The article about Joan Benoit (The Marathon's Maine Woman, May 2) was excellent. Kenny Moore and Lisa Twyman did a fine job of capturing this extraordinary woman's determination and competitive fire. The praise and recognition she is receiving is well deserved, and I would be the first person to stand and applaud her efforts—something I had the opportunity to do one week later at a race here in Kalamazoo.
But how could you cover the prestigious Boston Marathon and include nothing more about the men's winner, Greg Meyer, than a brief mention of his oxygen consumption and his "sterling time of 2:09:00"? Come on, SI, you're getting wrapped up in record mania, just like the rest of America: If someone doesn't break a record, the event's not worth reporting.
Over the past eight months Meyer has been one of America's top male distance runners. In his last 16 races he has had 12 wins and four seconds—one to Alberto Salazar, another to Rob de Castella. He has also set American records, in the 15, 20 and 30 kilometers, in the process.
Joan Benoit shatters the women's world record in one of the marathon's premier events—Boston. She runs just off the pace that won the men's division of the Los Angeles Marathon (FACES IN THE CROWD, May 2). The race comes one day after Grete Waitz ties the old women's world record in the London Marathon. And who's on the cover of SI after the most exciting week in women's marathoning history? Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics. The Celts beat a mediocre team in the NBA playoffs in a game most notable for a disgusting brawl.
As I was burning over your cover, the irony struck me. The surest way for a woman to appear on the cover of SI is not to smash world records, but rather to don a bathing suit.
STEVEN L. WILLBORN
My husband is a male chauvinist and a big fan of Larry Bird, but even he says Joan Benoit should have been your cover subject!
Herm Weiskopf has thrown a high, hard one with his new INSIDE PITCH (April 18 et seq.). We've been waiting a long time for his kind of baseball reporting.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
I've read SI week in and week out for nine years, and while I've thoroughly enjoyed every issue, I feel that INSIDE PITCH is icing on the cake. Now, instead of reading what I've previously learned from daily box scores, I get insights into the personal aspects of major league baseball.
CHARLES E. STARR
I'm disappointed that you dropped BASEBALL'S WEEK. Herm Weiskopf did an excellent job of keeping the readers informed on the highlights of the divisional races. The new INSIDE PITCH section may be appropriate for trivia buffs, but game information appeals to me as a baseball fan much more than does the fact that the Toronto banner was upside down in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
I don't recall reading any criticism of BASEBALL'S WEEK, which, as you say, ran for nearly 25 years. You must have been doing something right. Please give it back to us.
FREDERICK C. BLAIR
You stated (INSIDE PITCH, April 18) that Houston's Joe Sambito recently underwent his "third operation on his right elbow and won't pitch again, if at all, until 1984." As Joe's sister, I know Joe's determination, and he will be back pitching in '84. I do have one question, though. If Joe, one of the premier lefthanded relievers in the game until his injury, has had surgery on his right elbow, why is he telling his family he can't pitch? I'm sure he wouldn't need that much rest. Shame on you, SI, the surgery was on his left elbow.
IN PURSUIT OF THE CUP
There are too many teams making it into the NHL playoffs. While reading Alexander Wolff's article on the Islanders' victory over the Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs (It Was Bourne Again and Again, May 2), I was reminded of how the fans are being taken advantage of. All during the regular season I've watched the Islanders go out on the ice and give minimal effort. As the league's best team, they should have finished first in the standings, but there was just no motivation. They seemed to feel that they could merely show up and still make the playoffs rather easily.
Cutting the number of playoff teams to eight is the only answer. This will force the players on each team to go all out every game. I'm sure I've got all America behind me on this one.
Concerning Jack McCallum's story about roommates (For Better, for Worse, May 2), in the early 1900s, for economic reasons, baseball players shared the same bed when on the road. One such historic sleeping arrangement prompted perhaps the most unusual clause ever written into a player's contract.
While lying in bed at night, Pitcher Rube Waddell, the zany Hall of Famer, enjoyed munching animal crackers by the boxful before falling asleep. Ossee Schreckengost, his batterymate and bedmate on the Philadelphia Athletics, became so incensed at this inconsiderate habit that he threatened to quit the team unless Waddell ceased. The following season, after some sensitive negotiations, a clause was added to Waddell's contract prohibiting him from eating crackers in bed. Schreckengost remained with the team.
Art Fowler's story about Ryne Duren's argument with a floor lamp doesn't need explaining to those of us who saw him pitch. Duren's glasses were as thick as the bottoms of Coke bottles, and more than once he wild-pitched all the way back to the screen on the fly! When he took his glasses off in a hotel room, the floor lamp probably looked to him like King Kong!
DAVID L. DRAPER
In his entertaining article, Jack McCallum omitted perhaps the most famous set of sports roommates and one of the first interracial pairings in NFL annals—the late Brian Piccolo and the legendary Gale Sayers. As a lesson in humanity, love and nobility of spirit, Brian and Gale will always be paired in the American sports consciousness.
WILLIAM E. CARSLEY
BENJIE AND LOUIS (CONT.)
I am writing in regard to a recent article entitled An Encounter to Last an Eternity (April 11) by Frank Deford.
While not wishing to comment on the merits of the story itself or the accuracy of the comments contained in it, I am deeply concerned that Deford has written an article about a situation that involves a court action without apparently taking into consideration that there are other sides to the story. It would appear that he has accepted as fact allegations in litigation that may very well not be accurate and has conveyed these allegations to your readers as fact.
I am most concerned about a statement that indicates the bout in which Benjamin Davis died was sanctioned by the United States Olympic Committee. The United States Olympic Committee has no authority to sanction athletic events, either under the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, which gives it its power and authority, or under the constraints of the Constitution of the United States Olympic Committee.
For SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to accept such a statement as fact and convey it to your readers as such is not only inaccurate reporting, at the very least, but also does a great disservice to your readers.
F. DON MILLER
United States Olympic Committee
In Bruce Newman's article The Race for Ralph (April 25) it was stated that Ted Stepien "once dropped softballs from a Cleveland skyscraper to promote his new slow-pitch league and subsequently paid $35,875 in damages to a woman whose wrist was broken by one of the balls."
Contrary to reports to that effect published at the time, the above statement is erroneous in several respects. Stepien was requested to perform the task not to promote his softball league but rather to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Terminal Tower, a Cleveland landmark, by reenacting a feat that had been performed by the Cleveland Indians many years before. Stepien steadfastly denied any liability throughout the ensuing litigation and, in fact, refused to pay any monies to compensate the injured party. The money to which you refer was paid by an insurance company that insured five defendants other than Stepien. Stepien never wavered from his position and ultimately paid nothing.
In the interest of fair reporting, I believe these errors should be corrected.
KENT B. SCHNEIDER
Hermann, Cahn & Schneider
Attorney for Theodore J. Stepien
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.