If there are any copies of your baseball issue still available would you let me know at your earliest convenience how I may receive three additional copies.
There are five of us, including two boys and a baseball-loving wife, and the one copy I brought home is not going to make it through the season.
E. J. DENZLER
•The baseball-loving Denzlers and the many many others who have written for additional copies of SI's special baseball issue to see them through the season may get them by sending 25¢ to Department 990, Sports Illustrated, 540 North Michigan Ave., Chicago 11, Ill., where SI's presses are now printing extra copies.—ED.
SI has done it again.
April 23, 1956
The baseball issue is a masterpiece, and is definitely one issue that will be used for future reference during the coming season.
It is without a doubt a most informative and enlightening edition especially as the material presented covers such a wide variety of interesting baseball news. In particular, SI's synopsis of the 16 major league clubs, which bears out the strength and weakness of each team, is excellent since it gives Joe Fan an idea of what to expect and to look for during the 1956 season.
This issue was a treat for the baseball fan who has just become interested in the game and the oldtimer who knows what it's all about.
And your CONVERSATION PIECE was in a class by itself with its warmness and intimacy.
SI has rendered baseball lovers all over the world a wonderful preview as well as a refreshing, new glimpse at our national pastime.
SHELDON I. LONDON
My sincere thanks for such a complete analysis of our American pastime—baseball!
I especially enjoyed Les Woodcock's statistical report on the events of the last decade. It is the most complete compilation of important facts of the game I have seen, and my gratitude goes out to him for the long hours of research it must have taken.
Three cheers for that wonderful baseball issue! I haven't read the whole thing yet—am taking it slowly so as not to miss a line, and you can be sure I will save this issue. I still have the very first SI.
Even though I haven't finished the articles, I wanted to tell you right away that this lady baseball fan is as eagerly awaiting Opening Day as all the male fans. In fact I've sent to the stadium for the tickets on Opening Day. We'll probably freeze, but I've got to cheer for my guys and get them off to a good start!
The article The Great American Game—1956 by Robert Creamer was one of the best! His description of suddenly hearing the baseball announcer's voice over the radio is so true! It is the loveliest sound—I wait all winter for it! Besides being anxious over the fate of my guys on any given day, that wonderful game can certainly make the chores attached to caring and feeding of seven little Yankee rooters a whole lot easier!
We have in our house a baby boy of 15 months. On the same day that my husband brought home a copy of the April 9 edition of SI the baby got at it and tore it to shreds. It was really my fault for not keeping it out of his reach. I tried to replace it before my husband could miss it, but every newsstand was sold out. My husband is livid and he is carrying on a cold war with me until I secure another copy for him.
Mrs. RUGGERO FIORILLO
•See box above.—ED.
Your comparison of the major league fields was interesting. I have always been amazed that there is no standardization of the playing areas. Wouldn't football be a ridiculous contest if each field had varying dimensions?
It must have been a long and tedious job to compile all the facts in your baseball issue, but your staff should be congratulated on a memorable publication.
MAJOR JAMES A. CONROY, USAF
I think it would be a good idea if you did the same thing at the beginning of the hockey and basketball seasons.
RICHARD S. ARKOW
It was a magnificent job and I think beautifully done from the standpoint of a fan. That is important. After all, baseball belongs to the fans and not to any small coterie of club owners, players or officials.
All good wishes.
Commissioner of Baseball
This little guy who has followed baseball day by day for more than half a century sends his warm congratulations to the publisher, managing editor, and all members of SI that contributed to your remarkable baseball issue (April 9). I know it was a gigantic task to assemble all of the material, but I say it was worth the time involved.
SID C. KEENER
Baseball Hall of Fame
YOUR BASEBALL SPECIAL BEST OF ITS KIND I'VE EVER READ. GOOD ENOUGH TO CARRY IN MY BRIEFCASE ALL SEASON.
Sometimes your magazine irritates me with what seems, to me, excessive emphasis on the offbeat, esoteric and (occasionally) not-sports-at-all. But you certainly gave the national pastime tremendous treatment.
I LIKE BASEBALL, BUT...
I have nothing against baseball but: Where is Mr. Caper? You can't put him out!
ALEXANDER D. HORNE
As always I turned to my favorite section first, your 19TH HOLE, to see what readers are thinking, only to find that you had omitted it. Baseball is fine, but let's put it this way: whatever you do, don't do it again.
GEORGE READING KINSLEY
I am fond of baseball, but I love golf. I was most annoyed not to find a TIP FROM THE TOP in the baseball issue. I suggest you include two in the next issue to make some recompense for this omission.
I am a baseball follower and enjoyed that part of the magazine very much. But I was very disappointed to find that it was necessary for you to leave out the schedule of sports events for the coming week.
I find this schedule very much a part of my sports life and consider its omission a big mistake.
WILLIAM C. HEER
Forgive me for being unAmerican but our great American game bores me. Couldn't you soft-pedal baseball just a bit. There must be a few people lurking in cellars who feel as I do.
LEWIS B. ABRONSKI
Upper Darby, Penn.
