IS IT CRICKET?
The picture of Col. Andrew Jones (SI, Aug. 30) standing with his foot on a 670-pound bluefin tuna calls to mind an incident that occurred in the presence of the writer in 1938, when a small party had returned to Sarasota from a shark-fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. In the catch was a beautiful 10-ft. Leopard Shark which was hauled up on the dock. In the party was a member of Congress who was a national political figure. The congressman wanted his picture made with his foot on the shark, occupying the same stance as Colonel Jones. This brought a sharp protest from our veteran guide, who said it was very bad taste, improper and an evidence of bad sportsmanship to have a picture made with the fisherman's foot on the fish.
Later I cheeked the guide's statement with Rube Allen (Fishing Editor of St. Petersburg Times) and Robert Lassing, a nationally known deep-sea fisherman, and both said the guide's protest was correct, and that it was bad taste and poor sportsmanship to have your foot on the fish. A similar statement will be found in one of the books on deep-sea fishing by the late Zane Grey....
J. CARL LAMBDIN
Jefferson City, Tenn.
•Whether Col. Jones' gag was cricket seems to be a matter of opinion. We are still looking for Zane Grey's comment on the subject. Meanwhile, we offer a striking bit of nonconformity that resulted recently when Rod Steiger, Gene Nelson and Gordon MacRae, a trio of actors in the movie version of "Oklahoma!" went to Guyannas, Mexico and caught a couple of big game fish.—ED.
I would like to report a fine catch I made on our fishing trip to Canada. I noticed on your fishing calendar (SI, August 16) no one reported a walleye. I caught one weighing 14¼, lbs. and 33 in. in length. Since it was my first big one, I'm very proud of it.
The fish was hooked in Eagle Lake at MacKenzie's Big Eagle Muskie Camp, Eagle River, Ontario.
Mrs. RUBY ANN KELLOGG
...I couldn't help but grit my teeth when I read the letter to all Joe Nolan Cubs (SI, August 16). We in Physical Education believe too much emphasis is put on winning and this was good proof of it. I don't know if Pexton is a Physical Educator or not, but if he is, he is reflecting poorly on his Alma Mater.
Anyone who has studied child growth and development knows that tactics like he used are harmful to children emotionally. When a child makes a mistake you don't call him down on it in front of others. He's using adult and professional tactics on a little boy 11 years old. Maybe none of those boys were hurt by this because they won, but turn the tables around. What if they lost and these mistakes were made in the game? How would those boys have felt? Why take a chance on hurting the mental health of a child for the glory of winning a game?
To take their league apart, boys that young shouldn't play at night or in front of spectators. You can see the spectators bothered Buddy, for he told two of his own family he didn't want them there.
Let's get together on these leagues and educate the children, instead of trying to promote championship players....
A. F. SELMIKEIT
•Coach Pexton, an industrial engineer, says, "Out here we think this is a good way to combat juvenile delinquency. We are aware of this standard complaint but we haven't found any ill effects."—ED.
...Of particular interest was the aerial night photo of Yankee Stadium. I was always under the impression that baseball diamonds were perfect geometric squares; however, the foul lines in this picture are anything but perpendicular to each other. At that rate the Yankees are winning pennants by hitting foul balls. Also if the bases are 90 feet apart, Yogi Berra has a short throw to second base. No wonder nobody can steal second base on him in "his park." Then too those "fleet" Yankee base runners should have an easy time of it beating out slow rollers to third base because of the long throw to first base.
F. O. BURMASTER
•Geometric squares they are as this diagram shows. Photographer Peskin explains that the distortion is the result of the oblique angle from which the picture was taken.—ED.
WAIT TILL I'M 81
...That diagram of Dr. Cureton's about the diver's stance (SI, August 30), arms outstretched, etc., indicating fitness, intrigued me because on my 71st birthday (July 17, 1954) by way of showing off before 8 sons, daughters, 12 granddaughters, grandsons (one grandson 21-year-old Stanford soph after 3 years in regular Army) I too stood with "arms outstretched" and did 8 or 10 back flips off a springboard.
