WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Your article on National League hitters is an excellent analysis of the difference between the two major leagues (A Thunderation of Sluggers, July 3). There is no question that the NL has become the hitters' league and the AL the pitchers' league. Besides Roger Maris and Clete Boyer, whom you mentioned as AL castoffs who enjoyed switching to the NL for the sake of their batting average, another is Don Lock, a .240 lifetime hitter in the AL who is over .300 in the NL this year.
However, there is one thing I would like to correct about your article. The AL's strength lies principally in its pitching depth, and the NL's is in its top-line stars. Hence All-Star competition between the two leagues in no way indicates which is superior, since it is a test of top-line strength only. A much better test is World Series competition, which has been about even during the 1960s but was dominated for 50 years before that by the AL. For one thing, the World Series takes at least four games. And every one of a team's 25 players—not just its top two or three—plays a role. Seldom is a World Series decided by a lucky break, but that frequently happens in All-Star games.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Re Bud Collins' analysis of U.S. amateur tennis (The Best Losers in the World, July 3), the future of our Davis Cup teams depends entirely on the Establishment which controls American tennis. When it finally gets smart and allows pros and amateurs to compete in open tournaments, the public will rediscover the thrills of watching the game. Then hard-nosed young athletes will be drawn into tennis, and our Davis Cup teams will become unbeatable. Open tennis must be the first link in this happy chain of events.
THOMAS WILLIAM KEMP
Boca Raton, Fla.
Thank you for the fine article on the new Spanish king of sports, Manuel Santana (The Reign in Spain of King Manolo, July 3). Having lived in Europe and South America for a number of years, I appreciate your stories on foreign athletes who may not be so familiar to American audiences. In Mr. Deford's article, he mentioned that the only other Spaniard to be awarded the gold medal of sport was soccer star Alfredo di Estesano. If I am not mistaken, Mr. Deford was referring to Alfredo di Stefano, the center-forward wizard of the five-time European Cup winner, Real Madrid. To be sure, from about 1955 to 1965, no man was more esteemed in Spanish sports than the Argentine-born Di Stefano.
In the past you have done many fine articles on soccer and its star performers, such as the Brazilian, Pelé. Di Stefano was sold by the Real Madrid club a few years ago when he was deemed to be through as a player because of age. After 35, few players are capable of keeping up the fast pace that the game requires. Even though Di Stefano may be through as an active player, I would like to see you honor this superb athlete with a story sometime in the future. An exposition of his exploits on the soccer field might serve as an inspiration to our young players and help to raise American soccer to the stature that it enjoys in the rest of the world.
Kansas City, Mo.
Thank you very much for the fine article by Tom Brody (An Expo of a Different Kind, July 3). You may be interested to know that John Harris, who was featured in the article, has decided to attend the University of Minnesota. Harris, by the way, received quite a shock when he picked up his copy of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and saw his own picture.
ROBERT M. MOIR
Good to see an article on Canadian football, but a chauvinistic slant has resulted in glaring errors.
The problem is emphasis. We like to think that we don't go overboard and forget that football is a sport. However, within set limits on emphasis we take it very seriously. All high school teams that plan to win games practice from 4 to 6:30 five days a week. Anything more is against conference rules. Our coaches must be phys ed teachers, but that doesn't prevent many of them from being former pro and collegiate stars—or any of them from being knowledgeable experts.
Our universities are not allowed to give scholarships, but with professional coaching they all field good teams. The Canadian Football League is filled with our university graduates (stars like Ron Stewart, Whit Tucker and Russ Jackson of the Ottawa Rough Riders). The reason why we produce few of NFL-AFL caliber is again one of emphasis. Our college players are full-time students, not pampered quasi-professionals.
A sad truth neglected in your article was that, excepting a few offered scholarships to name schools such as Notre Dame, Michigan or Minnesota, most high school footballers who head south do so only because they are without the necessary academic qualifications to attend a Canadian university.
And, finally, please try to remember that the bulk of Canada's population lives in areas with better or equal climate to that of New England, the Midwest and the Great Plains states. So let's leave out the autumnal-blizzards-and-snowshoes nonsense in the future.
Thanks for a chance to say my piece. Usually I enjoy your magazine a great deal.
In the June 19th issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED you featured an article The Sociable Shows of Summer with several excellent pictures by Tony Triolo.
You made, however, an error in a caption. On page 41 there is a large picture of Linda Vass riding John Vass's horse Pete's Prince. You stated in your captions that it was Mrs. Joseph Ferguson riding Vince Dugan's Tumbles Tot. You were wrong.
