I found fascinating, factual fun in Stanley Frank's blithe blasting of baseball's booby traps (What Ever Happened to Baseball? Aug. 27).
W. CARLYLE SMAIL, M.D.
You should force every club owner, manager and league official to memorize it word for word. It would help some players, too.
W. W. MILLER
Terre Haute, Ind.
I agree with everything the man said. Baseball has become a real drag, and instead of doing something to speed up the game the club owners are content to sit on their dwindling gate receipts.
Furthermore, I wish baseball's big wheels would seriously consider having the World Series played at night, when the majority of fans could watch it. After all, if baseball is still our national game the series should be played when most of its adherents can enjoy it. The club owners are perfectly willing to schedule most of the regular-season games at night, so why can't they be equally accommodating for the World Series?
The decline of interest in baseball has a parallel in the church. I am a clergyman—ordained to the ministry 57 years ago. Interest in religion has not increased during these years. Church buildings have grown bigger, more efficient, more beautiful, and the pews are more comfortable, but the crowds have not responded.
Added interests have come into being. Folks used to go to church because there was no other place to go. They talked about the sermon, for there was nothing else to talk about. This generation has a mania for the new, the different. The best too soon grows old. Said a Kentucky citizen to me, "The mountains are beautiful, but I get awfully tired of looking at them."
Only yesterday men gathered in the coffee shop to listen to the baseball game over one Of the few radios in the community. There was animated and partisan discussion. Today we sit in our parlors and automobiles to get the results. There is little talk beyond, "How did the game come out?"
Interest demands participation. The game has gotten away from a fickle public. Present interests are quite confined to the pennant race. The World Series is a foregone conclusion. The All-Star games are performances. The average person does not seem to care.
REV. JOHN VAN PEURSEM
Stanley Frank's article is a cynical farce. He probably would rather see a shortstop throw the ball into right field than see a lightning-fast double play get a pitcher out of a jam. If Mr. Frank is so disillusioned with the improvement in baseball today, then he ought to start watching the New York Mets.
JAMES J. HESSINGER
Let's see now. Mr. Frank's ideal ballplayer would be a guy who hit .258, didn't field too well (but had a hole in his glove), made crude gestures on TV, disdained endorsements and the pension fund and presumably wound up his life assuring bartenders, "They don't play baseball like they used to."
Mr. Frank is right that baseball is dying, but all his reasons are wrong.
The only people who complain about long games are the sportswriters, who get free tickets, free parking and free food and drink in the press box. The fan, who has to pay for all of these, figures he's made a big investment and likely would conclude that he got more for his money in a 2½-hour game than in a 1½-hour quickie in which probably not much happened.
The people most bored by statistics are the people who don't know any. Somehow they make a virtue out of this ignorance, claiming they're interested only in how the game is played. Trouble is, they usually don't know much about that either.
If Mr. Frank knew his statistics, he'd know that the Gashouse Gang's appeal, which he immortalizes, was somehow lost on the citizenry of St. Louis. In the six seasons cited by the author the Cardinals averaged 385,401 fans per season. That works out to 5,000 per game.
And of course we know it was a statistic—Babe Ruth's 60 home runs—that saved American League attendance last year as Maris and Mantle packed 'em in around the loop in their assault on the magic figure.
Baseball is dying for the same reason cricket is dying—they're both dull.
Frank rages about Rocky Colavito's antics at the plate. Isn't this the same thing he loved in Rabbit Maranville? Or is today's color bad and yesterday's good?
Monday night, August 20, the very much alive Reds were playing the league-leading Dodgers in the final game of a crucial four-game series in Cincinnati.
In the bottom of the 10th, with the score still tied at 3 all, one out and runners at second and third, Vada Pinson was passed intentionally to load the bases and set up the double play. The capacity crowd was hushed as Frank Robinson brought his bat and 111 RBIs to the plate. Four pitches later a tense crowd roared its approval as Robby's drive cleared the scoreboard.
It is moments like these, Mr. Frank, that will keep robots out of baseball for many years.
Our National Pastime will never be quite as dull as the writers who try to condemn it.
What is this blasphemy about large-mouth bass being gamer than trout or salmon (Brave and Brainy Bass, Aug. 20)? Dr. Henshall probably never took a decent-sized salmon in his life. Try out a two-pound rainbow and any two-pound large-mouth looks like a paralytic. I wrote an article for Field & Stream some years ago called Pound for Pound, which tabulated several hundred gamefish of various species on the basis of the time it took to land them on similar gear. The results in minutes per pound showed the average trout and landlocked salmon outfought the bass by three or four to one. This isn't opinion; it is observed fact. Furthermore, anybody who says a bass tastes better than a trout needs either a psychiatrist or a chef.
This letter has a dual purpose: to commend SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for Kenneth Rudeen's fine article on Dick Mann (Hitting the Kill Button, Aug. 20) while asking how, in all justice, he could give such short shrift to Carroll Resweber.
Resweber is not only the four-time grand national point champion of professional motorcycle racing, he is undoubtedly the greatest rider in the history of the two-wheelers. Imagine the skill and daring involved in winning four consecutive national titles! It's an amazing feat, which could be compared to winning a major league batting crown four straight years—and how many ballplayers have done that?
This does not mean that Dick Mann is not a line competitor in this courageous sport. He is—and so are many hundreds of other fine young men (emphasis on the "young") who have earned professional status in the American Motorcycle Association. But the most outstanding, versatile, flawless rider of them all is No. 1—Carroll Resweber.
To watch Resweber on a track is, to a motorcycle racing buff, like seeing poetry in motion. He and his finely tuned Harley-Davidson become like one—each so sensitive to the other that they have to be seen to be believed. So skillful is he behind the wheel that he avoided serious accidents and injury to himself and others with split-second reaction and handling of his machine. He once turned three laps at the head of the pack with a blown-out rear tire, then smoothly pulled his H-D to the outer wall, without interfering with any of the riders hot on his tail.
Topping it off, Carroll is a solid family man, and twice was voted the most popular male motorcyclist of the year—an honor that is open to everyone who owns a motorcycle.
All of us who ride motorcycles and enjoy the greatest sport on wheels thank you.
DONALD B. OLSON
SAFETY AT SEA
In your August 27 issue I was horrified to see the picture of Jackie Kennedy water skiing with her daughter—and Mrs. Kennedy without a life jacket. Your article even went so far as to say that she "temporarily foundered." Only good common sense is necessary to make one realize it is unsafe to ski without a life jacket or ski belt. I wonder how many people now think that since Mrs. Kennedy didn't wear one, why should they?
I wonder if the smiling skipper is thinking, "I wish Jackie would wear a ski belt."
P. G. HARMON