ROSE AND RUTHVEN
Regarding your May 28 cover subject, Pete Rose, phooey! Boo! How about Ray Knight, Rose's replacement at third base in Cincinnati? Knight is doing a remarkable job in the field and at the plate and is one of the chief contributors to the rise in the NL West of McNamara's Band. Yea, Ray!
WILLIAM F. O'BRIEN
I realize your production deadline was closing in and a cover had to be chosen, but since when is a 24-12 baseball team in May more important than the Stanley Cup finals?
Jackson Heights, N.Y.
My congratulations to Bruce Newman for an informative and delightful cover story on Pete Rose (He's the Phillie Fillip). Great job. Great subject.
For those critical fans who feel that Pete Rose is being paid too much for what he does, it's a shame they don't have an opportunity to watch him play.
I just read your article on the Phillies and Dick Ruthven's comments about pitching in Atlanta. Durn! How could Ruthven or anyone else suffer from "terminal boredom" in Atlanta? The sun is always shining, the girls are pretty, the fans are friendly, the players are friendly. It's a great place to be, win or lose.
I was going to write a scathing letter disputing Ruthven's claim that he pitched before "800 fans," but, admittedly, he did pitch before 970 one time. However, the average crowd that saw Ruthven pitch at Atlanta Stadium during his two-plus seasons (1976-78) here was 13,360, and he was 14-17 for those games, which was better than his won-lost record on the road. He also lost the game that 970 attended.
A million people saw a last-place team play last year, and if a million come when we're in last, lots more will come when we're in first. And the Braves will win someday soon—without the help of Dick Ruthven.
CHARLIE'S A's (CONT.)
I applaud Ron Fimrite for his exposè" of the Charlie O. A's (They're Just Mad About Charlie, May 21). The potential was there to build one of the best franchises in major league baseball. In addition, given Finley's records with other professional teams, the current situation in Oakland doesn't seem that surprising.
His other major venture in the Bay Area still has many in National Hockey League circles scratching their heads. He outfitted the Seals in those tacky Kelly-green and California-gold uniforms, complete with green and gold skates. He then had the audacity to nickname them the Golden Seals, as if we couldn't tell that by looking at them. He began his policy of a tight pocketbook in 1972, when he let half his team jump to the World Hockey Association. And he traded other members of his squad to NHL franchises for unproven talent and that old reliable: cash.
In less than four years he put a loser on Oakland ice, a team far worse and much less competitive than the one he had bought in 1970. Finley asked the NHL to take the disaster off his hands, and the league did, later peddling the team off to an eventual death in Cleveland (at the time, no place was considered a worse hockey market than Oakland, but the NHL found one).
One admirable quality about Finley is his consistency. But the constant deterioration of his franchises and his knack for alienating both his players and his teams' fans aren't admirable. If the right people are doing the selling, one can sell anything to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
I hope that the other owners and the American League won't attempt to bail Finley out of his current mess. Maybe the embarrassing situation that he faces with the Coliseum will teach him a lesson.
I believe that the other American League owners must do their part to oust Charles Finley, otherwise the A's franchise will never again amount to anything. Baseball's brass hats never act unless alerted by a sudden weightless feeling in their pocketbooks. A few more red-ink-stained trips out here, however, should convince them that it is in their interest to buy the club from Finley and sell it to someone ready, willing and able to run it correctly. As long as Finley owns the club, the A's will continue to be an embarrassment not only to the Bay Area, but also to the league—despite the efforts of the young, hustling Oakland players, who deserve better.
In your article you said, "Once inside [the Oakland Coliseum], the odds on catching a foul ball are much better than anywhere else." That is so true. Last year I caught five foul balls during one game. That's the only reason I go to A's games—for foul balls. As for the A's, who cares? I'm a Giants fan.
FATHERS AND SONS
I appreciated your article on decathlon historian and figure filbert Frank Zarnowski (He's Every Inch a Decathnut, May 7). I am an ardent fan of the decathlon, and my roommate, David Lee Steen, is Canada's and the University of California's premier competitor in this grueling competition.
Zarnowski cites the Mulkeys—Phil and Phil Jr.—of the U.S. as the world's father-son decathlon champions, with a combined total of 14,548 points. He further claims that the Jewlews, senior and junior, of the U.S.S.R., are second with an aggregate of 14,451 points. After your article was published, my roommate scored 7,647 points in the Pac-10 decathlon championships in Tempe, Ariz. on May 16-17. Add this to the 6,860 points Dave's father, Donald Steen, scored in Eugene, Ore. on May 4-5, 1957, and the Steens, with a total of 14,507, surely outpoint the second-place Soviets.
