BASEBALL: SECONDING MOTIONS
What Baseball Needs (SI, Feb. 23) is the most sensible article ever penned.
Your article refers to a "directing brain," herein called the D.B. The D.B. is the manager, sitting on the bench, "percentage possibilities clicking in his head like the tumblers in a slot machine or portable Univac." Here in my home town of Cincinnati we have a National League baseball team now known as the Reds. It seems that the front-office personnel has become resigned to the opinion that the only way to win a pennant is to turn to the services of a D.B.
At the start of the 1958 baseball season the ball club was managed by a true D.B., a platooning marvel known to all fans as Birdie. Directing a game of who's on first and what is where for the majority of the baseball season, he found himself floundering around with a second-division team as the season drew to a close. Unable to decide who to start in center field one day, this platooning D.B. announced his retirement.
The question in the minds of many fans was, "What would become of our cherished team now?" It was answered when the front office announced that a likable chap name of Jimmy Dykes would act as interim manager. Immediately this new manager pitched the platoon system over our center field wall out onto Western Avenue and proceeded to plant certain players in certain positions. He also did the unspeakable! He permitted left-handed batters to step into the batter's box against left-handed pitchers. With such ideas, how could this man possibly be in baseball in the year 1958? What could he accomplish? He merely brought the Reds from deep in the second division, up the ladder to a first-division finish.
March 9, 1959
It now seemed to all fans that Jimmy Dykes could be the only choice of the company management for the manager's position in 1959. But this was not to be the case. The bigwigs hired a man who less than two months before had been fired as manager of a second-division club in Philadelphia. The new D.B. is Mayo Smith, and I will wager my shell-rimmed spectacles against an eye patch that the platoon system is home to stay.
G. D. SCHUMAN
I used to go to Cincinnati at least 12 times a year and Cleveland three or four. No more. No action. A great article.
SCIPIO A. MYERS
What Baseball Needs is 100% correct.
Bradley Beach, N.J.
JOSEPH J. T. VALCOURT
J. E. ROBERTS
You hit a four-bagger. Battles are not won by automatons. Bench direction for all plays lessens the sport for the player, insults his intelligence and slows down action.
F. G. DUNNICLIFF
...You are right!...
Each year, like a lemming, I go to either the Detroit or New York ball park about a half dozen times. Each time, I go to see one man bat: Ted Williams. My memories of the duels between Williams and topnotch pitchers keep me warm while all the .280 hitters take their turns.
The first day I suspect that Williams is looking down the third-base line for advice from a kibitzer to the duel whether he should "hit or take," that's the day I join the 21-inch-screen viewers.
New York City
Let's cut out the fancy Dan stuff and play baseball as it was intended—with young fellows who know how if they're let alone.
We don't pay our $2 to see how smart the managers are. They can't knock a ball out of the dugout.
PHIL P. POTTER
KING, AND QUEEN, OF THEM ALL
Your splendid article A Fish to Remember by Mr. Burton J. Rowles (SI, Feb. 2) brought to mind many happy experiences.
My grandfather, John B. McFerran, was, I believe, the first man to ever catch a bonefish with rod and reel; at least this credit is given by Mr. W. H. Gregg in his book, Where, When and How to Catch Fish on the East Coast of Florida, published in 1892.
I remember only too well my first bonefish caught in January 1906, when I was 10 years of age. The guide was Jerome Pinder, who was my grandfather's boatman until the death of Mr. McFerran in 1919. Islamorada in those days was known as Pinderville, and the railroad had not been constructed across Upper Matecumbe at that time.
I have caught quite a few bonefish in my life and it has spoiled me for any other kind of fishing. I still think of the bone-fish as king of them all.
JOHN B. MCFERRAN JR.
I have had extraordinary luck with the bonefish.
I have only gone bonefishing twice—the first time in 1948, with Jimmy Albright as my guide. I caught a world record bonefish for men and women, 12 pounds 2½ ounces. Last year I caught five bonefish in three hours, all nine pounds or better, with Cecil Keith Jr. of Islamorada.
WATCH OUT BELOW!
"New York Corporation Lawyer" Coulson's remark that "some of the crew didn't bathe at all" while sailing the Ondine to Rio (WONDERFUL WORLD, Feb. 16) must have been aimed at his port watch only, because we of the starb'd watch bathed frequently, especially as we neared Rio and anticipated carnival and the beautiful senhoritas! Incidentally, half of the water that Corporation Lawyer Coulson poured over himself cascaded down an open hatch into Tanker Broker Long's bunk.
Real estate salesman
New York City
WAR AND PEACE
Your story about the 1958 West Point football team and their "lonely end" (Feet Plus Pete Dawkins, SI, Feb. 2) was quite interesting to me.
Possibly the origin of these plays could be traced back to the study of military history by someone connected with the football team. These plays follow very closely in principal tactics in a much bigger game in 1861 and 1862 where Stonewall Jackson was the "lonely end" and Robert E. Lee the quarterback. Jackson's activities in the Shenandoah Valley kept the Union forces off balance and tied up, out of action, a great many more Union soldiers than the total number of his command.
•We asked Colonel Earl Blaik, retired Army football coach and active Civil War buff, about Mr. Worthington's thesis. "There is no doubt," said Colonel Blaik, "that the lonely end formation can be compared to a number of military maneuvers, for the concepts of warfare are implicit in the game of football. When Field Marshal Montgomery visited the United States after World War II he was intrigued by football and sensed at once the relation between the tactical problems of the football field and battlefield."—ED.