Gary Smith's article on Ivan Lendl (On Guard And Quite In Control, April 28) revealed that the Lendl we see on television and the real Lendl are two entirely different personalities. I was especially captivated by his determination to succeed, his desire to be the best in the world. Maybe those cold-hearted reporters who criticize him will realize that he has had good reason to keep his mouth shut all these years. Lendl's win at the U.S. Open last fall may have been the best possible cure for his lack of enthusiasm on and off the court.
Bravo to Smith for his story about Lendl. As a certified tennis instructor, I follow the game with more than casual interest. I'm pleased that someone finally took the time to bring us the real story behind the man so many sportswriters and sportscasters refer to as sullen or as lacking personality. I think we Americans are used to seeing our top athletes with big smiles on their faces, selling everything from razor blades to beer. We forget to ask ourselves what it might be like to be raised in a country where to smile can be dangerous, or to consider the culture shock a person raised in such a country experiences upon arriving here. As we can see by Smith's fine article, Lendl is slowly starting to open up to those around him. Given time, he might soon be smiling and selling beer, too.
Congratulations for giving us an insight into one of the most misunderstood athletes of our time. I have never been a Lendl fan, but now I feel that I can better appreciate his play and personality.
Port Washington, N.Y.
I was intrigued by Smith's portrayal of Lendl, his effort to humanize this man who is outwardly devoid of emotion. And Smith did present a believable rationalization for Lendl's obsession with control.
However, any sympathy I had for Lendl's self-inflicted predicament is tempered by his cold, aloof behavior. Let Lendl live with his killer dogs, walled off from society. To my mind, his extraordinary tennis skills don't make up for his personality and emotional deficiencies.
JACK NICKLAUS (CONT.)
Sarah Ballard's article (On The Course With Jack, April 28) brought back warm memories of past come-from-behind victories by Jack Nicklaus. It was a thrill to learn precisely what was going through this great golfer's mind as he played those last 10 holes to win the Masters. The Golden Bear has certainly come out of hibernation!
Three cheers for the old guys! Pete Rose, Al Unser Sr., circumnavigator Dodge Morgan, Jack Nicklaus. Now let's root for A.J. Foyt to win his fifth Indy 500!
THOMAS C. BUTLER
"It was a wondrous moment in golf.... Nicklaus's golf game not only returned to him last week...but the old gestures came back, too: Jack joyously raising his putter high in the air as a crucial birdie falls; Jack grinning and waving to the delirious throngs as he marches triumphantly up the 72nd fairway like a king of old.
"That was the longest walk Jack had ever taken out there last Sunday, up that final hill.... He knew how far he had come—all the way back from the land of fallen idols. Golf may not see such a thing again for a long while."—Dan Jenkins, in your article (The Owner Of The Open, June 23, 1980) on the U.S. Open tournament that year.
B. GEORGE NEHLSEN
HOLMES VS. SPINKS
Pat Putnam was definitely on target when he questioned the result of the Larry Holmes-Michael Spinks rematch (Battle Of The Ballot, April 28). It was the worst heavyweight title decision since the third Ali-Norton fight. Boxing is scored mainly on effective punches, and in this bout Holmes landed most of them.
This time Holmes has a right to scream. The decision was an outrage. I am not a Holmes fan, but I feel he should have the title he rightfully won.
It is sad that Holmes's great career had to end on such a sour note. However, the ridiculous scoring by judges Frank Brunette and Jerry Roth cannot diminish his great accomplishments. Holmes should go down in history as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time.
After reading Putnam's article, it was obvious that he felt Holmes should have been awarded the IBF heavyweight title. One question: Isn't he forgetting who was champion and who was challenger? To win a title fight, a challenger must beat the champion decisively and Holmes didn't do that. In my opinion he earned a draw at best.
I wish Michael Spinks continued success in the ring, and when it comes time for him to bow out, I have no doubt that he will do it with class.
Congratulations on a stupendous story by E.M. Swift on Dodge Morgan's voyage around the world (Feat Of Global Dimensions, April 21). Someday I hope to do the same thing—though, on second thought, maybe not alone.
Thanks for Douglas S. Looney's article on one of my favorite people in all of sport, Lou Holtz (Between The Rock And..., April 21). I am sure that he will turn the Notre Dame football program around.
However, as a loyal alumnus of the University of Oregon, I have a complaint about one passage. Looney wrote: "Former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian says he thinks [Gerry] Faust got in big trouble because he kept talking about national championships and about how good the players were—while getting tied by Oregon." I was at that game in Eugene on Oct. 23, 1982. Oregon was ahead 13-10, and Notre Dame had fourth down on the Oregon 18 with 11 seconds left. Instead of trying for the win, the Irish kicked a 35-yard field goal. Final score: 13-13. Notre Dame tied by Oregon? Wrong. Oregon was tied by Notre Dame.
Doesn't Looney have anything better to do than to write articles about Lou Holtz? I, for one, am sick of hearing about a man who came to the University of Minnesota, turned the football program around and then left before the team's finest hour in this past season's Independence Bowl. I now cheer for two teams: Minnesota and the team that plays against Notre Dame.
STEVEN L. PETERSON
In his article on San Diego State baseball coach Jim Dietz (Focus, April 21), Armen Keteyian stated that San Diego State had won more games—a total of 231—during the past four years than any other college baseball team in the nation. Certainly 231 victories is an impressive record but not the best in the land. That honor belongs to the Wichita State Shockers, who won 236 games during that same period.
Under coach Gene Stephenson, the Shockers won 73 games in 1982 (they were runners-up in the College World Series), 55 in '83, 40 in '84 and a nation-leading 68 in '85. In fact, if you include the Shockers' records for the past seven years, we believe Wichita State has won more college baseball games—410—than any other university.
Wichita State did not have a baseball program until Stephenson arrived in 1978. During his nine years as coach the Shockers have put together a record of 490-161-2, including a 37-15 record for '86 at this writing, for a winning percentage of .750, and they have appeared in NCAA postseason competition in five of the past six seasons.
Sports Information Director
Wichita State University
In his article on baseball bats (The Good Wood, April 14), Hank Hersch mentioned that Hillerich & Bradsby labels each bat with the initial of the player for whom the bat was designed and a number indicating how many other bats with that particular initial have been created.
When I was a college baseball player 17 years ago, I used an H&B C-12 with the signature of Nellie Fox burned into it. Can you tell me for whom that bat was originally marked with a C? By the way, I've not since found a bat comparable in handle thickness to the C-12. I still keep one in my office.
Highland Park, Ill.
•The C-12 is the same bat as the G-7, which was originally made for Charlie Gehringer. It became the C-12 model when the California Angels later adopted it.—ED.
In your baseball issue (April 14), you switched from FACES IN THE CROWD to PROSPECTS IN THE CROWD. Although your six selections are certainly worthy of note, you missed a couple of top-notch prospects.
Mike Dull, a senior third baseman here at South Alabama, ranks second in the Sun Belt Conference in hitting with a .436 average. He also leads in hits (93) and is second in homers (15) and RBIs (64)—all in 54 games. Dull is also a dean's list accounting major with a 3.84 grade point average.
Tim Becker, a junior shortstop at South Alabama, is ranked third in hitting at .400 while leading the conference in runs scored (69) and bases stolen (47)—in 53 games.
Sports Information Director
University of South Alabama
•Here they are, Sun Belters Dull (left) and Becker.—ED.
BERNARD TRONCALE/BIRMINGHAM NEWS
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