It was fitting that you chose to devote a sidebar to the "behind-the-scenes coach" in your article on the surprising New York Rangers (N.Y. vs. N.Y.: It's All-Out Warfare, May 14). Even though the players are to be commended, plaudits must also go to Fred Shero and Mike Nykoluk.
West Babylon, N.Y.
It's great to see Mike Nykoluk get the attention he so richly deserves. I had the pleasure of working with him a few years ago while serving as a counselor at a summer hockey camp in Philadelphia. I watched as Nykoluk worked his magic on players from seven to 17. How many pro coaches (or managers) can be considered "easygoing and approachable"? And how many have the talent to coach and communicate? Nykoluk is indeed one of those rare gems.
Fort Collins, Colo.
As an avid Philadelphia Flyers fan, I have witnessed firsthand the coaching genius of the Shero-Nykoluk tandem. Their unparalleled complementary abilities consistently produce disciplined, spirited and determined team play. I was disheartened to see them depart from the Flyers' organization, but the immediate success of the Rangers serves as proof of their coaching magic.
ONE FOR ALL
It doesn't matter what kind of year Ron Guidry has for the Yankees (The Yankees Now Spell Relief G-U-I-D-R-Y, May 14). As far as I'm concerned, he is already the Sportsman of the Year for being the first athlete of the '70s to bring the word "we," instead of "me," back into professional sports.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Three cheers for the greatest pitcher of all!
Sparky Lyle finally has been avenged! Instead of Guidry, Sparky could have been in the bullpen. Why didn't George Steinbrenner keep Lyle? Dumb move, New York!
Spring Lake Heights, N.J.
NO SMALL SUCCESS
Thank you for the article on the Minnesota Twins' Roy Smalley (A Shortstop Who's Long on Smarts, May 14). He isn't flashy. He isn't a superstar. He isn't outspoken. And he doesn't complain about his salary. He just goes out, day after day, and plays good baseball'—something Minnesota hasn't seen since Harmon Killebrew.
Being a high school baseball coach who strongly advocates weight training, I was recently delighted to read a newspaper article about Roy Smalley's success with such a program. At the time, I thought: wouldn't it be great if SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ran an article on Smalley (because of his great start) and made mention of how beneficial lifting weights can be. A few days later I received my SI, and what do you know? There it was—all I could ask for. Beautiful!
Your article on John McEnroe was terrific (Junior Jolts His Elders, May 14). Borg and Connors are good, but McEnroe is No. 1.
New Britain, Conn.
I read Curry Kirkpatrick's article on John McEnroe with interest, but I am a little tired of hearing fans declare Borg or Connors or McEnroe to be the best in the game based solely upon what has occurred in their most recent meeting.
Why not just acknowledge that these three are in a class by themselves, and leave it at that? We can then concentrate on ranking the rest of the world's players, starting with No. 4.
I would like to clarify one point concerning Olympathon '79, NBC Sports' 6½-hour fund-raising program in support of the U.S. Olympic Committee and American athletes (SCORECARD, May 7). SI found it "slightly startling" that the stars were paid for their performances. The show's producers, it was suggested, were remiss in not arranging with the Theatre Authority to have the major theatrical performing unions waive their usual pay requirements, as is customary in the case of most telethons.
The Theatre Authority performs an exemplary service in arranging for performers to waive fees on telethons and in helping those shows in other ways. However, in return for the waiver the Theatre Authority generally receives a payment, most of which is distributed among charities and causes related to the performing unions.
For this and other reasons (there was also a conflict of dates with two other telethons), we decided not to work through the Theatre Authority, and our stars appeared for $1,500, little more than minimum AFTRA scale.
The point is that all the stars—Bob Hope, Angie Dickinson, Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr., Wayne Newton and many others in that galaxy—came on Olympathon '79 because they believed they were supporting American athletes in their efforts to represent their country in Lake Placid and Moscow. Seventy percent of them have already donated their appearance fees to the USOC, and more are expected to do so.
Vice-President, Corporate Information
New York City
Having been an intercollegiate bowler, I certainly enjoyed Herman Weiskopf's article on this year's collegiate championship (The Lions and Bears Won the Alley Fight, May 7). The question remains, however, why the NCAA still ignores bowling.
DAVID A. LELKO
THE WBL'S FUTURE
Nancy Williamson's article on the Women's Professional Basketball League (Red Ink, Rosy Future, May 14) omitted an interesting fact that I learned when watching the WBL's All-Star Game on television earlier this year: to wit, a new smaller basketball was manufactured for WBL play. As a result, the ball handling is better, and shots are often taken from long range. It's a very different game from the basketball to which I have become accustomed.
I believe that the run-and-gun style of play so obviously promoted by the majority of the league's teams and intended to lure fans will instead prove to be the WBL's downfall.
JOHN B. WOLF
•The WBL ball is about one inch smaller in circumference and an ounce or so lighter than a regular basketball.—ED.
All the WBL needs now is a $100,000 player to make it a full-fledged professional league.
THE PENN RELAYS
I was very pleased to read Anita Verschoth's feature article on the Penn Relays not only because of its journalistic contributions, but also because it included mention of a happening in my life that has since passed before my eyes many, many times. I was a member of that 1936 Texas relay team and the one responsible for the cowboy attire, having dreamed up the idea, contacted the publicity department of the Texas Centennial and purchased the outfits for the six of us. I cherish the two watches I was awarded for helping to win and set Penn Relays records in the 440 and 880 relays. Our record of 41.1 in the 440 stood for 23 years.
At some mature age, and certainly at 65, one begins to think a lot about one's church, friends and great moments of the past. The Penn Relays have supplied such moments for me and, I am sure, for others. I wonder if it isn't desirable that we all experience victory, whether it be in sports, journalism, music or a spelling bee.
My thanks to you and Anita Verschoth for putting new life into my great moments. May you have many of them.
CHARLES R. GRUNEISEN
It was with a great deal of appreciation that we noted the recognition of the Philadelphia Public School track program in your article on the Penn Relays. We are indeed proud of the accomplishments of our hardworking coaches and athletes, who often labor in anonymity. What with the Relays and Villanova's great program, an aura of track and field surrounds Philadelphia in the spring. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many of our youngsters develop into world-class runners at an early age.
SI readers might be interested to know that the youngsters identified as "junior high athletes" in the first picture caption are actually fifth- and sixth-grade Philadelphia elementary school pupils—about 500 of whom participate in relay events sponsored through the generosity of Penn Coach Jim Tuppeny and his Relays Committee. The thrill of this participation is so great that many of our fledgling athletes are spurred on to the kinds of success achieved by Philadelphia high school stars Carlton Young and Rodney Wilson in this year's Relays (The Year of the Shark, May 7).
THOMAS S. JACOBY
Assistant Director (acting)
Division of Physical and
School District of Philadelphia
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.