VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS
William Johnson's article on Joe Paterno (Not Such an Ordinary Joe, Nov. 19) was excellent and portrayed the high moral principles of the man. The respect that the students and faculty of Penn State have for Paterno was well demonstrated at last June's graduation exercises when some 18,000 students, parents and guests sat in a drenching rain at Beaver Stadium to listen to his commencement address. Coaches like Joe and Alabama's Bear Bryant keep college football in a favorable light in spite of the "many recruiting violations and dirty tricks...going on in college football now."
GEORGE J. SUSKO
Although I have always been anything but a Penn State fan, I have become quite a Joe Paterno fan as a result of William Johnson's fine article. I had already been somewhat impressed by what I had read of Paterno's commencement address last spring. However, his coaching philosophies coupled with his honesty and candor have won me over.
I think that the NCAA and everyone concerned with the future course of college athletics would be very wise to closely consider what Paterno has to say about recruiting violations. This is a problem that seriously threatens the basic concept of college athletics, and it must not continue to go unchecked.
JOE WADE DORNER
Joe Paterno need not apologize for being a football coach with political ambitions. Not only is he a tremendous individual, he happens to be more candid and in better focus than just about any politician I can remember in the 34 years I have been voting in Pennsylvania.
ERNEST F. MARSHALL
West Chester, Pa.
My congratulations for bringing to public attention the values of a man who is certainly a credit to the world of sports—Joe Paterno. Too many words are wasted on the flashy athlete who has little behind his talent besides a big ego.
But your article left me with one regret. There should be two Joe Paternos: one for the playing field and one for the field of politics. In this era of shady dealings, I can't decide where he is needed most.
Many thanks for your article about Joe Paterno. We who live around Penn State like him, too. Perhaps, though, we could straighten out Mr. Johnson (and many others) about where Coach Paterno and the rest of us are. University Park, Pa. is the campus, with its own post office. State College, Pa. is not "former," it is present and very much alive. University Park may be a "sophisticated oasis of 27,000 students," but many of those 27,000 are eligible to vote in State College. They may patronize one of our seven movie theaters, attend one of more than 25 churches, cat at one of 50 or so restaurants and mingle with the more than 83,000 nonstudent inhabitants of "barely inhabited" Centre County. Incidentally, for Mr. Johnson's "desolation," could we perhaps substitute "verdant wilderness"? And as for inaccessibility, well, he is right. Several of our fellow citizens regularly fight the state's department of transportation to keep it that way.
State College, Pa.
My choice for Sportsman of the Year? Coach Joe Paterno, of course.
I do not see how it could be anyone other than Henry Aaron of the Atlanta Braves. Playing under more pressure than anyone else in baseball this year, he has kept his cool as well as anyone could. By answering the same questions day in and day out and by surviving all the hate mail, he has shown what a true sportsman he is. His athletic ability is undoubted. Forty home runs at the age of 39 is a feat in itself. Aaron did not swing for the fence on every pitch, however. He showed his team effort with 96 RBIs and a .301 batting average.
I believe you give your Sportsman of the Year award for qualities of humility, courage, sportsmanship and skill. There is a man at the top of his profession in skill, possibly the greatest ever. He has shown compassion and humility too many times to count. His courage and intelligence need no documentation. So this year your Sportsman must be the Flying Scot, Jackie Stewart. Motor sport will suffer for his loss. The world will gain for his life, intelligence and wit.
San Jose, Calif.
I nominate UCLA's Bill Walton, who has dominated college basketball as no other person has ever dominated a major sport—amateur or professional—in the U.S.
I trust SI is not so bound by precedent that it will be unable to honor one who made all of our hearts beat faster. Who else but Secretariat?
WILLIAM T. BENHAM
Falls Church, Va.
The night before my copy of SI arrived with Mark Mulvoy's story on Boston's two-man team (Double Jeopardy for the Bruins, Nov. 19) Boston beat Montreal 4-3, with four different players scoring. The next night Boston beat the Rangers 10-2, with everyone scoring. Write me another two-man-team story, Mulvoy—but try another team.
New Haven, Conn.
Mark Mulvoy had better have his eyes checked. In his usual effort to minimize the Bruins' talent, he has overlooked the support given Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr. Demonstrating a Stanley Cup style of play, Cashman, Hodge, Smith, Sheppard, Marcotte, Gilbert, Savard, Vadnais, Doak, et al. blew by the hapless Rangers as if they were reading SI. I think Mr. Mulvoy's ability to objectively evaluate the Bruins is "null and void."
MICHAEL J. BRENNAN JR.
How can Mark Mulvoy state that the Bruins are a two-man team? As of Nov. 19 the top three scorers in the NHL were Bruins. Granted, Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr were I and 2, but Ken Hodge was third and Wayne Cashman was fifth. Even Mulvoy has to admit that four out of five isn't bad.
