NO SMALL FEAT
Thank you for a refreshing look at Small Town, U.S.A. (The Greatest Athlete in Yates Center, Kansas, Aug. 9), where people may know everything about each other but have the essential element lacking in large cities where professional sports reign supreme—the clement of honest concern and care for the individual in sports.
MARY JO WILLIAMS
New Bloomfield, Mo.
In this age of superstars, every town in America can produce the name of at least one athlete who has credentials similar to those of Mike Peterson. In my part of Pennsylvania alone, I could name five or six athletes in the past 10 years who have accomplished more than Peterson during their high school careers; and yes, they were modest, too.
There are many more athletes competing in the California Interscholastic Federation, Southern Section than there are in all of Kansas. Southern California, due mainly to tough competition, can boast of many age-group world-record holders. Why then is this area and its athletes ignored while attention is given to a small-town legend?
I wonder if the school board of Philadelphia read the article. If so, perhaps it will reconsider its decision to terminate high school sports in that city. The school board should examine its priorities and see what it means to stifle the growth of young Mike Petersons.
CLIFTON G. SCAGGS
Marvin Dodd said that he knew of no other community in Kansas that would show this kind of spirit in supporting its football team after the town collected 76,100 beer cans for salvage. I know of no other community in the world with a population of 2,178 that would even be able to support anything after 76,100 beers. That is almost 35 beers per person.
L. MASSEY CLARKSON JR.
A SURE BET
The Harrah's Tahoe Race Book odds on this year's NFL season are quite interesting (SCORECARD, Aug. 16). Since the odds, for example, on Detroit winning the National Conference title are 3-1, this means that, according to Harrah's, the Lions stand one chance in four of winning. And so on down the line—Minnesota has a two-in-nine shot at the championship, San Francisco has a one-in-five chance, etc.
Some fairly simple calculations show that these are betting odds, not true odds—with a big edge to the house. Assuming all the teams are bet proportionately, it does not matter to Harrah's which team wins; Harrah's will be taking in about $3 for every $2 it has to pay out. Whatever the outcome of the football season, I'd say Harrah's is odds-on favorite to come out a winner.
BUCKSKIN BEATS THE ODDS
Albert the Alligator has been banished to the Everglades by Judge Harold Smith, where his diet will be more fish and less dog meat (PEOPLE, Aug. 9). It is very likely that another gator will move in and take his place in the 6th hole lake at the Marco Island (Fla.) Golf and Country Club.
Albert did not get every animal that wandered into his lake while he was at Marco. I know of one—Buckskin, my 96-pound yellow Labrador—who did escape Albert. Last spring Buckskin plunged into the lake and was immediately hauled under the water by Albert. Buckskin fought loose and came back to the surface. Albert then closed his jaws on Buckskin and pulled him under the water again. Somehow Buckskin tore away from Albert and limped ashore with deep teeth marks in his thighs and legs.
Probably the person most impressed over Buckskin's escape was the veterinarian who treated him. He said he never had seen a comparable case, since a dog just does not get away from an alligator once the gator pulls him under water.
RICHARD A. SWEET
You are quite right in your conclusion that one of the purposes of sport is the achievement of excellence (SCORECARD, Aug. 9). However, to set the record straight, my suggestion was not to send second-class material—but to send fewer competitors—perhaps one or two instead of three in an event.
International Olympic Committee
We have listened to Robert Short make excuses for his financial plight (Bad Case of the Short Shorts, Aug. 9) and criticize Washington as a baseball town long enough. First, let me say that blaming poor attendance on the fact that Washington is too close to Baltimore is utterly false. If Washington fans were treated as well as Baltimore fans (check the admission prices there), they would outdraw them by several hundred thousand. There are almost three million people in the Washington metro area, more than enough to support a major league team.
When Short came to Washington in 1969 he raised the ticket prices. Worse yet, he changed reserved grandstand seats to box seats, changed unreserved grandstand seats to reserved grandstand seats and moved unreserved grandstand seats to the upper deck of the outfield. He then had the gall to say that he had only raised box seats to $4 (from $3.50), without mentioning the change in seating arrangements. At the same time, he boosted mezzanine box seats to $5 and last season raised them to $6.
I don't think that it's fair to charge outrageous prices and then say that fans have an obligation to go out to the ball park to see the team play. I am still a Washington Senators fan, but I have been dormant since Robert Short bought the team. When he lowers prices and learns to appreciate his fans, he will have no problems with attendance.
I thought the implied criticism of Washington fans by Calvin Griffith was unjustified. It is true that "Washingtonians have endured athletic mediocrity longer and with greater patience than their more fortunate counterparts in other communities." But Griffith seems to have conveniently forgotten the simple fact that a winning team draws fans (the Mets were an exception), and the Griffith clan never provided one during its stay in Washington.
Look at Griffith's Twins this season now that they are a losing team. Their attendance is some 200,000 lower than last year. And despite the fact that "Baltimore wins everything," the Orioles can't even sell out a playoff or a World Series game. In 1969 the fourth-place Senators drew 918,000, while the American League champion Baltimore Orioles drew a fraction over a million—less than 150,000 more than the Senators. Yet there has been no talk of moving either the Twins or the Orioles. Give us a good team in Washington and we'll support it.
New Carrollton, Md.
There is an omission in baseball statistics that I feel is unfair. I refer to statistics for relief pitchers. Consider the possibilities when a reliever enters a game. If the score is tied, or if his team is behind, he gets credit for a win if his team rallies to win the game. On the other hand, if his team is ahead when he enters the game and remains ahead until the end, he gains a save no matter how effective or ineffective his pitching was. The only way a relief pitcher can be charged with a loss is for him to put the winning run on base. If there are men on base when he comes into a game and they score to win the game for the opposing team because of hits he gave up, the relief pitcher is not charged for it.
My point is that a relief pitcher should suffer some statistical penalty for allowing the winning run to score when he enters a game with his team ahead or the score tied. How about giving him a "fault," or some such term, when a loss is charged to the starting pitcher because of the reliever's poor pitching. He hasn't done his job, and the fact should be noted in some form.
NO CHEAP SHOT
Shame on you for calling Bobby Thomson's historic sudden-death home run against the Dodgers in the 1951 National League playoff a "Chinese home run" (Baseball's Week, Aug. 9). It is the first time I ever heard it characterized in such a demeaning way, and I can only conclude that the writer, Larry Keith, is an anguished Dodger fan who still doesn't believe it happened. Why, even Ralph Branca never claimed that Thomson's homer was a cheapie.
In reality, Thomson's home run was a hard-hit line drive that went into the lower deck in left field in the Polo Grounds with room to spare. Since the upper deck in left field extended some 25 feet over the lower deck, a home run hit down below had to be a screaming line drive. The infamous Chinese home runs usually were pop flies that dropped into the upper left- or right-field decks on the way down, such as the first home run hit by Dusty Rhodes in the 1954 World Series against Cleveland.
New York City
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