TRACK: THE DISTANCE MYTH
In regard to Tex Maule's remark about U.S. distance runners (SI, June 30)—"We may never break the European monopoly on the distance races, since these have little appeal to American athletes"—may I point out the following facts? Since the U.S. athletes' lag in distance running was made only too plain by Zatopek and Company in the 1948 Olympic Games, Americans have:
1) Come out for high school cross-country in ever-increasing numbers, until now 32 states (including over 85% of the nation's population) now hold state or regional cross-country championships.
2) Broken the following U.S. national and/or national collegiate distance records: 1,500 meters, one mile, 2,000 meters, 3,000-meter steeplechase, 2 miles, 3 miles, 5,000 meters, 6 miles, 10,000 meters, 2½ mile distance medley relay, four-man 6,000-meter relay and four-man 4-mile relay.
3) Broken all official interscholastic distance records plus the unofficial 2 miles and medley relays.
July 13, 1958
It is time the myth that Americans do not like distance races be exploded.
NORMAN C. LUMIAN
Redondo Beach, Calif.
L.A.: PAX VOBISCUM
Seeing James Murray's article Coining Gold in the Cellar (SI, June 30), I was prepared for another tiresome blast at Walter O'Malley, the Dodgers, Los Angeles, and its inhabitants. I was very pleasantly surprised, however, when I read what seemed to be the first article about us that wasn't fit to be thrown into the wastebasket.
Los Angeles is truly the greatest sports center in the world. Our citizens patronize every type of sport offered them. Our fans have the most spirit. You can't realize how much fun it is going out to the Coliseum and yelling "Cha-a-rge" every time the USC Charge Song is played as the Dodgers come to bat. Our fans are the friendliest, too. We have a ball at the Coliseum.
I love baseball, and I resent it very much when you Easterners accuse us of not knowing our baseball. We have a baseball tradition stretching back to the 19th century. Our minor league teams were great. When the L.A. Angels played the Hollywood Stars the crowds really came out.
That the Dodgers are not doing very well doesn't bother me very much. I don't think any of us can point to one cause for their poor play. The big move west, the field, the screen are all responsible. The Dodgers will come out of it—if not this year, then next.
My reasons for going out to watch them play include the players. They are really nice. On Camera Day they were extremely obliging before and after the game. It's a pleasure to go out and watch such a friendly group of players and to listen to the games via radio, especially now that Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett have got the "California bug."
It is my hope that this article will be the first of many. It is just awful that every eastern magazine has nothing but bitter words for us. They should turn these bitter words to their own city, where, I hear, the Yankees are suffering a large attendance decrease. They can come out here if they like. There's plenty of room.
•But surely the charming new Dodger fan must know that this "eastern" magazine's writers heralded the move to California with the headline: BASEBALL GOES NATIONAL. She should also know that her big league sisters and brothers in San Francisco have not raised the cry of sectionalism.—ED.
TENNIS: MIXED DOUBLES
Congratulations on your splendid article on mixed doubles (SI, June 30), but your cover has me "mixed" up!
If there has been a change in the layout of the court, I think the USLTA should be notified immediately.
The service line of the right court of the server should only extend to the singles sideline. Yes? No?
Let's have more of these good articles on tennis.
I enjoyed Bill Talbert's article, but I don't think the discussion started from the correct premise: that mixed doubles is usually an agonizing game for the man.
P. R. BRYCE
HOW TO SET A SPINNAKER
Your two-page picture of the Bermuda Race (SI, June 23) showed the British cutter Uomie with spinnaker outstretched and one of the crew being hoisted into the air by the halyard. Immediately after this picture was taken, I followed Bob Sydenham, the crewman being hoisted, and the two of us found ourselves swinging wildly for over half a minute. By this time the spinnaker was out another six feet and Sydenham was level with the lower spreader.
Fortunately, one of the cockpit hands came forward and about half a minute later the whole ensemble was winched back on the deck. It might be interesting to add that the spinnaker did not break; otherwise two of us would have been swimming. Soon after this picture was taken Uomie pulled away from the pack and led classes C and D home on elapsed time to win the Argentine Trophy.
WARREN A. BROWN
MURPHY AT LE MANS
You say that Phil Hill was the only American ever to be the winning driver at Le Mans (E & D, June 30). If you would look up the records of the 1921 race the winning driver would be listed as James Murphy. Mr. Murphy is an American, the first to win at Le Mans. Another interesting fact is that he was driving an American car, the only one ever to win at Le Mans. The car was a Duesenberg.
•The Le Mans 24-hour endurance trial for sports cars began in 1923. Previous to that, an event known as the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France was run at Le Mans under a 3-liter formula for Grand Prix cars. James Murphy won over 15 other entries (most of them Ballot, Duesenberg, Fiat and Mathis makes), setting a record lap speed of 84 mph. The next year Murphy took his Duesenberg (with a new Miller engine) to Indianapolis and won the "500."—ED.
HOTBOX: GOOD WILL
Jimmy Jemail's HOTBOX of June 23 asked the question, "Do international sports always promote international good will?"
I expect he realized that when he included the word "always" in the question he loaded it in favor of a negative answer. Even so, it is pleasing to note that the bulk of the replies endorsed international sports exchanges and acknowledged their contribution to international good will.
It is essential to the success of our own efforts that we keep abreast of what is being done in the field of international sports. The reports generally mention the mutual understanding and friendship which result from an international sports meet. The following sentences from one such report from Prague are about as well phrased as any which have come to our attention:
"None of us are skilled in diplomatic observations; we're just six Americans who went to do a job and feel that we actually performed two jobs: we won the tournament, and we won hundreds of new friends. We worked harder at making friends than we did at shooting, and are not sorry" (from The Archers' Magazine, September 1957).
EDWARD P. F. EAGAN
Chairman, People-to-People Sports Committee, Inc.
New York City