OIL AND WATER
Someone once said that we read about man's successes on the sports page. SI, however, has shown sport's success is becoming relevant to the pressing problem of conservation. I thank you for taking time out to contribute a valuable public service in publishing Ross Macdonald's Life with the Blob (April 21).
VINCENT W. MOONEY JR.
As only one of thousands of Southern Californians, I would like to thank SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Ross Macdonald for an honest report of events surrounding the recent Santa Barbara tragedy.
The fact that such a disaster did occur when it could so easily have been avoided is frustrating. And when people like Union Oil President Fred L. Hartley respond with such lack of understanding I can only record disgust!
As a student I have never been a part of any active protest. But, having been witness to the work of the oil interests, I must end my passivity. I would like to know that in the future I will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of this earth without fear that the Mr. Hartleys will ruin it first.
A. ALAN BUTTON
The people of Santa Barbara have indeed suffered a terrible disaster but they have reacted childishly in condemning the oil industry. This nation depends heavily on a natural resource that is fast being depleted. The people of Santa Barbara cannot isolate themselves from the rest of the country or turn their backs on the fact that they happen to live in an area that contains a product needed by an entire nation.
Let's get off the soapbox and back to sports.
LARRY A. DORSEY
Farmington, N. Mex.
It was an exceptionally informative article on the unfortunate Santa Barbara Channel disaster. To Southern Californians may I suggest: Join the Blob Club. People living along the Louisiana coastal area are charter members. We have been exposed to such happenings for more than 10 years.
Federal and state officials tell us that we are not being affected by pollution from thousands of offshore oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil companies swear that they are maintaining clean operations. But, mean-while, our wild and marine life is suffering.
Preserving wilderness and producing oil are not contradictory, says Frank N. Ikard, president of American Petroleum Institute (19TH HOLE, April 21). Ikard speaks like a true oilman. The stronger element will survive. And it will not be wildlife because it cannot defend itself against industrial pollution, the law of economics and the aggressive pressure of oil lobbies in Federal and state governments.
WALDO J. ORRSON
Let us hope that Frank N. Ikard and his constituents, Fred Hartley et al., do a better job of meeting the challenge in Alaska put forth by Robert Cantwell (The Ultimate Confrontation, March 24) than they did in the Santa Barbara Channel.
ROBERT S. BROWN JR.
Shawnee Mission, Kans.
No one can accuse SPORTS ILLUSTRATED of failing to gauge the concerns and tempo of our time. But in recent years your writers and editors have outdone themselves in demonstrating an ecological awareness of some of the world's most pressing problems.
As a University of Wisconsin professor remarked recently, "The SI piece on the Brooks Range is of Pulitzer quality." Even more important than journalism prizes, that story and others in SI, ranging from the dilemmas of persistent pesticides and nuclear power plants in our society to the positive example of seashore enhancement, are enlightening to your broad audience.
Thanks to SI, our real grass-roots problems are being detailed in vivid, free-flowing prose. Your staff is proving that stories linking the sciences and today's environmental issues can be both accurate and interesting. Too often in the past, scientists and conservationists had only themselves to talk to in learned journals with limited circulations. SI is making the state of the environment everyone's concern.
JAMES ALAN SCHWARTZ
Department of Natural Resources
State of Wisconsin
My congratulations to Pat Ryan for one of the most interesting and delightfully written articles of its kind I have read in SI or any other publication, regarding Charles Engelhard (The Walking Conglomerate, April 28), his attractive and efficient wife and his far-flung economic and sports interests. The author's facile pen so deftly follows the Engelhards as they make the rounds of their homes and their activities on three continents—with light and intimate touches included—that the reader's interest is never allowed to waver.
New York City
Charles Engelhard is described as having inherited a modest $20-million family fortune. I call that positively bashful.
M. LEONARD BAUER
BUTTONHOLED AT THIRD
In your April 28 issue you presented a series of color photos picturing up-and-coming third basemen (A Jam-up of Talent at Third). One who was especially well captured by your photographer was Bobby Murcer, the Yankees' newest star. I was happy to read that he now uses Mickey Mantle's locker and wears Bobby Richardson's No. 1. I found it interesting to note, however, that the most important sign of a Yankee star, the unbuttoned button, was shown buttoned in the photo published. I can't help but wonder why Bobby considers himself a star only part of the time. The article by William Leggett stated that Murcer knows enough to keep the top button of his uniform blouse unbuttoned. I would be interested in what I'm sure is an obvious answer.
•An off-field error.—ED.
