THE ISLES' FOURTH
I can't believe it! The Islanders finally made your cover (May 23). No Indy 500. No Magic Johnson. Just Billy Smith doing what he does best—making a clutch save. Thank you. Thank you. This almost makes up for the last three years when you failed to put New York's Stanley Cup champions on the cover.
I would also like to congratulate E.M. Swift on his ability to see through Edmonton Coach and General Manager Glen Sather's rhetoric about Smitty's "maniac" behavior. Sadly, Sather's "yapping" did tarnish this fine sporting event. Edmonton lost for only one reason: The Islanders are a better team.
However, I take exception to Swift's summation, "The Islanders clearly are nearing the end of their reign." If a four-game sweep of the Oilers is "nearing the end." then the end might not come for two or more years. Just think of it. The Islanders could win six straight Stanley Cups. Not bad!
I agree that Billy Smith made the difference in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, but I also think he is the dirtiest goalie in the business. I see about half of the Islanders games in a season, and I view Smith as a very dangerous person with that stick. In fact, I think the referees give the Islanders breaks in all their games because they are the champions. On the other hand, this year's Flyers were still paying the penalty for earlier Philadelphia teams that were better known as the Broad Street Bullies.
After many years of participating in and watching hockey, I am outraged and disgusted by Billy Smith's conduct in the Stanley Cup finals. His blatant use of his goalie stick as a weapon and taking a "dive" in Game 4 in order to secure a penalty against the Oilers have earned him my first annual Con Swipe Award. His unsportsmanlike attitude and play do not belong in the game.
JAMES T. WELSH
SOUTH AFRICAN SPORT
Your article on South Africa (Swirling Shades of Gray, May 16) by Clive Gammon was a thoughtful and complete analysis of the superficial integration of sports in that country. Rather than allowing us to be fooled by the illusion of progress, your article gives us hope that the battle is continuing against the evils of apartheid. The "politics" of the various sporting organizations around the world are not what have ruined the chances or frustrated the hopes of white and black athletes in South Africa; their own country's racist policies have, and those policies will continue to do so until they are eliminated from all aspects of life in South Africa.
EDMOND F. NOEL JR.
Clive Gammon captured very well and quite fairly the tragic effects of apartheid on South Africans, black and white. I was born there and lived most of my life in Cape Town, and I can confirm that the article is well balanced, accurate and representative.
PETER R. MAGGS, M.D.
Twelve pages concerning race discrimination by the government of South Africa is preposterous. Your priorities seem to be out of order. When you extol the feats of Soviet athletes, why do you omit criticism of the Communist government in Moscow? Why not reveal the murderous activities of the Soviet government around the world? You might even take a similar stance in your articles on Cuban athletes and Eastern Bloc athletes. In these countries the freedom of all people is curtailed.
Why not print an article dealing with the absurdity of the International Olympic Committee's allowing the participation of such countries as the U.S.S.R. and Cuba in Olympic events, yet failing to permit South Africa's entry into these same events?
MICHAEL E. PILSITZ
Newport Beach, Calif.
THE NEW LEAGUE
Only 12 weeks into the inaugural USFL season, and already there are those who are writing its epitaph (Football: A Rite or Wrong of Spring, May 23). Comparisons between the USFL and the NFL are inevitable, but not fair. The NFL had a 60-year head start. If the USFL could field teams of NFL caliber in its first year, then that wouldn't be saying much for Pete Rozelle's league, would it?
The USFL can boast one thing: balance among its teams. At this writing, 10 of the league's 12 franchises are battling for playoff spots. In more than half a century the NFL hasn't found a way to accomplish that.
As for boring games, try baseball in any stadium in America. That game was designed for insomniacs. No. The USFL will live. In fact, who said it was sick?
ROBERT M. MACSI
William Oscar Johnson was very fair in his analysis of the USFL's progress. However, I am perturbed by your repeated lack of articles on the teams themselves. How about giving us an article on the playoff outlook? Better yet, why not send someone to Pontiac, Mich. to cover those incredible Panthers following their six-game winning streak? You would find out there is nothing more exciting than watching Panther Quarterback Bobby Hebert slinging touchdown passes. I guess the problem is that any team that isn't on a coastline or in a major media city is out of luck. Come on, SI. Go, Panthers!
CHRISTOPHER T. CASEY
The USFL story by William Oscar Johnson was an interesting one. The USFL's difficulties were blamed by various spokesmen on spring, the weather, stadium sizes, TV coverage, local cops, schedules, fan expectations—I'm surprised President Reagan and Secretary of the Interior James Watt weren't included! No credit was given to the fans or TV viewers, who can judge dull, boring, mediocre sport all by themselves.
I'm glad the "deep pocket" owners will have a great tax write-off. Maybe they should have tried a green football.
I believe that I speak for all those privileged to know Linda Vaughn as a friend when I say thank you to Bob Ottum for his fine article (From a Vamp to a Veep, May 23). For far too long, Linda's countless contributions to motor sports and her superior business acumen have been ignored in favor of her obvious physical attributes. At last SI has shown the good taste to publish a story that celebrates the woman behind the beauty queen.
We will all miss Linda at the races. At some events her presence was the main attraction. But her promotion to a vice-president at Cars & Concepts is a richly deserved reward for her years as goodwill ambassador for Hurst products. Her unwavering devotion and unflagging good spirit in the face of a pressure-packed schedule show her to be a true professional in the finest tradition of the sport.
Santa Ana, Calif.
The hell with your annual swimsuit issue, just give me Linda Vaughn once a year!
I was glad to read in SCORECARD (May 23) that Kevin Ross [the basketball player who after four years at Creighton University was still virtually unable to read] has recently become academically motivated, and I wish him well in his future pursuits.
