YES, THIS WAS IT
SI's conversation with Mr. Williams (Aug. 1) was a memorable one. I suppose more has been written about this man than about the atom bomb, but this was the Ted Williams story. It is incredible that with so much said about him we have not had something like this long ago; but then it is so easy, isn't it, to flay the dead horse of Williams' non-cooperation with those who mill around the baseball parks and never bother to dig a little to get at the real Williams. Yes, this was the Ted Williams story and I'm mighty pleased to have read it.
With the advent of the article on baseball's greatest hitter, SI came of age. The story itself is one of the best ever written on Williams, primarily because it reflects his incomparable personality. I'm delighted that your writer had the good sense" to let Ted state the facts in his own inimitable and picturesque manner. He is presented with understanding, as the sensitive but warm and generous person he has always been, and the intense enthusiasm, so much a part of his nature, is aptly recorded.
THE REAL WILLIAMS
Conversation piece was a masterpiece!
I believe we all can understand Ted Williams better now. All the sportswriters in the world could not have described the great Ted Williams as did CONVERSATION PIECE. It revealed Ted Williams as himself—a human being.
August 14, 1955
Yes, CONVERSATION PIECE was a real masterpiece!
It is a unique method of reporting on a unique individual.
ROY C. RUNIONS
WHAT IS IT?
In last year's World Series much was made of the plastic shinguard employed by Cleveland's Vic Wertz to protect his shin against foul tips. I believe his guard was removable.
In your excellent cover photo of Ted Williams on the August 1 issue, I detect an extra padding attached to Ted's stocking over his right shin. Is this a similar contrivance? If so, how long has Ted used it?
Allow me to congratulate you on your constantly improving publication.
R. F. WITT
•After his return from the Pacific Williams hurt his shin during batting practice, and has worn the shinguard at bat ever since. He takes it off when he is on base.—ED.
SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
I'm sorry to say that I am disappointed in you. Your CONVERSATION PIECE on Ted Williams was not all that I expected it to be. I learned nothing new about Ted except about his boyhood, although I think this is the first time that I have read Ted's own words.
SPECTACLE: The Heat Is On (SI, Aug. 1), with five pages of pictures, was excellent. I know I'm quite late for a Happy Knoll guest card, but maybe, perhaps....
DEATH TO TV
It was great! These are the only words I can use for your story Civil War in Virginia (SI, Aug. 1). You are indeed to be congratulated.
I'm going to stick with Mr. Lawrence. Death to televised baseball is the only thing that can save the minor leagues.
ROBERT FAILING, JR.
St. Johnsville, N.Y.
THERE HE GOES
Your picture and caption (SI, Aug. 1) showing the owner of the Portsmouth, Va. baseball club muttering darkly as a precious ball goes into the stands to be lost to the club reminds me of a story the late Gabby Street liked to relate.
Gabby, on his way up in the game, was signed by a small club in Alabama. The Old Sarge was to report to the club's owner, who also served as manager of the team. Going out to the park in the morning, Gabby inquired of the grounds keeper where he might find the owner and how he would know him when he did.
"Well, son," replied the grounds keeper, "you just hang around till game time and when you see a foul ball go into the stands and a fellow leave the field to fight with the customers over it—that will be the man you're looking for."
THOMAS R. ROONEY
CLASS D, TOO, IS BASEBALL
I want to say that I am in full accord with Mr. Frank Lawrence and his complaint that the radio and TV broadcasting of major league baseball games is ruining the minor leagues (SI, Aug. 1). I am frequently in attendance at the McAlester Rockets' home games and it is really a shame that so few people come to see them. Regardless of what people say about Class D baseball, I think that it is taken as seriously as any big league game. Every ball player on the Rockets, a Yankee farm team, is, in my consideration, a hustler, and I really enjoy seeing them play. When I first came here, this town was the home of the Wichita Falls Spudders, in, I believe, the West Texas-New Mexico League, Class B. Soon after I arrived here, the franchise was moved to a town about half the size of Wichita Falls. It's a shame when a town the size of Wichita Falls (pop. 100,000) can't support a baseball team. I, like Mr. Lawrence, say that it is the unlimited radio and TV rights held by the major league teams that are ruining what is, in my estimation, the best entertainment to be found in and around some of the smaller towns all over the country.
