THE CHAIRMAN AND THE FIGHT GAME
I read several articles in SI on the fight game and it was indeed very enlightening. You may rest assured that our new Commission will do everything in its power to put boxing on a high level.
JAMES H. CROWLEY
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
State Athletic Commission
•SI welcomes the enlightened Chairman to this vital Commission. We know that Mr. Crowley will tackle his new assignment with the vigor, forthrightness and success that made him one of the most distinguished players and coaches in football history.—ED.
AS IF SHAKING HANDS
SI's article on Branch Rickey was truly a double-header, with its revealing account of Mr. Rickey's contribution to baseball and good living, and the smooth and easy control of Gerald Holland's writing arm that pitches the warmth and intimacy of his interview as though you were shaking hands with Branch and actually hearing his own words of philosophy.
MAN OF DISTINCTION
I'm just an ordinary sort of person but I do feel entitled to one small claim to distinction. Possibly I was the only person in the world who read the piece on Branch Rickey with one foot parked on the bathtub and clutching my pajama bottoms with one hand and holding the magazine with the other. That article so enthralled me that I wasn't even aware of my somewhat bizarre appearance until I finally came to the end.
March 28, 1955
WILL THEY EMERGE FROM THE CELLAR?
The opening spread on spring training camps by Creamer and Sutton was truly informative. SI, since it is a weekly publication, should be able to keep the baseball fan much closer to the game than other publications which do not appear on sale so often.
The article on Mr. Rickey by Mr. Holland was tops and it is a good sample of just what made Rickey so colorful. With a man like Rickey as head of the Pirates we can't help but feel that Pittsburgh will improve this year and make that N.L. race very tight. However, the Chicago Cubs are bringing up a strong contingent of minor league star pitchers which means the Pirates probably will have to pass some other team in '55 to emerge from the cellar. The Cubs have two 20-game pitchers, Thorpe and Andre, one 18-game hurler, Amor, one 17-game winner, Elston, plus three 16-game winners in Stanka, Hillman and Cohen to give the Chicago club the finest array of young pitching talent to come up to a major league team in history.
Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
After reading the article Mr. Rickey and The Game (SI, March 7), I believe Mr. Rickey could use this Back Seat Driver's License. Would you be kind enough to forward it to Mr. Rickey for his signature and make sure that he carries it with him when he is chauffeur-driven.
PETER L. HOLLIS
•Thanks from Mr. Rickey, and reader Hollis' appointment as one of the Pirates' grandstand managers has been recommended.—ED.
I read your article on Branch Rickey and think that it is the best I have ever read on him. I think that the author of it should be congratulated on a fine piece of work.
THE MAN AND THE JOB
What a man! That Branch Rickey. What a job he has done for baseball, so entertainingly described by Gerald Holland. It's made me a baseball fan for the rest of my life.
More interviews like that one, please!
FRED W. JONES
LETTER FROM A VICTIM
I hardly know what to say. Mrs. Rickey was really pleased with the story. One newspaperman has told me that the story is great, and another writer of some note stated that he considered it the best thing SI has done since it started. One of our Pittsburgh writers said to me yesterday that he thought it was the most outstanding job of writing that had been done in a long time in any magazine.
The amazing thing to me is that you have done so much with so little. I have been the continuous victim of humorous comment from Mother and Auntie and our close friends, even to the call of "grass-hopper." You know darn well that when I bobbed from one subject to another so apparently rapidly it was done because of some lead given me or some question asked. Entirely apart from the story, I had real enjoyment in my visit with you.
I wondered what it was, in substance, that I had been able to give you about which you could write at all. More than ever have I come to know as I did about Trader Horn that a good writer can take fictional material and make it very real. I confess that your close adherence to some personal detail was too faithful to the facts to be everlastingly welcome. But, I am as I am, and Jane says you got me.
My kindest regards,
NO FERRARI KEY IN HIS MOUTH
I read your excellent publication weekly, and am happy that you have been perspicacious enough to include motor sports.
Just one sour note. I did resent the allusion (in SI's March 7 Daytona's Roaring Week) to the cars of NASCAR's "Sportsmen's Class" as "flying junkpiles." This glib but ill-chosen phraseology reflects not only on NASCAR, which has done a wonderful job of promoting safe and organized stock car racing, but on the boys who out of guts, sweat, ingenuity, hard labor and privation build these modified stock cars.
I know from experience in both fields that these "flying junkpiles" are held in contempt by most SCCA members. But their drivers are, by and large, spirited and courageous. They race for the same reasons that Briggs Cunningham, Phil Walters, Juan Fangio, or any of the others race...because they love it and they want to win. No stock car jockey ever wound up the season with a big pot full of money.
There probably is not one of these boys who wouldn't rather drive a Ferrari or a Cunningham, unless he could build his own to compete in that class. Tazio Nuvolari, the greatest, came into the auto racing world via a broken-down motorcycle. Troy Ruttman creamed a lot of high-priced iron with his '46 Mercury hot rod in the first Mexican road race. And Fangio himself, I believe, raced a Chevrolet in the South American stock car road races.
