What a great article on the uphill struggle of the New York Islanders in their playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins (With a Little Help from His Friends, May 5). In these days of prima donnas in professional sports, it is refreshing to see a team's success story fashioned by relatively unknown athletes, such as Glenn Resch, Eddie Westfall, Bert Marshall & Co. And if ever a picture was worth a thousand words, how about the one of bruised and bloodied Jude Drouin?
After such marvels as Bill Mazeroski's home run in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series and Franco Harris' immaculate reception in the 1972 NFL playoff game against Oakland, not to mention the 1971 World Series or Super Bowl IX, somebody, namely the New York Islanders, pulled a Pittsburgh miracle in reverse. Shock is too mild a word for my reaction.
As one of many Americans who share the ideals and dreams of Wild Horse Annie, I thank you for publishing Wild West Showdown (May 5). Herman Weiskopf's sensitive article brought to light one of the saddest tales of our age. The bloodstained story of the mustang is one that needed to be told, and you have told it well.
I suggest writing letters to Congressmen urging protection for these creatures whose free, unbroken spirit embodies what America is all about.
It would be a great loss if in the future we had to do without the wild mustang and an even greater loss if we had to do without the character and steadfastness of people like Velma Johnston.
The point the article should make to us all is that indifference on our part will let special-interest groups choose those things we must do without. I would take the mustang over an extra hamburger a week from a fatter steer, a wood hillside over an electric toothbrush fueled by strip-mined coal and fish in our streams over a new quicker-acting detergent.
Wild Horse Annie's detractors want to make these choices for us, and they call the support she gets from schoolchildren ridiculous. I believe the children probably have the clearer vision, since they have not yet learned the rationalization of selfish adults.
As for sports, Annie's determination is to be admired as much as Jimmy Connors'. I wish Annie had won half a million dollars.
MIKE VAN VRANKEN
Never has an article caused me to have more admiration for an individual than the one on Wild Horse Annie. Her fight to save the wild mustang and the courage she displays are to be commended, as is SI for bringing her to the attention of millions. As for the "Vigilant Committee of 10,000" and its warning to Annie, all I can say is don't tread on Annie and her children. As for Annie, she is beautiful.
Annie may not be emotional in her crusade to save wild horses, but emotion is her strongest ally and she uses it well. Most obvious is the manner in which she sways the minds of children. With Annie's help, the children have snowballed this emotion all the way to Congress. The wild horse and burro issue is not one to be decided by emotion. Too strong emotions on one side could lead to the killing of all wild horses or, on the other side of the fence, put numerous hard-working ranchers out of business, deprive future generations of the chance to see desert bighorns, and deplete antelope and deer populations. The mountain desert of the West, with its meager forage, cannot withstand the uncontrolled growth of horse herds without deleterious effects on other forms of life. Strict management of horses and burros is now needed, but it is lacking. That is fact, not emotion.
ROBERT H. PAGE
IN THE PINK
It is 15, 30, 40 and "love" that I have for SI, and that certainly reflects my attitude toward Joe Jares for his excellent coverage of the John Newcombe-Jimmy Connors challenge match (Jackpot for Jimbo, May 5).
However, because we put so much effort into it and because Mark McCormack had nothing to do with it, I want to point out that it was not the McCormack people but the Interwoven people who arranged to have the ball boys and linesmen dressed in pink Newcombe shirts. We also were responsible for the Newcombe buttons and the tennis outfit Newcombe's coach, Clarence Mabry, wore.
As long as the commercial aspects of tennis are important to your readers, I think Interwoven should be properly acknowledged for the above contributions to the Vegas extravaganza.
ARNOLD M. RAPHAEL
New York City
THE RULES OF TENNIS
For a self-confessed tennis infidel and outsider, Frank Deford in his article Serving Up an Explosive Set (April 28) has done a great service to the game and has also helped immeasurably the Van Alen Simplified Scoring System campaign to streamline the game. For this I thank him from the bottom of my heart.
I heartily agree that the net-cord rule should go. It's as stupid and unnecessary as the uncontrollable advantage-scoring principle requiring a lead of two points to win a set or the nonsensical and confusing scoring terminology of 15, 30, 40 (why not 45?) and "love," which I have been blasting away at for 15 years.
