DOWN-TO-EARTH HUMAN BEING
As a charter subscriber to SI I have had many opportunities to compliment your fine writing staff but somehow I haven't written until now.
This is an article from the July 18, 1955 issue
Your article on Preacher Roe (SI, July 4) was one of the finest to date. Seldom has an article offered so much. Not only is it one of the best word pictures of Roe, the man, the player, the down-to-earth human being he is, but it gave a real explanation of the spitball in fine detail, with illustrations.
I can honestly say that I was aware as I read the article of the enjoyment of a well-written, worthwhile piece of work.
I had the disadvantage of not being a Dodger fan but I do admire good writing and your magazine is continuing to do a really wonderful job.
SI is doing a far better job and making a much greater contribution than any other current publication covering the world of sports.
WHERE IS THE HUMBLENESS OF SINCERE REGRET?
This is one man's opinion of the story of Preacher Roe's rise to "stardom."
If an honest confession is good for the soul, perhaps Preacher Roe may someday reap the benefits of his cynical boast that for seven years he violated the rules of our national game—surely that's the only good that can come of it.
It was shocking to learn that one of the game's supposedly great stars achieved that apparent status only by the process of repeated cheating. It was also unfortunate that the manner in which he unburdened himself carried none of the humbleness of sincere regret.
The least the Preacher could have done was to keep his mouth shut, but apparently a mentality such as his could not fully enjoy being paid for trickery and deceit unless the whole country knew how "clever" he was. At the same time he has thrown a long shadow of suspicion across the really great stars of the game and has made the umpires appear to be completely incompetent. He has dirtied the reputations of some of his most glittering teammates. Never again will Campanella and Reese and Cox be regarded with the complete admiration they formerly enjoyed, and no doubt they shouldn't.
Baseball, the players, the fans, and in the final analysis, the Preacher himself, would have been far better off if he had taken his failures with the Cardinals and Pirates like a man.
Webster Groves, Mo.
TAKE A SABBATICAL
One year after your entrance into the world of sports with high ideals about The Golden Era you present us with Preacher Roe's message to American youth.
'Tis better to win with outlawry than to lose with dignity. It is better to be a rich success than an honorable failure.
I think we need a very different kind of Preacher for our children.
BOLLING L. ROBERTSON JR.
Your article about Preacher Roe and the spitball simply confirms what many people have known for a long time—that the Dodgers are a bunch of bums!
CHARLES E. GOULD
BRING IT BACK
It was quite interesting to read Preacher Roe's story. It seems to me that he has a good point in believing that some steps are necessary to help the pitcher. I think that the spitball should once again be legalized. From Preacher's own record he did better after he started using the spitball and no doubt it helped him, as it would others, to stay in the National League a few years longer. This article will cause controversy, I'm sure of that much.
T. J. MILLER
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I have enjoyed everything in your fine magazine up to the issue in which appeared that revolting story by Dick Young about Preacher Roe.
When a man is a public hero, he acquires a reputation for integrity, and when he does not live up to that reputation he is cheating the public out of what it expects. A pitcher who admits throwing illegal spitballs and cutting the ball so that it will revolve crazily is giving a terrible example to youth and cheapening our national game.
Naturally our youth will do what the stars do, and because they will copy and throw spitters, people are going to be hurt.
FRANK J. PARKER JR.
Great! 'The Outlawed Spitball Was My Money Pitch.' I can't remember when I've enjoyed an article as much as I did this scoop by Roe and Dick Young.
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Your article on Preacher Roe was terrific! It is wonderful that your magazine uncovers things of this nature. Please uncover more of these unknown facts.
I LIKE 'EM TOO
I enjoyed your article on Preacher Roe since I'm a Dodger fan and my uncle is Preacher's lawyer.
I am puzzled that they outlawed the spitball. It seems to me that the pitchers deserve a break.
