BETWEEN THE LINES
Congratulations to a splendid magazine. For a sports-minded family, it's terrific! I read the Knox story out loud to my sons, and I know they read between the lines, I fervently pray!
It was exceedingly provocative, and if Pappy wasn't the son of a minister, and a gentleman first, before coach, one Mr. Knox would be whining now that he never even had a chance to finish his side of the story. We like our football in the Big Ten, too, and Cal hasn't done so badly since Pappy went West.
Either our hero, Mr. Knox, should start his own coaching school or set up a one-man football game to display the talent and prowess of his Ronnie. Forget about the other ten on the team, and boys on the bench tensely waiting for their moment. Coaches would be extra baggage, as they might accidentally teach sportsmanship along with the game!
Sure, I've heard many stories of rotten breaks and blunder plays, but such is this stumbling world. I recall a guy who went to my university, the most highly touted high-school boy in the state of Illinois. That he was, and it hurt because mysteriously that greater college glory was always elusive. Let's hope he carries no grudge. Another guy, vividly in my mind, is Otto Graham. N.U. was taking a terrific shellacking at the hands of Michigan, but after the game his name was uppermost on everyone's lips at Ann Arbor, in spite of losing. He's done right well in pro football, and I suspect will adjust to ordinary living when the football days are over, and not bowed down by any chip on his shoulder.
There are times when all parents are sorely tempted to coach and quarterback and feel their kids are not getting the breaks. However, let's keep it a kid game for the kids!! And any smart coach will accept majority opinion of a team to try and win. My boy is playing the game with a team, with coaches, and when the chips are down, no passing of the buck allowed. I hope that kid becomes a man!
Arlington Heights, Ill.
THE MEN AND THE BOYS
...When they start separating the men from the boys, Ronnie and his Dad are just kids.
THE MODERATE APPROACH
Harvey Knox's article is an attempted rationale for his controversial actions. His defense leaves me unconvinced. At best, one can only partially sympathize with his case against Pappy Waldorf and the University of California. With such a high-school record, Ronnie Knox must surely be loaded with football talent—something the old man did not prove in himself. It is indeed unfortunate if the Cal coaching staff reacted to father Knox's enthusiastic efforts with unfulfilled promises and no opportunity for Ronnie to show his athletic prowess. However some aspects of Harvey Knox's general attitude remain very disturbing.
One must admire Knox for a deep interest in his stepchildren's talents and their development for the future; many parents, devoid of such interest, fail to cultivate and encourage the talents of their children. Here may be a partial explanation for the wave of juvenile delinquency. Nevertheless, Knox's enthusiasm in his children is excessive. In assisting them he has become over-aggressive and irrational. Ronnie and Patricia Knox could legitimately resent their father's undue influence upon their lives.
Knox seems unable to place athletics in their proper perspective. This was exemplified by the continuous household moves during Ronnie's three years in senior high school. The term, "Migratory Knoxes," does not seem entirely unjustified. The sole and admitted basis for such meandering was the football situation at each of the schools. Athletics have assumed an important place in our modern educational system, but they hardly represent adequate reason for shifting from one Los Angeles suburb to another. Settling in a new environment is a great challenge to any person; for Ronnie the problem must have been reinforced by its frequent occurrence. These incredible moves and their astonishing basis are candidly admitted by Knox; thus he indicates that he does not perceive this overemphasis on athletics.
Knox complains bitterly about the "Curbstone Cuties," i.e., alumni proselyters. Yet his attitude toward college athletics is but one step higher. His approach is better only because he is resolute and candid. Whether you take Harvey Knox or the "Curbstone Cuties," you still are left with college athletics professional style. Knox only eliminates the hedging and covering-up in a modern proselytization program.
I am apprehensive to label his methods either clearly unethical or free from such a taint. But at least they hover on the border between the two extremes. Knox's handling of his daughter's movie contract smacked of poor taste (e.g., hiring a school cop to guard the auditorium door against talent scouts who hadn't yet come, though he told the school board they were pestering her). Ronnie was shuffled around from high school to high school and now from college to college, like an ancient slave being sold on the trading block to the highest bidder. Ronnie may have participated in these decisions to some degree, but the domination of his father is obvious. Unable to forget his own past, Harvey Knox has resolved that his children must not fall prey to such fakes and Indian givers. To this admirable goal, Knox has cynically and irrationally devoted his efforts. At times, his actions tend to resemble those he so bitterly opposes.
