L.A. RISES TO THE OCCASION
The day after your issue which focused on the West Coast sports situation (SI, March 24) arrived on newsstands here, the Los Angeles city fathers took a momentous decision which should please all Los Angelenos, including your Mr. Worthington (19TH HOLE, March 24), who complained rightly that now that the Coliseum was lent to the Dodgers amateur sports had no place to go.
By October 1, 1959, Los Angeles will have a brand-new, 30,000-seat sports arena. Construction will start immediately, and 301 of the 365 operating days of the first year have already been spoken for. Included are 68 college and professional basketball games, three professional indoor tennis tournaments, five major indoor track meets, three college hockey events and five National Hockey League exhibitions. Both the Coliseum Relays and the Compton Invitational will be run there.
If this does not prove your point that Los Angeles is ready for intense big league sports I don't know what would. Incidentally, one of the sportswriters here told me that when the bids for the new arena were let a copy of your March 24 issue was before every commissioner. San Francisco, here we come.
AMERICA'S CUP: WITH LOVE
In an editorial note to a published letter concerning big-game hunting (19TH HOLE, March 31) SPORTS ILLUSTRATED defined athletics (as opposed to blood sports) as an "esthetic concept of sports which finds its highest expression in a superbly conditioned runner...competing against the abstraction of time." I agree with you but prefer an even better example.
To me the competition for the America's Cup is the highest form of sports activity for sheer drama and skill. There are those who see in this unique sailing competition nought but rich men playing with expensive toys. In fact, my freshman-age grandson phrased it this way today. He and others who think like him could not be more wrong.
First, no one today really can "afford" to spend the $200,000 or so it takes to float a challenger. Even to a syndicate the .money represents a rather painful wrench, impossible to justify to relatives, not deductible from taxes and likely not to be the last one. The wrench is made in a spirit of adventure and love towards a sport old in tradition, history and lore.
It was one or another cynical Englishman who said that the only tradition in America is to have no tradition at all. Like most Englishmen about most things he was wrong. Athletics have an almost unique tradition in this country. It is the tradition that the heart of athletics is competition, the will to win, not the playing of the game. It is a tradition often parodied but of validity nevertheless.
Sailing is one of the most intensively competitive sports, perhaps the most. The fierce personal competition of sailors, the competition of boat against boat and the competition of boats and sailors against the seas and the winds make sailing unique. It demands all of your skill, courage and brains.
The greatest, because the most detailed and elaborate, test of sailing skill is the America's Cup race. The greatest brains in naval design, the finest artisans in construction are commissioned to create hull, sails and rigging. One of these rare, fine boats survives the challenge rounds, and she, carrying the colors of America and surely the hopes and admiration of all who care a straw for anything at all, issues forth. With the launching of Britain's Sceptre last week, the days of the America's Cup are again here. It is for me the highest expression of the esthetic concept of sports.
New York City
SKIING: FUN AT ZAKOPANE
I have read with pleasure and astonishment how well our girls are doing in European ski competitions that include Austria's and Switzerland's top skiers. I have heard that some of them, including Penny Pitou and Madi Springer-Miller, recently competed behind the Iron Curtain in Poland. Would you have any details on where and how well they did?
ANNE MARIE ADAMS
•After Bad Gastein the American Ski Team decided to compete at an FIS-sanctioned meet in Zakopane, deep in Poland's Tatra Mountains. They traveled up from Austria through East Germany to Berlin in Tom Corcoran's Volkswagen and Team Manager Gaffner's Volkswagen bus. As they headed east along the little black-top road that leads to Warsaw, the caravan ran into trouble. Winters on east Europe's plains are fierce; snow and ice delayed their arrival in Warsaw for several days. In Warsaw, Corcoran, Betsy Snite, Penny Pitou, Madi Springer-Miller and several Canadian skiers who were traveling with them took the train to Zakopane and arrived just one day before the Alpine combined meet. They found Zakopane a beautiful Alpine skiing resort, unspoiled, and with a comfortable hotel. Their reception was enthusiastic. The night preceding competition all teams paraded in Zakopane's streets, each team carrying its country's flag. When the Americans came by, Tom Corcoran carrying the flag, crowds of vacationing Poles burst into cheers. "It was a wonderful thrill, and I will never forget that evening," said Corcoran.
