I would like to compliment Walter Bingham on his article Take Me Out of the Ball Game (April 27) on the rowdies at ball parks. What he said is all so true. Just recently I was at a Red Sox game. Orange peels were thrown on the field in addition to ripped-up papers. Some kids were sort of sitting around looking for trouble. They were distracting everybody else by throwing things at them. Matter of fact, at one point during the game the umpire had to call time due to orange peels on the field. It took a hit away from one player. We've always had rowdies at these games, and we probably always will, too, but unless some extremely strict action is taken, it seems likely to get worse before it gets better.
Walter Bingham says, "Some effort is being made." But his article (accidentally or intentionally) doesn't mention what it is. The television corporations have been asked (by the commissioner) not to show the actions of the rowdies, such as throwing "pool balls" and writing obscene remarks on banners and flags. But what is being done to protect the players? The front office at Yankee Stadium has denied the request for a roof over the bullpen because the fans like to watch the pitcher warming up. But also the fans like to throw things at the pitchers.
This problem of rowdyism is not one which can be stopped only by the administrations. We as fans can help by controlling our emotions (and also our adrenal glands). I am a member of the NYSBUA (New York State Baseball Umpires Association), and I of all people know what it is like to receive both physical and verbal abuse. From the standpoint of the baseball official this abuse is not pleasant.
ANTHONY J. LIGOURI
I take strong objection to one point Walter Bingham made in his article. While discussing (and quite rightly) the problems of people throwing cans, cups and bottles on fields he implies that the spontaneous celebration after the world champion Mets' "Impossible Dream" of 1969 was vandalism. I think that the author's point is way out of line.
First of all, how can the Mets' front office be upset by the loss of a home plate, bases, grass and wooden outfield walls when their fans spent millions of dollars for years to watch the Mets lose? Secondly, how can Bowie Kuhn be upset by the "vandalism"? Baseball was known as the dying sport until the Mets' victory. It is quite a different story today. And what better way to depict the miracle than to show the Mets' long-suffering fans finally celebrating by tearing up the field where all the losses had taken place?
New York City
I suggest that Walter Bingham read William Leggett's A Tumultuous Spring but a Fine Season Ahead (April 13). "Koosman took the elevator down and walked out onto the field to get some of the hallowed sod to take back to his friends." Either Mr. Bingham believes that the people in Minnesota are more deserving of the sod than the most loyal fans in baseball or that Jerry Koosman is a vandal!
Klamath Falls, Ore.
Bobby Orr (Mr. O and the Sack of New York, April 27) is certainly the most phenomenal hockey player of the new decade, but I think your readers are sophisticated enough to want to know the entire picture. In the crucial fifth game of the playoffs the Rangers scored their two goals with Orr on the ice. On the first Rod Gilbert stole the puck from Orr behind the Boston net, and on the second there was a hole in the Boston defense because Orr had offensed himself out of the play. Boston rallied on two goals by Esposito to win the game and thus the series. The Bruins and Orr gave up some defense because of his style of play even though it was worth it for the vastly increased scoring power he gives them.
Magazine stories so often share a common fault: to make his point a writer marshals all the facts that support it and omits all those that point another way.
New York City
I read your article with more than passing interest for a couple of reasons, the first being that the Bruins last won the Stanley Cup in 1941 and the indignities that Boston teams have suffered over the last 29 years are too overwhelming to recall, and the second being that there is a growing suspicion among hockey fans in general and Bruin fans in particular that we are witnessing one of the greatest talents that any of us are likely to see. When Gordie isn't within earshot most hockey men will agree that Orr is the greatest hockey player who ever lived. The feeling here is that a passably good argument can be made to justify the belief that Bobby is the greatest athlete who ever played any sport at any time. There is, of course, no answer to the question of who the athlete of alltime is, but how many of us can remember anyone who has so thoroughly devastated a league of the caliber of the NHL at the age of 22? Ordinarily when people argue about who was the greatest baseball player or greatest President or greatest anything, the nominees have been so long dead that it is virtually impossible to separate the fact from the distortion. But the best part about Bobby Orr is that, like going to the carnival, you can see him "live and in person." It's fun to go to a Bruin game with a dilettante and say, "Watch Orr, he's the greatest ever," and then watch smugly as he plays his "routinely magnificent" game.
If you think for a minute that I am overstating the case, go ask Billy Reay and "The Cat."
