MR. HORLICK, MEET MR. FAUNCE
I was greatly amused to receive recently this letter (see below) from the secretary of my country club. Obviously it is not at all funny in itself, but it did remind me so very much of J. P. Marquand's Happy Knoll series and especially of his article Breakage at Happy Knoll. If I remember correctly, "spirited youths" at Happy Knoll's coming-out party committed almost identical mayhem to its golf course. I only hope that I won't be dunned for the damage as were Happy Knoll's members.
Rye, New York
•It's a small, wonderful world. John P. Marquand's father, the late Philip Marquand, was a member of Apawamis at the turn of the century.—ED.
I have just had the pleasure of looking through the magazine and reading the fine article by Prime Minister Menzies of Australia and the splendid article by Whitney Tower on Tony Trabert, as well as Bill Talbert's article on the Davis Cup (SI, Aug. 29).
To say that I am highly pleased with the whole magazine is putting it very mildly. You have my personal thanks and the thanks of our association for the excellent coverage given to tennis not only in this issue but throughout the year. Considering the fact that tennis is not one of the major spectator sports, I think you have leaned over backward to give us a fine break at all times. Tennis is primarily a participation sport rather than a spectator one and I have been pleased with your relative emphasis on participation sports as compared with the ordinary coverage by newspapers and other sporting magazines. This emphasis is certainly in accord with the recently expressed Eisenhower program and with the views of other leaders who feel that our youth are becoming spectators rather than players.
JAMES H. BISHOP
U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn.
September 11, 1955
WIN OR LOSE
SI, Aug. 29 was an outstanding issue as far as I am concerned and that is saying a lot because all of them seem to be outstanding to me. The pictures, including the cover, certainly gave a graphic portrayal of big-time tennis.
The article by Prime Minister Menzies was fine. He put so clearly what most of us who have been connected with the game feel but are unable to express so well. Tennis is fortunate to have such a good friend.
I liked CONVERSATION PIECE very much too. That feature of SI has long been my favorite anyway. Tony is a fine boy and a fine champion, win or lose.
•Wilmer Allison, now a Texas businessman (radio and TV), was one of the great tennis stars of the 1930s. He won the National Intercollegiate singles championship in 1927; the National mixed doubles (with Edith Cross) in 1930; the Wimbledon doubles (with John Van Ryn) in 1929 and 1930; the National doubles (with Van Ryn) in 1931 and 1935; and the National singles in 1935. A member of the Davis Cup team, he won the doubles in 1932, and was the top-ranking U.S. player in 1934 and 1935.—ED.
This issue was a tennis fan's delight. Out of curiosity I counted the number of pages which contained at least some mention of tennis. The total was 22, which must be something of a record for a national magazine not primarily devoted to the game.
The cover was the best photograph I've seen of Tony Trabert, Jimmy Jemail came up with some interesting answers to his tennis question, your "Musings on Menzies" (E & D, Aug. 29) should be read by every official of the USLTA, the color layout on the West Side Tennis Club was superb, Billy Talbert's prediction of the Davis Cup play is still logical despite the loss of the Cup (he could hardly foresee Trabert's hand blisters and Rosewall's marvelous accuracy from the backcourt) and Whitney Tower's CONVERSATION PIECE on Trabert offers fascinating insights into an amateur tennis champion's attitudes.
But, had you run only The Great Game of Tennis by Prime Minister Menzies, my favorite sport would have been well served. The gain of the world of government has obviously been at the expense of the world of journalism. Though Writer Menzies' finger was gentle, it hit with deadly precision the fallacies and weaknesses we have allowed to creep into this one truly international game—the hypocritical amateurism to which we cling, the foolishness of thrusting immature youths into national and international competition (last year we had a 13-year-old national champion) and the brashness of those who claim that today's players of the Power Serve and the Constant Net Play could match the all-round perfection of the great players of the 1920s. Yet he also pointed out the potential value of this game in a world of international tensions. It is a deeply thoughtful article, one not easily forgotten by anyone interested in tennis and its future.
T. MALCOLM PURCELL JR.
It's a long time since I've been so touched and moved by an article on sports as I was by Prime Minister Menzies' thought-provoking comments on world tennis.
