TENNIS IN A COMA
Billy Talbert's recent comments on Jack Kramer's suggestion of open tennis tournaments (SI, June 6) contained the statement: "Jack's open tournament would be no more than a glorified touring road show. It would kill amateur tennis, the lifeblood of the sport."
Granted that a series of open tournaments would have some of the elements of a road show—most of the tournaments would contain the same players—what does Billy call the year-round pilgrimage of the top amateur tennis players of the U.S.? And which, may I ask, would Billy or anyone else interested in tennis prefer, a title match between Jack Kramer and Pancho Gonzales, or one between Tony Trabert and Vic Seixas?
As to his statement that open tournaments would kill amateur tennis, it would seem logical to compare tennis with golf—neither is a team sport and both may be played well into middle age. Golf has profited tremendously from open tournaments; this is indicated by the continued increase of amateur golf. Tennis on the contrary has lost ground since the mid-twenties, as the actual decrease in the number of rackets and balls sold by the leading manufacturers in this country shows, despite a population growth in the U.S. of approximately 30 million.
Let me hasten to add that while I disagree with Billy on this issue, I both admire and respect him as an individual and for his influence on tennis. Yet as a tennis enthusiast I view with alarm the present condition of my favorite game. It needs some form of resuscitation badly, for while it is not dying—and I trust never will—it certainly is in a state of coma.
T. MALCOLM PURCELL, JR.
June 19, 1955
MIRTH & GLEE WITH E & D
The writers of EVENTS & DISCOVERIES make me laugh. You ought to give them another page or two.
•Reader-Writer Dugan makes E & D writers happy—ED.
YOU HAD US IN THE STANDS
I enjoy SI very much, but you let us down on your reporting of Bill Vukovich's fatal crash (SI, June 6). You didn't take us to the scene, journalistically speaking, and tell us what happened. You had us a mile away in the stands, watching a distant column of smoke. One expects better journalism from an elaborate organization such as yours.
West Liberty, Ohio
•For 24 hours after the crash there was much confusion as to what had actually happened. Alfred Wright wrote the story on a special plane which left Indianapolis for Chicago (where SI is printed) minutes after the race ended. At that time, several versions of the accident were still circulating. Later, John Bentley talked with AAA officials and the drivers who survived the crash. His report of what really happened appeared in SI the following week.—ED.
THE CROSS FAULKNER BEARS
I waited a long time for comments from your readers on the Faulkner piece (SI, May 16). However, nothing has been mentioned about the thing that bothered me most in the story.
Faulkner may have written a long book called A Fable which had a religious tone and symbolism, and indeed, the cross was printed on the publisher's jacket; but I fail to see the significance or validity of a symbol such as your photographer-writer employed in his two-page photo of Faulkner and the hidden horse.
What is religious about a horse race? Why picture this man hunched over, studying a horse, to be sure, but at the same time looking as if he were bearing the weight of a life-and-death-size crucifix silhouetted upon a bleak sky?
DON L. HOFFMANN
•Actually, Mr. Faulkner was feeding the horse a lump of sugar. SI compliments Mr. Hoffmann on his sharp observation; so far he is the only person who has connected the accidental "symbol" with Mr. Faulkner's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.—ED.
We have examined the pictures of Marciano hitting Cockell while the latter was down (SI, May 30) and we have noted the champ's explanation that he had already started his swing when Cockell fell. From the evidence it appears that Rocky must have been aiming for Don's groin, which doesn't strike us as at all improbable.
J. S. STRINGHAM
J. M. STRINGHAM
IF HE WOULD JUST LEARN
In his article on the Marciano-Cockell fight (SI, May 30) Budd Schulberg says, "It almost started a revolution." I would say it did start one.
Rocky is my idol and would be a great champ if he would learn to fight cleaner. Show him the photos taken and he couldn't have the nerve to excuse himself.
Congratulations to your magazine for printing Budd Schulberg's truthful description of Marciano as an uncouth, merciless, uncontrolled and truly vicious fighter, which is exactly what he is.
I'm glad there is one magazine that is not afraid to call a spade a spade instead of depicting Marciano as "just a rough fighter" and "not really dirty," as too many have been doing.
I also admire you for printing Martin Kane's article about boxing's dirty business (SI, May 30), and for your timely exposés of racketeering in boxing.
Keep up the good work, and keep giving boxing's dirty element hell!
P. C. ALEGI
New Haven, Conn.
THE BIG TRAIN FROM TORONTO
I have been a subscriber to SI since its inception, and I think it's the greatest—in a league all its own.
Naturally, I have had some minor beefs—it's still true that you can't please all of the people all of the time. However, this week you've done it. And in one of my favorite departments, Jimmy Jemail's HOTBOX (SI, June 6).