The competition was tough. The best French and Italian skiers were there, Duvillard, Vuarnet, Gacon, Albertini and Marchelli among them, as well as a long list of (to the West) unknowns from behind the Curtain. Tom Corcoran was third in slalom, fifth in giant slalom, 12th in downhill to achieve fourth place over-all. The girls were spectacular. Betsy Snite took first in downhill, first in giant slalom and first in combined results. Penny Pitou followed her in over-all standing, even though she broke a ski in the downhill run.
The American girls were the heroines of the meet, hundreds of villagers buying their pictures at the local photo shops and stopping them to shake hands. "If people in the West realized what a lovely place this is they would start coming here by the thousands," said a thoroughly charmed Betsy Snite. The team's sole disappointment came when Czech ski officials curtly canceled their previously extended invitation to compete at Tatranska Lomnica, although FIS rules permit any approved skier to participate in any sanctioned event. Skiing behind the Iron Curtain turned out to be" somewhat arbitrary after all.—ED.
RACING: FIRST OF FIVE
Surely the recent 100-miler at the Trenton (N.J.) Speedway deserves more mention than your cursory report (SCOREBOARD, April 7). Your magazine generally gives fine coverage to all racing circuits, and I was not a little disappointed to find this thrilling auto race, kickoff of the USAC season, first of five for the national driving championship and warmup for the Indianapolis "500," all but omitted from your pages.
I was one of 10,000 fans seated in the Victorian stands at the speedway, and a gray, cold Sunday it was. Herewith, then, is my report.
I arrived about noon, during the warm-up session. Pat O'Connor, winner of last year's 100-miler, Tony Bettenhausen, the world's fastest driver with his record lap mark of 177 mph at Monza last June, Jud Larson, Elmer George and other racing greats were driving slowly around the one-mile oval.
Shortly thereafter the qualifying trials began, and Len Sutton won the pole position with a lap speed of almost 100 miles an hour. Mechanical failures plagued not a few of the Indianapolis-type cars, and by the time the race started only 13 were in the running for the $17,000 prize.
With the drop of the green flag, John Thompson, a favorite with the New Jersey crowd, shot into first place with his yellow D-A Lubricant Special, followed immediately by Len Sutton in a blue Central Excavating Special, Bettenhausen in a white Hardwood Door Special. Pat O'Connor was fifth.
Thompson and Sutton led the field for several laps, and O'Connor pulled into third place behind the leaders. On the ninth lap (it looked like close-following Bettenhausen bumped him) O'Connor skidded onto the dirt apron and was out. Bettenhausen moved to third place but developed engine trouble and slowly dropped back to ninth place.
Then, on the 13th lap, Elmer George, in a HOW Special, and Red Amick spun out as they jockeyed for position going into the fourth turn. With O'Connor and George out of the race entirely and Bettenhausen dragging far in the rear, it seemed the race was going to Sutton, who had passed Thompson and was setting a fast pace. But Bettenhausen's No. 35 suddenly began hitting on all four cylinders. He moved up through the field, challenging Sutton for first place. He passed him and continued in the lead for almost 20 laps, only to lose it again to Sutton, who kept it to the drop of the checkered flag. Sutton's time was an average 95.5 miles an hour. Only seven cars finished.
A fine briefing for the "500"!
•A good report deserves a good picture (see above).—ED.
REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST
My weekly SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is as much a part of my life and as rich to me as oil might be to Saud of Arabia, though I look down a long, long nose at the much space given to fashions.
But you have brought me such pleasures in imagined participation in so many sports and insight to my actual participation that I need not feel neurotic for waiting avidly for each issue.