This was a completely honest and searching look at tennis today and yesterday from the deeply personal viewpoint of a man who by his words stamps himself a true sportsman and gentleman.
I can't help but think how lucky Australia is to have this man at her helm. His command of the language, his admirable ability to express himself and his broad and understanding outlook remind one strongly of another great prime minister.
This was another "first" of which SI can be justifiably proud. Congratulations from a reader who never intended to write!
HAWLEY T. CHESTER JR.
If Tony Trabert doesn't take a pro job ("If I turned pro I might be able to put $60,000 or $70,000 in the bank....") I'd like to recommend him for sports editor of the old Literary Digest. He has all the qualifications ("I think we'll retain the Davis Cup...clinch it in the first two days").
FRANK A. LAWRENCE
In your issue for Aug. 29 you have an article on the Blue Jay sailboat.
Please tell me where one can purchase the kit shown in your story.
R. B. DAVIES
•For Mr. Davies' information, and that of a score of other readers: Robert Sparkman, whose company created the Blue Jay, is secretary of the class. He can be reached c/o Sparkman & Stephens, 11 East 44th St., New York 17, N.Y. Both kits and finished boats are available from Robert McKean, 180 East Prospect Ave., Mamaroneck, N.Y. and from Dick Jackson, Island City Boat Co., 2317 Buena Vista Avenue, Alameda, Calif. Finished boats only are offered by the Saybrook Yacht Yard in Old Lyme, Conn.—ED.
BUT FOR THE GRACE OF SMITH...
Edmund Ware Smith, whose fine literary piece of writing entitled Mr. Smith Meets the President (SI, Aug. 29) portrayed to me something in writing in which less fortunate mortals have failed unknowingly. Here was all the fine sensitive feeling of a meeting most of us harbor secretly! It also could have read Mr. Eddinger Meets the President.
SEE IT NOW
Gee whiz, I can just see Edmund Ware Smith riding down the road with all the dreams. Guess lots of people have that in common, huh? Sure like that magazine.
As I am a woman, I probably shouldn't write about Babe Ruth because it obviously dates me.
However, I was very moved by the little story of the Babe's last big day (SI, Aug. 29). In earlier years I spent many pleasant afternoons in the stadium watching the Great Man torture every enemy pitcher.
It's wonderful to see that at least one of your writers feels about the Babe as I do.
THEY HAD GIANTS IN THOSE DAYS
Your Aug. 22 E & D about unsung football heroes was very misleading to many sports fans. Harvard, Yale and Princeton will take on any and all comers as long as the schools are amateur—Amateur with a large A. The Big Three—and most of the Ivy League—don't pay their athletes, and they've got some darn good ones. You go back to when most college athletes had amateur standing and then see how many all-stars and Ail-Americans the Big Three had. They'll play a decent brand of football amateurishly with men who are going to college to learn, and I don't mean learn football.
PHIL MILLS JR.
BORN 1876 AND STILL GOING STRONG
Of course SI isn't expected to know everything—you're only a little over a year old.... But you are most willing to learn!
In the 19TH HOLE (Aug. 22) you answered an inquiry on where wood golf clubs could be purchased in Nos. 1½, 5 and 7. Since 1876, which makes us old enough to be SI's great grandfather, we have been making woods numbering 1 through 8, and up to 50 inches long. We are still going strong. The fourth generation at the bench is producing some of the finest clubs made.
•SI is happy to add the Sayers name to the list and hopes that when it reaches a great grandfather's status, it too will still be going strong.—ED.
I LEARNED A FEW THINGS
In reporting the career of Don Newcombe (SI, Aug. 22), I think Robert Creamer wrote one of the best CONVERSATION PIECES ever to appear in your magazine. I am not a Dodger fan, but I enjoyed it very much. I am a pitcher and learned a few things from the article.
The Bronx, N.Y.
MY INTREPID HERO
Newcombe might show strength, power, meanness, ambition, but it doesn't seem to faze my hero, Robin Roberts, who has beaten him every time.