One more name should have been added to this list. Twenty-one-year-old Aurelio "Rodriguez of the California Angels is a fine hitting (.354 as of April 25) and fielding third sacker with all the tools to become a true standout.
Pico Rivera, Calif.
This expansion team bit is O.K. if you've got enough players, but Montreal was in town the other day and guess who their No. 1 relief pitcher is—Carmen Lombardo!
JOHN J. LYONS
Re Wondrous Willie Mays (Leading Man: Wondrous Willie, April 21): When was your last feature on Hank Aaron? People get to talking about Mays so much these days, they forget about Aaron!
Let's compare the two. Home-run championships: four each. Batting crowns: Aaron 2, Mays 1. RBI championships: Aaron 4, Mays 0. Before the beginning of this season Mays had 587 lifetime home runs and Aaron 510, nearly 80 behind but he is closing the gap fast. Lifetime base hits: Aaron 2,792, Mays 2,812. Lifetime RBIs: Mays 1,654, Aaron 1,627. Aaron this season was batting .380 at last count, and his .314 lifetime batting average speaks for itself. Mays is hitting .366 but will probably slip below .300 as Mickey Mantle did. Mays did steal his 300th base the other day, but Aaron can steal bases too, 28 of them just last year. Mays is one of the alltime greats and will probably retire in a year or two. Aaron is still hitting as he was 10 years ago when he hit .355 and will surpass Mays in nearly every department.
Atlanta's young improved pitching staff and Aaron will be in the World Series this year; then you will have to have an article on Hank Aaron and the Braves.
LAUGH ON, NBA
Thank you for your fine article on the Indiana Pacers (Solid Hit in the Funny League, April 28). The Pacers, as you mentioned, led the league in attendance with an average of more than 6,000 a game. With stars such as Mel Daniels, ABA Most Valuable Player; Roger Brown; Bob Netolicky; Freddie Lewis; and defensive giant Tom Thacker, the Pacers indeed have a surplus of talent. But so does the rest of the ABA. Superstars in their own right are the incomparable Connie Hawkins, Doug Moe, James Jones and Louis Dampier.
Let the NBA laugh on, but basketball experts, such as Bill Sharman, coach of the ABA's Los Angeles Stars, say that players like Hawkins and Brown could easily become well-known household and TV names. The ABA is not short on stars but on publicity and exposure. In other words it has been ignored.
With the determination of the owners, coaches and players of the ABA, they will overcome all of the obstacles facing them.
At the end of the article Tom Thacker is quoted as saying that the ABA will be comparable to the NBA in a few years. First they'd better convince the people of the ABA cities. Indiana and Oakland might be able to draw people, but what about Miami, Houston, New York and the other teams? I've noticed on several occasions that the attendance has been well under 1,000 and even less than 500. Lew Alcindor turned down the ABA because he was thinking of his future. How can they give him a future when they are not even certain of their own? Indiana might be a good team and draw people to their games, but a whole league can't be built around one team.
SHADES AND BLINDERS
As a Canadian subscriber to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, I was rather disturbed at the sparse mention given George Knudson in your article on the Masters (After the Others Had Gone, George Was Left, April 21). You mentioned Knudson only once while providing us with long-winded descriptions of the other runners-up and Charles Coody.
Your article also implied that Knudson faltered late in the fourth round. This was not so. Knudson was never far off the pace, finishing the tournament as he had started, with fine steady golf. George Knudson did not hide "behind his shades." But he was hidden in your article.
As president of the Foundation For Help to Uneducated Sportswriters, I would like to offer congratulations to Dan Jenkins of your magazine. Mr. Jenkins has been selected as the 1969 winner of the coveted "Unconscious Writer of the Year" award. He exemplified all of the prerequisites necessary in his article on the "giveaway" Masters.
Your ordinary, run-of-the-mill sportswriter would have said something like this: "George Archer, winner of more than $150,000 on the 1968 tour, won the 1969 Masters. Archer, who was never farther back than third place during the tournament, stood up under the pressure of competing with one of the greatest, Billy Casper. But it is Archer, the former caddie, who is wearing the green coat now, not Casper (or Palmer or Nicklaus or God, either). Billy Casper didn't lose the 1969 Masters, George Archer won it!"
Mr. Jenkins, however, did not bother with facts but treated Archer like he was a nobody. This was in the best form of an unconscious writer. Many of your writers have come close to this award before, but I am proud to present Mr. Jenkins with this year's trophy, a pair of blinders.
W.C. BRIGHAM JR.
San Jose, Calif.
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