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Original Issue


I was glad to see SPORTS ILLUSTRATED recognize Bobby Chandler, who, throughout his career, has been an outstanding performer (The Bare Facts Are He's a Star, July 12). The article brought back a lot of fond memories of our days as Buffalo Bills.

However, being a friend of Bobby's, and having witnessed his distress over reader Joseph M. Overfield's letter (July 26) suggesting that Bobby was being untruthful in his description of the situation he found himself in in those early days, I felt compelled to respond.

Every time I've run into the guys I knew in Buffalo then—Paul Maguire, Chandler, Haven Moses and others—we've always looked back fondly on those times. Yet no professional team I've played on, or ever heard of, had to endure the hardships we did. While the Buffalo fans had to have a sense of humor concerning our performance on the field, we players, fortunately, had a sense of humor regarding our everyday working conditions. We did have to practice in the Amherst (N.Y.) Recreation Center ice rink—on the ice a couple of times. We also practiced in the hallway, and in the parking lot with parked cars! We had our team meetings in that same Recreation Center, in a space where the only things separating us from mothers and their kids who had come to skate on the rink were sheets. Unfortunately, the vending machines were located on our side of the sheets, and more than a few times our meetings were interrupted by kids coming through to get a soft drink or potato chips or the like.

After practice sessions at the Recreation Center, and also after games at War Memorial Stadium, all frequently held in freezing weather, there often was a stampede of players trying to get to the showers first—Bobby's estimate of five minutes of hot water may have been an exaggeration.

Despite all of this, and more, no group of players was ever more appreciative of the support of their fans than we were, because in those days we were a sort of comedy on the football field. We were especially appreciative in 1973 when the people of Erie County gave us Rich Stadium, and I feel we showed our appreciation by giving them some of the most exciting football anywhere in the NFL. Reader Overfield obviously isn't aware of some of the difficulties we experienced, but perhaps that's because the players didn't complain publicly about them. I look back on those years with a lot of smiles, as I know Bobby Chandler does. We look upon ourselves as part of the Buffalo family, and if we can't laugh at ourselves, well.... You have to keep smiling.
West Los Angeles, Calif.
(but always a Buffalo Bill)

I sincerely apologize if my comments about the Buffalo Bills of the early '70s offended reader Joseph M. Overfield of Tonawanda, N.Y. They weren't intended to demean the Bills' loyal fans, but rather to factually depict an organization that was in disarray at that time but has subsequently become a powerhouse in the NFL. Buffalo has always been special to me and it always will be. It's too bad Overfield's blind loyalty inhibits him from being able to sit back and laugh about times that were less than ideal.
Whittier, Calif.

Congratulations on your coverage of World Cup '82: three articles within five issues (Who'll Reign in Spain? June 21 et seq.). The photographs and Clive Gammon's reporting captured all the flair and excitement of the world's most popular sport. My only complaint is that you didn't put one of those great pictures on your July 19 cover. Pete Rose and Carl Yastrzemski? You could have put them on the cover anytime. The World Cup occurs only once every four years.
Princeton, N.J.

Half the people in the world watched the Cup, and you put baseball on the cover? Compare the Cup final's "more than two billion viewers in 130 nations" to baseball's puny audience, and you'll see your error.
Spokane, Wash.

•In the U.S., the World Cup final was telecast in English by ABC-TV and in Spanish by SIN, a mostly cable network. ABC estimates its telecast (rated 6.6, highest ever for soccer) had 25 million viewers. SIN, which reaches some 30 million households, four million of them Spanish-speaking, has no figures. The highest-rated (40.0) World Series game, Game 6 between the Phillies and the Royals in 1980, drew an NBC-TV audience of 77.4 million.—ED.

I can't tell you how pleased I was to see the July 19 cover photo of Carl Yastrzemski and Pete Rose (They're Playing the Sweet Swing Music of the 40s). Yaz is quoted as saying, "Yesterday's game is totally forgotten." For the fans who've followed these two men's careers, yesterday's game will never be forgotten, today's game will be savored and tomorrow's game will be eagerly anticipated.

It seems very appropriate that the issue in which this article appeared came out just after the All-Star Game. Pete and Yaz represent the tops in their leagues.
Camden, N.Y.

My dad took me to the forgotten Cincinnati Reds game that Pete Rose was ejected from a dozen years ago. It was on Sept. 9, 1969. As the lead-off hitter, Pete complained long and loud about Giants Pitcher Gaylord Perry "throwing spitballs." Pete may have gotten the thumb, but the umpire and Perry then had to survive the loudest catcalling I ever heard from the usually placid Reds fans. That one game gave us an idea of what baseball without Pete was like. Since he left for Philly, I've never been back.
Columbus, Ohio

My first chance to see Pete Rose play in person came on Aug. 8, 1977 at Dodger Stadium. Alas, Rose was ejected in the third inning for arguing that a ball that shot down the third-base line—he was then playing third for the Reds—was foul. Manager Sparky Anderson was ejected on the same play. I can't blame Pete for forgetting this one; the Reds were shut out that night by Tommy John.
Visalia, Calif.

I found the photo of heavyweights Teskac Drago and Ed (Bad News) Turner awaiting the start of their bout at Los Angeles' Olympic Auditorium (A Dream House, July 12) so eye-catching that I was wondering if you could tell me who won the fight.
Lancaster, Pa.

•Drago won a four-round decision in that April 22 fight, his first as a pro. However, on May 13 Drago met Tony Fulilangi and was knocked out in the first round.—ED.

Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.