EBBETS FIELD: IN MEMORIAM
I am certainly no demolition expert, but no one has to be to realize that in his action (E & D, Aug. 29) Walter O'Malley, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, started taking the rivets out of Ebbets Field. Baseball in Brooklyn as it has been known for a couple of generations is on the way out.
It may even be that major league baseball is at long last setting like the sun along the Gowanus Canal—as far as Brooklyn is concerned. One thing is sure—Ebbets Field is doomed. And it is doubtful that a new, modern and spacious baseball stadium will ever be built in Kings County. Gone now are the old-time trolleys that gave the ball club its nickname—"the Dodgers." Gone are the names that were the trademark of the old ball park—the Ebbetses—the McKeevers, Wilbert Robinson, Dave Driscoll Sr. and many legendary stars.
Anyone who knew Ebbets Field in the 1920s can still see old Charlie Ebbets standing on his special bench back of home plate after each game, being heckled by the fans who wanted him to part with his funds for better ballplayers. A favorite crack was, "Hey, Charlie, you dropped a dime."
Others can still see Steve McKeever, who owned 25% of the club, standing with his bald head and gold-topped cane in the ramp behind home plate greeting the politicians and personalities with his familiar "How's your big heart?"
When Charlie Ebbets died, Edward J. McKeever was slated to become president, automatically. The day Ebbets was buried dawned dismally cold and wet. A steady rain beat down on the cemetery and on the bared head of Ed McKeever as he paid his final respects to his baseball partner. A week later Ed McKeever was buried too—the victim of pneumonia.
Steve, his brother, never had the capacity for running a ball club. To him the Dodgers, the Robins, the Superbas, the Brooks—whatever they might have been to the fan—were a plaything. It seemed Steve was prouder of his original metal plumber's license that hung over the press gate than he was of the ball club. Later, however, his daughter—Dearie—became almost symbolic with the Dodgers.
And when they finally put the hammer to Ebbets Field in a couple of years, there will be tears not only in Brooklyn, but all over New York. The National League itself will not be the same. Time marches on.
DAVE DRISCOLL JR.
IS THERE A PSYCHIATRIST IN THE STANDS?
By saying Billy Klaus is "a state of mind" (SI, Aug. 22) would you agree with a leading Boston newspaper that the Red Sox opposition often gets "Klaustrophobia"?
EVENTS & DISCOVERIES (Aug. 22) describes the advent of what is claimed to be an innovation in baseball in the shape of a pitcher who pitches underhand. Bobby Fesler, a graduate from softball, has been taken on by the Seattle Rainiers to do with a regulation baseball what he had been doing with outstanding success with a softball, and, when he could get the ball across the plate, he seems to have disconcerted opposing batters with his unusual delivery.
But actually, there is nothing new in baseball. Underhand pitching is not the novelty it is made out to be in the account of Fesler's first appearance in a regulation game. Back in the early 1920s the New York Yankees had a pitcher named Carl Mays—no relation to Willie—who regularly threw underhand, and who was one of the most successful moundsmen of the time. Frank Graham, in The New York Yankees, says of him, "Mays, combining a blazing fast ball with a sweeping underhand delivery in which his knuckles actually scraped the ground sometimes as he let the ball go, was one of the best pitchers in either league." And if my memory of 30 years ago holds good, another Yankee pitcher named Warhop, who was part Indian, of the same era, also made use of the underhand pitch. But Carl Mays was an outstanding star.
Mays is best remembered as the pitcher who threw the unhappy pitch that beaned Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians and killed him. He was one of those unlucky players who were always getting into trouble, to whom things happened. As Frank Graham further remarks, "his methods were as underhanded as his pitching delivery." So he in time departed, and is remembered as a party in a sad accident rather than as the successful pitcher that he was. His pitching style, however, was not considered unorthodox at the time, and there would seem to be no reason why it should not be taken up again by someone willing to master it. And if the Seattle Rainiers are any rainier than our New York teams recently, they should hire frogmen.
THEODORE W. KNAUTH
•Still, Carl Mays and all the other old-time submarine pitchers were not former softball pitchers. Their deliveries, unlike Fesler's, bore no resemblance to the regulation softball delivery.—ED.