Too much baseball. No one sport deserves that much space ever.
L. W. SHERWOOD
•Softly, please, you're speaking of the game we love.—ED.
I THINK YOU'RE WRONG
You state that the alltime American League batting champion was Nap Lajoie with a .422 in 1901 when playing for the Philadelphia A's. I think this is wrong and you should have said that it was George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns with a .420 in 1922.
LEWIS C. POPHAM III
Quogue, Long Island
•Up to 1955 all record books gave Lajoie's 1901 batting average as .405. Last year a diligent researcher showed that an early typographical error reduced Nappy's real batting average of .422, higher than Ty Cobb's and George Sisler's .420.—ED.
SEVEN HITS AND NO RUN?
In Facts for 40 Arguments you had a puzzler concerning the number of hits possible (six) in any single inning without scoring a run. Now this is a little silly but strange things can happen. Suppose that all goes as SI explained up to the sixth hit in which a legitimate single is hit, and the runner comes in from third but steps over the plate instead of touching it. Because of the excitement and dust around the plate, no one but the umpire notices this. A new batter comes up, the seventh, and while he makes a legitimate single (the seventh hit) someone in the audience informs the catcher that the runner did not touch the plate, the catcher tags the previous batter, thus retiring the side before the next man from third get in. The side would be retired with seven hits and no run because the umpire has called the third out. No?
HENRY D. FRAZIER
•No. Strange things can happen in baseball, but this is not one of them—for two reasons: Section 7.10 (d) of the official rules states that once a subsequent batter has been pitched to, an appeal cannot be made from an earlier play. Secondly, the catcher would not tag the previous batter but the erring runner or home plate.—ED.
Jemail's HOTBOX made it appear that both the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles are expecting the same young catcher, Hal Smith, to be the man to watch on their ball club this season.
ROBERT C. GAGEN JR.
•There are two up-and-coming Hal Smiths in the majors. Harold Wayne Smith of the Orioles did a good job as regular catcher last season. Harold Smith, of the Cardinals, also a catcher, is a rookie this year.—ED.
THE GREAT McGRAW
Your question "Has a major league game ever been forfeited?" stirs up recollections. Some 50 years ago the New York Giants forfeited a game. There was a large crowd at the Polo Grounds, and the teams were ready to play. But the great John McGraw had denied the umpires, with whom he had been feuding, entrance to the Grounds!
Or has my memory been playing tricks?
J. B. CRAWFORD
•John McGraw was indeed the scourge of umpires in his day. Mrs. McGraw, whose memory goes back to the old Baltimore Orioles, cannot recall that her husband ever went so far as to try to bar them from his ball park. As a matter of fact, a club manager may not interfere with an umpire properly assigned to a regular game by the league president, to whom alone he is responsible, but we are still tracking down this and other possibly forfeited games.—ED.
In Baseball's Golden Decade I note that an alltime record is held by Grover Cleveland Alexander who in 1915 had an earned run average of 1.22. This struck my eye because I remembered that Ferdie Schupp of the Giants in 1916 had a record of 0.90 for 30 games.
J. B. F. YOAK, JR.
Beckley, West Virginia
•Mr. Yoak is correct, but Schupp pitched only 140 innings in those 30 games. According to custom, a pitcher is not considered eligible for a record if he has pitched fewer than 154 innings in a season.—ED.
I haven't been able to set your baseball issue down, though I should be hitting the law books. I was, however, somewhat "surprised" to note that Joe Gordon, listed at age 33, must have indeed been a "boy wonder" since a rapid calculation would put him in the Yankee infield at the tender age of 14.
WILLIAM E. SCHUMAKER
Oregon City, Ore.
•In scouting the Detroit Tigers SI said: "Coaches are Joe Gordon (33), one of the AL's greatest infielders, who handles first base...." The number after Gordon's name (and that of all other managers and coaches) is not his age (he is 41), but his uniform numerals.—ED.
Your baseball issue is a compact encyclopedia of the game. Thanks and congratulations on this accomplishment.
In addition to your other data about major league ball parks, I would nominate the one at Cleveland as the poorest operated of the dozen or so I have visited.
Direction signs are inadequate—nonexistent would be more accurate a word—especially for strangers. Ticket holders are restricted to certain turnstiles, and they don't find out they are in the wrong one until they reach the gate and then have to start all over again. And an army of sweaty, shuffling peddlers keeps up a steady parade before your view, hawking beer out of cartons, but actually more intent on watching the game than serving the paying customers.
GEORGE O. HACKETT
I've always liked Ernest Thayer's Casey at the Bat. I enjoyed it even more as I read it again in SI of last week (April 9).
I found a poem written by Grantland Rice in which Casey has his revenge. I think that in all fairness to Casey, this one also should be printed.
CASEY'S REVENGE BY GRANTLAND RICE
There were saddened hearts in Mudville for a week or even more;
There were muttered oaths and curses—every fan in town was sore.
"Just think," said one, "how soft it looked with Casey at the bat,
"And to think he'd go and spring a bush league trick like that."