A/1C JAMES L. ULLOM
Sheppard Air Force Base
Wichita Falls, Texas
IS THIS ENOUGH?
While the question of Swaps and Nashua is so very hot, is a mile-and-a-quarter race long enough to test the greatness of a thoroughbred?
In my opinion it should have been a mile-and-a-half match race on August 31 to test or prove superiority and stamina.
A. W. SCHMIDT
•Horsemen generally agree that the mile and a half is a better test of a horse's greatness than the classic Kentucky Derby distance of a mile and a quarter (19TH HOLE, May 30).—ED.
USING A TELESWAPIC LENS?
I hope SI's photographer will get a good shot of Swaps winning the match race.
L.A. TO SWAPS
There seems to be much discussion about the match race between the great Swaps and Nashua, but doesn't anyone remember that Swaps has already beaten Nashua—and very soundly at that? Swaps has improved 100% over his Derby performance, whereas Nashua has run some very doubtful races. Since I am from Los Angeles I of course can think only of one horse, Swaps; but let's look at their 3-year-old records. Swaps is far outstanding in everything but money. I am sure Swaps will win by at least three to five lengths.
NOTHING VENTURED, NOTHING LOST
I personally favor Nashua over Swaps in the $100,000 match race of the winner-take-all variety.
This is merely opinion, however, and I do have enough respect for Swaps not to make any wagers on the outcome of the race. After all, I did lose money on the presidential election of 1944 when all the Associated Press writers favored Thomas E. Dewey to beat Franklin D. Roosevelt.
EDWIN L. RASMUSSEN JR.
THE TEACHER AND THE TERROR
My dad is starting to teach me a little trick riding and roping. We find ourselves somewhat baffled by part of the article (YESTERDAY, Aug. 1) which described the horse, Midnight, which gave the greatest trouble to Pete Knight, the best rider of the '30s. It reads: "Foaled before World War I...the 1200-pound bronc, who had once been a saddle horse to a school marm, had a solid reputation as a terror..." May I ask how and why a school marm's saddle horse ever developed into a terror?
Dad says that Pete Knight was the best rider he ever saw, but he isn't certain that he remembers Midnight. Was he ever at the Garden in New York City?
East View Ranch
Port Jervis, N.Y.
•Midnight was as chivalrous as he was vicious. Although no man could ride him, he was a gentleman with women, whom he allowed to lead him with a halter. Madison Square Garden recalls Midnight's appearance there, in 1925 and 1926.—ED.
HOW WE CHILDREN WATCHED IN AWE
Thanks for taking me home again for a few precious memories. When I was a child the F. Ambrose Clark estate (SI, Aug. 1) always stood out as a beautiful and gentle place. I vision now the tally-ho with a red-coated footman on the back, signaling the approach of that handsome coach along our peaceful streets. How high the horses stepped—as children we watched in awe.
Mr. Clark's lovely farms are as much a part of Cooperstown as Main Street itself and his contributions to the village have been many. Having been born in Coopers-town and a villager for 25 years, I thank you for these memories.
BETTE WINNE LARKINS
OLD DISH, NEW FLAVOR
Wonder how many letters from how many people wondering not how big but how stale a "Fish Story" (SI, Aug. 1) can get. That dish has been served around these parts so long it actually has a fishy odor. But, you know, with SI's particular flavoring even the old ones come out right tasty.
Each issue brings further proof that you fellows have lapped the field in this sport-writing business.
J. ERNEST ROBERTS
•Happily, a lot of SI readers appreciated Chicago's vintage fish story.—ED.
