GAMBLING: THE GREATER SIN
As one of the participating witnesses called for the trial of Leo Shaffer et al. (A Big Week for Gamblers, SI, Aug. 25), I was very much interested in your comments.
This trial, as usual when it concerns gamblers, was a three-ring circus with publicity-conscious and ambitious officials milking it for all it was worth. I can assure you that I and other witnesses who were either bettors or bookies fared far worse at the hands of our interrogators and inquisitors than any of the Communists who have been on trial in the past. Of course, our sin is much greater than those people whose only sin is the overthrow of our form of government and giving us lock, stock and barrel to Moscow.
The observation in your article is certainly true "that a lot of people like to bet and bet big on sports events" and I can assure you these people are going to bet no matter how many laws are passed. The sooner our Government, federal, state and local, views the situation realistically and passes laws to legalize certain forms of wagering, the better it will be for everyone concerned. The government will get its just share of taxes, the police and other officials will not be corrupted and you will have a higher type of person in the gambling business.
The more stringent laws and harassments that are placed against gambling, the more of a criminal element there will be in the business. I am happy to see that your fine magazine has accepted the fact that people like to wager on sports events and as long as they do so in moderation, and as long as there is no attempt at corrupting the participants in the sporting events, then I believe you will agree there is nothing morally wrong in wagering.
September 14, 1958
Naturally the name below is changed to protect the innocent, or guilty, either way being strictly a matter of opinion.
THE YANKEES: CONSIDER...
Mr. Creamer's article on the New York Yankees (The Greatest Yankee Team Ever, SI, Aug. 25) draws some startling conclusions, which I fear are not substantiated. He casually mentions McDougald as "the best shortstop in the league last year," and then further makes the remarkable observation that there is a possibility that he's the best second baseman in the league. I feel it should be brought to his and your attention that the "school of thought" to which he refers does not include the league players who voted Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox of the Chicago White Sox to represent their league in this year's All-Star Game.
Mr. Creamer should have stated that these were his and only his opinions.
JOHN K. VAN ATTA
DALE A. RIKER
Robert Creamer is right as rain—and we'll prove it come World Series time.
One must consider always the caliber of the opposition in trying for a fair appraisal. This point is the principal foundation for my belief that the 1958 Yanks are definitely inferior to the 1927, 1936 and 1953 teams. Creamer suggests that readers see the 1958 Yankees. I have, mister. And his remarks about the defensive prowess of the team leave me gasping. Two and three errors per game seem to be the rule, not the exception. It's the sloppiest fielding Yankee club I have seen yet.
Let us examine the personnel. Mantle is a fine player, but always an uncertain quantity because his legs are brittle. He has not shown these aging glimmers he is the equal of DiMaggio.
I cannot see how many of today's Yanks could make the 1936 team. Who could displace any member of an infield that included Gehrig, Lazzeri, Crosetti and Rolfe? Gil McDougald would probably be utility infielder for that combine. And has Berra (at his best) been the equal of Bill Dickey? I think not. The Yankees today have only two quality pitchers: Turley and Ford (and Whitey has been having his troubles lately). A possible third one might be Sturdivant, but sore arm trouble has sidelined him. The 1936 staff was superb. As a matter of fact, if the Braves this fall can take either Turley or Ford in the first two games, they have an excellent chance of whipping the Yankees in five games.
Ah, woe is us! We must face the awesome probability that the annoying Mr. Burdette will win two games. Last October I admired him even while I wanted to choke him for his masterful whitewashing of my Yanks!
I enjoyed your article. It was thought-provoking, the sort of stuff that can be argued at the nearest tavern over tall cold glasses.
JAMES BUSBEE JR.
BOXING: No. 2 IS FIRST
I'm sure that I echo the sentiment of all Texans when I say I'm still proud of Roy Harris. There certainly was nothing disgraceful in his defeat; in fact, Harris showed much more than most people figured he would.
Anyone who witnessed the fight will not soon forget the raw courage Roy displayed against the bombing punches of Patterson. He continually fought back under conditions to which an average fighter would have surrendered.
