WHO'S ON FIRST?
Regarding the controversy over sexually integrated sports, let me add my voice to those of the girls who plead to be allowed to play Little League baseball (Now Georgy-Porgy Runs Away, April 22). As a child, I was supposed to be sickly and was never permitted to play with the boys in the streets of New York City, where I grew up. As a married woman, 28 years old, a fan of the Yankees, the Knicks and many other teams, I have only now, with the help and encouragement of my husband, discovered the joy and invigorating feeling of running, playing volleyball and everything else I might want to try.
It is too late for me to go back and reclaim those lost times, those long summers on the city streets with nothing to do but play hopscotch and jump rope. Those games were fun but they certainly don't compare with running headlong at something or someone with a goal in mind.
Please let the girls play, don't deny them this joy. I can assure you that we'll all be better and freer for it.
New York City
For many years the girls in my high school have been trying to get equal rights in sports. In the beginning we were put down and laughed at. Now we are supported and, finally, we are in league competition. Each team has uniforms, officials and everything else boys' sports have. We are still not as strong in number as we would like to be, but we are working at that.
There are injuries, but not bad ones. Not one girl has gotten breast cancer from being hit in the chest with field hockey balls, basketballs, softballs or lacrosse balls. Plenty of girls get hit with lacrosse balls, which are thrown harder than baseballs. Everyone has survived. Considering that girls do not wear any protective equipment in lacrosse—we are supposed to act like ladies—I do not see why girls in baseball should be in any more danger of getting hurt than boys are. If girls want to play baseball, they should be allowed to.
New Hyde Park, N.Y.
I don't think girls should play in Little League. Little League prepares boys to play in higher leagues when they get older, and if girls can't play in those older leagues, why should they play in Little League?
I can see it now. Women will be suing major league baseball teams to allow them to play. I can imagine some of the problems: partitioned showers, women complaining that the colors of their uniforms clash with the color of their eyes, and people like Leo Durocher, Ralph Houk and Billy Martin taking etiquette lessons so as not to offend the ladies. And picture the arguments in the Pirate clubhouse. Poor Dock Ellis would have to fight for rights to the hair curlers.
MARK G. PRESTON
Frank Deford expressed both sides of the problem without partiality. My view is that girls should not be allowed to play. I know, as a Little Leaguer myself, that I would be uneasy with a girl around.
PHIL ST. ONGE
Once again girls are forced to go to court and fight for something that has been provided for boys almost as an inalienable right. How many communities have gone to great expense and effort to organize Little League teams, complete with pro-style uniforms, manicured fields and elaborate equipment, and then put up a sign saying "Boys Only"? In many areas no similar activity was provided for girls. Now the Little League and those local communities must answer for their neglect.
LYDIA L. HINSHAW
Cape Canaveral, Fla.
I feel that girls should have sports programs equal to the boys'. However, I don't think girls should be allowed to participate in boys' programs. Take a look at Charlie Brown's baseball team; he has girls on his team and has never won a game.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
RELIVING THE MOMENT
What a tremendous article by George Plimpton to describe a tremendous achievement by Henry Aaron (Final Twist of the Drama, April 22)! Rarely have I been so engrossed in a sports story. It was the human drama of athletics most capably captured in print. Thank you.
ANNA L. GILREATH
I have a feeling that other TV football fans may share my reaction to The Defection of Dandy Don (April 22). We love the game, we know the game and we enjoy watching good teams play the game. Whether we are watching live or on the tube, our concentration is intense, and excessive talking during the game is discouraged. Generally we are indifferent to the constant and often irrelevant chatter by some TV sportscasting "personalities." As for last year's Monday night crew, Don Meredith (brief, humorous and nondistracting) was the easiest to take. He is a man I would enjoy knowing or having for a neighbor, and I wish him luck in his search for a meaningful future. As to whom ABC gets to replace him—it won't matter that much to those of us who are watching the game.
West Chester, Pa.
In your article Don Meredith says, "When an 8-year-old comes over to play with a 6-year-old's father, something has gone wrong someplace." Something has also gone wrong when millions of football fans tune in The Monday Night Freak Show to listen to the "freaks" rather than to watch the game. As Shakespeare (or was it Howard Cosell?) said, "The play's the thing."
LANNY R. MIDDINGS
San Ramon, Calif.
I am amazed at the incredible conceit of Roone Arledge, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford. They seem to attribute the magic success of Monday night football to their particular powers. Has it ever occurred to any of them that this success is due to the convenience of the day and hour for the listening public?
Let's face it. The Monday night show would be a howling success if Billy Graham were the commentator.
My thanks to the incomparable Dan Jenkins for his article on the Masters (Wee Gary Springs His Trap, April 22). He captured the texture of this year's event beautifully. I believe he wrote some time ago that "golf need not be grim." His writing usually reflects this philosophy with his unique brand of wit and style.
There was a special quality to this piece that I particularly enjoyed—in short, his giving credit to a fine player, Gary Player in this case, without being patronizing. It was a simple acknowledgment of excellent golf played by a number of men under the extraordinary pressures of the Masters.
I have been reading SI for the past eight years, and even though I have enjoyed many well-written articles from your staff, none can compare with Dan Jenkins' assessment of the Masters and especially of Gary Player. Here is a man who only a little over a year ago underwent major abdominal surgery, and it was doubtful whether he ever would be able to swing a golf club the way he had in the past. He found out he couldn't, so he had to completely readjust his swing. It is much as if Henry Aaron had had to completely revamp his home-run swing after hitting 713 homers.
Gary Player could have retired after his operation with six major titles and he would have gone down in golfing annals as one of the greatest. But his goal is to win a second slam. He is a U.S. Open away from it and, knowing the intensity with which he plays the game, I would not be surprised if he won it this year.
