YEAR OF THE REDS
Congratulations to Ron Fimrite and SI's photography crew for a fantastic view of the World Series (Ah, How Great It Is, Nov. 1). Your comparison of lineups and batting averages of great teams was very beneficial for those who like to study statistics. Incidentally, judging by your picture on page 22 of Pete Rose diving into third base, I would give him the Anti-Gravity Award of 1976 over Julius Erving, whom you show on page 24.
"How good are the Reds?" Very good!
It is evident from Ron Fimrite's article that the 1976 Cincinnati Reds are being rated as one of the best teams in baseball history. I cannot argue that, but the Reds have a long way to go before they equal the 1927 New York Yankees. The '27 Yanks did not beat their opponents, they destroyed them. They batted .307 as a team, scored an unbelievable total of 975 runs and hit 158 home runs. Those figures speak for themselves. So please don't compare the Reds to the '27 Yanks. I wouldn't want you to embarrass them.
The 1927 Yankees would have about as much chance of beating the 1976 Reds as Waite Hoyt would have of beating a Ferrari on foot.
Ron Fimrite's article is as fine a piece on the national pastime as you have ever put in print. But why leave out the glowing stats of the 1961 Yanks? Mantle and Maris hit more home runs (54 and 61) than any other two men on the same team in the game's history. In addition to them, Yogi Berra, Moose Skowron, Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard all hit more than 20 homers, helping the team break the alltime home-run record. Whitey Ford compiled a 25-4 record, head and shoulders above that of any of the staff aces on the 1927 or 1937 Yanks, the 1955 Dodgers or the 1976 Reds.
K. G. AMELI
My observation of the 1976 World Series is that the Big Red Machine's greatness was clouded by the Yankees' horrible flop as contenders for the world championship. Please flash back to October 1975. That was a measure of the greatness of the Reds, of the 1975 Red Sox and of baseball.
To lose to the 1976 Reds should be no disgrace.
Chanute AFB, Ill.
The Reds have twice proved their superiority, but the 1977 club will face a test that the great teams of the past never encountered: competition from All-Star squads made up of ex-free agents. The Reds will win again, though.
What better proof is there that the baseball season is too long than a picture of Series hero Johnny Bench on the cover of an issue of SI dated Nov. 1?
New Haven, Conn.
THURMAN AND JOHNNY
The Cincinnati Reds dominated the Series, but let's not get carried away. Sparky Anderson's remark about embarrassing Thurman Munson by comparing him with Johnny Bench was absurd. Although Bench is a better defensive catcher, Munson's bat speaks for itself. He was superior to Bench in just about every offensive category in the last two years. In 1976 Munson outhit Bench by 68 points while playing only six games on artificial turf. He scored 17 more runs and had 77 more hits. He had 83 more total bases, three more doubles, one more home run and 31 more RBIs. Munson also had more sacrifices and sacrifice flies, and he struck out fewer times than Bench. To my mind, Sparky embarrassed Bench by comparing him with Munson, the best player in the game today.
I happen to be a fan of Rocco Scotti's, a Clevelander who sang the national anthem for the fourth American League playoff game in Yankee Stadium. If you heard him, you know why I and an increasing number of people have become fans of his. He electrified everyone with his rendition and he received the biggest ovation anyone has heard yet for The Star-Spangled Banner. Joe Garagiola calls him "the best in the country," an opinion shared by just about everyone who has heard Scotti sing.
Yet, after Rocco showed the entire nation that the national anthem, as he sings it, is a very stirring and exciting piece of music, he was not asked to sing it for the World Series. They went for "stars," with downright sickening results; and rather than add to the stature of the Series, it made an already drab contest even worse. Is it any wonder there is a clamor to change our anthem to something easier to sing?
RONALD J. SEMAN
Maple Heights, Ohio
JOYS OF RUGBY
Clive Gammon's article "Feed Me Till I Want No More" (Nov. 1) is one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of reading in your magazine. It captures rugby in its true light. It is the finest amateur sport in the world (and one of the last). The Welsh people live and die with rugby, and now perhaps all the world will come to understand the joy of playing this game. In the end there are no losers. Everyone who plays wins.
Yale Rugby Club
New Haven, Conn.
