While I enjoyed Ron Fimrite's excellent article on Rickey Henderson's stolen-base record (He Finally Bagged It, Sept. 6), I was amazed by the ignorant comments made by Sparky Anderson and by Bill James in his article (So What's All the Fuss?).
Anderson's theory that not all of Henderson's thefts came when the score was close and, therefore, that some of his steals shouldn't count, is nothing short of ridiculous. Should a hitter try to hit the ball softer when his team is ahead? Should those home runs Henry Aaron hit when his team was five runs ahead not count?
James is also way off base when he claims that "stolen bases don't create very many runs." I don't know how often this season Henderson has scored for the A's without the benefit of a base hit, thus "stealing" a run, but I estimate that it has happened more than a dozen times. As for James's statement that stolen bases don't have "very much to do with determining who wins," I shudder to think how poor the A's record would be without Henderson on the bases.
Baseball fans would be wise to ignore the sour grapes of these two spoilsports and give credit to the best leftfielder in the game for setting a truly incredible record.
How quickly Sparky Anderson seems to forget. He says stealing a base when your team is seven runs down doesn't mean anything. I disagree. Stealing bases helps score runs, and when you are seven runs behind, scoring is what you must do. Stealing as many bases as possible is smart, winning ball.
A team had better try to score when it's up by seven runs, too. Anderson and my Tigers failed to do this just a few weeks ago and gave a game away to the Yanks 9-7. How could Sparky forget?
JOHN H. SPEAR JR.
The sacrifice fly and the sacrifice bunt have been a part of baseball from its inception. Anderson's Tigers brought the "sacrifice base on balls" up from the bush leagues for the sole purpose of denying Oakland fans a chance to be a part of the big celebration when Henderson tied or broke the base-stealing record. By attempting the "sacrifice double steal," Billy Martin's A's returned that chance to their fans. In my opinion, Anderson is the only one who should be fined—a big bundle—because there was no reason whatsoever for walking Fred Stanley.
EDWARD D. GARDNER
As one who has played, coached, managed and umpired in organized baseball of one sort or another over the past 60 years, I say that the stolen base is definitely an offensive weapon. Why? Let me count the ways, but, first, picture a Jackie Robinson on base, driving the pitcher up a wall with his antics: The pitcher might throw the ball wildly to rightfield in a pickoff attempt, or he might uncork a wild pitch, or he might lay in the next pitch like a Christmas present, or he might hit or walk the batter. Any one of the foregoing could set up a run—or two. What's more, such actions stir up the team at bat, awaken the spectators and generally enliven the game. Besides which, it's lots of fun. So, Bill James, don't try to con me on stolen bases. I wasn't born yesterday!
ELMER L. BUTLER
After a base is stolen, there is no need for a sacrifice bunt, the threat of a force or double play is removed, first base is left open, which often leads to an intentional walk, and, most important, the runner is in position to score on a single. And there are a lot more singles hit than home runs.
Thanks for the candid article by Bill James. I agree with all the points he made, but I wish to throw one more tomato at Henderson before the fanfare dies down.
While there is no question that base stealing is a smart offensive move when employed in the right situation, as are sacrificing, taking a pitch on a 3 and 0 count with the bases empty, etc., it's an ugly blemish on the integrity of baseball when used as Henderson has too often used it. Henderson has been stealing bases for Henderson, not for the Oakland A's. I say let's keep base-stealing "contests" in their proper place: alongside old-timers' games, fathers-sons games and the other sideshows.
JEFFREY JOHN FRAZIER
How dare you subject me to a double issue on college and pro football (The First College & Pro Football Spectacular, Sept. 1)? Do you realize that the sizable amount of information and the large number of terrific photos and the numerous stories on interesting personalities in that special issue will force a drastic change in my life-style? That extra beer may never be retrieved from my refrigerator. The fertilizer might not get on my lawn until the first snowfall. The storm windows have a slimmer chance than ever of being hung on time. And, heaven forbid, I might just be forced to show my wife where the rake is in the garage. Thanks, SI. This looks like the best football season I'll ever have.
Your football spectacular was filled with the most informative football material I've ever read. The only fault I could find was with the cover. Over the course of my subscription, I've invariably been able to identify the sports figure(s) on the cover as soon as I pulled the magazine from my mailbox. But who is the ballcarrier whose "golden" legs are shown dashing across the special issue cover?