I am interested to read that Deford looks upon me as some sort of benign apostle sent down by the Almighty to bring joy and happiness and 30-minute sets to the 34 million tennis players in our country. As a matter of fact, many times I have felt the same sort of despair and frustration I imagine John the Baptist must have felt when he was a voice crying in the wilderness. So maybe Frank has something. However, to date, I have had no sensation that might indicate I was about to grow a halo.
That he links my VASSS effort with that of my good friend, the redoubtable Lamar (WCT) Hunt, and his industrious and visionary henchmen, Mike Davies and Al Hill Jr., pleases me greatly I must admit. The closer I can get to them the better for the game and the better for VASSS! If they would change to the less-complicated nine-point tie break from the 13-point model they are now using or, better yet, adopt the no-ad seven-point game and score 1, 2, 3 and zero instead of that ridiculous you-know-what, my troubles and those of umpires and linesmen, who are forever in danger of getting caught short, would be over. I could plan to go fishing. Here's hoping.
JAMES VAN ALEN
What a superlatively original, amusing and, at least from my standpoint, constructive article. If and when tennis gets around to having a commissioner, Frank Deford will get my vote.
The most radical of Frank's proposals is probably the one about mixed doubles in which he has the man serving the first point, the woman the second, the man the third and so on, with the receiving team having the choice of who receives whose service. Since we all will have passed to our reward in heaven before the tennis moguls ever decide to adopt this intriguing notion, further discussion is almost surely academic. However, it seems to me that it would be even better—and fairer—if the serving team had the choice, each time it served, of having the man or the woman serving into the deuce court and the other member of the team serving into the ad court throughout that game. If it works out well, they'll probably stick to that formation next time they serve; if it doesn't, they may switch service sides. And each time a serving team makes its choice for a particular game, the receivers may then counter by choosing which partner plays which court without regard to who played on which side the last time they received.
New York City
The bush league is exactly where tennis would be if Frank Deford's innovative notions were adopted. The rules of tennis are designed for the players, not the audience. If the spectators don't like it, let them go elsewhere and watch a sport that is unsophisticated enough to suit them. Perhaps Mr. Deford could join them at the Roller Derby. And please invite the celebrities. I'm as disgusted with watching them as you are.
E. P. TRULOCK III
Frank Deford's article calls for comment. He says his idea of hell is having to watch The Merv Griffin Show all day long or Chris Evert hitting baseline shots for five sets. Well, my idea of hell is being locked in a cell and forced to read tennis articles by Deford.
How can Deford say that pro-celebrity tournaments should be abolished? In the early 1950s, while I was the pro at The Greenbrier Hotel at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., Billy Talbert and I organized what I believe was the first star-celebrity tournament. In the field were Tony Trabert, Dick Savitt, Gardnar Mulloy, Vic Seixas, William Clay Ford, C. V. (Sonny) Whitney, Bob Considine and many others. It was very successful, and it created a great deal of interest. These events have been responsible for getting a lot of the movie and television people off the golf courses, and they give the game a great deal of publicity.
Frank Deford's suggestions for improving pro tennis are so logical that the powers that be in the sport will undoubtedly consider them at their earliest convenience, perhaps before 1984. They will then no doubt form a committee to choose a subcommittee to study the recommendations and eventually decide to silence Deford (at least until the rally ends), sue him or recruit him as a net umpire for three-of-five-set matches.
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
In his article on the American Museum of Natural History (Up in Nature's Attic, April 28) J.D. Reed reveals the amazing technique used and the fascinating sights displayed there only to end by saying, in essence, "But it isn't good enough; it isn't reality!"
No one ever said it was, least of all the museum staff. To partake of reality in today's world one usually needs an abundant quantity of a rapidly disappearing substance called money. If you could take me to Africa to see a gorilla in its natural habitat as cheaply as I can visit the museum, Mr. Reed, then by all means.
But then, not all of us are fearless individuals. I prefer my Komodo dragons docile, my African lions at rest and my elephants not charging. In other words, the American Museum of Natural History is just my speed.
The exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History give me the intense feeling of "immediacy about the past" that your writer misses. I have stood many times in front of the African lion group and never failed to make the "leap of imagination" to the moment when a similar lion came within eight feet of me in the Kenya bush.
When I stand before the "diorama of Pokot warriors around a cow" I have no difficulty in taking an "artist's creative leap into history" so that once again I am actually experiencing "the interminable heat, the sound of flies, the odor of dung and yaws."
Maybe it's because your writer walks on concrete and I walk on grass.
GEORGE B. JOHNSON
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