Nothing that I have read since the Black Sox scandal has so disgusted and nauseated me as the brazen recital of ex-Dodger Pitcher Preacher Roe. If his story is not a setback to the thousands of honest and decent sports contestants in America who believe in fair play and abiding by the rules, then it's about time to draw the curtain from the halo of so many of our sports heroes. Mr. Roe took advantage of every low-down trick, then had the audacity to relate his shame and, with a smirk on his face, to implicate others on his team. That makes him low man on the totem pole of sportsmanship.
My foreign-born parents instilled into me, from the time I could remember the Golden Rule, that honesty and truth are always best. We have taught our two daughters the same, and they in turn their children. In my youth I played baseball and basketball, took a fling at track and swimming. I was never much good at any of them, but we played hard and to win, and we played fair and square, win or lose. I look back at those contests with honest pride.
Mr. Roe ends his article with the remarks that he has a nice home, a cabin just across the Arkansas border, a small boathouse, etc. and he remarks, "Not bad for a little ol' country boy. I'm for spitballs. I like them."
Now I am wondering: after his remarks are digested by his neighbors, does he have their respect?
•West Plains, Mo. took Preacher Roe's revelations in its stride. "The fact that he used the spitball doesn't change my opinion of him," says Dr. M. C. Amyx who has known Roe since he was a child. "When he used that ball he undoubtedly felt he had good reasons for doing it. Remember, he was playing in years when pitchers were having a rough time." Dick Gavit, Preacher's next-door neighbor and a thoughtful student of the game, believes Preacher was justified in using the spitball with equipment and ball parks favoring the batter. On the ethics involved West Plains seems united. "Preacher never does anything that he sees in his mind as being wrong. He is one of the best men I've known," says another neighbor. Doctor Amyx agrees. "A real high type man."—ED.
THE IBC'S LITTLE HELPER
Mr. Jack O'Brian in his COLUMN OF THE WEEK in the July 4 issue expressed my thoughts as I watched, or I should say heard, the Martinez-Varona fight on TV.
Mr. Powers built up a good case for the IBC not to give Martinez a fight on TV for another year.
TV is doing very little to clean up boxing when it allows Mr. Powers to give out with his propaganda.
I want to thank Mr. O'Brian for convincing me that my eyes were not deceiving me.
H. STUART RAPP
Mount Holly, N.J.
LET'S CALL A HALT
Congratulations to Mr. Jack O'Brian and his article calling for a halt to the sarcastic fight announcing by Jimmy Powers. Whether Basilio manages to get to Vince's midsection remains to be seen—Powers says he is vulnerable there—but let's just let Martinez fight in the way he finds most effective, and give him credit for it.
Santa Fe, N. Mex.
HAS HE AN INTEREST?
What a thrill it is to pick up a magazine and see your own thoughts in the words of a real pro.
As I read each pointed paragraph of Mr. O'Brian's article I uttered cries of "Hear! Hear!" "Bravo," etc. Mr. Powers' personal likes and dislikes have not been confined to the Martinez-Varona match but this seemed to me to climax his previous renditions. We started to notice a few weeks previous to the Martinez-Varona fight that Mr. Powers most definitely had his heart set on one particular contestant and made all kinds of curious remarks about the "shortcomings" of his opponent. Contrast this with Mr. Powers' dull monologue when he was disinterested in both fighters!
Thanks for a terrific sports publication—and I do mean every issue.
HE HAS FAILED MANY
Why single out one fight to show the failings of Mr. Powers as a fight announcer? Take any fight he has announced and play it back. You will find his weakness always prominently displayed.
If the fight is below par, the sponsor cannot be held responsible, but certainly he must answer for the announcer he employs.
Once again SI carries the ball and presents in print the thoughts of many.
R. D. HAND
COUNT YOUR CADS ONE BY ONE
I think that the best thing that I have read in SI since it was founded is John Marquand's Happy Knoll series.
