GREATEST COMPETITORS IN HISTORY
Yesterday (SI, Mar. 21) about the great days of the old Irish-American Athletic Club took me back to my boyhood when we lived within a few blocks of the clubhouse on 59th Street, and I was a very junior, noncompeting member whose chief value, with others of my ilk, was to swell the cheering sections at Celtic Park or Madison Square Garden.
I think your article errs in two details. The big weight throwers of the Irish were never called "Whales" in their or my day. This term must be the later invention of sportswriters who were not contemporary with the athletes in competition; Arthur Daley's column in the Times used the word recently, and I believe he is comparatively young. As I recall them, these Irish giants would probably have taken umbrage at a name which might be mistaken for a country foreign to their native sod.
Further, you include Matt McGrath as being a member of the Irish-American AC. He properly belonged there, of course, but my recollection is that the New York AC in some way got him signed up first, and Lieut. McGrath competed under the Winged Foot, not the Winged Fist, except when, like all the others, he had the shield of the U.S.A. on his Olympics jersey.
I hope no casual reader will think of the IAAC as being all weight and brawn in field events. They had an equal number of track greats. Martin Sheridan was second only to Jim Thorpe as the greatest all-round athlete of his day—he could do the hundred in 10 flat and jump high and broad with the best specialists; he really popularized the discus throw in this country, and threw it Greek-style as well as the free-style which has become standard; we kids used to imitate his gyrations in PSAL field games. In their track men, Mel Sheppard was, of course, pre-eminent, but they had track speedsters galore; and in two Olympics I recall this single club of the U.S.A. had a greater point total than all the rest of the nations competing combined. Much of the credit for this was due their great coach, Lawson Robertson, who assembled in the old brick building on East 59th Street what was probably the greatest aggregation of competitors in athletic history.
EDWARD B. EGAN
April 4, 1955
ALLOW ME TO MENTION
In answer to Mr. R. J. White's question as to when the one-handed basketball shot was first used—asked in Mar. 21 19TH HOLE—allow me to mention the fact that Glen Killinger, All-America Quarterback of 1921 and a basketball player of great ability while a student at Pennsylvania State College, used a one-handed shot with great effect in 1919, 1920, 1921 and 1922. Professor B. M. Herman coached the basket ball team at Penn State during those years and Killinger is now athletic director at, I think, West Chester Teachers College in Pennsylvania.
I organized and coached the first basketball team at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. and on that team of 1910 I had a center, Marvin Ritch, who used the one-handed shot once in a while. Ritch is now a lawyer in Charlotte, N.C.
Then, too, the shot was being used by players at West Virginia at Morgantown, W. Va. in 1921.
It is a most natural shot and would have been used much sooner had coaches not been against it.
NAT J. CARTMELL
Advisory Track & Field Coach
West Point, N.Y.
I ALSO RECALL
I recall seeing a member of the Carlisle Indians basketball team use the one-hand fadeaway shot about 1912 playing against Swarthmore College at Swarthmore, Pa. and he used it successfully too. (I was a student then.)
HOWARD M. BUCKMAN
George School, Pa.
HISTORY MAINE STYLE
A delayed reaction to check facts to state that, while Mr. Rickey is a wonderful man and has done a lot for baseball, here are the facts.
Re: Ladies Day, invented by Mr. Rickey.
From the Portland, Maine Daily Advertiser, July 3, 1884: "At the baseball game between the Portlands and the Lewistons on the afternoon of the 4th, ladies will be admitted to the grounds free."
Re: Jackie Robinson as first Negro in organized baseball.
From the Portland Sunday Times, March 29, 1891: "Manager (Frank J.) Leonard (of the Portland team entered in the New England League) first hired the Cuban Giants, but Portland fans didn't like the idea of it, so he released them."
The Cuban Giants were Negroes. We almost made history when Mr. Rickey was nine years old. The New England League of Professional Baseball Clubs was a bona fide organized pro league, brought along players like Annis, Mutrie, Mathewson.
DON MAC WILLIAMS
Maine Broadcasting System
•In other words it would be almost correct to say that as Maine went so went Rickey, with accent on the almost.—ED.
I have read all your numbers since the first copy.
