Robert W. Creamer's And Along Came Ruth (March 18) evoked a boyhood memory. The time must have been between 1916, when "he was the best left-handed pitcher in baseball," and 1918, when "he began his transition from mound to outfield."
The place was Lebanon, Pa., and in the off season Ruth, like many other big-leaguers, had opted for the infields and outfields of industrial baseball, the Bethlehem Steel League in this instance. He did not, however, either pitch or play the outfield; he played first base for Lebanon.
He apparently worked only mornings, because afternoons found him on the diamond and 8:30 a.m. found him sauntering along to the Bethlehem plant by way of 7th and Chestnut Streets, where he picked up a Philadelphia Inquirer from this newsboy every morning the team was in town.
ROBERT C. HYNSON
What might have happened to the Babe's career if the designated hitter had been permitted in his time? If the present American League rule had been in effect then, Ruth could have taken his regular pitching turn as long as his arm stayed good—batting for himself. Then, between his turns on the mound, he could have been the designated hitter, with no need to play the outfield.
Barring the possibility of his arm giving out, he would have become, in addition to the game's top home-run hitter (at least until 1974), one of the top left-handed pitchers of all time, ranking along with Grove, Plank, Waddell, Hubbell, Koufax, Spahn, etc.
HOWARD W. MILLER
Just seeing the cover I knew that this would be a great issue. Ruth did more for sports than any other person ever will do. More than the Aarons, more than the Russells, more than the Howes or Nicklaus or Unitas. The Babe will always be No. 1.
I just want to add my admiration for a superb job of research by Mr. Creamer that brings Ruth alive to a new generation. We can all thank Mr. Creamer's uncle for taking him to his first Yankee game.
Robert F. Jones' sensitivity for life and for sport is apparent in this delicate and brutal article (Slaughter on South Island, March 18). He has made readers aware of an existing problem and has personalized it so beautifully that sportsmen the world over will weep a little to themselves—as I did.
ROGER W. SMITH
After serving in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division (1969-70), I found the slaughter of the South Island red deer a familiar story. My only regret is not being able to bring down these helicopters with rifle fire. A bloody good thrill should be shared by man and beast alike. I prefer the animal's viewpoint.
J. V. WILLIAMS
North Jackson, Ohio
The grim fate of the red deer of New Zealand is a perfect example of a wilderness absent of predators.
I hope hunters and stockmen read this article and learn something from it. Maybe they will think twice before they kill every last wolf, coyote, eagle, etc. Don't they realize when the predators are gone, we will be the ones who will suffer?
The best solution to the whole problem of sheepherders vs. predators in the U.S. would be for the sheepmen to move their sheep to New Zealand, which is free of predators, and we would be rid of poisons and traps on our government lands.
Bravo to Robert F. Jones and SI. As I pondered this work, I was haunted by Jack Olsen's The Poisoning of the West (March 8, 1971 et sea.), which SI courageously printed three years ago. My only criticism of Mr. Jones' work is that he brought this outrage to our attention when it seems to be too late to do anything about it.
I must say that I am relieved to know that America has not cornered the market on the Neanderthal mentality. Dick Deaker certainly has a "piece of the pie." He wonders aloud why the slaughter is not halted—shortly after he has butchered at least 10 deer. No one forced him to pull the trigger.
Such atrocities must be halted.
JAMES A. KEARNEY JR.
If it is necessary to reduce the size of the herd because of food shortage, I would hope that the people of New Zealand would have enough sense to kill only male deer during the fawning season. To kill does during this period is not only inhumane but destroys next year's crop. It is a very wasteful practice. As for the killing procedure, it is strictly meat butchering, but I must say that it is a hundred times more humane than bow-and-arrow hunting is in this country. No one really knows how many deer die with arrows carelessly shot into them each year. These poor deer suffer sometimes for many days, while in New Zealand it seems that most of the kills are pretty clean.
CARL L. KLESMITH
As an always trying but rarely successful deer hunter, I am truly appalled. I am not especially fainthearted, but just reading the first page almost made me cry. If Mr. Jones thinks that slaughter—there is no other word for it—is "bloody exciting," I truly question his and the hunters' sanity. However, I certainly agree with Dick Deaker that the slaughter should be replaced by controlled, licensed hunting, possibly the way it happened here in the West, before the market hunter eliminates the species.
DANIEL LUIS VIGNOLI
I hadn't realized into how perverse a state our world had actually degenerated. It is gross, at best, to imagine mature men with high-powered rifles and helicopters hunting unarmed animals. It is systematized slaughter, as outrageous as any recorded war atrocity.
Unfortunately most people never get the chance to have the gratifying experience of hunting, as so vividly described by Robert Jones. The pleasing sight of a panicked deer in your scope, the feeling of pulling the trigger, of seeing an undeserving creature choking in agony, must be incomparable.
Most of the credit for the continuance of this great sport lies with the intelligent hunter. The courage and wit of these men can only be exemplified by the routine of their sport. Backed with only a helicopter, high-powered weapon and firing at point-blank range, they can actually bring down something as ferocious as deer or coyote. Thanks again for the fine coverage of this growing sport.