This letter is neither a plea for the abolition of modern college athletics nor a demand for absolute independence for children. I only insist that our approach must be moderate, realistic and feasible; we need neither the excessive professionalism of too many collegiate athletic programs nor the uncompromising amateurism of other schools; parents need not be over-zealous in looking out for their children or negligent as have been the mothers and fathers of so many delinquents. In avoiding one extreme let us not achieve the other.
Salt Lake City, Utah
...Waldorf's "eleventh man" last year was Paul Larson, and he merely led the nation in total offense...Larson, a junior last year, will play again this season.
It occurs to this naive reader that these facts might have had something to do with the quitting of quarterback candidate Knox. It would seem quite in character for his father to prefer him to be ineligible for a year than second string, even temporarily.
Another new pro football team is advisable. The "Los Angeles Knoxes," with Jim Sutherland of course.
THE IMPOTENCY OF EDUCATORS
...The article itself is a fitting commentary to the very sad situation which has developed in intercollegiate athletics. I feel a little sorry for the Dad...I feel a bit more sorry for the various coaches who had to put up with a meddling fool whose "touch" is that of a scorpion. I feel still sorrier for the faculty of the University of California, including those members of the Department of Physical Education whose hard work and fair names are besmirched and knocked by the burlesque which evidently goes on each year. But I feel most sorry for young Ronnie, who thinks that the world owes him a living because he can throw a football with pinpoint accuracy.
Every young person with ability, need, and the desire to learn should have a chance for a scholarship or bursary to get through college. Many educators and alumni are honestly working to make this dream a reality. By interfering with his son in an effort to "help" him, Harvey Knox is doing him one of the greatest disservices possible. He is "seeing to it that his talented son is getting the fleecing." What a sad world and what messes we educators allow ourselves to get in because of our impotency!!!
Your new magazine is unique! Its success points out clearly how important sport is to us from a recreational and physical education standpoint...Keep up the quality of your effort, realizing the tremendous educational implications which it carries!
EARLE F. ZEIGLER, Ph.D.
Professor and Head Wrestling Coach
University of Western Ontario
"I AM PRAYING"
At this very moment I am praying that Mr. Knox is given vision to see—before it is too late—that that which he uses as a guise for "helping his children" is in reality a means of releasing his own frustrations of life...
MAKE GOOD ON THEIR OWN
I think your magazine is just great. I am a mother and housewife and I enjoy reading it very very much. Thanks for giving it to us.
Your article, "Why Ronnie Knox Quit California," was interesting and especially well written. However, with great respect for Harvey Knox's concern for the success and well-being of his stepchildren—one can't help but feel sorry for the youngsters. Normal kids do not want their parents exploiting them. They like to make good on their own. It will be interesting to follow their careers—as they are really on the spot now.
South Pasadena, Calif.
I read Harvey Knox's exposé of himself with interest, especially between the lines.... I am fully convinced of two things:
1. Poor Harvey is suffering from a terrific juvenile persecution complex and refuses to face the reality that Ronnie is a man and someday is going to have the problem of facing life without his sophomoric father smoothing over every ruffle for him.
2. Vic Schmitt, Pacific Coast Commissioner, had better roll up his sleeves and really investigate this "under the table" proselytizing that evidently certain influential alumni of our state schools are using to build up their athletic rosters.
ROBERT R. LA BRIOLA, D.D.S.
I noted with interest the article, "What You Should Know About Bird Watching." On Sunday, August 29, the Federation of New York State Bird Clubs met in Ithaca, N.Y. for their seventh annual meeting. I'm enclosing two "bird's-eye views of bird watchers" taken as they posed for friends on the ground.
DAVID G. ALLEN
The third issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED brought me...the "Truth About Spinning" (SI, Aug. 30). Objective, well-balanced reportage on what to me, anyhow, had been a subject shrouded in the mysteries and arbitrary dicta of the "professional" fishermen.