I believe Roy will improve greatly in the next few months from the experience gained and will be a tremendous draw in Texas as well as the rest of the country. However, I think it would be a serious mistake if Roy ever tried to fight Patterson again no matter how much he improved. He'll just have to be content to be second best in boxing but first in the heart of Texans!
FOOTBALL: PROOF POSITIVE
One of the questions that is most frequently argued about by football fans is whether Pennsylvania produces the best football players.
This question was even raised in your magazine (How Colleges Gather in a New Crop, SI, June 18, '56) when you surveyed the crop of Pennsylvania high school stars who had graduated that spring. To prove your point even further, you followed up (The Crop Begins to Ripen, SI, April 1, '57) and reported on their successes for their respective schools the previous fall.
You still did not have concrete proof to answer the question. It still was all theory. And yet when you had a chance to finally clinch your case, you ignored it altogether.
On Saturday, August 9, in Hershey, Pa., the cream of the crop of Pennsylvania's high school football stars—the Big 33—met the All-Americas from across the nation. These All-Americas were the standout players from the East and West squads of the All-America prep game held earlier in Memphis. It was a hard-fought contest that was thrilling to watch, and after the final whistle had blown, our question was answered. The Pennsylvanians were victorious by the score of 6-0, proving once and for all that the best scholastic football players in the nation are produced in and by Pennsylvania.
•But unfortunately, as we said a year ago, they do not play football for Pennsylvania institutions of higher learning. When freshman football practice was called, only 12 of the impressive Big 33 answered the call at Pennsylvania schools. The only state college to get a good share of local talent is resurgent Pitt with five.—ED.
FOOTBALL: THE FREE RIDE (CONT.)
I thoroughly enjoyed the Don Parker article on Auburn's Red Phillips (A Free Ride for Big Red, SI, Aug. 25). Certainly Auburn was well protected in a highly controversial piece.
For what it is worth, let me compare his career with that of Penn's Frank Riepl, also a member of the class of 1958.
Riepl was a much-sought-after high school player in South River, N.J. He chose Pennsylvania because his brother-in-law, Doug Reichenbach, played tackle there in the '40s. Riepl majored in statistics, finished just about No. 1 in his class and this fall will return to teach statistics and work toward his master's degree.
Although Coach Sebo wanted to hire Riepl as an assistant coach for this season, Rip prefers to get on with his teaching and graduate work.
In his first start as a sophomore Rip ran 108 yards for a TD against Notre Dame on the opening kickoff—something that had never been done before.
In the player insurrection in 1956—ably covered by Joel Sayre (Pigskin at Penn: a Real-life Drama, SI, Jan. 28, '57)—Rip took no part, either pro or con. He liked to play football and wanted to have nothing to do with petty politics.
Like Phillips, Rip married in his junior year, his wife took a job to help support him.
Rip had no fancy summer job "deals." He works in the post office at South River and last summer you folks ran a picture of him carrying the mail (WONDERFUL WORLD, Aug. 19, '57). He is doing it again this summer.
Last fall Rip actually saved Sebo his job. As the No. 1 quarterback, he suffered a broken foot in the opening game and missed the next five games. He came back to take over the team in the last three games—three big victories to give Penn the same winning streak now enjoyed by mighty Oklahoma.
This is how a typical Ivy Leaguer fits into the picture. Rip comes from the same modest circumstances that surrounded Phillips.
TENNIS: A TITLE FOR THE DEAN
An interesting situation was highlighted by your E&D item on John Palfrey, the new tennis-playing dean of Columbia College (SI, Aug. 25). As one who might be called the college's stellar example that scholarship and sport can mix happily, Dean Palfrey will probably be unhappy to learn that his students, who just last year had 10 tennis courts on which to romp, will soon have none.
Four of them were excavated last spring to make room for a much-needed new building. Five more courts are slated to go within the next year in favor of other additions to the university plant. The one remaining, the tradition-bound court in front of venerable John Jay Hall, has been threatening to go for the past 100 years or so and will likely expire with the next puff of wind.
While we Lions of Columbia College and University realize the importance of academic expansion, it will be hard to appease the tennis hunger of many of us who rate the game as our favorite sport. If Dean Palfrey comes to our aid, he will finally own, as all his sisters do, a national tennis title; for we shall crown him National Champion of Tennis-playing Lions.