BOOT AND SADDLE
First prize for the best Thoroughbred racing story of 1967 should go to Whitney Tower of SI for his three-part article with Bill Hartack (A Hard Ride All the Way, March 27 et seq.). Never before in the history of the sport has a more serious and honest story been presented. Hartack has been the stormy petrel of racing in modern times. Trainers hate his guts, and sportswriters do belligerent stories about him. Why? Because he speaks the truth!
Some years back, I attended a dinner in New York City and heard Hartack asking for some mounts from a well-known trainer. The man brushed Hartack aside by saying, "Don't bother me. You're too rich for my blood," and he walked away. If being honest is a fault, then Hartack is guilty. But the fact that a jockey is condemned because he is honest and rides only to win stands out as one of the biggest black marks on Thoroughbred racing. Bill Hartack's story in SI should keep some trainers and sportswriters awake nights. That is, if they have a conscience. Then again, in a sport where money is the devil, who has a conscience?
J. J. RANDY
Some of what Hartack had to say he has said before (SI, June 24, 1963), but it is refreshing to see that the man is consistent. His frankness and sincerity are admirable, and it is unfortunate that those owners and trainers who shun him now do not measure the man by what he has proven he does best: ride and win horse races.
JOSEPH J. PUMILIA
King of Prussia, Pa.
NOT BY BREAD ALONE
John D. MacDonald's letter (19TH HOLE, April 3) makes a lot of sense. Golf is becoming more and more of a spectator sport, probably because of the good TV coverage and the ever-increasing size of the purses. We oldtimers may nostalgically bemoan the ascendancy of the touring pro over the teaching pro, but we also realize that we are witnessing the maturity of a new spectator sport that is drawing nongolfers as well as golfers into its fold. Therefore, the touring pro's proficiency should not be measured solely by the amount of money he earns, but rather by his performance vs. the performances of his competitors, both present and past. A percentage analysis, as Mr. MacDonald points out, would create even more interest in golf as a spectator sport. And the viewing public has already been conditioned to such comparisons by the percentage methods used in other sports.
Steps have been taken in this direction. Witness George Archer's win at Greensboro, which, according to the Masters point system, qualified him for that event. It should not take too much doing to get such a system enlarged to the point where all golfers can be compared on a competitive basis.
My congratulations to Mr. MacDonald on his idea.
RALPH G. BATES
As a wrestling fan I was happy to see that you covered the NCAA University Division wrestling championships (Delicious Dessert for a Hungry Spartan Crew, April 3). But while you gave fine coverage to the first-, second-, third-, fourth-, sixth-and seventh-place teams, you seem to have forgotten the fifth-place finisher, Portland State College. Portland State had previously swept through the NCAA College Division championships with a record team score of 86 points. But the final insult was that you did not even mention that PSC's Rick Sanders was selected as the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
It took two years for the NCAA to notice us. I hope SI catches on a bit sooner.
DONALD J. CIOETA
Congratulations. I had searched many magazines and the sports sections of two supposedly good papers in Los Angeles and found no mention of wrestling. With all the yelling and screaming devoted to collegiate basketball and swimming, it was refreshing to find someone who remembered some of the guys who have to train and work the hardest to be winners. In fact, SI covered all three sports that week. Three cheers to you and to Michigan State for winning the title.
L. B. STETSON
It seems to be traditional for newspapers and magazines to view with alarm what you have termed television's "moving in" on sports. So there is ample precedent (if no logic) for your editorial question, "Should Arnold Go Show Biz?" (SCORECARD, March 13).
The burden of proof also falls on your editorial writer if his statement that television has "staged, manipulated, gimmicked up" the sports it covers is to be taken seriously. Was it CBS and not .200 hitters that put the Yankees in the cellar? And as for the "fair editorial comment" he mentions, what's so fair about his contending, without any evidence to support the contention, that there's something deplorable about drawing a paycheck from a TV network? (How will I explain that to my mother?)
Despite the many reservations expressed by writers and columnists over television's involvement in sports, I simply do not hear from my friends outside the industry the opinion that television has distorted their views in any respect. The fact is they are highly aware that television has underlined the adjective in the phrase "spectator sport." The medium has touched off a boom in sports, not to mention the sale of certain expensive magazines, and the whole public now gets free of charge the kind of look at sports events that used to be reserved for sportswriters and the well-to-do.
Could it just be, fellas, that you are hearing the sound of a different drummer?
ROBERT D. KASMIRE
Corporate Information, NBC
New York City
SI is getting to be a humor magazine.
You state that even when television has no financial stake in teams "it has shown a singular inability to function in the proper role of unbiased reporter."
Now, really! Do you think that SI functions in its proper role of unbiased reporter? Never yet have I read an article in which the reporter didn't place his own interpretation on the event (many times, of course, with very disparaging remarks), and every "news" article seems to be an editorial instead of a report. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
WALTON F. EHREN
Congratulations to William Leggett for showing the folks in Baltimore that they don't have the only team in the American League (Detroit's Refrain Is Mayo and Sain, April 3). I'm sure that the close relationship between the players and coaches will bring a long-awaited pennant to the Motor City.
Travis AFB, Calif.
I fear Mr. William Leggett, in his article on Stan Musial (Stanley, the General Manager, March 20), failed to heed Horace Greeley's advice. If he had gone West he'd have found that the California Angels' general manager, Fred Haney, was also an active major league player. So, rather than the four men listed, there are at least five who can be grouped in this category. However, Stan the Man still stands out as one of a kind.
STICKS AND STONES
Recognition was certainly overdue for that spunky lacrosse power on the Eastern Shore, Washington College (The Came on the Eastern Shore, March 27), but SI certainly missed the big one in Maryland.
For 26 years Johns Hopkins has been trying to defeat the kings of lacrosse, the Mount Washington Lacrosse Club. This year Hopkins, fielding a team predominantly made up of sophs and juniors, put together a hard-hitting defense and well-executed attack to rout Mount Washington 10-4. I'm disappointed that the score wasn't mentioned in your magazine.
STANLEY E. FISHER
In her explanation of the difference between lacrosse northern and southern style, Rose Mary Mechem makes a fleeting reference to the lack of teamwork, the lack of cohesion and the general lack of everything else on the CCNY lacrosse team, of which I am proud to be a member. Specifically, she cites City College players' disregard for skilled stickwork in their desire to knock a man down. She seems to have forgotten to mention the reasons for the tougher style of play in the north. In the first place, most City players have never played lacrosse before entering college, so that the most experienced will have no more than three years behind him. Secondly, many City players have a football background and tend to think in terms of contact. Teamwork is strongly stressed at City, with contact coming in second. Coach George Baron, who does a great job with inexperienced students, is improving this skill.
I commend you on the fine article on lacrosse. The photographs by Richard Meek and the story by Rose Mary Mechem were excellent and paid fitting tribute to a fine college, a fine coach and a fine sport. I hope you will continue to publish more such articles.
GEORGE M. CHANDLEE JR.
U.S. Lacrosse Coaches' Association