Just before leaving for a weekend by the seashore (Cape Cod) I packed up my old bait-casting gear as well as the new spinning outfit I had planned to rely on exclusively.
ANDREW DE HIRSCH
WHAT KIND OF MAYHEM?
So Dick Hyland in Column of the Week (SI, Aug. 30) wonders what kind of mayhem is taking place on the professional gridiron, does he? Well, he has either mellowed somewhat or has a short memory, as it is not too long ago when he was well acquainted with mayhem on the collegiate gridiron.
I recall a game between St. Mary's College and Stanford...when Dick was a dashing halfback for Stanford, and a considerable amount of mayhem took place that afternoon in Stanford Stadium...A St. Mary's quarterback named Gorman lost the sight of one eye, and Stanford end Spud Harder suffered two broken jawbones. Numerous minor injuries-were received by other players, and they didn't wear "cages" on their faces in those days.
We are desirous of securing information about a famous baseball character of the turn-of-the-century—a "fan" known to all as "Well, Well Frank." He inspired a story by Zane Grey, entitled "Old Well-Well" (included in The Redheaded Outfield and Other Baseball Stories, published by Grosset & Dunlap). We are eager to learn his full name and would welcome any and all available facts about him.
I am writing to you in the hope that some of your readers may be able to supply this data.
GRACE M. MAYER
Curator of Prints
Museum of the City of New York
I read your article on today's baseball players being sissies (SI, Sept. 6). I think some of these old-timers are all wet, Mr. Clarke says there is none like Hans Wagner, but Stan Musial plays the outfield, first base, and occasionally takes the mound, and he hits pretty good, too. Jackie Robinson is another. He has played every infield position and outfield, he has led the league in hitting and stolen bases.
Why should a team today play with 15 players when they can get 25 major leaguers? Why have four good pitchers when you can have 10? Why should a pitcher pitch every day and double-headers when there is someone else on the team just as good waiting to take his turn?...
How many old-timers made as many comebacks as Ted Williams?...Al Rosen played almost two weeks with a broken finger. Roy Campanella is playing with an almost dead left hand.
Today's ballplayers are well educated, gentlemanly businessmen as well as superbly conditioned athletes. They don't have to hate the other team to go all out to win.
SCHARY'S SHINING FILES
Over the years, first as a pro athlete and then as a sports writer, I have noted the successful business and professional man's envy of ballplayers, golfers, football players and tennis stars.
A case in point is Dore Schary, who would rather play third base for the Yanks than be known as the head of the world's largest motion picture studio.
So I was not surprised when this No. 1 Yankee fan came up with the enclosed verse...
Culver City, Calif.
YANKEES ARE MY TEAM
by DORE SCHARY
My team is the Yankees—
I've owned them since 1919 when I first saw them play—
And I've owned them since—
And they're not for sale—
The price is too high—
Who can pay for the day Ruth hit number sixty—
Or the day Lou Gehrig said goodbye—
Or the day Henrich hit THAT homer?
And the day DiMaggio destroyed Boston—
What's the price tag on memories that include Jumping Joe or "Poosh-em-up Tony."
Or Joe Page, Bill Dickey and Scooter Rizzuto
Earl Coombs, Bob Meusel and Lefty Gomez—
Who wants to sell Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock and Charlie Ruffing—
Would you sell a Mickey Mantle prime in his youth—
Or a Billy Martin powdered with hits in his springtime years—
Do you cut loose Miller Huggins
Or Casey Stengel
Or Joe McCarthy?
And further—I've got a lot invested I can never get back—
The sweating out of a long winning streak
And the awful agony of a long losing spell—
How about when Yogi almost lost that no-hitter for Reynolds—
Or when he saved it on the next pitch—
How about those two last games in Boston in '49?
Who pays for those heartbeats?
No—I've got a fortune in these fellas—
And I've made a fortune from them—a fortune in memories—
All stacked away in shining files of thrills, affection and inspiration.
The Yanks are my team.
They're not for sale.