JOHN BENTLEY'S ACCOUNT OF LE MANS (SI, June 20) WAS SUPERIOR REPORTAGE
YOUR PRESENTATION IN SI (June 27) OF THE U.S. OPEN IS TERRIFIC. AT LONG LAST YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR MATURITY.
BEN & INFINITY
Ben Hogan may have been more truthful and less modest than he perhaps realized when he referred to himself as "nothing divided by nothing" (SI, June 20). Nothing divided by nothing (zero-over-zero) is an indeterminate fraction and can indicate anything from zero to a billion and beyond (with negative quantities thrown in too, if you want). Ben's "nothing divided by nothing" may have been pretty small at the time he referred to, but right now it is approaching infinity; he is clearly established as the greatest golfer of all time.
THE LITERATE SPORTSMAN
It is interesting to note how greatly his avid interest in sports has helped make my son, David (almost 8), a good reader.
July 3, 1955
The sports pages of the daily newspapers and the bubble-gum baseball cards are eagerly read and reread. But SI is the special favorite—and he devours it each week.
This education by sports-reading is not without its complications. For instance, the other day Dave asked me, "Do they have earned run averages in golf?"
"Not as far as I know, Dave, why?"
"Well, look here, it says the Hogan ERA was one of the greatest in golf...."
Mr. William Woodward of New York and Florida is an intelligent man, indeed. He has shown his canniness and horse sense by declining to send a colt he owns, Nashua by name, all the way to the province of California to run over a strip of ground against a magnificent animal that goes by the name of Swaps.
If I were Mr. Woodward, I would follow the same course. As long as he stays in the East, his horse can win one big purse after another and not have to worry about a thing. It is a fact that this year's crop of 3-year-olds in the East is one of the most mediocre in many years.
I know the Messrs. Ellsworth, Tenney and Shoemaker must have watering mouths dreaming about another chance to administer a licking to Nashua. If by some slip on the part of the canny Mr. Woodward, he were to sanction a match between his pretender and the king, I want to be the first to predict a victory for Swaps by a minimum of four lengths!
Again, though, let me congratulate Mr. Woodward. For indeed, he is a wise man.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
•Mr. Woodward and Nashua will be in Chicago this month, where they will be seeking victory in the Arlington Classic on July 16. He has said publicly that he hopes and expects Nashua to meet Swaps in a match race there. Swaps is also due in Chicago for the American Derby on Aug. 20.—ED.
When Mr Bayard Ashcroft's letter, Boston Bird Watcher Walks With His Hero, appeared in your publication (SI, March 21), several of my friends urged that I write an article in "defense" of girl watching (as opposed to bird watching). I resisted on the ground that girl watching doesn't need defending against bird watching. We are not at war. True girl watchers no more oppose bird watchers than violinists oppose cellists or plasterers oppose plumbers.
However, with the continuing appearance of articles on and references to bird watching in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, I am moved to clarify the girl-watching position.
First, I hasten to declare that some of my best friends are bird watchers. Indeed, some of my bird-watching friends are girl watchers!
The only point over which girl watchers and bird watchers sometimes disagree is the place each holds in the hierarchy of hobbies. Naturally, or I should say personally, I contend that the unexpected observation and quiet contemplation of a Late-Rising Pubthrush (for example) is a more rewarding experience than the sight of a Blue-Billed Barnswallow (if there is such a bird) rising from a thicket.
Yet I wouldn't carry this argument beyond the simple statement of my stand. After all, the butterfly collector thinks that both girl watchers and bird watchers are missing everything.
I believe further that there is very little reason why girl watching should be compared with bird watching in the first place. For one thing, bird watchers are concerned primarily with bird identification and only secondarily with the bird as a bird. The opposite is true of girl watchers. Whether the species is an Argyle-Ankled Classcutter or a Wide-Eyed Culturebug is of less importance than whether she is beautiful. In other words, a bird watcher may be crushed and demoralized when he fails to identify a purple bird with a yellow spot between her eyes, while a girl watcher will be both delighted and fulfilled by the vision of a beautiful redhead (even though he may not have the slightest idea whether she is a Carrot-Topped Minkmiser or a Flame-Tressed Tablehopper).
For another thing, the field trip is more important to bird watchers than to girl watchers. While the bird watcher is always on the alert for the out-of-place or the out-of-season, he is happiest when he is watching officially. Constant alertness, on the other hand, is basic to the very nature of the girl watcher. The field trip is but an occasional, almost casual, aspect of his hobby.
American Society of Girl
A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS ATTENTION
I add my thanks to those of millions of Americans who rejoice over the much-needed public service you have rendered through your June 13 article by Wallace Stegner, We Are Destroying Our National Parks. Mr. Stegner shows both knowledge and understanding of a problem which, as he points out, needs attention on a nationwide scale.
I am sure you can increase the effect of this article by sending a marked copy to every senator and representative concerned with appropriations and legislation affecting our national parks and monuments.