Jenkins put it aptly when he said that Player has given "much of himself back to the sport." Gary has done this not only through hours of hard work and thousands of miles of travel, but through the abundance of thrills he has provided for us, the golfing fans of America.
The article by Roy Blount Jr. on Augusta's reaction to the Masters golf tournament is superb and the sketches by Arnold Roth capture the flavor of the place (Two Views of an Affair, April 15). I was also delighted to read in LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER that Mr. Roth discovered Miss Ruby's Lunch; as a lifelong resident of Augusta I have found Miss Ruby's to have very fine food at very reasonable prices.
However, the black population of Augusta not only does not share in the prosperity of Augusta during Masters Week, this state of affairs prevails the other 51 weeks of the year as well. That is one reason for the riot of May 11, 1970. Progress has been made but there is still a long way to go.
Still, I like your comment: "A cheerful look at a nice town." That says it all.
WALTER R. GARRETT
Stone Mountain, Ga.
When Bobby Jones first located the Masters in Augusta, he made one of the best of his many wise moves. In that day, Augusta was a thriving tourist city, the longest overnight train ride from the snows of New York and Washington. It had three fine tourist hotels, and the tourist trade wet-nursed the Masters through its swaddling days. Then came the jet planes, which made Miami a suburb of New York. Augusta's tourist trade vanished. Later, the city switched to industry, and that's where it is now.
In the meantime the Masters has outgrown the need for Augusta, except as an overnight stop. As far as contact with the average citizen of Augusta is concerned, the Masters might as well be held in Troon, Scotland. Unless a citizen has exceptional status, even money will not gain him access to its sacred confines.
As for the dignity and good breeding of the crowds at the Masters, at which your reporter marvels, they are merely holdovers from the past when the Masters "belonged" to Augusta.
G. T. CHAMLEE
True, the Masters golf tournament is Augusta's most publicized feature, but it is not its most illustrious feature. Roy Blount would have found this out had he gotten out and around the city a little more than he apparently did. As an Augustan I am proud of the Masters, but I am also proud of the azaleas in spring, the Miracle Mile, the Hill (Summerville), the camellias and the great strides the city has taken in its development in the past 10 years. Augusta is a growing city, not the hokey little town portrayed by Mr. Blount. I can remember when you had to be an honor student in order to be excused from school to work the scoreboards. This was not very long ago. I also cannot help but wonder about Mr. Blount's remark about Bush Field. It is a country club air terminal and one of the best kept and most beautiful terminals in the Empire State of the South. I should know. I used to work there.
Bud Shrake's Rapids Round the Bend (April 15) is a nostalgic stab in the memory for some of us native Texans who are trapped out of state and who long to get back to the open spaces. Knowing that West Texas and its secrets still exist, however, makes looking out the window of my eighth-floor office at the panorama of the District of Columbia a little less disheartening.
It was easy, because of Shrake's alternating enthusiasm and emotional stress and his wry sense of humor, for me to empathize with him, especially since I, too, have undertaken similar intrepid trips without knowing half of what I was getting into. I think his story is bound to hit similar nerves in everyone else who reads it.
Thanks for giving me and others like me the opportunity to get back to where we would like to be. It is articles like this one that make the Sirens sing just a little bit louder.
Edwin Shrake's article was an exciting description of the thrills and beauty offered by the lower canyons of the Rio Grande River. This magnificently wild river most certainly deserves to be preserved.
The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, a division of the U.S. Department of Interior, recently released a report on a study of this section of the Rio Grande as a potential unit of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. They recommend that a 158-mile stretch be added to the system. Hearings were held on the report, and a final version plus an Environmental Impact Statement will be out soon.
After the final Bureau of Outdoor Recreation Report is published, it will be up to the U.S. Congress to decide if the river should be added to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas has introduced a bill (S. 1790) that would accomplish this.
Concerning your item in SCORECARD ("Times That Try Men's Souls," April 15), I feel that if the insects of Pennsylvania deserve national recognition, so do the bugs of Massachusetts. In an attempt to have Massachusetts become only the second state in the Union to have a state bug (Maryland is the first, with the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly as its official arthropodic symbol), 35 second-graders dressed as lady bugs descended upon the State House to lobby for a bill urging the adoption of the lady bug as the state bug. Led by Mrs. Palma Johnson of the Kennedy School in Franklin, Mass., the schoolchildren presented a very convincing argument to the House. Despite the efforts of some to have the lady bug renamed the person bug (Women's Lib is everywhere), at last report the bill was on Governor Francis Sargent's desk, awaiting his signature.
It comes as refreshing news to me that with all the bugging being done these days, 35 second-graders have found a way to do it all above-board, in a legal and constructive manner. Mrs. Johnson and her students are to be heartily commended.
THOMAS M. MONAGHAN
Notre Dame, Ind.
I thought your article on fish being attracted to junk (Our Finny Friends Are Junkies, April 8) was interesting for two reasons. The first is that after a sunken log that served as fish junk in Higgins Lake (Roscommon, Mich.) disappeared several years ago, my Uncle Earl took to depositing junk, among which were a stove, a refrigerator, a set of old bedsprings, car tires, etc. And, sure enough, rock bass, smallmouthed bass, perch and trout showed up at what became the principal fishing spot in a lake that previously had a reputation for giving a fisherman little more than mosquito bites.
The second reason is that according to my findings, Biologist Richard Stone's main concern should be the maintaining and bolstering of the standing population of fish hooks, not fish. One of the hazards of fishing these junkyards is that the prospective fisherman spends most of his time snagging anything and everything except a fish. The frustration stemming from this is considerable and caused my uncle upon his return from a recent trip to mutter (between obscenities), "If you think this bass is big, you should have seen the stove that got away."
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