Not everyone can be born with a Ferrari key in his mouth. The stock car jockeys are rough, tough, determined...and poor. And they often look it. But they do the best they can with what they have, and that deserves respect in any man's sport.
H. WILLIAM EGGER
Essex Junction, Vt.
BY GEORGE, IT'S THE BIGGEST
Before I start, I think that I'd better say that I have no quarrel with your magazine; in fact, I think that it is the finest sporting publication I have ever laid eye on. But, and this is the beef; in SOUNDTRACK March 14, you gave the impression that the drum owned by Harvard University is the largest piece of percussion cowhide and metal extant. This ain't so.
That other drum you mentioned, the one belonging to the University of Chicago, is now the proud possession of the University of Texas Longhorn Band, and we firmly believe that it, not Harvard's, is the largest ol' drum in this country.... The drum, the Texas one, not the Harvard, is eight feet in diameter, and it too is mounted on bicycle wheels. Rather than have poor undergraduate labor pull it around, as Harvard does, we've bought a tractor to do the job.
Of course we can't play the thing indoors, and who is going to beat it remains an unsolved problem, but, by George, it's the biggest drum in captivity in this country, and the University of Texas owns it.
WILLIAM W. WATEROUS
•Come, come now. There must be a TEXAN big enough to beat the drum for Texas.—ED.
THAT SMUG SPORTSMANSHIP
SOUNDTRACK for March 14, speaking of the old-time tennis player who thought the umpire had erred in his favor and threw the next point, says nostalgically that "the idea must still be lying around somewhere."
Now it wouldn't be the umpire's mistake, but the linesman's: umpires make no calls. And here is one linesman bleached by 20 years' suns who wishes fervently that the idea were merely lying around. Unfortunately it isn't: every tournament sees these big-hearted gestures, and every tournament would be the better if they were eliminated but completely.
For one thing, the gesture is generally a phony. It takes two thrown points to correct an error, and did you ever see two points thrown? Or one point, for that matter, if it meant losing a crucial game?...
For another, the player assumes the job of the linesman; and he isn't always right.
And finally, the only sure effect is to make some hard-working linesman look bad. The poor guy sits with a red face and rage in his heart and wishes himself passionately anywhere else. He is there on his own time and at his own expense; he gets no pay and the only time anybody looks at him is when he's under fire....
The only possible policy is for the players to take the calls as they come and go ahead with the game. Nobody minds an occasional sincere protest: we can understand the desperate "Oh NO" of a tense and exhausted boy fighting for his life in a ding-dong five-set battle. But damn the smug "sportsmanship" of the point-throwing grandstander who exalts his heroic self at the linesman's expense.
•But SI's Bill Talbert recalls that at a crucial point in the 1945 National Clay Court Championship his opponent Pancho Segura threw a point after Talbert received a bad call. Segura lost the game, set and championship.—ED.
A VERY BRAVE YOUNG LADY
As a physical therapist I have treated many spinal fracture cases and know the time and expense involved in treatment.
I am sending this contribution to aid Skier Jill Kinmont, a very brave young lady on her way to as complete a recovery as possible.
Also I should like to have my name added to the list of those wanting a copy of TIP FROM THE TOP if it is ever published as a pamphlet—complete.
Your magazine is certainly filling a need for the sports enthusiasts of this country.
•Our sincere thanks to Miss Matchett. The Far West Ski Assn. (Huntington Hotel, Pasadena, Calif.) reports that the Jill Kinmont Fund has benefited greatly from SI's generous readers. But more money is needed to see Jill through the long hospitalization that lies ahead.—ED.
THE LANGUAGE OF SPORTS
A nature-loving friend told me to be sure to see the flamingo pictures in SI. So I got my first copy, and I am delighted. John O'Reilly's story of the businessmen's hegira from their 9 to 5 responsibilities in quest of photographs was up to the caliber of the pictures. What a refreshing change from the usual stories of animal slaughter in darkest Africa! Many of us care deeply about conservation of wild life, and I applaud your magazine for stating the case for the flamingo.
Your article on Mr. Branch Rickey was a pure joy. It's encouraging to know that the language of sports is not necessarily dese, dem and dose.
I also enjoyed the SOUNDTRACK department with those miniscule illustrations by Ajay (do you pay him by the inch?).
You show some faith in the intelligence of your readers, instead of writing down for childish minds (the most infuriating sin of the women's magazines).
LAURINE A. WINLACK
•Ajay draws by the inch but is paid by the week.—ED.
Down here on the pearl of the gulf, where sportsmen congregate, a lot of us have permanent cricks in the neck from ogling skyward at our Blue Angels while they write intricate vapor trails against the blue.
It pleased us all to see their recent picture and writeup in the Feb. 21 issue but we were somewhat disappointed. Only the leader was identified. Surely you can do better than that for us.
Corpus Christi, Texas
•The Angels: Back to the camera Lt. Mello Pierozzi; facing him are Lt. William Gureck, Commander Richard Cormier, Lt. Commander Richard Newhafer and Lt. Kenneth Wallace. Leaning over plane is Lt. Edwin McKellar. Four Angels fly as a team, a fifth amuses the crowds while the team regroups after stunts and the last man is held in reserve.—ED.