•It's Georgia Tech Fullback Ronny Cone, in action against North Carolina last Oct. 3. The Yellow Jackets lost 28-7.—ED.
I've always looked forward to your annual college and pro football issues. However, you have gone too far this year. If I had wanted to read a book on the game I would have gone to my local library. Your special issues of the past, with their concise but informative scouting reports and features, were most satisfactory. The overkill provided by your first "spectacular" is indicative of what's wrong with sports in our country today. Why must "bigger" always be confused with "better"?
PETER P. CLARK
THE COWBOYS (CONT.)
Congratulations, SI! The articles by Paul Zimmerman (Dallas Can Have 'Em) and William Oscar Johnson (There Are No Holes at the Top) in your special football issue were two of the best I've ever read. It seems as though there are a lot of Cowboy haters around, but there are also a lot of Cowboy lovers. Everyone in his (or her) right mind knows that the Cowboys are the most exciting team in the NFL. And the best. I look forward to this season.
I frankly don't care that much one way or the other about pro football, but I read with interest the two articles on the Dallas Cowboys in my husband's copy of your Football Spectacular. I found it ironic that of the two, William Oscar Johnson's piece glorifying the Cowboys made me hate them more.
I'm proud to say that I am what Terrence Gallagher would call a Group B person—one who hates the Cowboys—and a die-hard Steeler fan. However, I know three or four Group A, front-running, cowardly Dallas fans. The article was 100% right. The Cowboy fans I know talked about Dallas being the team of the '70s. I told them that the Steelers were the team of the '70s and that they had four Super Bowl rings to prove it. The Cowboy fans said that didn't mean anything. Now, doesn't that sound like a Dallas fan?
Branchland, W. Va.
Bravo, Paul Zimmerman! It's about time someone wrote something critical about that "impersonal organization." I'm one of the many Dallas haters and I agree with every word!
Paul Zimmerman's story helped reaffirm my faith in football fans around the country, because it showed that I am not the only one who dislikes the Silver and Blue. I was also happy to discover that my conception of CBS as the Cowboy Broadcasting System is obviously right. Thanks for the confirmation.
It really wasn't necessary for Paul Zimmerman to devote an entire article to an explanation of why the Dallas Cowboys are so hated. It's simple—envy and fear. And if the Cowboys are in fact the most hated team in the NFL, then they must also be the most envied and feared.
So, go ahead, Cowboy cursers. Keep that hatred at a fever pitch. We Dallas fans know that the more you hate the Cowboys, the better they must be!
MARSHA K. THOMPSON
Shepherdstown, W. Va.
Paul Zimmerman failed to profile the typical Cowboy hater, or Group B member. Anyone who hates the Cowboys more than likely hates his or her own mother, pulled for the Germans in World War II and dreams of a winter home in Cleveland. The only people in hate with America's Team are the ones who are tired of being beaten by the Cowboys.
Zimmerman, didn't you know that the hole in Texas Stadium is there so God can look down on his favorite team? That's right. The Dallas Cowboys are not only America's Team, but also God's Squad.
After reading Dallas Can Have 'Em, I had to wait half an hour to cool down so I wouldn't write anything obscene. Whoever wrote the article is a total moron and must have gotten his brain from a gumball machine. For your information, and his, I am by no means a front-runner. I love the Dallas Cowboys, and I am from Maine and now live in Florida. To prove my love is pure and not the emotion of a front-running heart, my favorite basketball team is the New York Knicks. Judging by last season's record, they didn't do too hot, but that didn't change my feelings. They're still my favorites.
I'd bet my life that if Dallas went 0-16 I'd still keep the eight Cowboy posters, a banner, a team mirror, player photographs and everything else on my wall. Also, I wouldn't throw out my 20-page scrapbook on them or my four Dallas Cowboy shirts or shorts or socks! Tell me, who's a front-runner? If I weren't a girl, I'd try out for the team!
I'd like to say what the writer can do with the article, but my dad would reprimand me severely. He, like Coach Landry, is a good Christian man, although a sinner like you and me. The other article on the Cowboys in the magazine proves just how classy The Organization is! So, I hope the little I've said has some impact on the imbecile who wrote this piece. If it weren't for jealousy, none of those people would hate the Cowboys or make the comments they did about them.