BEST IN THE BUSINESS
The story on George May (SI, Aug. 1) doesn't begin to give him credit for making professional golf a going concern; his annual world championship tournament is the biggest thing—and the best thing—in the business, and none of your innuendo can change it. "A brass band at a church picnic," indeed!
WHY ALL THE FUSS?
Come, come, gentlemen! Why all the fuss about George May? As I see it, the USGA's cold shoulder is just the opposite of what May deserves for his leadership in making golf a top U.S. sport for players and spectators alike. Who else has done so much for the game? I say more power to him—five Cadillacs, 13 bars, 65 sports shirts and all!
George May's place in American golf is secure. He is the promoter of some of the biggest tournaments in the game. He has brought the game to thousands who never before knew the difference between a tee and a caddy. George May, above all, has clean hands. He has never, ever, as far as anyone knows, tampered with golfers or tournaments.
I am no admirer of the man's methods or motives. Certainly May is not an admirable character, except to those who automatically equate five Cadillacs with virtue. But that is no reason, no reason at all, to discredit May's perfectly honest attempts to promote the game of golf. Believe me spending the money he has, he could have made a far better business promotion out of any other sport or any other facet of our public life.
BUSINESS METHODS IN GOLF
I was pleased to see the courageous exposé of George S. May in your August 1 issue; despite his profitable proof that business methods can do a lot toward making golf well-known, there is something abhorrent to me about making any sport so gaudily and vulgarly the creature of the dollar.
After all, sports are an American institution—sports in which the sole object is the relaxation and enjoyment of the participant.
Regrettably, we have seen a tendency toward professionalism and vicarious spectator "participation" in athletics—a growing trend which has long been apparent in collegiate football, in the travesty upon wrestling which is ground out for the television cameras, in the boxing deals of the Carbos and the D'Antonis. Now we see it in the moneyed monkeyshines of Mr. May, who has apparently dealt in golf courses, slot machines and Bibles—all with the same green-coated object.
SI is to be congratulated upon showing the American public in general, and the youth of America in particular, that the world of professional athletics all too frequently has very little—or nothing at all—in common with the real purpose and ideal of the sport.
A loud well-done for your piece on George May (SI, Aug. 1). He may be a promoter's promoter, but any resemblance to a sportsman's sportsman results from his happening to own a golf course instead of a pickle cannery—and that resemblance is very small indeed. Golf or pickles, it would be the same to him, I'm sure.
THE PERVERSION OF A FINE SPORT
There is no place in golf for men like George May. I am not concerned with his record or any other nebulous dealings he may or may not have entered into. Golf is one of the very few remaining great amateur sports. Certainly there are professional golfers, and certainly the professional aspects of golf are worthy of the game. But in golf, unlike baseball, it is the weekend duffer and the many weekend hot-shots who are the backbone and the distinction of the game.
Golf is a fine sport, one of the finest. Golf is the game of the individual, not the all-swallowing group. Let's keep George May out of it.
THAT OVERSIZED POOL HALL
Jack Mabley's article on George S. May and the whole Tam O'Shanter hoopla (SI, Aug. 1) was as fine a piece of thoughtful reporting and analytical reflection as I've ever read anywhere.
May's alcoholic haven and oversized pool hall bears as much resemblance to a golf club as a carnie's spiel to the Gettysburg Address. The whole thing, including his phony world championships of golf, is a travesty on sport, on golf and on ethics.
And May is sufficiently arrogant to label the whole thing as serving only to promote his business-engineering firm.
PRETTY ANN AND THAT HORSE
Meshach Tenney is a fine man and Swaps no doubt a local hero; but the two paired in a winner's circle just do not present the same soul-satisfying picture as pretty Ann and Nashua under the same circumstances. Since I yield to no one in my admiration of and devotion to Mrs. Woodward and that horse, I cry "shame" to Mr. Tuck who so soullessly told the world (19th HOLE, Aug. 1) that Ann Woodward wore the same frock to the Arlington Classic that she had worn to the Kentucky Derby. Therefrom, you will remember, he deduced fears of drastically reduced income from Nashua, with reference to the upcoming match race.
