Roy Blount's article on the Oakland A's (Out! Short to Yellow to Red, March 30) presents the claim that a lot of people stayed away from the ball games "even though" Charles Finley provided scoreboard cartoons, fireworks, a minstrel combo and a mule. "Because" might be a more apt term. Despite what San Franciscans will tell you, residents of Oakland and the other East Bay cities are not the kind of unsophisticated clods who will flock in large numbers to witness such nonsense. A minstrel combo in one of the soul-music centers of the West?
R. L. FULFORD
Since I have heard nothing to the contrary, I assume that Joe Cronin will allow Charles O. Finley to color the bases red, yellow and blue. Perhaps Mr. Cronin and Mr. Finley had better read the rule book. Rule 1.06 states: "First, second and third bases shall be marked by white canvas bags...."
Perhaps if Mr. Finley would concentrate on putting a baseball team on the field instead of a circus he would draw more than the 778,232 fans that he did in 1969.
•Mr. Finley apparently read the rule book, changed the colors to phosphorescent white, then had another change of mind and decided on gold.—ED.
Re your article about the St. Louis Cardinals (A Bird in Hand and a Binning Busch, March 23), St. Louis currently has an $11.5 million croquet arch, a bankrupt Spanish Pavilion from the World's Fair, a shipwrecked duplicate of the Santa Maria and a general manager by the name of Bungling Bing. His recent jewels are to trade Bobby Tolan, Alex Johnson, Tim McCarver, Curt Flood, Wayne Granger and Joe Hoerner for Richie Allen and a bunch of bat boys, plus a .250-hitting outfielder by the name of Cardenal.
Meanwhile Gussie Busch lectured the players last spring that they have forgotten that the fans come first. He then proceeds to raise reserved-seat ticket prices 20%, and to fire the popular play-by-play announcer and replace him with a sleepy-eyed disc jockey. Oh, yes, parking and refreshment prices have also been increased.
Thanks for Pat Ryan's article, A Gooey Sickness Smears the Gulf (March 30), and also for the amount of concern that SI has shown on environmental issues. At a time when all levels of government have more agencies than qualified, or concerned, personnel to staff them, it is heartening to see the media taking up the fight. The last three paragraphs of the article show what a difficult problem we are faced with. I feel that public anger is the only thing that will "move the Government," and consequently I praise your magazine, which has done more in the past few years than has the Department of the Interior in its lifetime of being out to lunch on the taxpayers' money. Keep us angry—young and old alike.
Please continue to emphasize environmental problems as you have emphasized the most recent example, that of Chevron Oil's wanton disregard of all except maximizing the oil flow. The land, water and air around us are bound inseparably to sport.
STUART G. MORRIS
Whitefish Bay, Wis.
A trophy should be awarded to Pat Putnam as well as SI on the track-and-field article, Field Day for Kansas (March 23). It was a very well-balanced and well-phrased article. An upset of this caliber should be, and was, recorded in your usual ideal manner. I hope to see more.
Some time ago the greatest miler the world has ever seen dropped out of track. He was, of course, Kansas' Jim Ryun. For three years he was the top miler in the world. The pressure was high, and finally he fell under it. Many people fell upon him like vultures, saying that he lost and quit. Yes, he did lose; it was his first loss in years, but he lost.
Now America has another miler, Marty Liquori. He has been on top for a little less than a year, and now he, too, has lost. This time, though, let us not pounce upon him, because most of us do not know what grueling torture a miler goes through to become No. 1. And once there it's mentally tiring and difficult to stay.
I would like to thank you for being so kind. Thanks for giving Marquette one column of in-depth interviews and for giving some hot dog from Louisiana the rest of a two-page article to give us reasons why his playing was so crummy in the NIT (The Upstaging of Pistol Pete, March 30). How one man can get more recognition than a championship team is beyond me. Pathetic Pete Maravich's illness was a clear-cut case of crushed ego.
West Allis, Wis.
All his ailments and late hours notwithstanding, Pistol was beaten by a good, hard defense. Marquette's press and defense are among the best in major college basketball. Someone as good as Pete Maravich should get more than one field goal in 19 minutes of play against 10 men, much less five.
As an avid reader of SI, I was very disappointed that more acknowledgment wasn't given to the winning warriors. Give me Dean the Dream anytime. Dean Meminger may not shoot as well as Maravich from the outside, but I'll bet the great Pete himself learned something about ball handling and one-on-one play from the tournament MVP. The Warriors may not be No. 1, but they're certainly close to it!