LOOKING FOR GOLD
As a fan of the beloved San Francisco 49ers, I really enjoyed your article They Know the Way to San Jose (Nov. 1). It's wonderful to see the 49ers winning again. If the defense keeps rolling and if Jim Plunkett can keep generating enough offense, the Los Angeles Rams and the rest of the 49ers' opponents will be in trouble.
Dan Jenkins and Ron Reid wrote fine articles about the San Francisco 49ers. The front four has a better nickname, though, than "The Good Ol' Boys." It is "The Gold Rush."
The key line in Dan Jenkins' article on the 49ers is "...keeping in mind that their schedule thus far has been filled with a whole lot of Atlantas and Lehighs." When the season is over, look for the Rams to be on top again in the NFC West.
ELMER E. KAUFMAN
God bless Sarah Pileggi for the fine article about Army football (A Star on the Back Side of Heaven, Nov. 1). As a young student athlete, I am genuinely in awe of such men as Leamon Hall and Clennie Brundidge. They are true student athletes, not some dudes from an overpublicized football factory. "On, brave old Army team."
I think you have touched on an interesting subject. Recruiting for military colleges has improved because of the absence of anti-military feeling. Once again some of the blue-chippers can be lured to a military school. The best example of this is the greatest college linebacker in the U.S. today, Brian (is he ever) Ruff, who will probably make just about everyone's first team All-America and be a high pro draft choice. He plays for The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. It's only the beginning.
C. L. DAVIS JR.
You chose Tony Dorsett as Offensive Player of the Week (FOOTBALL'S WEEK, Nov. 1). The real offensive player of that week, however, was Andre Herrera of Southern Illinois University. In a driving rainstorm and on soggy AstroTurf, Herrera gained 319 yards on 35 rushes and was taken out with 10 minutes left in the game. He scored six touchdowns and broke or tied five school records, not including an NCAA record for most yards in a quarter (214 in the first) as SIU beat Northern Illinois 54-0. He was picked as AP Back of the Week ahead of Dorsett and gained a spot in that week's UPI backfield. I would say that is not too bad for a kid who did not play high school football and who is still learning the game.
C. A. DANIELS
Andre Herrera is now third in the nation in rushing, with a total of 1,404 yards and an average of 156 yards per game. Shame on you, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED!
I want to thank Mike DelNagro for mentioning my name in connection with the all-time small-college rushing record in his fine article on Michigan Tech Tailback Jim Van-Wagner (A Rambling Wreck from Another Tech, Oct. 11). It is quite a thrill to see one's name in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
The record is something I am very proud of, but it is also a record I had no knowledge of until it was about to be broken by Howard Stevens four years ago. To hold a record for so long (1962 to 1972) but know about it for only a short time somehow seems unfair. I guess I would have liked to bask in the glory of being No. 1 for a while longer.
Many things about the Van Wagner story remind me of my college days—a small school (Panhandle State), the same kind of scholarship setup and having fun playing football.
•Linton can bask in glory a while longer. Stevens gained only 2,574 of his 5,297 yards at a small college (Randolph-Macon), rushing for the rest at a major school (Louisville). Thus, Linton's 4,839-yard total is still recognized as the NCAA Division II and III career-rushing record. Van Wagner, however, is 169 yards away with one game left.—ED.
With reference to John Neilsen's article on ballooning (Ditching the Dream, Oct. 25), please let me clarify the statement in the second paragraph wherein it is mentioned that I reportedly received a bill from the Russians in the amount of $100,000 after their ship picked me up in the North Atlantic. This statement is entirely incorrect. In fact, the Russians aboard the Dekabrist did more than their share to make me feel at home and did not charge a penny (or a ruble).
I might point out one thing in favor of the West Germans' charge of $5,000 to Ed Yost. It is my understanding that Yost asked the West Germans to divert their ship from its normal course to drop him off, which they did.
•The charge to Yost, for which he has yet to be billed, was 5,000 marks, or a little more than $2,000.—ED.
I'm sorry but I cannot agree with your predictions for the Atlantic Division of the NBA (Scouting Reports, Oct. 25 and The Doctor Doubles His Fee, Nov. 1). Picking Philadelphia ahead of Boston is crazy.