Many Bruin fans are going to berate Mark Mulvoy for calling their fair-weather team a "two-man" show. Having watched the Bruins closely for years, I for one agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Mulvoy. In fact, I'll go a step further. The Boston Bruins without Bobby Orr are a lot like the California Golden Whatevers. He is the greatest in the game, but the Bruins are not.
Although Phil Esposito freely admitted that Bobby Orr was the best player in hockey today, I thoroughly disagree with him. All you have to do is look at the record to see who really revolutionized the game. It was Espo who first scored 100 points; it is Espo who holds the records for most goals and most points scored in a season (76 and 152, respectively). Sure, Orr may be the best skater and defenseman in the league—maybe even the most colorful—but the man who scores the goals and shakes off checks to score them is Espo. Certainly a man who has led the league in scoring for three straight years and is well on his way to a fourth consecutive title deserves to be recognized as the best player—and the most valuable.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
FOOT IN THE DOOR
Thanks for Gwilym S. Brown's article on soccer (Blues in the Night for the Cougars, Nov. 19). I am an ex-baseball, football and basketball player who has discovered that soccer is the game for me. Here in the Bay Area the sport is big and getting bigger. Most high schools, junior colleges and universities are playing. Also, there are numerous Sunday teams. Please continue to cover the college games, and don't forget the University of San Francisco, which is ranked No. 3 in the nation.
RICK D. LEE
South San Francisco, Calif.
Bravo! Your article on St. Louis soccer was timely and accurate. But I hope you will also give a nod in the direction of three of those 20 colleges employing the talents of St. Louis youngsters. Rockhurst College (Kansas City), Quincy (Ill.) College and Benedictine College (Atchison, Kans.). Quincy beat Rockhurst 3-0 in the NAIA finals last week. They can play with the best.
Your soccer IQ is fairly low. Calling Cleveland State a "nonentity" is really gauche. This country is full of "nonentity" soccer teams that can put big-name colleges in their hip pocket, and do it every week. The youngsters of America are switching to soccer for many obvious reasons. Watch out, SI, the ball is rolling right by you!
Although Southern Illinois at Edwardsville and St. Louis have fine soccer teams, it seems rather odd that a team from the South should not even be mentioned. Clemson's team is undefeated and has won the ACC, championship for the second consecutive year. It is now ranked fourth in the U.S.
PLACING THE HAMBO
Your SCORECARD editorial ("The Hambo Moves," Nov. 12) moves me to answer points that are misleading, uncomplimentary to the fine people in the sport of harness racing or, in some aspects, untrue.
You are correct in asserting that "arguments for the move centered primarily on the expectation that more people would attend the race in Philadelphia than in Du Quoin, Ill." (Since you did not mention the Philadelphia track, it is Liberty Bell Park.) For the life of me, I cannot find anything wrong in doing your best to attract more people to whatever it is you are offering to the public. And in presenting the Hambletonian,' harness racing is offering its showpiece.
You also state that a condition of the award of the Hambletonian to Liberty Bell Park was that the fans would be able to bet on the prestigious race. True, and I say why not? Liberty Bell Park is the center of the largest concentration of the sport's patrons, and pari-mutuel wagering pays the freight for breeding and other aspects of horse racing, be it standardbred or thoroughbred.
You have a right to your belief that "the Society has made a serious error in judgment," but the remark that the commercial imperative has proved ruinous in other areas is a grossly fallacious statement if you are also applying it to harness racing. I presume by "commercial imperative" you mean pari-mutuel wagering. The steady growth of harness racing in attendance and wagering, particularly at Liberty Bell Park, is a monument to the sport's national appeal.
I take issue with the rash, unsupported statement that the move of the Hambletonian to Liberty Bell Park "turns a genuine classic event into just another $100,000 race." When the Hambletonian starts at Liberty Bell in 1975, it will be worth $200,000; did you ever hear of the Kentucky Derby?
By showing the event to more people who are harness-racing oriented plus producing far greater media exposure, we expect to make the race what it should have been years ago, a household word.
Finally, on the personal level, we agree that the Hayes family has devoted many years to the presentation of the Hambletonian and that they are indeed fine people. But so are the Rooneys and the Doughertys, who will play key roles in raising the Hambletonian to the high plateau it so richly deserves by presenting it where it belongs.
EDWARD S. HOGAN
Liberty Bell Park
I could not agree more with your comments regarding the Hambletonian Society's decision to move trotting's most prestigious race from Du Quoin, Ill. to Philadelphia in 1975. But equally distressing to me is that you chose to condemn the action after the fact, rather than bring the story to the people in advance of the decision making. Surely there are great numbers of American sports fans who would have prevailed upon the handful of men who control the future of the Hambletonian, if only they had been given warning that such a move was contemplated.