Nine times out of ten, when it comes to the question of who's got the biggest, the best, etc., the answer is the Americans. But when you come to the greatest all-round athlete of all time, the person who fills that bill is Canada's "Big Train," Lionel Conacher. He was a star in all the sports he played—football, lacrosse, hockey, boxing (he once fought Dempsey), wrestling, baseball—I could go on and on. At all times he was a wonderful person and on retiring from the more energetic sports, served his country in the political field, as a member of parliament. When he died a year ago, he died an athlete's death—on third base, after hitting a triple in an exhibition ball game at Ottawa.
Sorry, Yanks, but here is your greatest all-round athlete of this or any other century—Lionel Conacher.
THE BIG BOY FROM TULARE
I AGREE WITH MY FRIEND PAT CASEY THAT BOB MATHIAS IS TODAY'S GREATEST, THORPE WAS TREMENDOUS BUT DID NOT COMPARE IN TRACK AND FIELD WITH THE BIG BOY FROM TULARE. IN MY BOOK THE GREATEST ALL-ROUND ATHLETE WHO EVER LIVED IS FRANKIE FRISCH THE OLD FORDHAM FLASH. HE WAS A LITTLE GUY BUT THERE WASN'T A SINGLE GAME HE DID NOT PLAY SUPERBLY.
SIMPLY A WINNER
Regarding Jimmy Jemail's question, "Is Babe Didrikson the greatest all-round athlete of our time?"
It seems that everybody you interviewed thought that it was either the Babe or Jim Thorpe.
I don't think so. My choice in the "best all-round" category is Bobby Dodd, the Georgia Tech football coach.
That may sound odd but I suggest you go to Atlanta and try to beat Dodd at something, anything. Let it be checkers, handball, golf, football, baseball, soccer, eating the most goldfish, sitting on a flagpole, I don't care what it is—he'll beat you. He is simply a winner.... If you don't agree, try him out at your sport.
•As an undergraduate, Robert Lee Dodd was a spectacular winner of varsity letters at the University of Tennessee—nine altogether, in football, basketball, baseball and track. Nowadays he's a steady winner—including six bowl games—with his Georgia Tech football teams.—ED.
To settle a friendly discussion, would you please give me the following information:
What is the total number of triple plays executed in the major leagues in the last 17 years?
PVT. R. MEDALIE
Fort Bliss, Tex.
•Sixty-nine—38 in the American League, 31 in the National League. So far in 1955, there have been two (SI, May 16 and June 6).—ED.
48 LUCKY STARS
Herbert Warren Wind's article on the Walker Cup (SI, May 30) is very good. The man knows how to write golf.
However, I would like to see some discussion of just what star the good old United States was born under. We clinch virtually everything we compete in over there. We have just won the British Amateur, and I would wager we will win the Open. Just why is this? Do you know?
Many conversations in locker rooms are centered on this subject, but no one has a plausible answer.
Food for thought, eh what, old boy?
•Another reader has suggested an answer (see below). And Herbert Warren Wind, who recently returned from reporting the Walker Cup matches and the British Amateur, heard the question endlessly discussed throughout Great Britain. He plans to report on the matter soon in his column.—ED.
TRIPLE TIME FOR GOLF?
Herbert Warren Wind's account of the Walker Cup matches is a masterpiece of the English language and also a most interesting piece of reporting.
In searching for the reason why this and other Walker Cup matches have been so one-sided, why hasn't someone pointed out that the U.S. has at least three times the population of Britain and its players undoubtedly devote double or triple the amount of time to the game of golf? If the New England section of the U.S. took on the balance of the country, its chances of winning would be just about as slim as are Britain's today.
WILLIAM O. BLANEY
THE GREAT UNINITIATED
The two small pictures on page 27 of your May 30 issue are just enough to spare you from the blast which has been cooking up in this corner concerning the lack of mention of volleyball in your wonderful magazine. (At least, I had seen nothing previously.)
All volleyball players will, I think, very much appreciate the recognition you gave to the spirit of amateurism which pervades the sport. Volleyball is a much misunderstood game, however, and I am sure that you could do worse than publish an article explaining to the great uninitiated that, as played in YMCA tournaments, it is not necessarily a game for sissies.
ARTHUR BARNETT McCOMB
A year ago, when invited to be one of the original subscribers to the new sports magazine which was to be presented to the sporting public a few weeks later, I wrote a personal letter asking if there would be any articles covering soccer football, which happens to be my favorite sport. I received a personal letter from you advising me that it would be given every consideration just the same as any other sport. At that time I had grave doubts, feeling that other sports magazines had promised the same thing but they never followed through.
Now I want to commend SI and apologize for my lack of faith in your word. Your soccer coverage has indeed been generous, including every phase of the game.
The recent article on the English Cup Final was remarkable. Your correspondent gave a very detailed account of the proceedings and of the game itself. I forwarded a copy of that issue to the Football Association, London and also to the managers of both teams.
SI does just what it promised; it makes every sport a major sport. To me there is no such thing as a minor sport. I am sure that every sports lover believes his own particular sport is just as important as any so-called major sport. Because a sport may draw a large crowd, some people decide that it is a bigger and better sport than the other fellow's. Actually it is not bigger or better. It is a major sport only for the promoters, financially.