The SPORT IN ART series has been a great contribution, linking two fields which are too often widely and antagonistically separated. Thanks to you, I am no longer a moron because I exercise and no longer an egghead because I look at a painting.
I still enjoy remembering Hoban's Basketball's Moods (SI, Dec. 9).
New York City
•Tsk, tsk. Why put a long, long nose out of joint for looking at a pretty girl properly dressed for sports?—ED.
SUGARLESS RAY ROBINSON
Robinson did not appear to fight too much in either bout. He seldom used his right. He permitted Basilio to hit him with rights and lefts almost at will.
On a purely theoretical basis, the only-explanation that satisfies my own mind is what Sharkey once wrote of his last fight with Jim Jeffries. In effect, he said that even though Jeffries hurt him badly, he, Sharkey, would suddenly feel strength coming up through his arms and body and would be able to fight as hard as ever.
I imagine that Robinson would have to be greatly dependent on that surge of strength, whose absence in the meantime he could not very well admit and still command such large purses.
From reports of his training methods, he cuts down too much on water and food before entering the ring; therefore, it is quite possible that he lacks sufficient blood sugar between rallies, and coasts because he has to.
His extreme exhaustion after this last fight would also argue strongly in favor of extremely low blood sugar.
R.H. SHERWOOD, M.D.
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
IN MY MERRY MAYTAG
In Gerald Holland's fascinating interview with Jimmy Jones (SI, March 17), Jimmy 'lowed as how the Maytag car was manufactured by the same people who make the washing machine.
I am happy to corroborate Mr. Jones's deduction with the enclosed photo showing Mr. Fred Maytag II, third-generation president of The Maytag Company, and his Maytag-Mason auto, circa 1910.
The auto was designed by the famous Fred Duesenberg and was manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa. The car was made between 1908 and 1911 and, although highly successful when introduced, was a victim of technological improvement.
Had fate seen differently, today we might all be motoring, rather than making suds, in our Maytag.
ROBERT J. HOOVER
SO WHO'S LAUGHING
Your cartoonist who signs his work Dedini got a laugh in the July 22, 1957 issue, when he pictured two Japanese fans worrying over the fate of the Tokyo Giants while Brooklyn and New York fans were sweating out the future of their beloved big league heroes (see left).
Little did he realize, however, that those fears of Tokyo fans were well founded.
As you are aware Mr. Robert Durk, who has taken over the home of the former Brooklyn Dodgers to stage theatrical and sports productions, announced recently that one of his Ebbets Field productions this season would include a series between the Tokyo Giants and a South American nine.
Sic transit gloria....
GOOD YEAR AT NOTRE DAME
Yes, Notre Dame had a pretty good basketball season (SI, March 10). As a matter of fact, this has been a fine year in all sports. The football team wound up with a seven-and-three record and fat wins over Oklahoma and Army. The basketball team went 24 and five and trounced Big Ten champ Indiana. The fencing team won 16 straight. The swimming team eight and three. The track team has won three and lost none in dual meets. And so it goes.
To commemorate this year of athletic satisfaction Notre Dame assembled all its teams for a remarkable group picture which I think your readers might enjoy (see below).
Front and center is the administrative staff for athletics at Notre Dame, headed by Father Joyce and Ed Krause. In the V-shaped row behind them are (left to right) four cheerleaders and the coaches: Terry Brennan (football), Alex Wilson (track), Gil Burdick (swimming), Mike DeCicco (fencing), Bill Fischer, Bernie Crimmins, Bernie Witucki, Henry Stram (football assistants), Father Pelton (swimming assistant), Father Holderith (golf), Bill Walsh and Jack Zilly (football assistants), Jake Kline (baseball), Michael Fucci (wrestling assistant), Tom Fallon (tennis and wrestling), Walter Langford (fencing) and John Jordan (basketball). Three more cheerleaders complete the row.
The teams (in while rectangles, left to right) are: wrestlers, swimmers, baseball, track, football, fencing, sailing, golf, basketball and tennis. Altogether, 271 people and two Irish terriers which I leave your readers to find.
South Bend, Ind.