WEEP NO MORE
Re SCORECARD (My Old Kentucky Scorned, March 30), how can you shed tears for good old Calumet when they (wonderful, wealthy Calumet) missed the boat entirely. I kept waiting after the '68 Derby for this wonderful, etc. outfit to come out with some sort of statement like: "Congratulations, Dancer's Image, you beat the pants off us. We wish you did not use painkillers, but certainly you and your owner deserve it all, trophy and purse. And we'll be back to do battle here again." But never a word of this sort. I hope Pete Fuller can get another good horse and go back to Louisville to let the world see more of a real sportsman.
Mrs. Markey, please offer him congrats and the purse. The Dancer beat you.
R. T. CONNORS
South Weymouth, Mass.
The opening line of a March 16 SCORECARD item ("One for the Sentinel") noted that Arnie Palmer recently "bought a golf club in Orlando, Fla." I read on, expecting to be delighted by the drama of how Arnie proceeded to use the $8.95 wedge, which he bought in an emergency minutes before tee-off time, to drop a birdie chip and win a tournament. Alas, I discovered the aforementioned "golf club" was actually the 18-hole variety, with a six- or seven-figure price tag. I guess the situation I envisioned is an anachronism belonging in a movie from the '40s—you know, the Babe, played by William Bendix, breaks a slump by swatting three homers with a bat borrowed from a sandlotter. I also suspect that nowadays Arnie would outdraw the movie 2 to 1.
E. WALTER CORNETT
I was glancing through the Aug. 30, 1954 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and came across the following story about an 11-year-old named Mike Hegan:
Other readers might be interested to know that Mike's dream of following his father into the big leagues has come true. He started with the Yankees and is now the Seattle Pilots' first baseman.
Clearly, organized baseball is now a decaying business. Recall the day-by-day crowds of '68 and '69, occasionally under 1,000 and regularly under 5,000. There is a reason, but the moguls miss it. The remedy is not artificial surfaces, comfort seating or lowered pitching mounds. It is not expansion, attenuating further an already meager pool of seasoning talent. Nor is it home-run foul lines varying by 100 feet from park to park, or funereally paced parades of relievers within an inning, or a season drearily stumbling from premature spring into belated fall, debilitating personnel through 162 interminable night games, day games, twilight games, makeup games, doubleheaders and division playoffs. The remedy is none of these, because the cancer destroying modern baseball is its suicidal, asinine acceptance of the intentional pass.
We scores of thousands of former fans (and scads of thousands of potential fans) will no longer daily pay to see a McCovey, Rose, Aaron, Jackson, Banks, Howard, et al. daily removed from the batting order by the intolerable intentional pass. So I urge the adoption of my Catcher's Rule 1970: The catcher shall keep both feet inside his catching box throughout the pitcher's delivery to the batter. The plate umpire shall declare each violation of this rule a "battery violation" and shall count a ball to the batter and direct a one-base advance by the base runners, if any. Note: the catcher's box shall extend laterally to the midlines of the batter's box.
The implications are intriguing.
JOSEPH M. O'LOUGHLIN
San Jose, Calif.
I was glad to see that you published the interesting results of Alan Eagleson's poll on the wearing of hockey helmets in the NHL (SCORECARD, March 2). The minor hockey league in the area in which I live has had a rule for the past 10 years (as do most leagues now) making the wearing of helmets mandatory. It seems ridiculous to me that players, who have worn helmets ever since they started playing hockey, discard them when they reach the professional level supposedly because the helmets hamper their playing ability. I'm sure everyone in Boston would rather have Ted Green "hampered" by a helmet than undergo brain surgery. Stan Mikita's play doesn't seem to be hampered too much by his helmet.
Why must the NHL live in the past? When will hockey owners and officials wake up and realize that they are taking undue risks with their "property" when they listen to such nonsense as, "The older players won't be able to adapt"? It seems to me that those very players didn't have too much of a problem adapting to the curved blade.
I hope you continue to emphasize the importance of safety features in sports.
Port Credit, Ontario
MIKE HEGAN, four-year veteran of the East Lynn (Mass.) Little League at 11, hopes to follow his father, Cleveland Catcher Jim Hegan, into the big leagues. Coached by such stars as Al Rosen and Lou Brissie, Mike led his team to the local title, hit .577 and pitched six victories in seven games.
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