JAMES A. WALDER
I enjoyed the article The Gun That Wouldn't Die (SI, May 30) very much. However, I think Mr. Walker made a mistake when he described the Model 88 Winchester as "the most powerful lever action now made." That distinction belongs to another Winchester, the Model 71, chambered for the .348 cartridge.
The heaviest bullet the .308 is being loaded for is the 180 grain, with a muzzle velocity of 2,610 feet per second and muzzle energy of 2,720 foot-pounds.
The .348 is being loaded with a 250-grain bullet at 2,350 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 3,060 foot-pounds.
An even more powerful cartridge, the "wildcat" .450 Alaskan, has been designed for the Model 71 action by Harold Johnson. This load is a necked up and reformed .348.
•The 250-grain .348, with its heavy, "brush-busting" bullet, surpasses the 180-grain .308 in muzzle energy only. At hunting ranges the .308 is superior. Here are examples of how the two compare:
ENERGY IN FOOT-POUNDS
The .450 "wildcat" is, of course, more powerful than either. But since it is not a commercially loaded cartridge, SI did not consider it a fair comparison.—ED.
HAIL TO JEMAIL
I note with interest Jimmy Jemail's HOTBOX (SI, May 23) and his reference to me. I think he has done a splendid job and I wish you would congratulate him.
MARK W. CLARK
•Mr. Jemail did his job at the Armed Forces Day Parade, where General Clark obligingly climbed down from the reviewing stand to answer his question.—ED.
THE NIGHTLY 19TH HOLE
Even on this forlorn pile of sand called Eniwetok, the great game of golf is played daily by some 10 to 20 of us. Naturally, the ever-present 19th hole is played here the same as at home; however, we seem to carry its play far, far into the night, and our arguments and wagers and threats go on endlessly.
At last night's 19th hole we ran into a beauty; and DOLLARS (lots of 'em) were bet on whether or not a six-par hole exists on any course in the United States. Two of us say yes and two others say no. We have agreed that your answer will determine who is right and who wrong; so please don't fail us. Harmony will never return to our little club until you settle the question. We love your magazine and anticipate each issue with avid interest.
W. R. MOORE
U. A. CRAVIOTTO
•Let harmony return to Eniwetok: SI has spotted three par 6s and there are probably more. The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J. and the brand-new Coral Ridge Club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. have holes measuring 603, 620 and 618 yards respectively. In championship play they are par 5s; but for average golfers playing from the back tee, they are 6s. For good measure, there's a 790-yard hole at Hammersly Hill, Lowell Thomas' private course near Pawling, N.Y. It has a double dogleg and a bank of 100-foot trees to shoot over. It's a par 7.—ED.
56,000 IN '26
In your May 9 issue in "Current Week and What's Ahead," EVENTS AND DISCOVERIES, you say, "Thirteen thousand people (biggest crowd in lacrosse history) jostled into Thompson Stadium at Annapolis...."
There are probably about 25,000 people still living who attended a lacrosse game in Tacoma, Washington on July 5, 1926 (the Fourth fell on a Sunday). On that day teams from Sidney and Victoria, B.C. played a game as part of the Tacoma celebration.
The stadium overlooks Puget Sound and appears to have been a small bay which was partly filled in to make a playing field, with seats built on three sides. Above the seats, a grassy slope rises to street level.
Now, sir, I'm telling you the seats were filled, the grass strip accommodated more of the crowd, and on the street above, the overflow lined the railing. We were told that 56,000 people paid admission. We (Sidney) lost the game 8 to 5.
I am enclosing a photo of the Sidney team taken at the game (see cut). It only shows a small portion of the spectators in the background and though it does not prove 56,000 attended, it does show how they were packed in.
In those days we played 12 men to a team. We called the game field lacrosse and our sticks were longer and wider than the crosses they use nowadays out this way. The present-day team is only about half the size numerically and the game is played indoors and known as box lacrosse.
J. E. McNEIL
West Vancouver, B.C., Canada
•Well, anyway, the Annapolis crowd was the second biggest in lacrosse history.-ED.
JACKPOT IN PRAISE
Never before have I read a more fascinating, more interesting, more superbly written issue of SI than the May 30 issue. To me, a Hoosier and junior at Indiana University, that issue was particularly great,
Mr. Bentley's beautiful and thrilling description of the start of the 500-mile race (which I have seen seven times); Mr. Schulberg's smashing and candid account of the Marciano-Cockell fight; Mr. Walker's most enjoyable and exciting article on the lever-action rifle; the story about what is to come when Turley meets Score (whom I saw pitch many times for the champion Indianapolis Indians) by Mr. Creamer; the photos of the IU "Little 500"; and all the other wonderful pictures and articles made the May 30 issue the best issue of any magazine ever.
I have never written to a magazine before, but I feel that I must congratulate you on your wonderful spectacle Duel at 880 Yards (SI, May 30). The photographs certainly captured the thrilling action of the race. It is articles like this that do so much to promote the sport of track and field and give it the recognition that it deserves. Thank you for a rare treat.