SI's lament for the passing of baseball's big hitters (A Farewell to .300 Hitters, Sept. 26) is depressingly true. In these days of anemic averages it is hard to believe there were years when .400-plus was not quite good enough.
T. L. GIBSON
Ever since Ted Williams retired, I have found baseball rather boring. After reading Jack Mann's article about the demise of .300 hitters, perhaps I can forgive Mr. Williams his retirement and blame my boredom on the game itself.
How about limiting relief pitchers to one, barring injury? I predict it would bring something back to the game, although I'm not sure anything could make baseball as exciting as it once was.
As Jack Mann finally said, the real fan knows baseball very thoroughly and appreciates finesse more than power. There are many of us who, because we love the game, have studied baseball rules and baseball history with enjoyment and regret that the game has changed. We respect Babe Ruth for more than his home-run-hitting ability, and we don't respect the player who hits the long ball at the expense of the shorter, carefully placed hit to an empty spot in the field. Baseball owners, managers, coaches and players should realize that we fans dislike the present emphasis on the home run and that we especially dislike their disregard of the baseball intelligence of the fan.
MARY PAGE HINTON
Chevy Chase, Md.
Permit me to congratulate your Jack Mann on one of the best sports articles in the past several years.
EUGENE M. DAVIS
BLACK AND WHITE
Gary Ronberg's article on the LSU-South Carolina game (The Night They Learned to Forget the Coach, Sept. 26) implied throughout that this was a case of Charley McClendon and his Good Guys (presumably wearing white hats) against the villainous Paul Dietzel, who has performed such evil feats as bringing football glory to Louisiana State and even thinking about himself and his family occasionally.
McClendon's saying, "Maybe if I can just whip his britches this Saturday night it will clear the air around here," was a pretty inane remark. This is Dietzel's first year at South Carolina. He does not have an abundance of good material, and he had very little time to install any kind of system. McClendon and "the vociferous and demanding people of Louisiana" should be grateful that they will not have to face Dietzel and his Gamecocks again for at least five years.
As an attorney, I am appalled by the letter from Paul Dietzel (19TH HOLE, Sept. 26). He states that each contract between a football coach and a college should be unilateral (running in favor of one person only, i.e., the coach), while in both law and in equity almost all contracts are bilateral (with benefits running to both parties).
He also states that the coach should give notice that he is not going to renegotiate with the school, and the school would then have the benefit of the time necessary to find a new coach. On the other side of the coin, if the school is dissatisfied with the coach the school is still obligated to pay the coach for the full term of the contract, despite the fact that the coach need not perform any real coaching effort, nor render any services to the school. It would appear to me that this is more than job security and, as a matter of fact, could be construed as a guaranteed annual wage for no work.
I think that Mr. Dietzel has learned a great deal about breaking contracts from his various job transfers during the last five years, but it would appear that he needs a little law-school training in what they mean.
EDWARD M. COHEN
Dietzel has said that when the challenge is gone, he loses interest. Well and good. Why not, then, sign only one-year contracts and simply leave when that time comes?
Good luck to South Carolina, but I'm betting they'll be shopping for another coach before half of that 10-year contract is completed.
Stevens Point, Wis.
Now that Paul Dietzel has spoken on "I Have Never Broken a Contract" (Sept. 19), I await the following: "I Never Kissed a Man" by Elizabeth Taylor; "I Never Pitched in the Majors" by Sandy Koufax; and "I Don't Want to Be President," by Bobby Kennedy.
JAMES R. ROOS
The article by Mark Mulvoy, They Are Almost Too Tired to Walk to the Bank (Sept. 26), is very interesting. Unfortunately you failed to red-check R. H. Sikes, who not only played in the 1966 Cleveland Open, but won it.
PAUL C. WARREN
•A printing error resulted in a few copies of the September 26 issue being run off without the red check that Dick Sikes richly deserved.—ED.
Re your October 3 SCORECARD item on football players whose names best fit them for an All-America team, I simply must put in a nomination for a big defensive left tackle at North Carolina. His name is Battle Wall. So help me.
DEBIT AND CREDIT
I think Mark Kram's article on Norbert Schemansky (Looking for a Lift, Sept. 12) is one of the most important pieces you have ever published. It is certainly a moving portrait of one of our greatest champions (unknown though he may be). I am proud that I knew of him before your article, having seen him once in an American competition on television for all too short a time and on the telecasts of two Olympics.
His complaints concerning AAU officialdom are well taken. To the competitor, the hordes of officials and supernumeraries are not only in the way but they often seem hostile to the very aims of the competitors. I have competed only in swimming and have never ceased to be amazed at the numbers of officials around with no visible function. I also followed with horror the NCAA-AAU quarrel, with its unpleasant scenes of athletes caught in the middle, either unable to compete or. like Mr. Schemansky, crushed almost to starvation for lack of a definition of the word amateur.
If simple altruism is not strong enough to remedy such a situation, perhaps a little enlightened self-interest will make it possible for us to exploit the resources of this great man. Basketball teams are sent around the world. Why should not Norbert Schemansky be similarly recognized—and rewarded?
As one who does know who Weight Lifter Norbert Schemansky is and who cares about what happens to him, I was most shocked to read of Norbert's present financial situation. I was even more shocked by the apparent smugness of the AAU.
Norbert Schemansky is truly an alltime champion. He has been a great ambassador for the U.S., winning the respect of even the Russians. It is high time Americans showed their admiration for this dedicated athlete.
JOHN F. SHIREY
Your article on the financial difficulties of Olympic Weight Lifter Norbert Schemansky brings to mind the question of financing Olympic athletes in general.
Every four years, immediately preceding the Olympic Games competition, there is a frantic campaign to provide funds for U.S. participants. In my opinion, this "tin cup" approach to an endeavor as great as the Olympic Games is certainly not worthy of our United States. I wonder if your readers are aware of a bill recently introduced in Congress by Oregon's Democratic Representative Edith Green that would enable all our citizens to participate in supporting our Olympic athletes. The bill (H.R. 17068) would make possible "the issuance and sale by the Post Office Department of a 'semi-postal' stamp to assist in financing American participation in the Olympic Games." If this bill is enacted into law, a special, permanent postage stamp of 5¢ denomination would be issued and placed on sale at post offices for 10¢. The additional 5¢ would be turned over to the U.S. Olympic Committee for athlete support.
This appears to me to be a perfectly painless way of obtaining funds. No one would be forced to purchase this stamp. But those who want to see the U.S. excel would be able to chip in the additional nickel.
The bill is now in the hands of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, which is investigating its value. Of course, there are many opponents of this bill, who feel that it would merely open the door to every other kind of charity. But I see no logic in defeating this bill merely to keep others from attempting to push through a like proposition. It would still be up to the Congress to determine which propositions have merit, and to act on them accordingly.
DAVID O. JOHNSON