Congratulations are in order for Douglas S. Looney. His article in your special football issue on Pitt's Dan Marino (He's a Real Pittsburgh Guy) was a sensational profile, as well as an entertaining look at the people and places that make up the city of Pittsburgh. As a native of the Steel City, I must say the article not only made me proud, but it also made me a bit homesick.
JOYCE S. BUKOWSKI
That was an excellent piece on Dan Marino. As a Pittsburgher for most of my life, I believe you've accurately portrayed the true winning spirit of all Pittsburghers. And by the way, I'm as confident as SI is that Pitt is and will be No. 1.
ROBERT E. LUNN
No one would question that Dan Marino is a remarkable quarterback, but one could well take issue with your statement that the Heisman competition is a two-man race between him and Herschel Walker of Georgia. In fact, Marino may not even be the best quarterback in college. Have you forgotten about a young man from Stanford named John Elway?
RUFUS W. HEAD, M.D.
After reading six pages of praise for the University of Pittsburgh and Dan Marino by Douglas S. Looney, I hope that Florida State, Notre Dame and Penn State show up for their games against the mighty Panthers.
I wonder if Looney clearly recalls Pitt's and Marino's 48-14 losing performance against Penn State last year.
Franz Lidz's piece on Tampa Bay Linebacker Cecil Johnson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Johnson, Sept. 6) was something I had been waiting for. I was getting tired of hearing about the great backs, the Billy Simses, Marcus Aliens, etc. Defensive players and offensive linemen should get a lot of credit as well.
Three cheers for Franz Lidz's article on Cecil Johnson. It's good to know there are still some NFL players who care about a young child's life more than they care about their paychecks. It's wonderful to be able to look up to Cecil Johnson the football player and Cecil Johnson the "sweet people."
I was greatly amused by the article on Cecil Johnson. Consider, if you will, his acquisitions during five brief years in pro football—a new home with a swimming pool and coconut trees for the folks and a suburban split-level bachelor pad with two waterbeds, seven color TVs, five stereos, 26 speakers and a Jacuzzi for himself plus "matching Mercedes, contrasting Cadillacs, a Lincoln, a Rolls and a Buick"—in light of the NFL Players Association's strident demand for more money. I was rolling on the floor laughing until I realized that the players' demand was nothing less than mind-boggling greed. If the owners give in to such astounding gluttony, they've got to be nuts.
DENNIS M. THOMAS
Leo W. Banks's article (South of the Border, Aug. 30) on life in the Mexican League was at once funny, sad, entertaining and informative. It was also the best journalism I've read in a magazine in years.
Somehow the players in Mexico seem to represent what baseball is all about better than today's major-leaguers do, with Pete Rose and perhaps a few other big-leaguers being exceptions. Anybody who endures a 22-hour bus ride to play a baseball game has to love the game—even Greg Biagini, who claims he's in it just for the money.
I wish there were some way to make this article required reading for all major-leaguers. They are very fortunate human beings and perhaps this story would remind them of that.
DONALD D. WALLACE
Caps off to Leo Banks! He had me on that bus, in the hotels and in the dugouts with the Mexican Leaguers, not just reading a magazine while sitting on my living room sofa.
PAUL G. GALVIN
Reader David C. Mumaw (19TH HOLE, Aug. 30) suggested that the Worthington (Ohio) American Legion team, not Seattle relief pitchers Bill Caudill and Larry Andersen, first used Rally Caps, i.e., baseball caps turned inside out for good luck. I don't know who "invented" the Rally Cap, but my first encounter with it was in 1973 when then San Francisco Manager Charlie Fox often wore his cap inside out—and sometimes backwards as well—as the Giants struggled through another woeful season. Occasionally the practice worked, as evidenced by one game that I recall in which the Giants trailed the hated Dodgers 8-1 going into the eighth inning, scored six runs in the eighth and won the game 11-8 on a grand slam in the ninth by Bobby Bonds.
Klamath Falls, Ore.
I first saw Rally Caps used by the University of Texas baseball team during the 1979 season. ESPN sportscasters made several references to the Longhorns' Rally Caps during broadcasts of the 1981 and 1982 College World Series. The Rally Caps work almost every time.... Hook 'em, hats!
My teammates and I wore Rally Caps while playing at Newberry (S.C.) College during the 1979 and 1980 seasons. Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn't. I don't claim to be the inventor of the Rally Cap, but I'd like to know who should claim credit. Would the real designer please stand up?
ANDREW D. CAMP
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