FOR THE BIRDS
Once again you've run an article on one of our fine Baltimore teams (Best Damn Team in Baseball, April 12), and once again your writer has found it necessary to belittle the undeserving Baltimore sports fans and their backward community.
How urbane are the two million Met fans in their urban jungle? How absurd is the East Baltimore steelworker who stays home, listening to his Orioles on the radio and drinking his National Boh, when he could have paid his way into Memorial Stadium and torn up the entire outfield? How unfortunate that the Orioles don't have two or three sportswriters to report on each ballplayer's every activity. How heroic is Nancy Seaver as we watch her battle through her life-and-death struggle as Tommy pitches? How many non-Baltimoreans even know there is a Mrs. Frank Robinson?
I feel that the true test of a sports fan is how he accepts defeat. Ask the Baltimore teams what they thought of the thousands of "small-town yokels" who turned out for "the free airport reception" after the humiliating defeats to those so deserving New York teams.
THOMAS A. MANNING
Although I appreciate the article on the Orioles, I disagree with some of Mr. Deford's references to Baltimore and its sports fans. My main complaint is where Mr. Deford refers to the Baltimore Clippers of the American Hockey League as being "bush." I wonder if Mr. Deford knows that the Clippers were offered a franchise in the NHL and turned it down. I wonder if he knows that they outdraw the Baltimore Bullets of the NBA in the same arena. The Clippers have also just finished their finest season, winning their division.
If Boog Powell, who in 1970 finished behind Carl Yastrzemski in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage, is depicted as Power Personified, what then is Yastrzemski the epitome of?
I have played baseball for the last 10 years and in doing so have seen many baseball cleats. But from rubber cleats of the Little League to steel cleats of high school I have never seen a pair of the type Boog Powell wears on your cover. I realize it was only a painting, but I suggest somebody tell Artist Edward Kasper that baseball cleats do not have heels.
Garden Grove, Calif.
I was stunned to read the results of the Sislers' secret rating method for pitchers (Pitching Secrets, April 12). The reason for my astonishment is that, with one exception, the same names appear on my own list as a result of my secret rating system.
Like the Sisters, I will not divulge my formula, but if you care to publish my list you may do it with my permission by simply reversing the Sislers' list.
So far the superiority of my secret method is not apparent. But it should become obvious when I tell you that on my alltime list, Harry Murphy ranks between Bob Feller and Hal Newhouser.
Who is Harry Murphy? Ha! This is where my method shines. Harry Murphy was a stickball pitcher on the playgrounds of Floral Park, N.Y. in the late '40s.
To have Bob Gibson anywhere but at the top of a list of great pitchers is obviously a mistake. The Sislers' formula appears to be missing one ingredient—quality. Maybe they should concoct a formula for hitters, a subject they might know a little more about.
ROBBING THE CRADLE
What hath Judge Ferguson wrought (A Legal License to Steal, April 12)? Will his ruling be the death knell of varsity sports at the high school level? Since hardship cases don't necessarily begin with an athlete's enrollment in college, why shouldn't a sophomore or junior in high school sign a lucrative pro contract? State laws saying that students must attend school until a certain age must be in conflict with the Sherman Anti-trust Act since they prevent star athletes from earning a livelihood.
Carson City, Nev.
I wish to thank SI and Dolly Connelly (Everybody Is Up in Arms, April 5). I was shocked, but certainly not surprised at the way the networks allowed Say Goodbye on NBC and the CBS News strip to be produced. Hunters and concerned citizens must take a stand to put a stop to such cheap shots. I realize that all people in the woods with a gun are not good hunters or good outdoorsmen, but as a rule hunters have done more for game animals than any other group.
JAMES E. MEADOWS
Congratulations! It is apparent to the true conservationist and sportsman that much of the media is intent on making the hunter look as if his only interest is the final kill. As your article indicates, nothing could be further from the truth. Organizations such as Ducks Unlimited are comprised of dedicated people who want to assure generations to come that they, too, will have the opportunity to enjoy the adventure of the great outdoors. It would certainly be of benefit if the public were made aware of how much time, energy and money are devoted to the preservation of wildlife by these groups.
The motives and reasons for trick photography should certainly be questioned. It is apparent that there is a definite trend to prejudice the public against hunters.
American sportsmen owe your magazine a vote of thanks for your article.
MICHAEL S. HIGGINS
I, too, was quite disturbed by the polar bear sequence in Say Goodbye. Hunting and fishing are two of the most important phases of my life, yet I would give up both if such were necessary for the survival of fish and game. However, at the rate things are progressing, Safari Island and similar establishments may eventually become the only areas of survival.
It seems to me that the basic issue is whether or not the practice of raising animals for the sport of shooting them is morally justified. Walter Cronkite says no; Author Dolly Connelly, I fear, has not considered the question. Her defense of Safari Island and the Klineburgers is set largely in relative terms: that what is going on there is not as bad as some other things and therefore we shouldn't get upset. All this really says is that we should widen the scope of things we get upset about.
The argument is frequently advanced that the hunter plays an important role by eliminating surplus animals, which is indeed probably more humane than letting them die of starvation. But hunting as a means of controlling the population density of a species cannot be justified when the species is placed on an island by the hunter. He is creating the problem of limiting the species' environment, so he can hardly be glorified for solving it.
Indeed, the author seems to be of the mentality of a Carl Crouse, who is quoted as saying that shooting preserves are "a proper use for animals." Since when have animals become man's toys that he has the right to determine proper uses for them, especially when one of those uses is to raise them for the sport (?) of killing them? They are, after all, alive, which makes them not so very different from man himself.
ROBERT R. STRICKLAND JR.
New York City
You fail to mention one very important problem caused by such bastions of legalized murder as Safari Island. Any wild animal that is in particularly good shape is quite difficult to come by. Such establishments as Safari usually accept only prime specimens from their collectors. Likewise, big-game hunters deplete a herd or population of its strongest members, greatly decreasing the gene pool. Indeed, after a big hunt the only survivors may be the old, the young and the infirm, which hardly can be expected to keep the population strong.
Thinning of any population occurs quite naturally in nature, as was shown by Darwin. When our heroic hunters go after the "biggest and best animal," they are pursuing the one that is most capable of giving rise to strong, hardy offspring.
I think our own population is in need of some thinning out. Hunters might be a good group with which to start.
GEORGE D. BUCKLEY
In your article on Muhammad Ali (No Requiem for a Heavyweight, April 5) you said he enjoys going outside and greeting people. One week I went to Ali's house every day and every day I was told to come back the next day. When I finally saw him all I got was a weak, fishlike handshake. He didn't speak and showed no expression of friendliness. I realize he might just have come out of an important meeting, but I wanted to make known my plight.
Cherry Hill, N.J.
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