Additionally, Donald Steen's total was based on the 1950 scoring tables. If you convert his marks to today's tables, I believe that the Steens have the world father-son record.
Thanks for your article on Ty Stofflet (This Guy Can Rise It, Drop It and Pop It at 104 mph. May 28). As a dabbler in the art of fast-pitch softball hurling, I can appreciate his sacrifices and admire his accomplishments.
It was also encouraging to see coverage of the fast-pitch game, which requires much more skill and dedication than does its more popular counterpart, slow-pitch.
Perhaps, in time, fast-pitch will regain popularity. Until then, we fast-pitch players can take solace in the fact that our game is a sport, while slow-pitch is just a recreation.
In some states, fast-pitch Softball is classified according to a pitcher's ability. Those who have competed in Pennsylvania or who have seen Ty Stofflet throw know that these classifications are C, B, A, major and Ty Stofflet. Thanks to your article, everyone will now know that Stofflet is in a class above the rest in all other ways, too. And thanks to Jack McCallum's great article, I now know of another restaurant in Dutch country where I can "eat 'til my stomach ouches" me. McCallum touched the hearts of fast-pitch enthusiasts across the country.
I played some fast-pitch softball while growing up in Ocala, Fla. I loved the game and held all pitchers in awe. How they could throw that hard underhand and still have control was beyond me. Thanks for giving the game in general and Ty Stofflet in particular the recognition both deserve. Now you need to write an article on the man who catches for Stofflet—he must be a super athlete!
THE REV. DOUG MOORE
•For the past five seasons, Stofflet's catcher has been Carl Solarek, a three-time Amateur Softball Association All-America. His manager, Rocco Santilli, calls Solarek "the best defensive catcher in the country."—ED.
With such impressive pitching statistics, it isn't surprising that Ty Stofflet prefers the tempo of fast-pitch to that of slow-pitch. Why shouldn't he—he's involved in every play. But what about the fielders behind him who might legitimately wonder if the ball will ever be hit in their direction? Some fun to take your position in the field and watch an endless line of "would-be hitters" either strike out or meekly ground out!
In slow-pitch, being able to hit the ball is fun, but that's only half of the game. The other half is when you're in the field and you know that every batter is going to make "contact" with the ball, which means there is a chance for running, fielding and throwing with every at bat.
With a good fast-pitch pitcher like Stofflet, a team could hide three lead gloves in the field and never be hurt. In slow-pitch, one fielder with cement hands is soon found and exploited.
As you might guess, I am a strong advocate of slow-pitch. I'm still trying to get the cobwebs out of my glove from my fast-pitch days.
DENNIS L. GREENHAW
Slow-pitch softball is growing by leaps and bounds because it's fun to watch something more than a great pitcher and catcher dominate a game. Stofflet can have his form of softball, but tell him not to forget to wake up the fans at the end of the game so they can go home.
BRYANT C. TAYLOR
Although I enjoyed your article on Tom Cousineau ("You Made a Wise Choice," May 21) and thought that Douglas S. Looney did an excellent job of writing, there appears to be a mistake. Looney states that, since the NFL draft was initiated in 1936, Ohio State's Cousineau is only the second linebacker to be drafted No. 1, the first having been Texas' Tommy Nobis, by Atlanta in 1966. However, according to us Philadelphia Eagle fans and a book by Jack McCallum and Chuck Bednarik called Bednarik: Last of the Sixty-Minute Men, Penn's Bednarik was the first linebacker to be drafted No. 1 by an NFL team (the Eagles in 1949). This would make Cousineau the third linebacker so chosen.
•Officially, Bednarik was drafted as a center, not a linebacker, but he played both ways. At Penn, Bednarik averaged 58 minutes a game. And during his 14-year pro career he continued to play both ways, although he was chiefly renowned as a linebacker, a position at which he was a seven-time All Pro.—ED.
SEALS AND IRONMEN
Your article Ironman (May 14) was indeed a tribute to the men, and to Lyn Lemaire, who participated in the Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon, perhaps the ultimate test of an individual's motivation, fortitude and endurance. I read the story with personal pride and interest because it was my privilege to have served with second-place finisher John Dunbar during his tour in the navy on Seal Team One. He was an exemplary team man then, and it doesn't surprise me to see him continuing to successfully test himself. Although your brief description of Seal training is exaggerated, it does give the reader a flavor of the rigors that Seals must endure. We attempt to push a man well past what he thinks is his breaking point to show him that he always has something left in reserve. Certainly the participants in the Iron Man Triathlon have experienced the satisfaction of reaching way down and never coming up empty-handed.
THOMAS N. LAWSON
Lieutenant Commander, USN
Seal Team Two
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