Boy! Oh, boy! That was a good one! The story on bird watching, Mar. 21, was one of your best.
My hobbies have been fishing, mountain climbing and skiing, but I am a bird watcher as well and try every year to add to my Life List like all good bird men.
Your magazine deserves a great deal of credit for reaching people in all walks of life.
More power to you. Killing may have its place but I like to see the live ones.
HENRY JEWETT GREENE
Winter Park, Fla.
BAGELS IN HERNANDO'S HIDEAWAY
In regard to Gordon P. Naugle's backhanded blast (19TH HOLE, Mar. 14) at my Camp Fire piece, since he doesn't know me, how come he managed to identify me from behind in the quail walk shot? And as one of a huddled group of 11 in the clay bird cut? I had to look twice to recognize myself and I know me real good.
Just for the record, the photos were taken by Gene Pyle, a free-lance, free-wheeling lad who was turned loose on the reservation, like the Camp Fire deer, to snap anybody he saw fit. The pix used were selected by the SI staff, not by me.
I don't mind unprovoked attacks by elephants, but I'm more choosy when it comes to two-legged critters. At his convenience I'll be happy to take this hornyhinded joker on with rifle, pistol, shotgun, crossbow, snowballs, rocks, wet bagels or rubber carpet beaters. It will have to be on neutral ground, and my preferences include Graustark, Glocca Morra, Hernando's Hideaway and the summit of Mt. Everest.
I've got a word of caution for this side-winding sniper. Don't rile old Charlie Guldner. Charlie can shoot the eye out of a termite with a .30-06 and is a mean man with a scattergun to boot
RUSSELL BARNETT AITKEN
As one of your charter subscribers, I want to express my satisfaction with SI to date and particularly the issue of Feb. 21. The human articles, such as The Robin Who Didn't Fly South, SOUNDTRACK and Small Hands Take the Wheel, are so refreshing and typical of our Americans.
I presume that SI is enjoying as much success elsewhere in the world as it is here in Europe. It is a great aid to all American ambassadors of good will and good sports on the international scene, as well as a positive adjunct to free peoples' crucial struggle for men's minds.
I intend to renew when the time comes to do so.
JOSEPH C. RIVELY
Lt. Col., U.S.A.
Bad Homburg, Germany
WE THOUGHT THE COLOR SKI SHOTS IN YOUR MARCH 14 ISSUE, AND IN PARTICULAR THE COVER PICTURE, WERE WONDERFUL, BUT GOT INTO QUITE AN ARGUMENT AT THE OFFICE OVER THE LOCALE WHICH WAS NOT IDENTIFIED IN THE CAPTIONS. COULD IT POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN THAT WONDERFUL UNION PACIFIC RESORT IN IDAHO, SOMETHING-OR-OTHER VALLEY?
SUN VALLEY NEWS BUREAU
Sun Valley, Id.
•That's the valley.—ED.
FOR DENNIS READ LEWIS
With Dennis Osborne suffering an attack of pneumonia, thus eliminating his hopes of trying out for the 1956 United States Olympic alpine squad, your caption titled Dennis Osborne in your Olympic gallery feature (SI, Mar. 14) should have read Lewis Fellows, 17, of Tahoe City, Calif. Maybe Dennis' spirits will rise with a correction to this effect.
Never has a national publication had such excellent winter sports coverage as has SI.
Winter Sports Editor
Nevada State Journal
I REALLY KNOW ONE
I really know a 100% honest golfer (SI, Mar. 21). He lives in Charleston, S.C. and is a reporter for the Charleston Evening Post. His name is Walter P. Crews, and I have played golf with him several times. He is the most completely honest golfer I have ever seen.
To illustrate: Crews' golf game is called, shall we say, lousy. Yes, let's say that, as his lowest round for 18 holes is a cool 119. But he averages around 130-145. And he counts every stroke, including those strokes which never come in contact with the ball. But he is sincere. To further illustrate: He was totaling one of his mediocre rounds in Jacksonville, Fla. one day in this manner..."Let's see, now...10, 13, 11, 14, 12, 8 (bright smile on that one), 11, 22. Boy, that one hurt!"...etc. This actually happened, so help me!