Any hockey fan who has ever lived in one of the NHL's "old" (i.e., Eastern Division) cities knows how hard hockey tickets are to come by. The main reason for this is that the vast majority of seats are held by season ticketholders, many of whom are businessmen who use their tickets to entertain customers and colleagues. It is highly likely that many people who obtain tickets in this manner are considerably less enthusiastic about hockey than those who would buy those same tickets if they were available on a game-to-game basis.
I must therefore strongly disapprove of your backing of the Toronto and Montreal owners who are fighting Canadian tax proposals which would reduce expense-account entertainment deductions (SCORECARD, April 27). I should think that these measures would serve the useful purpose of eliminating come-late leave-early fans and paid-for but empty seats from the Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens. And I'm thoroughly unconvinced that the decrease in season-ticket sales would lead to a downturn in overall attendance.
Thank you for presenting a long-awaited article on race walking (Creepers, Floaters and Squirmers, April 27). One point that I feel the article left out was an emphasis on the average length of events. The average race is about 10 miles (an hour and 15 minutes for the winner to about an hour and 30 minutes for the trail man). The events range all the way to the 50 kilometer and the 50 mile (of which both had American records set last week, 4:15.24 by Dave Romansky in the 50 kilo and 7:52.04 by Shaul Ladany in the 50 mile). In comparison, the marathon, running's longest Olympic event, lasts a little bit over two hours for the winner, the 50 kilo lasts for approximately 4½ for the first four places. The physical strain and endurance for this event is perhaps the greatest of all track events, with the added danger of disqualification that Author Higdon pointed out.
Congratulations on another fine article pointing up one of America's least-known and funniest sports.
ROGER K. YOUNG
Hal Higdon's article was extremely well written, funny and accurate.
The author clearly showed that American race walkers are among the most dedicated and hardest-working athletes of any sport. And—unlike Joe Namath or Lew Alcindor—walkers do their thing for absolutely no monetary gain.
AAU Race Walking Committee
Van Nuys, Calif.
You rightfully attribute some of the depletion of the handicap division of horse racing to overracing of young stock (SCORECARD, April 13). However, the real blame for this lack of class on the track should be put on the so-called improvers of the breed. For the past few years our greatest stables have retired their handicap stock before their fifth year. They hesitate to run potential studs, for fear of injury on the track or in training, because they are so valuable for breeding purposes. Therefore, our handicap races are replete with aged geldings. And many of these are imports.
But why tie this into a story about more racing dates for New Jersey? As I understand it, that request also contains a request for Sunday racing. In any event, that is what has been leaked to the press by Jersey publicity directors. If it is true, it's all for the good. As things stand now, about the only sports fans in the East deprived of their sport on a Sunday are the racetrack buffs.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is forever praising the Establishment. Thousands of words were written about Mrs. duPont and Kelso. But if Kelso hadn't been gelded would he have been thrilling fans at the age of 7? Where were Nashua, Swaps, Bold Ruler, Sword Dancer and even the great gray Native Dancer at that age? They were back on the farm padding the pockets of the breeders.
Did SI give any thought to the many men and women who derive their very livelihood from working at various jobs at Monmouth Park, Atlantic City and Garden State Park during the racing seasons? At present most of us only get 60 working days a year at each track in New Jersey. The people so affected are pari-mutuel clerks, maintenance men, guards, admission clerks, etc. The common man, in short. By stretching out the thoroughbred season in New Jersey the bulk of our working force will be able to lift up their heads without suffering the pangs of year-to-year unemployment. Then, too, consider the bonus or added source of revenue from extended dates: more money for education and sorely needed state services, a dire necessity in these dismal times. How much more can the oppressed average taxpayer contribute? But you conclude: by all means prolong the life of that stupid beast, the horse.
In response to popular demand the Certified Crushing Committee Conference (CCCC), which has been meeting annually for more than a decade, has drawn up plans for two Amateur Crushing Leagues. The National Crushing League (NCL) will consist of the Cleveland Crabapples, the Buffalo Blackberries, the Colorado Cauliflowers and the Boston Broccolis. The American Crushing League (ACL) will be made up of the Arlington Apricots, the Baltimore Bananas, the Oakland Onions and the Pittsburgh Prunes.
The committee hopes that this move will be fully sanctioned by the AAU. We also shall recognize The Official NCAA Rule Book. One exception, however, will be that all types of squishable edibles may be used.
At the end of each season the NCL champion will meet the ACL champion in the Super Cornucopia. The use of knuckles, traditionally banned from contests, has now been authorized, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Pulverizer Crushcan.
JANE (Porky) FITZGERALD
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