HONEST TO PETE
Pete Axthelm's account of the 79th AAU track and field meet (See You Later, Jim Ryun, July 3) included some first-rate sports-writing. It also contained some rather unkind remarks about the host city.
Mr. Axthelm's adjectives, "hot" and "dusty," might be applied to almost any American city in midsummer, except that most other parts of the country endure summer humidity at the same time. The temperature at last year's National AAU meet in New York, we recall, reached 100 humid degrees, as compared to our high-and-dry 75. Don Winton wrote us from the Pasadena Athletic Association, referring to the Bakersfield meet as "outstanding." He continued, "It gets our vote as the best AAU championship ever held. The weather was perfect, the service was unsurpassed."
Maybe they had less time than Mr. Axthelm to count "an inexhaustible supply of hard-visaged cocktail waitresses," or to examine "the harsh lives of the local migrant farm laborers."
The community of Bakersfield has matured and improved considerably since John Steinbeck visited us. Too bad Mr. Axthelm failed to notice.
As a citizen of Bakersfield, I am suffering terribly from the "barrenness" around me as I gaze out of my window at my verdant lawn, blooming roses, poppies and zinnias. I glance up my street at other barren plots with cool water misting into the air over green gardens and shrubs. I am "shielding" myself from the "harsh lives of migrant farm laborers" who daily make my life unbearable by living in their homes busily tending to their own jobs, families and activities. I realize how unusual Bakersfield is to have a laboring section of its population, something no other town has—how lucky they are to be made up of "exclusive" citizens.
I feel I am being severely tested for my eventuality in hell as I go about my daily business of raising my two children, tending to my lovely home and going shopping in the multimillion dollar San Joaquin Valley Plaza Shopping Center, home of some 60 stores.
I am terribly jealous of all the other towns in the West without "long lines of motels." I've never seen one, but I know there must be many hidden in some paradise.
I am fully aware of the "inexhaustible supply of hard-visaged cocktail waitresses" since I drink in the same bars frequented by your reporter. Maybe someday I will be lucky enough to dine out in one of Bakers-field's many fine eating places and meet some of the exemplary waitresses.
I think it is so unfortunate that the visiting athletes found Bakersfield so "irritable" that it was impossible to perform to the best of their ability. Maybe if we had been more hospitable and our town had been more agreeable, they would have broken some records or something!
And last, but certainly not least, is Bakersfield's unbearable weather! Who could be expected to withstand an average temperature of 72° all year round?
I read with amusement Kim Chapin's article on Hoosier-Bluegrass superiority on the basketball court (They're Still at It in Indiana, June 26). This is an annual summer snow job foisted on basketball buffs throughout the nation. It is evident from pro rosters and collegiate standouts that both Indiana and Kentucky are far outdistanced by Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, and are no better than southern California, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts. In fact, it would be in their best interests to tone down the braggadocio emitted from Indianapolis and Louisville every June, because one of these days, somebody in New York City, Philadelphia or Washington is going to issue a challenge, and won't it be embarrassing when a "little old city" wipes out the best of Indiana and Kentucky, either singly or as an entry?
RICHARD V. SMITH
Indiana probably produces the best shooters in the U.S., but this is only half of the game. Defense has been on the rise for the last five years or so. Indiana ballplayers don't receive enough emphasis on this aspect of the game.
Maybe Indiana, Kentucky or Illinois could be No. 1 in high school basketball, but who really knows which one is best? All that I'm saying is that a basketball classic year after year between two states doesn't prove that either state produces high school basketball's cream of the crop.
JAMES J. MASSICK
May I make some personal observations on Pete Axthelm's article, An Icy Welcome to the NHL (June 19)? To the best of my knowledge, nothing has been said by any NHL club with respect to the statement that the new teams drafted "rejects, fringe players and kids."
The one fact that has been universally overlooked is that, in the past, there were only six major league hockey teams, providing only 108 NHL jobs for more than 1,000 professional hockey players. As a result many extremely gifted players were forced to play in the minor leagues. Certainly one of the most desirable results of expansion is that more than 100 of these players will now have the chance to prove they can play in hockey's major league.
As chairman of the California Seals Hockey Club, I feel confident that we have drafted a team that can compete with anybody in hockey and that we can win our share of games next year against the established teams in the Eastern Division. It is true that the old teams lost very few from their National League playing rosters of last season, but when you stop to think how much money and time was spent developing these 15 top players in each organization, nobody, in all fairness, could possibly expect the teams to give them up.
I would also have to say that those people who have labeled our players "castoffs" and "pickups" have not hurt us. In fact, they have given our coaches a tremendous psychological weapon. Any man playing for an expansion club next year who has not taken offense at these various labels does not deserve to call himself a professional athlete.
BARRY VAN GERBIG