AT THE PLATE
My congratulations to Larry Keith for an excellent article on Dave Kingman and Mike Schmidt (It's Either a Clout or an Out, May 3). As a longtime Philadelphia fan, I am proud to see the Phillies finally a winner—and with power punch in Greg Luzinski, Dick Allen and Schmidt.
JEFF COHEN Pennsauken, N.J.
Larry Keith must be a Phillies fan. His article was grossly biased in favor of Mike Schmidt and grossly unfair to Met super slugger Dave Kingman. While suggesting that Kingman alter his "please-help-me-I'm-falling" batting style, Keith praises Schmidt, who "at least has a thorough knowledge of the strike zone." Not only does Keith chastise Kingman for being "acutely sensitive to criticism," but he also slips in that Schmidt is a "better all-round player" who presents "a more classic figure" at the plate. We wouldn't be at all surprised if Keith drinks Schmidt's of Philadelphia beer.
New Haven, Conn.
I'm not saying that Dave (Kong) Kingman is better than Mike Schmidt, but I am saying he has the right to equal billing on your cover.
Granada Hills, Calif.
We readers remember what you write. Take, for example, the scouting reports on the new baseball season (April 12): "Pitching is the Texas Rangers" shortcoming" and Manager Frank Lucchesi is "foolishly" counting on Bill Singer and Nelson Briles, and Gaylord Perry is a "rusting 37." Remember? The Rangers are now 9-4.
As for "punch but no defense" newcomer Juan Beniquez, he has caught everything in sight.
My letter to you, like your scouting report, may become outdated, but right now Texas is out front, and old "Rusty" and the two "foolish bets" are leading the way.
As a lifelong Yankee fan, I was incensed at Robert Lipsyte's choosing refurbished Yankee Stadium as a scapegoat for New York City's financial ills (A Diamond in the Ashes, April 26). The city's fiscal woes are the result of poor management and planning on the part of several administrations.
In an effort to stem the tide of defectors, New York took action to save the most famous sports edifice ever built and to preserve a home for the Yankees. A pennant and World Series would see the city coming out of its investment with some return.
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Being a New Yorker, I most certainly agree with Robert Lipsyte that the money for Yankee Stadium's repair should have been used for projects that would benefit the public more greatly.
MICHAEL A. SCOTT
I think Robert Lipsyte is 100% correct. Financing the renovation helped put New York City in its current financial crisis. It is an example of what people with power can do without the consent of those who must pay for it.
As a non-New Yorker, I couldn't care less what the Stadium cost was or what politicians voted aye or nay. I'm just tickled to know the Yankees are back in their home with all the mystique that has long surrounded them.
TIMOTHY L. BARNES
Any investment that keeps the Yankees in New York is a good investment in my book.
Upon returning from my fourth consecutive Kentucky Derby completely exhausted from fighting huge traffic jams and waiting in long, long lines, I was delighted to find in my mailbox the May 3 issue of SI with Ernest Havemann's article A Day to Tiptoe Through the Juleps.
Anyone who has spent a day in the infield at Churchill Downs cannot help but become a part of the tradition and madness that the Derby has created. In what other sport will so many people wait so long to see an event, not see the event and then not really care that they didn't see it? Whether they win or lose, you will have no trouble convincing a lot of the people who attend the Derby that the best horsing around takes place not on the track but in the infield.
Who won, anyway?
MICHAEL H. GAUL
William Leggett's article Nice to Be the Derby Favorite, But...(May 3) reinforced my belief that SI is No. 1. He was right on target with his warning about past favorites who failed.
Mt. Prospect, Ill.
JOCKS FOR JESUS (CONT.)
Frank Deford has written a superb series of articles on religion in sport (April 19 et seq.). While remaining exceedingly objective, he conveyed a sensitive understanding of the current relationship between the two. He saw through the inconsistent theology and the superstitions that often characterize this relationship, yet I don't feel that he put down religion.