Once again Red Auerbach has made a great move by obtaining Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe. The acquisition of these two should allow John Havlicek to eventually move back into a sixth-man role. It also gives Boston a blend of experience, speed, muscle and savvy unseen elsewhere in the division.
Dr. J and George McGinnis are a potent scoring combination, but they can be had at the other end. You also mentioned the Philly backcourt. I agree that Doug Collins is good, but I would add that Charlie Scott is just as good. And there isn't another guard in the division with the cool class or floor leadership of Jo Jo White. As for center, I don't care if Caldwell Jones is 10 feet tall, David Cowens will get the best of him. He has proved time and again that he can outrun, outquick and outhustle every monster center in the league.
There is one last thing the Celtics have going for them. I know you can't measure it, but make sure you don't take it too lightly. It's called Celtic pride.
It won't be long before sports arenas throughout the country will be equipped with negotiating tables along the sidelines so that a player can renegotiate his contract before every crucial play. I can see it now: a player signals a "negotiating time-out" by rubbing his fingertips with his thumb. He then heads for the table with his agent (always in waiting) and sits down with the general manager and an arbitrator to talk money before making the play. When he gets what he wants, he returns to the game and slaps his hip pocket three times, signaling for play to resume.
I can't blame the players, though. They have been conditioned by society to get all the money possible, regardless of what it takes or what it means. They are victims of an attitude that says money is all that matters.
What does get me is the number of sports commentators, mostly the ex-athletes, who ridicule players for making such demands when they themselves would eat their blazers just for the chance to do the same. That's why the most valuable part of any TV set is the volume control.
There is no doubt in my mind that Julius Erving is worth $3 million. However, I feel there is something wrong with this sale. In June, Charlie Finley decided to sell some of his players for needed cash, but this deal was negated because it was not "in the best interests of baseball." Why wasn't the sale of Julius Erving nullified? Philadelphia gets a championship team (on paper) just as the Yankees or the Red Sox would have if the Finley deals had gone through. To me this is not in the best interests of basketball.
I was shocked to read Curry Kirkpatrick's comments about 76er fans (The Dr. Doubled His Fee, Nov. 1). As a Flyer season ticket-holder and a 76er and Eagles fan, I know that Philadelphia sports fans are loyal and legitimate. We do not boo the Easter Bunny.
I'm getting sick and tired of the treatment of Philadelphia and its fans. Your article was another in a series of potshots. The Philly fans you claim boo the Easter Bunny will fill the arena for the 76ers, the Flyers, the Eagles and the Phillies almost every time, with nary a boo. This is a city of winners. New York is the city of losers.
Furthermore, nobody expected Dr. J to start his magic with no preseason games or practice behind him. It will take time for the 76ers to learn to work together.
WILLIAM T. FORD
In Douglas S. Looney's article on record times for the mile by harness horses (Now the Pace Quickens, Oct. 18) it is stated that Jade Prince's time of 1:54[1/5] is bettered only by Steady Star's time-trial mark of 1:52 set at Lexington in 1971. I think Frank Ervin would probably take exception to that, since Bret Hanover paced a mile in 1:53[3/5] as a 4-year-old in a time trial on the same track in 1966. The previous year Bret Hanover raced in 1:55 flat at Indianapolis.
CHARLES CURRAN JR.
Has Douglas Looney ever heard of Bret Hanover? Also inform him that Windshield Wiper has since raced against the clock in 1:53[2/5] at the recently concluded Lexington meet.
MICHAEL J. SANTORO
•Jade Prince's time stands as the fastest for the mile in a race, while Steady Star's is the record for a time trial.—ED.
Ever since I heard that the Topeka, Kans. zoo was expecting the arrival of two new gnus, I have been anxiously awaiting their christening. You can imagine my deep disappointment when I read your SCORECARD item (Nov. 1) and discovered the animals had been named Sports and Weather. Surely one should have been named Good and the other Bad.
I am reminded of the story of the horse thief in Santa Fe, who when taken out to be hanged in 1849 discovered that there was no rope and uttered those immortal words, "No noose is good news."
The officials could at least have named one of the gnus No. But I suppose they felt that No gnus is not Good gnus, or they were afraid that Bad gnus travels fast.
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