Mr. Marquand is the perfect author to write about the American country club, its snobberies, counting of Cadillacs, pretentiousness and basic pettiness. The subject goes along with his novels beautifully. All of Marquand's characters have a lot in common—they have minds as shallow as a birdbath. Bob Lawton in Happy Knoll is no exception: he is most typical of the country club membership chairmen.
I heartily approve of SI's policy of having great living authors write on some aspect of sports, in fact I think that is the outstanding feature of the magazine.
SWAPS? WHO THAT?
Pooh...Reader Friedman (19th HOLE, July 4) doesn't know what he's talking about if he thinks Swaps can beat Nashua, the finest 3-year-old of the year. Native Dancer was, by far, last year's finest 3-year-old. When the Derby came around some obscure horse named Determine got lucky. It was the same this year. Nashua is the greatest 3-year-old of all time or at least he ranks with the best of them.
Now, as for this year's crop of Eastern 3-year-olds being mediocre, let me remind Reader Friedman that Summer Tan isn't quite a pushover.
Any horse that can win the Florida Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes and the Wood Memorial (to name a few) could smear (and I use that term lightly) some unknown from California.
Mr. Friedman said in his letter that he would like to be the first to predict a victory for Swaps by eight lengths if a match race is arranged between Swaps and Nashua. Well, I would like to be the first to predict a victory for Nashua—by the same generous margin of eight lengths! This is, of course, if Swaps has the nerve to show up for the race.
•For other opinions on which horse is the better, see HOTBOX, page 6. And for a look at Swaps in his native habitat, see page 52.—ED.
NASHUA VS. SWAPS: A NATURAL
Millions of American racing fans would like to see Nashua & Swaps meet in a great match race this year.
It just takes a magazine like yours to try and get two great sportsmen, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Ellsworth, together and make it possible for two great champions to compete with each other. Nashua and Swaps are a natural—this only happens once in every 25 years.
ROBERT B. MORRIS
Santa Monica, Calif.
As a longtime lover of the bulldog, allow me to offer enthusiastic congratulations on your fine article. The author must have owned one!
Bulldog devotees among your readers might be interested to know that in a Monroe, N.C. cemetery stands a small, simple marker, inscribed with words to this effect:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY BULLDOG, HE WAS AFFECTIONATE, COURAGEOUS, AND LOYAL TO AN EXTENT GREATER THAN MOST OF MY KINSMEN OR BUSINESS ASSOCIATES!
•Writer Reginald Wells says he has 300 bats in his attic and a boxer and a dachshund downstairs. He has never owned a bulldog.—ED.
I DECIDED I MUST SEE HIM
As charter subscribers to SI, my son, my daughter and I have vastly enjoyed each issue, but none more than the July 4 issue which covers the AAU meet we attended in Boulder, Colo. last week.
Richard Meek's photographs of the meet are superb. It was his photograph of Arnie Sowell which appeared some weeks ago that sparked my interest in attending the AAU meet. I decided then that I was going to see Sowell run at my earliest opportunity. Meek's photograph of the 880 at Boulder caught the determination in Sowell's expression which was described so well in Paul O'Neil's story. For poetry in motion, no ballet could rival the beauty of those five remarkable half-milers.
Paul O'Neil's accurate and colorful story of the meet is notably in contrast to sloppy newspaper stories and columns about it. The last paragraph on Bob Richards' two outstanding performances was a fitting climax to an excellent story.
It was a joy to see so many accomplished track and field performers in one meet. Rod Richard, the Pan-American champ, caught my attention on Friday, and I was cheering for him all the way in the finals. I hope to see his name on some future record books.
Incidentally, it was fun for my family and me to find ourselves in the crowd in the picture of the half-milers. SI is truly a magazine for spectators as well as participants. Spectators even get in the pictures!
DOROTHY NOTT SWITZBR
Grand Island, Nebr.
Budd Schulberg's review of Archie Moore taking Bobo Olson apart in eight minutes (SI, July 4) was his usual tops in boxing reporting and all fight fans thank SI for giving Schulberg to the public at large.