From another standpoint, it always does my heart good to hear a famous person (especially an athlete) testify to the importance of God in his life. I feel a great appreciation for athletes who publicly identify themselves as Christians.
THE REV. RICHARD J. MEIER
Christ the Servant Lutheran Church
Frank Deford goes a long way toward destroying the myth that winning at sport and being a Christian are somehow correlated. I have questioned for years the exploiting of athletes to sell Christianity.
To make something religious of a game like football by telling people that only Christians succeed at it is to make even more of a sham of a sport already beset by the overwhelming problems of commercialization and dehumanization. Football should stick to football and religion should stick to religion. The practice of religion should be a very personal activity, unencumbered by the show biz hype of some of the Sportianity groups mentioned.
If a young Jesus were attending an American high school today he might not choose to play football at all. He might even elect to play the flute, paint, write poetry, fix automobiles or maybe even become a carpenter. But whatever, I'll bet He would do it with humility, simplicity and humanity. Christianity needs more Malcolm Boyds, and football needs no more Billy Zeolis.
Our country is in the midst of one of the most severe moral and spiritual depressions since its founding. In this context it is unfortunate that SI should discredit one of the more potent efforts today to instill moral and spiritual fiber in our young athletes and their admirers.
JOHN H. JENKS
What we need in the world today is more virtue, and I consider it not only wise but imperative that we use sports in general and the fame of sports personalities in particular to achieve more conversions to morality.
Frank Deford describes superbly the phenomenon of the medium perverting the message.
NOEL J. AUGUSTYN
Frank Deford is a fine journalist, but when it comes to religion he is out of his league. Thousands of athletes are involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Baseball Chapel, Athletes In Action, etc. Why? Because in 95% of the cases they want to be there. Because Sportianity is a ministry. These groups want to minister and to be a help to the people who have the platform in the world. Not only because they in turn can minister to other people, but because as human beings they have a right to be ministered to. In most cases college and professional sports schedules prevent players from attending regular church services, or at least discourage regular attendance. The only reward for the leaders of these Sportianity groups is the knowledge that they are helping someone.
As for morality, Frank didn't do his homework on the FCA. The Christian Athlete, FCA's official publication, took three issues (January-March '76) and devoted them completely to the ethics of competition. It has also spoken out on the place of sport in society (February '76) and on winning and losing (March '76), and in every issue the ethics of sport is a major theme. This is also true of the lesson plans the FCA sends out.
Michigan State University FCA
As an ordained Baptist minister and seminary student, I would like to say thank you for the articles on religion in sport. I wholeheartedly agree that we as Christians have been overzealous and indiscriminate in the use of "heroes" to propagate Christianity. Shallowness is detestable in any area of life, especially in religion. What you have done is point up a sore spot, a weakness that needs correcting. Maybe someday our social concern will match our zeal for converts.
THE REV. ROBERT U. FERGUSON JR.
ON THE TRACK
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has always been one of the few magazines to give credit to talented young athletes. This is shown by your FACES IN THE CROWD department and has been proven by a number of feature articles. Yet when I read the article about the Drake Relays (A First Fling at Montreal, May 3) I was surprised at the omission of one special individual. Rudy Chapa is a high school senior who qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 10,000 with a time of 28:32.8 (he finished fifth). What is more, his time in that race on April 24 broke the prep record set on March 28 by Eric Hulst of Laguna Beach, Calif. by 22.2 seconds. More attention should have been paid to young Rudy than to what Francie Larrieu had for breakfast.
•SI first recognized Chapa as an outstanding high school cross-country runner (FACES IN THE CROWD, Nov. 25,1974) and then drew attention to him again as one of three remarkable sub-nine-minute two-milers—Carey Pinkowski and Tim Keough were the other two—competing for Hammond (Ind.) High School (Three into Two Miles Who Go, Go, Go, June 16). We agree that Chapa is one to keep an eye on.—ED.
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