Sixty million dollars a year seems like an insignificant amount to spend on the preservation, rehabilitation and interpretation of one of the greatest national assets we have. The gentlemen in Congress should understand the importance of a balanced nature as well as of a balanced budget. Please continue the good work.
ODD S. HALSETH
•Mr. Stegner's article has been read into the Congressional Record by Senator Richard L. Neuberger of Oregon.—ED.
This is to advise you and our friends on Eniwetok (19th HOLE, June 20) that our modest little golf course at the Elks Country Club in Council Bluffs, Iowa had a 615-yard hole, par 6, for many years.
Due to much beefing, it has been shortened this year, and for my part, it just "ain't the same." That old hole had a distinction all its own.
MRS. HAL BERNER
Council Bluffs, Iowa
I have heard from many people about some mysterious golfer in southern California who has piled up an incredible number of aces on various golf courses. I was therefore delighted to see a picture of this man in your June 20 issue of SI.
I think this is a far greater accomplishment than breaking course records, which are again broken the next year or the one following that. I have played rounds of golf on many courses throughout the world and during 40 years of active golfing have made but two holes in one.
This feat of Jim East is one that, I dare predict, will never be equaled and makes me wonder why more acclaim has not been given this man.
68 SKATING SEASONS
Mr. Keighley's letter, with the addenda by the editor (19TH HOLE, June 13), helped fill the void surrounding the name of Jackson Haines.
For close to half a century I have done my bit in American figure skating circles to emphasize Haines's lasting importance as the American skating king. With him the renascence of skating started.
Figure skating is the only sport without age limit. I am 76, but skate three or four times a week and can give a quite respectable performance—of course, minus Double Axels and Haines Spins (see cut). The past winter was the 68th of my skating seasons.
SECRET WEAPON: EARLY MODEL
Color in the Dust (SI, June 20) brought back memories of my own favorite aggies and moonies and those things so long forgotten. I spent an hour just looking at the illustration. But where was that secret weapon every "dirty operator" had in his marble bag-the STEELIE?
THANKS FOR THE MEMORY
Have just read Color in the Dust and, as an old marble player (circa 1909-1914), I was much interested—some might call it nostalgically so.
We had shooters then that took some time to get established. Most of our fathers worked in machine shops and brought home worn-out ball bearings (steel) which would knock the miggles galley-west.
Your illustration has the shooter knuckling down. That way he puts a backspin on his aggie, though we didn't know it as such. We just knew it kept you in the ring and from there on all was yours for "keeps." If anyone else's aggie was in the ring, it was yours too, and he was done for.
I forget what they called shooting from the end of the thumb but it seems to have had a sissy connotation. Would ball bearings be admitted in competition today?
Thanks for recollections of a lot of fun on the mile or two between school and home.
•Shooting from the end of the thumb was called "cunnythumb." The method did have a "sissy connotation" once, but is now used by the experts because it allows better control. Steelies have never been allowed in tournament play; in fact some rule books state that marbles may be made of "any substance except metal."—ED.
I enjoyed your article on marbles and offer the following:
When I was a youngster, 30 years ago, we didn't play "Ringer," but rather "Bunny in the Hole."
Since what we called "glassies" cost 5¢ apiece, I used the clay mibs which I could get 12 for a penny.
Remembering this, I began 10 years ago picking up glass marbles I found on the street on my five-minute walk to work. I have just given my total gleanings to my 9-year-old son. Altogether, in following the same short route for seven years, I picked up 746 glassies the kids had lost while standing on opposite sidewalks and pegging them at each other.
As a lad, I would have worked hours for just five of those jewels, and treasured them more highly than my frog, broken-bladed knife, model biplane, or picture of Lindbergh. I wish I were young enough to take those 746 and try to build them into 1,000 in neighborhood competition.
H. S. RIBBY
TRACK WITHOUT WHISKERS
Being a high school trackman myself, I read your EVENTS & DISCOVERIES column on track's beardless record breakers (SI, June 20) with interest. Since the Melbourne Olympiad is almost a full year and a half away, these young phenoms have ample time to ready themselves for astonishing performances down under.
In the May 23 issue of SI I came across the article on Sam Jones's no-hitter. According to your magazine this was the 93rd no-hitter since 1900. This didn't sound correct to me so I looked it up in the Baseball Almanac, and sure enough it had 96 no-hitters listed. Jones's made it 97. I believe that a correction of your error is due for the many baseball fans who read your magazine.
•SI's baseball statistician ignored five no-hitters pitched in the Federal League in 1914 and 1915 because the Federal League was not recognized as a major league. He also included a no-hitter pitched in 1900.—ED.
EXERCISE FOR DODOES
You are undoubtedly right in saying (SI, June 20) that the British pay little attention to American criticism of cricket. In fact, they must be somewhat amused by it. Our own national sport is baseball. Baseball is well constructed for watching. For sand-lot use it also has the advantage of requiring little equipment. But as exercise, it is strictly for the dodoes.