Just thought you might be interested.
THEY KNOW HOW MOTHER FEELS
When my husband saw the picture of Pieter Mijer (PAT ON THE BACK, Mar. 14) he said, "There is a truly happy man!"
I was delighted to see it because he judged some of my bouts when I fenced in competition in New York 13 years ago. You are never too old to fence and it keeps you in wonderful condition. Fencing to me is the finest sport there is.
There is no accredited teacher in our neck of the woods and I have been instructing young men at our local YMCA so as to make them interested enough to pay for lessons from a fencing master who can commute.
I have a family of five who know how mother feels about the sport. I love it!
MARIA K. WAGNER
Grand Rapids, Mich.
FLOPS, GASPS AND STRAINS
We're quite sure all Roy Couch's sidekicks at the Buffalo West Side Rowing Club will gasp in amazement at his Florida Southern gals as they flopped, gasped and strained across the pages of your Mar. 14 issue. Like us, they must have wanted to shout "eyes in the boat" or "sit up, sit up." We're still trying to figure out at what that begloved stroke is gazing.
All kidding aside; our congratulations to Roy, both as a top coach and a chap who is doing a great deal to further rowing on the American college scene. His summers are spent up this way, working with club crews along both sides of the border.
Congratulations to SI also for giving us a splash of rowing. Hope to see more and more of the grand old sport in your columns as the season progresses.
St. Catharines Rowing Club
St. Catharines, Ont.
•It's our guess that the stroke is reading the caption.—ED.
THE FLAVOR FOR NON-LATINISTS
Anent your cartoon of the friars playing baseball (Mar. 21), as an old Latin teacher I found the humor commendable, but I can't say the same for the syntax. The second person optative (habeas) was used incorrectly after necesse est. The proper word is the infinitive "habere." For non-Latinists who want the full flavor of the caption, herewith a free translation (allowing for the correction in syntax): "For sure, Brother Benjamin, you need new eyeglasses."
Your magazine est semper gaudium purum.
FRED W. FRIES
The Indiana Catholic and Record
STAYING POWER IN THE DUNES
The other day I happened to receive in a Dutch Army barracks Jan. 31 SI. After some reading my attention was drawn to your article Hot Rod and the Best. I have read it with enthusiasm because I like basketball very much (and) as I play it myself in a club in the town of Haarlem.
I was surprised to see what very tall kind of players you have got there. Here in Holland we don't pay very much attention to the length of a player but we specially attend to the tactics and techniques of a player. It seems to me that physical training by you is more intensive than by us.
As you will know we have not the disposal of play halls as you have in the United States and when there is a match in the first division there are 300 spectators at the most.
The training is not very high because there is a lack of halls. My club trains once in a fortnight in a hall and every Sunday morning we are in the dunes in order to raise our staying power.
THE STAFF OF LIFE
I just want to get my two cents about baseball in.
It is often said that the world hasn't really improved much in the last two centuries. This may be true about some things; however, two centuries ago the people of the world were without one of the most enjoyable things in life: baseball.
Amazing isn't it that those ancestors of ours who were such smart fellows hadn't put their heads together and invented the game that today thrills millions each year. We can only be thankful that we live in a time in which baseball is one of the necessities of life.
However, this great neglect can, to some extent, explain difficulties suffered by those not so fortunate.
For example: if Romeo had lived when there was baseball, no doubt he and Juliet would have had a much more private love affair, what with all the kin out at the ball park. Or imagine how much sooner America would have been discovered if the scouts had been out looking for good ballplayers. They wouldn't have let a little ocean stand between them and a pennant. And if King George had been a baseball fan he wouldn't have wasted all those strong soldiers fighting the Yankees; he would have given them bats so they could play the Yankees. George Washington would have been the best rookie to come along in years with that throwing arm of his. Why, come to think of it, the civilization of the world would be greatly advanced today if only baseball had come along about the time of Adam.
Course we are fortunate to have had it invented when it was. Suppose it still didn't exist! The world might not have found any reason for inventing the radio for use in the late spring, the summer, and the early fall. Simply because there wouldn't have been anything worth listening to. Horrors! What a calamity that would be.
Good grief! What a relief it happened at all.