Realizing that Curry Kirkpatrick (But UCLA Is Snarling, March 18) must concentrate his reporting on the winners, I am not so limited and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank a basketball team that was anything but a loser—the Maryland Terrapins. Regardless of their achievements over the past three seasons, among them 73 victories, an NIT championship and national stature for a perennial loser, the epitaph of the Tom McMillen-Len Elmore era will undoubtedly be their three straight close losses in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament finals. Although they again lost a heartbreaker this year, 103-100 in overtime to N.C. State, the courage that the Maryland athletes displayed and the caliber of basketball that they produced were a credit to themselves, the ACC and all of basketball. It was perhaps even more the loss of the NCAA than it was of the Terrapins that they did not appear in the NCAA tournament again this year.
ROGER W. KOEHLER
Andrews AFB, Md.
No one with any degree of basketball savvy would dare to compare Western Kentucky to Seton Hall or Stetson. Curry Kirkpatrick, obviously an ex-ice hockey coach from Hong Kong, has tried his best to downgrade WKU and the whole Ohio Valley Conference by using Western's (annual) victory over Dayton as a negative measure of the latter's strength. Dayton's true strength can be measured by its victory over Notre Dame and its triple-overtime loss to UCLA. Western has always had a top-quality basketball program, and the level of competition in the OVC takes a backseat to no other conference.
B. S. THOMAS
The spectacle of an admittedly excellent North Carolina State basketball team playing the Eastern Regionals on its home court and then traveling down the road a few miles to Greensboro to contest the NCAA championship testifies to the haphazard way the NCAA sets out to determine the No. 1 college basketball team in the country. It detracts from the contests, and certainly from any North Carolina State victories, when the Wolfpack's opponents in such important games all have to cope with the disadvantages that accrue to visiting teams.
There are obvious remedies to this situation if the NCAA is, indeed, more concerned about as fair as possible a determination of the No. 1 team than about the commercial aspects of the regional and national playoffs. One avenue would be to schedule the playoffs much later in the season, when locations could be chosen that would minimize any home-court/home-crowd advantages.
If Tanzania's President Nyerere is impeached because of his ban on hunting wildlife (SCORECARD, March 18), I suppose it will be the first time a reign is called on account of game.
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Curry Kirkpatrick's March 4 cover article revealed Jimmy Connors as an unbelievably cocky, insufferable, overgrown brat of 21. It was oil on the troubled waters of my sports soul to turn to Sanders of Harvard. Tom Sanders obviously is a fine man with a real feeling of the balance sports and education should take in a young man's life.
Palo Alto, Calif.
The NFL has discovered (SCORECARD, March 18) that teams which were above average in 1972 won fewer games in 1973, whereas below-average teams in 1972 won more games in 1973. This is cited as proof that the rich are getting poorer and vice versa and, implicitly, as evidence that the draft serves to equalize teams in ability.
The figures show nothing of the sort, but are an example of a pervasive statistical phenomenon called regression to the mean. As another example, if American fathers were divided into those taller than average and those shorter than average, the typical son of the taller group would be shorter than his father, while the typical son of the shorter group would be taller than his father. Not even the NFL would be inclined to argue that this demonstrates a tendency toward all Americans being the same height.
In reading Pat Jordan's article (Strong, Silent, Enduring, March 11), I could not help but be appalled at his often slanted and misleading approach to the managerial career of Walter Alston.
No one should have to defend a career as remarkable as Alston's, particularly when his tactical moves, strategy and adroit handling of men have been demonstrated with excellence for well over 30 years. Mr. Jordan's implication that Walter's managing has only been adequate is simply ridiculous.
I must admit that I have a more special interest in Walter Alston than the typical Alston admirer. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Walter on The Complete Baseball Handbook. My mention of this is not to sell more books, because it already has grossed more money than any other instructional book on baseball. I simply want to tell your readers that based on some 50 hours of tape-recorded sessions in which I tossed him question after question, I am convinced that his knowledge of the game, strategy and methods of handling players are as solid as his growing legend as one of the greatest managers of all time.
Reporter Pat Jordan's well-researched article on Dodger Manager Walter Alston confirms one of my lifetime suspicions—the major league baseball manager is the most overrated commodity in the sports world.
I am sure that you do not wish to be confused by the facts, but I am going to respond to your article The High Cost of Sitting (SCORECARD, March 11) anyway.
There never has been any plan advocated, designed or implemented by the University of Oklahoma that calls for bidding on seats at Memorial Stadium. Though such a plan was reported in the local press, it was never considered by the university. Furthermore, there never has been any plan that called for allocating seats, either by yard line or by section, to donors of specified amounts of money.
In reality, what the University of Oklahoma is proposing to do is simply extend recognition to individuals who contribute to its academic as well as its athletic programs. This is a simple variation of priority programs in operation in at least 30 American universities, among them the universities of Southern California, Arkansas, South Carolina and North Carolina, as well as the other seven Big Eight Conference institutions. The difference between the University of Oklahoma program and those of many other schools is our recognition of academic as well as athletic contributors.
Stadium Expansion Coordinator
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