LITTLE LEAGUE: PARENTMANIA
My one regret is that every parent and prospective parent of Little Leaguers the nation over can't be required to read the Little League articles (SI, Aug. 19, 26) before next season begins.
In my opinion Little League baseball is the greatest thing that has ever happened for the youngsters. Nowhere have I seen anything that so captures the interest and creates the friendships and desire for good sportsmanship that Little League baseball does. For the parents, it's an entirely different story. Night after night I have watched the opposing players meet at the center of the field after the game was over, shake hands and walk off arm in arm. Not once have I seen the parents of a losing team member congratulate the winning parents.
I have watched the selfish desires of parents change their sons from happy youngsters, having the time of their lives playing baseball, to bewildered, disillusioned boys, reluctant to go on the field for fear of being criticized for making an error or striking out.
Once I heard the minister of a church sponsoring a team tell the boys, who had hit a losing streak, they just had to win. They had gotten off to a good start, the people were expecting them to win and they would be letting the community down if they didn't, they were told.
September 22, 1957
Another time I saw the parents of a boy, packed and ready to leave on a beach vacation immediately following the game, on the verge of refusing to take the boy along, saying he didn't deserve a vacation after playing such a sloppy game.
That's the kind of pressure that must be stopped if Little League baseball is to survive, and continue to exert a good, rather than a bad influence on the boys.
Little League baseball is a tough business for managers, umpires and players alike, but for every bad point there are a dozen on the good side.
Long before the season is over I promise myself that never again will I have anything to do with a team, but I know that when the first warm days of spring roll around next year, I will be out combing the neighborhood for new boys of League age that may have moved in; and when the day comes to pass out the shiny, new uniforms, I wouldn't trade places with Casey Stengel himself.
That's the way Little League baseball gets you. Maybe that explains the cases of Parentmania that seem destined to accompany the sport.
LITTLE LEAGUE: BASIC COMPETITION
Over the anguished screams of a legion of mommas and the nervous hand wringings of child psychologists, I would like to interject a strong voice of protest.
In your articles on the Little League an eminent educator maintains that high school is soon enough to begin lessons in playing to win. The average intramural sport program in high school is comparable to a fast game of beanbag. Then the armed forces get these "well-adjusted individuals," and are saddled with the job of making them understand the basic facts of life. American educators shy away from competition in schools because the kid who comes out second best may be made to feel inferior. At the same time as these teachers are playing down competition they are posting class standings and asking for hands in the classroom.
I believe in competition: the stronger the better. And American educators might take a look at a guy named Ignatius Loyola who founded an outfit that used competition in the purest sense; class against class, group against group, student against student. He turned out a pretty good crew of men, too: Voltaire, Corneille, Descartes and others. They may have been rebels, but well-educated rebels. That's more than I can say for the current product of American education.
In the final analysis, if this cold war becomes hot, it's going to be guys with guts and savvy enough to make best use of their talents and those who strike back the hardest that are going to walk away with all the marbles. I may be dead wrong, but it seems to me that if a guy is shooting at you and you are shooting at him (even by intercontinental missile), that's a pretty basic form of competition.
A. M. HASSLER, USN
I have enjoyed the stories which you have included in EVENTS & DISCOVERIES from time to time and would like to add one concerning the current sports car craze to your collection.
A favorite concerns the pedestrian who was run into by a sports car and had to go to the doctor to have it taken out.
Maybe this has been around for a while, but it's new to us up here.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Emmett Watson's profile on Fred Hutchinson (SI, Aug. 26) was one of the finest and most comprehensive hunks of writing ever to appear in your magazine.
I was so impressed with Mr. Watson's logic that I shall root for Hutch's Cardinals to finish...second...next year.
Immediately under the San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco Chronicle
You state Fred Hutchinson entered the U.S. Navy in 1941 for four years. The picture you published of him in uniform indicates he was a chief petty officer and the six hash marks on his left sleeve denote 24 years of service. How come?
•When Hutchinson, a slick-arm chief, posed after his induction, an over-eager public relations officer draped him with a 24-year-man's jacket.—ED.