in the Pacific, I broadcast some Softball games on WVTY at the giant fleet anchorage of Ulithi. I went on to Peleliu in the Palau Islands and later had a letter from the Ulithi program people telling me how Gordon McLendon, then an intelligence officer in the Navy, had showed up one day offering to do a game. Their opinion was that he was sensational.
I am reminded of an earlier artist of this type of broadcasting—the late Johnny Neblett, who was the announcer for the Columbus, Ohio Red Birds on radio station WBNS around 1936 and 1937. Sportswriters decried his license—he would turn an ordinary pop fly into a thriller where three fielders ran into each other and were knocked breathless in their superb effort to save that ball from being a home run! The writers said they couldn't write such dramatic accounts, because "It just ain't so!" But Red Bird fans, especially the ladies, who adored Johnny, defended him fiercely. His account was what they wanted to hear. Studio parties were held where Ladies' Day crowds sat and watched him read the tape and then come out with his dramatic play-by-play. Sometimes ladies in the studio were invited to announce an inning, and they, too, would try to make it sound exciting.
Partly because we had such an outstanding American Association team in those years and partly because Johnny made the Red Buds sound a little better than they were, the sport fan's day was made a little brighter.
As one very concerned about the increasing number of shanty towns that are making their dingy appearance along most of our country's once-beautiful shores, it did my morale good to read Pamela Knight's article on the work Landscape Architect Lawrence Halprin is doing in California (Shelters on a Scalloped Shore, March 28). SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is doing a commendable job of informing the public concerning advances in conservation.
DAVID H. BREMER II
Instead of cluttering the pages of your magazine with the stupid results of the NBA season, you gave an account of that grand old sport of shelter-building (scalloped shore division). Now let's see a special on another much neglected sport: knitting!
STANLEY S. PAIST
The outstanding feature of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is its line staff of writers and photographers who can add that spark of fire and drama that would make even a knitting contest interesting. Given a story like Texas Western's win over Kentucky in the NCAA finals well, the way I rank Deford handled it was terrific (do-do with Bobby Joe, March 28).
Of course, we are prejudiced in El Paso, and maybe we wouldn't be so happy if the score was the other way round.
MAYO C. SEAMON
Hooray for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. You "adopted" our Texas Western Miner basketball team when the critics were chirping we were overrated. Your series of articles have warmed the hearts of all El Pasoans.
Hugh Whall's piece on Atlanta's Ted Turner and his Southern Ocean Racing Conference triumph (Meanest Vamp at Sea. March 28) was most enjoyable. However, li'l old Atlanta is not just now reaching the big leagues at sea. In 1951 the late Willie Erwin, as fine a Peachtree Street cavalier as ever spliced the main brace with a julep, copped the SORC trophy with the PCC (Pacific Cruising Class) Belle of the West. The Belle, like Turner's Vamp X, was a stock boat of sorts.
A first-rate sailor in his own right, Willie also had such capable hands as Dick Beitram aboard, as well as much lesser lights, such as the undersigned. Willie, doubtless pointing very well in that Big Regatta in the Sky since his untimely death, would appreciate mention of this. I'm sure.
As a sequel to your story on high school basketball player Rick Mount (Bright Star in Indiana, Feb. 14), I thought your readers might like to know that Kick led the Lebanon Tigers to the state quarter-finals only to lose to East Chicago Washington by one point, 59-58. If it hadn't been for a bad case of leg cramps, Rick might have taken Lebanon all the way to the championship. As it was, he did not take a single shot during the whole last quarter of the game, but he still ended up with a total of 29 points.
In the afternoon game that same day, Rick was really hot. He scored 47 points—20 of them in the last quarter to give Lebanon a 65-64 win over Logansport.
Hobart Township, Ind
We here in Pensacola, Fla. are very proud of the record achieved by the Pensacola High School basketball team. Over a 2½-year period it has won 73 out of its last 74 games, including two state championships. During the 1963-64 season the Fighting Tigers were 10-4. They then reeled off 15 straight victories to finish the season 25-4 and Florida State champions. The next year the team won 28 straight before losing in the semifinal game of the regional tournament.
The Tigers began the 1965-66 season with five new starters—Tom Bowen, Richard Harper, Lawrence Lynn, Greg Nelson and Tony Staples—but, with a tremendous coaching job by Marvin Beck and a lot of talent and team desire, the Pensacola Tigers astounded everybody with a brilliant undefeated season and another state class-AA championship.
Greene County in Missouri would like to stake a claim as the basketball capital of the world. The Missouri Athletic Association has its state championship divided into three classes: L for high schools of over 550 enrollment, M for schools between 180-550, and S for schools under 180. The runners-up for the state championship in all three divisions this year were from Greene County. Parkview, in Springfield, was the class-L runner-up with a 27-1 record; Willard, 29-4, was the class-M runner-up: and Greenwood, the laboratory school at Southwest Missouri State College, was the class-S runner-up with a record of 28-6.
To put the icing on the cake, two colleges in Greene County, Southwest Missouri State and Drury, won their respective conference championships.
HAROLD E. GRIFFIN