All his past fame was forgotten—he was now a hopeless "shine"—
They called him "Strike-out Casey," from the mayor down the line;
And as he came to bat each day his bosom heaved a sigh.
While a look of hopeless fury shone in Casey's eye.
He soon began to sulk and loaf—his batting eye went lame;
No home runs on the score card now were chalked against his name.
The fans without exception gave the manager no peace,
For one and all kept clamoring for Casey's quick release.
The lane is long, someone has said, that I never turns again,
And Fate, though fickle, often gives another chance to men;
And Casey smiled—his rugged face no longer wore a frown—
The pitcher who had started all the trouble came to town.
All Mudville had assembled—10 thousand fans had come
To see the twirler who had put big Casey on the bum;
And when he stepped into the box the multitude went wild.
He doffed his cap in proud disdain—but Casey only smiled.
"Play ball!" the umpire's voice rang out—and then the game began;
But in that throng of thousands there was not a single fan
Who thought that Mudville had a chance, and with the setting sun
Their hopes sank low—the rival team was leading "four to one."
The last half of the ninth came round with no change in the score,
But when the first man up hit safe the crowd began to roar;
The din increased—the echo of 10 thousand shouts was heard
When the pitcher hit the second and gave "four balls" to the third.
Three men on base—nobody out—three runs to tie the game!
A triple meant the highest niche in Mudville's hall of fame;
But here the rally ended and the gloom was deep as night,
When the fourth one "fouled to catcher" and the fifth "flew out to right."
A dismal, groaning chorus came—a scowl was on each face—
When Casey walked up, bat in hand, and slowly took his place.
His bloodshot eyes in fury gleamed—his teeth were clenched in hate;
He gave his cap a vicious hook and pounded on the plate.
The pitcher smiled and cut one loose—across the plate it sped—
Another hiss—another groan—"Strike one," the umpire said.
Zip! Like a shot the second curve broke just below his knee—
"Strike two!" the umpire roared aloud—but Casey made no plea.
No roasting for the umpire now—his was an easy lot;
But here the pitcher whirled again—was that a rifle shot?
A whack—a crack—and out through space the leather pellet flew:
A blot against the distant sky—a speck against the blue.
Above the fence in center field in rapid whirling flight
The sphere sailed on—the blot grew dim and then was lost to sight;
Ten thousand hats were thrown in air—10 thousand threw a fit—
But no one ever found the ball that mighty Casey hit!
Oh! somewhere in this favored land dark clouds may hide the sun,
And somewhere bands no longer play and children have no fun;
And somewhere over blighted loves there hangs a heavy pall;
But Mudville hearts are happy now—for Casey hit the ball.
REPRINTED FROM "THE OFFICIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BASEBALL,"
A. S. BARNES & CO.
In your baseball quiz you give credit to Bob Feller for the only no-hitter on Opening Day and then mention Ames who had a no-hitter going for 9‚Öì innings in 1909, but you fail to mention Robin Roberts who last year on Opening Day against the Giants had a no-hitter for 9‚Öì innings. With one out in the ninth Dusty Rhodes reached first on an error by Hamner, and then Alvin Dark singled through the hole on the hit-and-run. The Giants then scored two runs off of Robin, but Robin and the Phillies won it 4-2.
•Fan Pinheiro's memory is clear but his arithmetic is cloudy.—ED.
You stated that Allie Reynolds led the American League with a 19-8 record for a .704 percentage. However, I wish to correct you. My Uncle Frank Shea in 1947 had 14-5 for a .735 percentage.
•A Pat on the Back to Uncle Frank, but SI followed standard practice in compiling its Leading Pitchers percentages only from those pitchers who won 15 games or more.—ED.
In your article on major league fields you state of Forbes Field, "Owner Barney Dreyfuss was so sure the club would win the 1938 pennant that he had Series press boxes built. The Pirates finished second."
My grandfather, Barney Dreyfuss, died in 1932. The additional press box was constructed in 1938 by William E. Benswanger, Mr. Dreyfuss' son-in-law and president of the Pirates from 1932 to 1946.
WM. D. BENSWANGER
BEES AND BRAVES
It is my recollection that some time within the past 15 years the Boston entry in the National League was known officially as Boston Bees, then changed to the Boston Braves. When were the names in force?
MARTIN L. COYNE
•Before 1912 the Boston team was known variously as the Doves, Red Caps and Beaneaters. The nickname "Braves" was suggested by John Montgomery Ward in 1912 and was used until 1936 when sportswriters and fans voted for a change to "Bees." In 1941 stockholders officially rechristened their club the Braves.—ED.
Who was the Yankee catcher in the 1947 World Series and who was catching when Jackie Robinson stole his first base in the series? Some say it was Yogi, and I say it was Aaron Robinson. Who's right?
CALVIN R. LEMON
•Yogi Berra caught the first, second and fourth games, shared the catching duties with Sherm Lollar in the third game. Aaron Robinson was the Yankee catcher in the fifth game, both he and Sherm Lollar caught the sixth, and Robinson finished for the Yankees in the seventh. Jackie Robinson stole second base in the first inning of the first game with Berra catching.—ED.