INISHINABI AND WILD BILL STEQUA
As one taught to boil water by Inishinabi, celebrated Indian chief of the Golden Lake Reserve (who does it in less than four minutes), I assure you, no point is served by piling those large sticks around the pot (SI March 7, Wilderness in Westchester). They won't contribute any heat unless the whole operation goes to six minutes or more. The trick is to get a fire within the first 12 seconds, then let your flames lead you to more wood, not your wood the flames.
As one who learned to paddle from Wild Bill Stequa, famous Algonquin park guide, and from Ronald H. Perry, I must point out that Mr. Guldner would have a tough time maneuvering his craft.
I wonder how the Camp Fire Club members would fare in the senior test of our own Blackfoot Club: spend five days in the bush with just heavy boots and clothing, an axe and a knife. It was the only time in my life I found roots, bark and grubs to be tasty. But getting a fire was easy, using a stick, split log, leather shoe lace and mouse's nest.
A MODEST PROPOSAL
The controversy surrounding the problem of televising collegiate football games has failed of a peaceful solution because neither the collegiate officials nor the network executives have approached it with sufficient boldness and imagination.
Therefore, I am taking the liberty of submitting for your consideration a "Modest Proposal" which, if adopted, would enormously benefit all interested parties.
The crux of the problem is that football today falls far short as a spectacle of the high standards to which the public, and more importantly, the commercial sponsors have become accustomed.
It does so for the following reasons:
1) The stadía are all wrong. The neo-classic stadium of today, designed as it was for watching the consumption of Christians by carnivores, is not at all suitable for the age of the Split-T and the cathode tube.
New stadia, specifically designed for television, must be built immediately. These will be equipped with plastic domes to insure that the spectacle will not fall prey to inclement weather.
Modern, shadow-proof artificial lighting must be installed.
Above all the possibility of the camera's showing rows of empty seats must be eliminated. Empty seats have a poor psychological effect on the viewer. They make him think of his own business problems and therefore render him unresponsive to the sponsor's message.
2) The spectators, both of the collegiate and post-collegiate variety, are all wrong.
The collegiate spectators are eager, but pitifully untrained. They invariably attempt to provide a half-time "show." This is inevitably a mistake and the result can be ranked, entertainmentwise, somewhere between a rustic pageant and a flea circus.
The bands play poor music badly. Their marching is atrocious.
To bring the half-time pageantry up to the same level of slickness that characterizes every other aspect of commercial television, the nation's foremost composers of popular music must be engaged to rewrite the college songs, and top-flight professional musicians and "cheerers" must be employed to play them, march to them and to sing them.
The post-collegiate spectator presents a more complex problem. The trouble with him is that he is in the stadium at all! He has endangered the happiness of his home by abandoning his family to attend the game. He has endangered his health by riding in a draughty, germ-ridden car or bus, and then sitting, exposed to the elements, on cold wooden bleachers. He has probably drunk too much and spent too much of his hard-earned money. And, above all, he is in a position where he cannot possibly be reached by the sponsor's message!
All amateur spectators must henceforth be barred from televised games. This will not only protect the health of the average American male but it will also safeguard his home. And, of course, it will insure that he will be comfortably absorbing the sponsor's message while the money he would have frittered away if he had gone to the game is burning a hole in his pocket. He will, therefore, be most responsive to applied salesmanship.
His place would be taken by filmed effects which could be appropriately "dubbed in." This would save everyone a great deal of money and trouble.
3) Let's face facts. The trouble with most football games lies in the plot.
Improvisation has its place, but it is not on a commercial network. Unplanned football is an anachronism and must go!
A team of top-flight writers in the field of violence and suspense must be engaged to produce exciting scripts. A network code to guarantee highest standards of suspense must be drawn up. Such a code would call for, let us say, a minimum of 24 points a game with the final issue in doubt until the last two minutes, or after the concluding commercial with the big gift offer.
As a sop to the "egg-head" contingent, occasional experimental scripts should be encouraged for use on the smaller networks—perhaps a controversial 4-4 tie by, let us say, Truman Capote, or a Tennessee Williams production calling for the unmerciful flogging of a small and decadent Southern academy by a monstrous university from out of the North....
To those who naively suggest that skillfully planned "games" would lack spectator interest, I need only point to the unabated success of wrestling as a television "sport," and perhaps with a little less certainty, to some of the recent productions of the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, President),
I submit, sir, that this "Modest Proposal" of mine would bring football into complete harmony with every other aspect of our dynamic modern civilization.
ALDERN C. LINGUAL
Your issue of March 14 (WONDERFUL WORLD) would make it appear that women's rowing is something brand new under the sun.
Women invaded the "man's sport" long before 1955—at Cornell University in any event. They took up oars as early as 1896 and by the 1900s were participating in annual regattas, rowing both intramurally and with other colleges.
The crews worked out on the Cayuga Lake inlet, beginning at 6:30 a.m. and ending with a two-mile trek back up the hill in time for morning classes.
Miss S. D. TABER