THE MIT WAY
John Underwood captured the true spirit of athletic competition in the MIT story (Beating Their Brains Out, May 26). I was especially pleased to see mention of John Barry, now assistant athletic director at MIT. I remember Barry when he was basketball and baseball coach at Tenney High School in Methuen, Mass. Although I was the "last man" on his junior varsity basketball team in 1954-55, he was an inspiration to me. He gave equal time to all of us in practice, even though some of us would play only one or two minutes in a game (if we were far ahead or far behind). He has a positive attitude that rubs off on all who know him. We are better for having played for him. I am glad to see that he is now an important part of MIT's wonderfully human (and humane) athletic program.
JOHN A. CLINTON
To further explain the MIT attitude, in the early '30s the gate to the athletic field bore this motto: "Not the quarry, but the chase; not the laurel, but the race."
JAMES H. CARR JR.
John Underwood did a masterful job of portraying athletics at MIT. One small item was overlooked, however: no matter how good his grades, a student cannot graduate unless he can swim 100 yards.
As an MIT graduate, I was extremely pleased to read John Underwood's excellent article. I am a firm believer in MIT's approach to sport and am very glad to see its program get some publicity.
As a former member of the MIT ski team (and now a professional coach at a ski-racing school), I was upset to read that the ski coach "unfortunately...hasn't worked out." I consider him an excellent coach. This is an opinion shared by former and current ski-team members, as well as by people involved in other racing programs. Many people are sorry that he is leaving.
While I otherwise enjoyed John Underwood's article on MIT athletics, I feel compelled, on behalf of the MIT Rugby Football Club, of which I am fixtures secretary, to protest his statement that we are merely holding our own against Dartmouth. Our club, the 1974 New England champion, soundly trounced Dartmouth, 36-4, on its way to another successful season.
I can also assure you that Underwood's statistic of 1.3 dates per year for male students hardly applies to the ruggers, as all those who have attended our traditional weekly postgame parties will readily confirm.
THE METS' METHOD
I strongly disagree with your conclusions (SCORECARD, May 26) on the subject of Met Outfielder Cleon Jones. Professional baseball is a boys' game being played by men who are idolized by tens of thousands of youngsters. Professionals have a public obligation to their patrons as well as to management, which is equally obligated to maintain a respected standard of conduct both inside and outside the stadium.
In these circumstances it is not possible to accept the SI rationalization that management should not have publicly chastised Jones. What better way could he have acknowledged his wrongdoing and, one hopes, restore his image and that of the Mets? Do you honestly believe that payment of a monetary fine is an answer to the youngsters?
HENRY H. KIPPER
M. Donald Grant apologize? Poppycock! The New York Met management did the right thing in holding the press conference and assessing the $2,000 fine. We need promiscuous sports heroes for kids to follow like we need the plague. Sure, incidents of this type happen, but there is no need to condone them. I am 20 and a member of the generation that observes the so-called "new morality," and I still say we don't need behavior of that type.
Your beautifully worded scolding of the Mets' Donald Grant in the Cleon Jones case tit the situation perfectly. When there is a problem, the first move of a friend, colleague, teammate or business associate is to defend, not to embarrass.
Protecting someone else often takes guts. Unfortunately, too many people in our society put image before friendship and loyalty. SI has put Grant's image in perspective.
PAUL E. MOTT
THERE IN OAKLAND
Thanks to Ron Fimrite for his article about the A's and Oakland (The A's Are Putting the There There, May 19). As an Easterner who was transplanted to Oakland for two years, I found the city a wonderful haven for a frustrated baseball fan.
Oakland is associated with some of my fondest memories, among them two World Series that I was thrilled to attend.
New Bedford, Mass.
Any red-blooded, card-carrying Pacific Coast League trivia buff could tell Ron Fimrite that it was John Ritchey, a catcher for the 1948 San Diego Padres, who was the first black to play in the Pacific Coast League, not Artie Wilson, as he stated in his epic on the Oakland A's.
Wilson came into the league in 1949, along with Luke Easter, and was also with San Diego. Wilson went to Oakland later that season.
Thanks to Jim Kaplan for an outstanding story on young Ron LeFlore (Man on a Tightrope, May 12). Many people do not want to accept the fact that a man does pay for his crimes by serving his term in prison. Business and government should follow the example of the Detroit Tigers, who first gave a break to alltime pinch-hitting great Gates Brown, and now the promising LeFlore.
I object to the title Man on a Tightrope, for Ron LeFlore is not just a borderline player. He has the potential to lead the league in batting, stolen bases and runs scored. The very presence of LeFlore on a major league team can bean influence on many young men in prison.
I am writing in answer to a letter that appeared in the May 12 issue. The writer of the letter asked if a man who has been convicted of a violent crime should be allowed, while in prison, to compete in violent sports (The Blotting Out of Time, April 28) and thus bring out his violent tendencies.
My answer is yes. It is far better for these men to be able to release pent-up emotions, frustrations and violent tendencies through sports than in some other manner that would be harmful to themselves, to society or to other individuals. The sad part about the whole thing is that men of this nature are not taught acceptable means of releasing violent tendencies early enough in life. One day many of these men will be back in society and what they have learned through sports in prison will most likely be of help.
Let me end with another question. Aren't people who participate in violent sports outside of prison (boxers, football players, wrestlers, et al.) bringing out their violent tendencies?
Recently in SCORECARD (April 21) you discussed the problem of biased statisticians. While you were concerned primarily with professional basketball, my experience indicates the problem is worse at the high school and college levels.
My first question is whether the average fan is really concerned with the accuracy of these statistics. While we quote them endlessly and argue vehemently about them, in many cases we do not even know what they mean. So we must decide how important it is that statistics be "fair."
If the powers that be feel that fair statistics are an important part of the game, then I believe there is a reasonable way to achieve that result. Each league has men who travel around rating officials. Why not have a similar system for rating statistical crews? While such things as assists and steals are difficult to interpret, such things as field-goal attempts and rebounds are certainly susceptible to precise definition.
OVER THE FENCE
An item in SCORECARD (May 12) reminded me of something that happened to my brother and me a few years ago.
We loved to go to the old Connie Mack Stadium to see the Phillies play. But even more fun was arriving early, sitting in the left-field bleachers for batting practice and at tempting to catch balls hit into the lower deck.
One night eight balls came in and, despite the efforts of other fans, we caught or retrieved all eight. In our case there appeared to be no reaction from the fans.
However, the next night, as we were walking into the bleacher section, the head usher warned us that if we so much as touched the fence in front of the bleachers, we would be outside looking in. Of course, all other fans were permitted to touch and even hang over the railing. That night four balls were hit our way and we got all four. The head usher never said another word.
CLAIR L. DRESCHER
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