As an alumnus of the Creighton School of Law, I would like your readers to be aware that of the three seniors on the 1982-83 Creighton basketball team, two, Mark Jones and Richard Bates, have been accepted by the law school for this fall, while the third, Joe Bresnahan, plans to attend Creighton's medical school.
These young men are fine examples of the combination of academic achievement and intercollegiate basketball competition that's available at Creighton. They are also examples of the fact that the individual student-athlete remains principally responsible for his own educational achievement.
MARK S. BERTOLINI
I am distressed by your SCORECARD item about Kevin Ross. Creighton, like all universities and colleges, is an institution of higher learning. You put all the blame for illiterate athletes on the NCAA and colleges. How about pointing a finger at high schools and grammar schools? True, colleges are remiss for admitting below-standard students with low grade-point averages, but it's up to the high schools and elementary schools to prepare these students properly.
Sierra Vista, Ariz.
I wholeheartedly agree with the opinions expressed in your May 23 SCORECARD. However, perhaps you could help Kevin Ross in his pursuit of a degree by hiring him to check your spelling: sophmore (sic), in the third paragraph of the item entitled "College Athletics I."
THE REV. JAMES KUNTZ, S.J.
Santa Clara, Calif.
In his article Rebirth of the Bonus Baby (May 9), Bill Brubaker accurately depicted the unique situation of 18-year-old Juan Nieves. Unfortunately, however, Juan's personality and character were not truly represented by quotes like "I'm in the driver's seat.... I've got it my way now" or "The world revolves around money, and in a few weeks that's what I'll be looking for. A lot of it." An overconfident or materialistic young man he is not! I speak on behalf of all who know Juan. He is a humble, caring, giving person who enjoys people, values education and loves his family, friends and baseball. He is a young man of exemplary character and considerable moral fiber. Nor is Juan's mother—"I'm not going to give my boy away for peanuts"—materialistic; rather, she's a devoutly religious person who is deeply concerned about the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of her son.
Should Juan decide to sign with a professional team before attending college—another significant priority in his life—it will represent not a means to make a fast buck, but the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to play baseball in the big leagues.
Juan's Baseball Coach and Athletic Director
Avon Old Farms School
I felt your article on "bonus baby" Juan Nieves was extremely accurate. As an alumnus of Avon Old Farms, I can imagine what Juan must be going through. It was my experience at Avon, a school with an outstanding athletic program, that, when deciding on colleges, most student-athletes emphasized the financial support offered by a college rather than the quality of its academics. This seems to be the attitude of most high school seniors with athletic futures. It's just too bad our society is set up in such a way.
BOX SCORES (CONT.)
I am writing belatedly to commend Henry Hecht for his fascinating article on the evolution—and, since 1958, devolution—of the baseball box score (A Box Full of Goodies, April 4). Of particular interest was his report of Melvin L. Adelman's serendipitous discovery of the "lost ark"—the primal box score of Oct. 25, 1845. Your readers might be interested to know that four of the men on the New York Ball Club that day were also in the lineup on June 19, 1846, for the New Yorks against the Knickerbockers at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, N.J., in the first organized game played under the new rules developed by Alexander Cartwright. Attentive readers of Hecht's article no doubt noted that in the game of Oct. 25, 1845, only eight players participated on each side.
Hecht writes that the abbreviation H.L., which indicated unsuccessful times at bat in the box scores of the 1860s, "stumps historians." H.L. stands for "Hands Lost," a slight change from the term "Hands Out" seen in the 1845 box score cited above. As authority I cite Henry Chadwick in Beadle's Dime Base Ball Player of 1876, the early equivalent of today's Official Baseball Guide published by The Sporting News: "HAND LOST—This is the old term applicable to the 'outs' in a game. For instance, the moment a player is put out, the batting side 'loses a hand.' "
In regard to Robert A. Muldoon's letter (19TH HOLE, May 16) concerning Jack McCallum's article on roommates (For Better, for Worse, May 2), I think the difficulties arising from the pairing of Rube Waddell and Ossee Schreckengost are stated incorrectly. According to what I have heard and read, Schreckengost was the individual who enjoyed munching, not animal crackers, but crackers and Limburger cheese while lying in bed. This foul-smelling habit incensed Waddell, the Hall of Fame pitcher who also loved to chase fire trucks, but his repeated entreaties to Athletics owner and Manager Connie Mack proved unsuccessful at putting a stop to Schreckengost's late-night snacks. Finally. Waddell burst into Mack's hotel room one night and crushed a Limburger sandwich on the sheets. Waddell's ploy obviously worked; Schreckengost's contract the next season prohibited him from eating Limburger cheese and crackers in bed.
MARK L. ADAMS
•Not according to Connie Mack, who was quoted by J.G. Taylor Spink in a series of articles on Rube Waddell published in The Sporting News in November 1942. In the third installment. Spink quotes Mack as follows: "Ossie used to kick a lot about Rube's habits, but his loudest kick came one spring. Ossie returned his contract unsigned. This contract is all right,' he wrote, 'but before I sign with you, I have to see Waddell's signed contract. I room with him and you have to put a clause in his contract that he can't eat animal crackers in bed. I don't mind the flat ones so much, but those with horns bother me.' We put the clause in the contract and Rube agreed to give up animal crackers." While other versions of the story have appeared in print, Paul Mac Farlane, director of historical research and archivist for The Sporting News, assures us that the complaint involved Waddell and crackers, not Schreckengost and Limburger cheese. As for the two spellings of Schreckengost's first name—incidentally, he also played under the surname Schreck—baseball encyclopedias list it as Ossee, but early accounts, including Spink's, refer to him as Ossie.—ED.
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