From the size of the gate of the Smith-Carter lightweight fight here in Boston this week, one would surmise that by the year 1956 the crown might be offered for six box tops plus two bits in coin.
Can't make television the patsy for that one, with Boston and nearby communities blacked out. Maybe the boxing public is at last smartening up and through diminishing interest may accomplish what the federal investigating boards appear to have willingly goofed—the cleanup of the boxing industry.
Might add also that you have a worthy co-writer along that line in Austen Lake, sportswriter of the local Boston American, who, like yourself, calls the shots in a vernacular suited to those who support the boxing game.
•For Austen Lake's analysis of the IBC's contempt for Boston fight fans, see SI, April 18.—ED.
Your June 20th article on rowing was of special interest, to the oarsmen who rowed in the '55 Harvard-Yale race. You captured the atmosphere in both text and pictures, especially the close grueling contest in which the four of us were involved last June.
RICHARD W. DARRELL
HOWARD G. AUSTIN JR.
WILLIAM E. CROWTHER JR.
Red Top, Gales Ferry, Conn.
In SI, June 27, the caption for the picture of Willie Mays stated that Mays had a slugging average of .667. Is there a difference between slugging and batting averages? If not, somebody goofed.
Keep up your investigation of boxing's dirty business.
ANDREW I. SPILKER
•Batting average is not the same as slugging average. To get a slugging average, divide the players' total times at bat into the total bases made on all hits.—ED.
NOT THE NATION'S PLAYGROUND
Wallace Stegner's recent article We Are Destroying Our National Parks (SI, June 13) really pointed up the fundamental problem.
To be sure, the National Park Service is operating on a starvation budget with funds going into channels that do not alleviate the problem of protection and proper administration. The service is doing the best job possible with limited funds and personnel, but in spite of its dedication to the ideals of the national parks standards and the mandate of Congress to pass these areas on "unimpaired to future generations," as Stegner points out so forcibly, the real problem is that the American people have failed to understand that their national parks are not glorified summer or winter playgrounds, but places of inspiration and beauty that have a far higher purpose.
Until the real significance of these last reservations of primeval America is recognized, no amount of money or closely supervised use will save them. The goal is not impossible but it will take a vastly stepped-up educational program by the National Park Service as well as the National Parks Association and all other vitally concerned groups to bring it about.
SIGURD F. OLSON
National Parks Association
TWISTED MINDS AT MIDNIGHT
I have come to the point where I can hold off no longer: who or what are the gents that contribute those four little creepy lines we find each week, with suitable illustration, in EVENTS & DISCOVERIES? We have had matadors heaved over the fence by bulls, dim-eyed swimmers diving into empty pools, fencers impaled on their practice foils and track runners shot by the starting pistol.
I don't for a moment believe that there really are such people as Irwin Stein and Barney Hutchison, who generally sign these miniature massacres. My wife thinks it's a literate relative of Charles Addams. My daughter, a girl with a twisted mind of her own, has John O'Reilly, your gentle nature correspondent, tagged as the author. She thinks that it's the way he gets the venom out of his system before spreading sweetness and scent on Mother Nature.
One answer as to how these little poison-pen epics might arrive in your office came to me on the stroke of midnight last full moon in this form:
A QUIET PLACE TO WORK
My analyst's pad
Sports a psychopath sonnet
Will get copyright on it.
•Barney Hutchison, who once handled public relations for Clara Bow, says he is a quiet type who sits behind third base and has Walter Mitty-like dreams of being called on to pinch-hit in the ninth with the bases loaded. "Please assure the reader," he says anxiously, "that I am no Addams character." Irwin Stein, a research librarian, says he is meek, mild and middle-aged, a promiscuous reader, a collector of chess scores and kind to his wife and dog. Mr. Hutchison introduced the quatrain with its lemon peel twist of the macabre that has become a fixture of SI's E & D pages, and Mr. Stein quickly caught on to the technique. Both poets like fishing and live in Los Angeles.—ED.