The physiologist who checked the energy consumption in cricket ought to check baseball. An outfielder ambles back and forth to his position, accepts three or four chances, and stands several times in a threatening attitude at the plate. Exercise?
People who want exercise along with their recreation will swim or play soccer or tennis.
EDWARD L. GORDY
BRUTES, BEASTS & BROADS
The seven answers to the question, "What is the basic appeal behind professional wrestling?" (HOTBOX, June 20) were all interesting, but there's plenty more to be said on the subject.
The ripple of a manly bicep does the same thing for a woman that the toss of a feminine hip will for a man. But it goes deeper than that, clear down to maternal complexes. Let's pick a gorgeous critter who can bring a flutter to the most implacable old maid's heart. His opponent is a gargantuan brute, a genuine simian type. Our hero flattens the brute, but his advantage is only momentary. The brute hauls himself together and resorts to every cheap trick—hair-pulling, eye-gouging, etc. Suddenly a shrill scream pierces the air. Is it a Comanche? An air-raid siren? Neither! It's some gal, shoe in hand, galloping down the aisle. She lets fly, missing the brute but smacking a surprised gentleman on the other side of the ring flush on the kisser.
This sort of thing happens all the time. Only recently, at our arena, this particular broad was followed down the aisle by her harried husband, who finally caught up with her and threw her over his shoulder, fireman style, to cart her back to her seat. You see fidgety dames in the front rows, afroth with hero worship one minute, their eyes afire the next with a hatred only a lady wrestling fan can feel.
When George and Bobby Becker were in their heyday as a tag team Bobby died a few months ago—their lady admirers enjoyed making clothing for their children.
Sandor Szabo, a Hungarian hearty, once was gifted with a diamond wrist watch that set these women back $5,000.
Baron Michele Leone, long-haired Italian show-off, is a favorite of the fans, being possessed of an uncanny knack for stimulating emotions. One night, he was principal with Lord James Blears when two of the spectators, both men, suffered heart attacks, one dying on the spot and the other a few hours later. His fans ignore his brutishness and elect to shower him with gifts of all descriptions.
Another villain in whom the female fans detect a glimmer of goodness is Lord Carleton, the beast of Britain who glowers down his nose at his opponents with scathing disdain. An admirer recently knitted him a pair of socks with his family crest on them.
Then, of course, there's Gorgeous George. Lady fans have given him enough perfume to float the battleship Wisconsin.
Owner, Valley Garden Arena
North Hollywood, Calif.
•Phew! That's a lot of perfume. The Wisconsin's displacement is 45,000 tons.—ED.
MANY GOOD BOATS
I was pleased to read Robert Bavier's article in the June 13 issue of your magazine, and was particularly interested in his remarks about Baruna and her chances in next month's race to Honolulu.
There are too many good boats in this race for us to feel smug, but we all feel we have an excellent chance of making a creditable showing for a boat which has already won her share of prizes on the East Coast.
EVAN T. PUGH
•Mr. Pugh is a San Francisco businessman and a member of Baruna's crew.—ED.
I am one of the many horse lovers who read your magazine. I feel that you have been paying too much attention to horse racing and race horses and have forgotten about the rest of the horse world.
Horse shows, rodeos and other equine events are always going on. Surely these happenings must be classified as sport.
Let's see some more articles for riders and horse lovers.
•In the works are plans for stories on polo, Tennessee Walking Horses, a horse show or two, Quarter Horses, a famous stable and the Hambletonian. Maybe they won't all appear, but most of them will.—ED.
YOU CAN'T HARDLY GET THEM ANY MORE
I wonder if any of the old-timers among your readers may be able to tell me where any Reach or Spalding Baseball Guides are obtainable? I am a baseball bibliophile and I need some of the books (published yearly from 1876 to 1941) to fill out a set.
I am sure the guides are familiar to the baseball fans who can go way back, and perhaps they can tell me where the more elusive copies might be turned up. If any of your veteran baseball followers can help in this quest it would be greatly appreciated.
Will you please ask your editors to provide some real rowing coverage?
Your coverage of that sport is unusually bad. I'll be glad to recommend some experienced writers in this field.
F. H. GUTERMAN
•But there have been six rowing stories in the last four issues, i.e., the piece on Rusty Callow (June 6); Orphans Victorious (E & D, June 13); a four-page SPECTACLE, plus Collegians, Man Your Oars, plus Harriman at Yale (June 20); and a report on the Syracuse regatta (E & D, June 27).—ED.
FISHERMAN'S CALENDAR is missing from the June 20 issue. I hope you don't mean to eliminate this feature.
Even if I can't go fishing, I can dream, can't I?
•The tragic news from Le Mans crowded FISHERMAN'S CALENDAR out of the June 20 issue, but it's back now.-ED.