I do this every summer, because they say your legs are the first to go, if you've been an athlete. I don't intend that any indication of advancing years shall overtake me unawares. At the Tribune employees' picnic last year one of our photographers (Lonnie Wilson) shot enclosed photos of me performing.
I can do much better than depicted in these photos. Lonnie was going to have me do it over with his sequence camera then decided it is funnier in bad form for an old guy as we have it.
Now for all I know, every other former athlete can do back flips at 71, but the boys in our sports department don't know any, so I thought anyhow I'd submit the story to you are not interested, we'll wait till I'm 81 and try you again...
•Back-flipper Jim Abbe spent 71 physically active years as roving photographer (Hitler, the Spanish War, Russia) and radio commentator in 11 Western states before tapering off as radio-TV columnist for the Oakland Tribune.—ED.
In re: your Sports Court box about the Missouri fisherman's wife, your readers might be interested in this report from an old Milwaukee newspaper.
"Judge Wm. F. Shaughnessy, Milwaukee Circuit Judge, denied divorces to two 'fishing widows' who cited their husbands' frequent fishing trips as cause for divorce.
"Said the Learned Judge, 'Fishing is a wholesome recreation which husbands are entitled to enjoy. A wife who objects to her husband fishing is unreasonable and over exacting.' "
WHITE HOUSE GOLFERS
Your magazine recently said that Ike was the first to play golf on the White House lawn, but not true, Taft, Wilson and Harding all played there. Enclosed is a photo of Harding's ball. Taft brought a young caddy up from Virginia to work for the government and he gave Taft lessons on the lawn. The caddy was Elmer Loving, who afterwards became a famous pro. Taft tried to put him into the U. of Virginia, but the guy walked out after a rough hazing the first night. The second Mrs. Wilson first saw Wilson in golf togs at the White House—and she said he was a very sloppy dresser. The ramifications of presidential golf go way back—and there's a mystery as to why Teddy R. did not play, but he must have known the game for he was brought up on Long Island, and one writer in the 90's said all L.I. was a golf links. Was the big stick a niblick?
•Presidents Harding, Taft and Wilson all played the game with varying skill and enthusiasm. Harding, the most devoted golfer to precede Ike in the White House, was a regular occupant of the President's Cottage on Maryland's Chevy Chase Club. Using multistarred and monogrammed balls (see cut) Harding cheerfully challenged the best pros of his day, including Walter Hagen (who once let the President cool his heels for 15 minutes on the first tee while shaving in the locker room). Harding played as though his life depended on each shot. In part, his unusual concentration stemmed from the numerous bets he made. Harding's idea of a vacation was to start playing golf near Ormond Beach and barnstorm north over Florida's golf courses. He did not, however, practice regularly on the White House lawn, although he did occasionally drop an old rug on the ground and drive a few balls over the south grounds. These were generally retrieved by his dog, Laddie Boy.
William Howard Taft already played a pretty good game when Elmer Loving caught his eye while caddying for him on the Virginia Hot Springs links. Taft brought Loving to Washington to caddy for him. Loving's son, Ben, grew up to be pro at the Longmeadow Country Club near Springfield, Mass. and was killed during World War II.
President Wilson never really cared for the game although the second Mrs. Wilson cajoled the President into a daily round until the outbreak of World War I. Perhaps the President's efforts discouraged him. He usually shot around 115 and his wife rarely broke 200. The President snubbed the Chevy Chase Club as too fashionable.
President Theodore Roosevelt's big stick was no niblick. When a visitor asked Roosevelt for details on his break with Taft, Roosevelt replied, "The real trouble between Mr. Taft and myself was fundamental. My game is tennis. Mr. Taft is addicted to golf."—ED.