First of all, Swaps will not take Nashua come August 31. On the contrary, our eastern champion will show up the western horse for what he is: the usual West Coast wonder who fails against eastern competition. For my money Swaps is a moose-jawed, dull-eyed, haphazardly bred inmate of what looks like a camp for migrant workers. Secondly, Ann Woodward, a lady as wise as she is handsome, wore that dress a second time for one reason only, I am sure: to prevent sportswriters from following SI's lead in talking about the lady's clothes rather than the horse's performance.
CAN THIS BE THE MAN?
Since 1936 the Douglas Aircraft Company has been proud to have as one of its engineers Dr. Wolfgang Klemperer, pioneer of the German soaring movement. This Dr. Klemperer is an honorary vice president of the Soaring Society of America and last August was inducted into the Helms Sports Hall of Fame.
Can this be the same Dr. Wolfgang Klemperer whom Coles Phinizy permitted to soar away to Lockheed in his excellent sailplane article in the July 11 issue of SI?
A. M. ROCHLEN
Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc.
Santa Monica, Calif.
•SI, having inadvertently loaned Dr. Klemperer to Lockheed on July 11, hereby returns him with apologies to the Douglas Aircraft Company.—ED.
PENNSYLVANIA PUSHBALL, 1916
Your interesting and brightly illustrated July 25 article on pushball is at hand.
On page 17 you write in the heading, "...with a game that's so new—and rough." Maybe it's new to the folks in Arizona but my contemporaries played this same game on horseback with great gusto, and many hard falls, in 1916, '17 and '18 on the drill field (with cavalry mounts) at Pennsylvania Military College, Chester, Pa. The game was designed and introduced by our then cavalry instructor, Colonel Frank Hyatt. The only difference I find between the game then and now is that we used a brown leather ball with bladder whereas they use a white one today.
W. R. SIMPSON
CAPTAIN WEBB, THE DAWLEY MAN
I liked John Durant's piece about Captain Webb and his last trip through the Niagara rapids (YESTERDAY, July 18). Mr. Durant evidently thought this epic piece of folly called for a touch of poetry and evoked "A Shropshire Lad." I wonder if SI readers know of another poem by the still-living English poet John Betjeman which commemorates another feat of Captain Webb's in calmer waters?
New York City
A SHROPSHIRE LAD*
by John Betjeman
The gas was on in the Institute,
The flare was up in the gym,
A man was running a mineral line,
A lass was singing a hymn,
When Captain Webb the Dawley man,
Captain Webb from Dawley,
Came swimming along in the old canal
That carries the bricks to Lawley.
Swimming along from the Severn,
And paying a call at Dawley Bank while swimming along to Heaven.
The sun shone low on the railway line
And over the bricks and stacks,
And in at the upstairs windows
Of the Dawley houses' backs,
When we saw the ghost of Captain Webb,
Webb in a water sheeting,
Come dripping along in a bathing dress
To the Saturday evening meeting.
To the Congregational Hall;
Dripping and still he rose over the sill and faded away in the wall.
There wasn't a man in Oakengates
That hadn't got hold of the tale,
And over the valley in Ironbridge,
And round by Coalbrookdale,
How Captain Webb the Dawley man,
Captain Webb from Dawley,
Rose rigid and dead from the old canal
That carries the bricks to Lawley.
Rigid and dead—
Rigid and dead—
To the Saturday congregation,
Paying a call at Dawley Bank on his way to his destination.
*FROM "SLICK BUT NOT STREAMLINED," COPYRIGHT 1947 BY JOHN BETJEMAN. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION OF DOUBLEDAY & CO., INC.