DONALD J. MACKEY
I protest your statement that the Hambletonian should be moved back to Du Quoin, Ill. It should be moved back to Goshen, N.Y., near where the great Hambletonian 10 himself was foaled on May 5, 1849. In many respects, William Rysdyk's stallion was the beginning of America's trotting world. The Hambletonian Stake was run in Goshen at Good Time Park from 1930 to 1942 and again from 1944 to 1956. Let's get the race back to where it really belongs.
What a pleasant surprise to find your article on the horse-show world and the Crab-tree stable (Top Apple on the Crabtree, Nov. 12). Robert Boyle did an excellent job of evoking the elegance and glow of a sport that has been sadly neglected over the years. As the daughter of Wisconsin saddle-horse enthusiasts, I grew up with daydreams of the show ring, and the name of Helen Crabtree was as familiar to me in my girlhood as that of Vince Lombardi was to my husband in his youth. The girls who were lucky enough to ride at the Crabtree stable and show in the championship classes had an aura of fairy-tale princesses.
PATRICIA CONDON OSWALL
I must comment on your coverage of the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden—or should I say the lack of it. First of all, an American record was set in the Puissance Stake by Sympatico at 7'4". Why was there no word of it? Why was there no picture of this feat? Secondly, four of the most outstanding equestrian teams in the world were in competition: Germany, England, Canada and the U.S. The performance by these international riders was the best that this country has seen in years. But again, not one word.
Ah, yes, Mr. Boyle did cover the Good Hands, and at the same time he managed to put down hunt-seat riders: "The hunt-seat boy or girl would think nothing of grooming a horse or mucking out a stall." To me, that is a refreshing change from the flashy, tacky, showy saddle-seaters.
Next year why not cover the entire show, not just part of it? Thousands of your readers would be interested in this tremendous sports event. In the meantime, I've got to go muck a few stalls.
My congratulations on the fine article by John Underwood (Oklahomans Call It Selmonizing, Nov. 12). The story of the Selmon brothers is a tribute to their coaches, their family and their fellow players. It points out that through determination and hard work success can be realized. And certainly determination has been shown by the Oklahoma team this year. Thanks for depicting what sports can do for men like Selmons and for others.
DANNY W. CORNISH
John Underwood told it like it is. Here in Oklahoma we think we have a national champion. Lucious, LeRoy and Dewey Selmon are the best linemen in the country.
Occasionally in reporting a sporting event you go far beyond your usual slick recitation of results accompanied by uniformly lavish and technically excellent illustrations. Ron Fimrite's outstanding account of last week's hair-raiser between Harvard and Penn (Well Played, Harvard, Summa cum Laude, Nov. 12) provides an example of this departure from norm.
Any reader could appreciate the sheer excitement of this game, the outcome of which was most uncertain for more than 58 minutes of play. More important, however, Fimrite gave the reader a clear picture of Ivy League football and its relative importance in the lives of players, coaches, administrators and fans.
As an enthusiastic Harvard alumnus and sometime athlete, I always savor the pleasures associated with supporting a winning team. But it is nice to be reasonably certain that those stimulating wins can still happen largely in the absence of intensive recruiting, dangling dollars and heavy-handed coaching. Fimrite's scholar-athletes are superb, and so are the Ivies.
WENDELL F. SMITH
Many thanks for Ron Fimrite's perfect analysis of the value of Ivy League football. The senseless attempts at comparing the caliber of play in the Ivies with that of the Big Ten or Big Fight, for example, have long obscured the fact that each week the Ivies offer their fans very stirring and unpredictable football. Even if neither team wins the Ivy League title, the Harvard-Penn game had to be a better spectator event than No. 1 Ohio State's 30-0 rout of Illinois. Thanks for putting it in the proper perspective.
Joe Marshall's article After 18 Dry Wells, a Little Gusher (Nov. 12) was one of the worst I have ever read in your magazine. The Oilers probably do have the poorest team in the NFL, but the reason for their downfall has not been entirely bad trades. As Marshall says, "It took a concentrated unbuilding program to reduce Adams' Oilers to their present state." True, they gave up a fine kicker in Roy Gerela, but the trades sending George Webster and Glen Ray Hines to the Steelers and Jerry LeVias to San Diego were not so bad. Webster has knee trouble, Hines is over the hill and how many people outside of San Diego knew the Oilers had Jerry LeVias? Apparently you forgot that the Oilers picked up a quality player and one of the top receivers in the AFC in Fred Willis. Then they got Bob Gresham from the Saints. Bob is leading the team in rushing. Come on, Joe, give us a break.
I loved your article on the wilted Houston Oilers. Joe Marshall did a beautiful job. If you ask me, though, I don't think the Oilers could strike out, let alone strike oil. Baltimore played so poorly Houston could have won that game by walking off the field. There is one thing going real strong for the Oilers, however: their uniforms are kind of pretty.
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