PALMER AND JONES
It was very gratifying to me and I'm sure to many other golf fans to know of Arnold Palmer's well-being, both physically and mentally (Palmer Gets Fit to Fight Again, June 3).
However, the statement you attribute to Bobby Jones disparaging Palmer's greatness bothers me as Jones himself has been the figure by which the word "great" has been gauged in the world of golf. Regardless of what Mr. Jones believes, never has any athlete captured so much attention in any sport, especially golf.
DAVID R. CHENOWETH
I wish Ernest Havemann had checked with me before he wrote his piece about Arnold Palmer, since he quoted me rather extensively. Unfortunately, the quotes he used came from a newspaper interview given over the telephone in which I was obviously misunderstood and half quoted.
Actually, I have considerable admiration for Palmer, both on and off the golf course, and I was attempting to ridicule a suggestion that Palmer was "through." My chiding of the sportswriters was for their refusal to allow anyone to be human, and I pointed out that Palmer's performance in Augusta was remarkable in that he finished only five strokes behind when badly off his game.
I did say that I did not believe Palmer would beat Nicklaus consistently, but I also said that Nicklaus would not beat Palmer consistently, adding that either had to be at least an even bet against anybody.
On several occasions, I have said that Palmer was the best player in the world during the several years when he obviously was. What I objected to was being asked to say that Palmer was the "greatest golfer ever to play in the Masters," when we have had Hogan, Snead, Nelson, and now Nicklaus, and I might add Sarazen and Hagen.
I tried to make it quite plain that I expected Palmer to come back to his full powers as soon as he regained his keenness. Anyone who knows golf knows that no man can win all the time and that players do grow stale from too much competitive play.
ROBERT TYRE JONES JR.
He'll come back to beat Nicklaus, Player and everyone else.
CLARK AND JONES
All hail, Parnelli Jones, a true champion and deserving winner (Two Against the Clock at Indy, June 10). Hail and farewell to the beam-axle Offenhauser roadster!
Jimmy Clark and his Lotus-Ford lost the battle but have probably won the war. For the simple truth is this: a "rookie" driver in a car running its maiden race beat every Offie but Jones's Agajanian entry.
WALTER B. DUNNING
It was a great race by J. C. Agajanian and flag-waving friends. Parnelli Jones helped, but let's face it, not only did he lack the best car (Lotus-Ford), but he was not the best driver (Jimmy Clark). Blue flags flew when Parnelli was boxed in, the constant yellow allowed his time-stealing and the black flag must have been forgotten. Scotland may start World War III!
Tex Maule's alibis for Jim Beatty's defeat by Peter Snell and others was disgusting (A Man of Spirit Wrecked Igloi's Computer, June 3). His very subtle blaming of Mihaly Igloi made me laugh. A year ago, when Beatty was running one record after another, Igloi could do no wrong. Is Igloi a poor coach now because Beatty was humiliated in a race? It seems to me he has turned Beatty from just another runner into a record-breaker, yet the loss is laid to Igloi.
Let's be a bit intelligent about this thing. Snell is the greatest runner we have yet seen over the middle distances. Beatty is a fine little runner developed to his fullest abilities, but he is a long-distance runner—period.
Your article on the heralded meeting of Peter Snell and the top American milers was excellent. There were, however, seven runners in that race. One you inadvertently skipped is John Camien, a sophomore at Emporia State College in Kansas, who has recorded some of the best times of any collegian this year. Camien finished behind Grelle and ahead of both Seaman and Jessup in less than a second over four minutes.
LARRY F. NOBLE
North Valley Stream, N.Y.
Having read your story, The Spitter Is Back, by William Leggett (June 3), it seems to me that, with the batter of today so completely helpless in comparison to his predecessor, the spitball should definitely not be reintroduced into baseball. The hitters of today are poor enough already: the last thing they need is something else working against them besides their lack of ability. Paradoxically, before 1920 when the spitter was banned, hitting performances were far superior to those that have been turned in since.
Before that year 16 hitters batted .400 or better (excluding the 10 players who hit .400 only in 1887 when walks counted as hits). Since 1920 only six players have reached the .400 mark, the last being Ted Williams, who hit .406 22 years ago. Consider that before 1920 pitchers were throwing a codfish-cake ball to which they could apply spit, dirt and anything else they wished; they were throwing to a strike zone even larger than this year's from a pitcher's box 4 feet by 6 feet that was, until 1893, only 50 feet from the plate; and they were helped by rules that permitted any pitching style whatever, that designated a foul caught on one bounce to be an out and that allowed the pitching mound to be of any height.
Today, about the only batting statistics that are on the rise are home runs and strikeouts and, despite this emphasis on slugging and the "big inning," run totals are going down. This condition will likely exist until more players who know how to handle the bat are sought instead of big Harmon Killebrew-type plow horses. Until that time, the spitter had better be kept out of baseball, or batting averages may drop right out of sight.
UP THE BEAT
Once again this year it is Cornell, Cornell, Cornell (SI, May 27 et seq.). Cornell might very well be the college crew to beat, but to imply that their victory over the Ratzeburg Rowing Club in a trial heat of the eastern sprints might lead to bigger things in the field of rowing than a college championship is a gross overestimate of college rowing—or a gross underestimate of club rowing.
Why not face it? A good club crew can always beat the best college crew.
JON S. BUTLER
BLOOD, SWEAT AND GOLF
I am not, as it happens, a golfer, so it doesn't matter too much to me, but I got to wondering recently how those of your readers who are golfers are bearing up after six months or so of these two-color brain-washings you've been giving them. You know the ones I mean? They started with that cover picture of Jerry Barber getting a blood transfusion in the middle of a mashie shot (Feb. 18). At least I thought that's what it was at first. I mean there was this poor guy standing there on the grass and there was this huge red funnel mainlining a bucket of blood right into his arm. But then I looked inside and I saw that I was all wrong. This wasn't a blood transfusion at all, it was one of those Fortune-magazine-type charts showing the flow of capital through a huge corporation—Arnold Palmer Enterprises, say—and that seemed to make sense. There's a lot of money in big-time golf. However, when I got to studying the thing closer, I noticed in one of the pictures that the guy wasn't holding a golf club at all. He had hold of a piece of rope. Right out there on the golf course, this poor so-and-so was trying to play golf with a piece of rope!
Well, right about then I began to get the real idea, and, believe me, it's pretty subtle. Week after week after that I watched these big-time pros—first Barber, then Nicklaus—trying, like every duffer, to keep their minds on golf while you guys showed the hideous hopelessness of it all. There was that time in April when Nicklaus was trying for more distance and all the time his mind was on those striped red long Johns his maiden aunt made him wear. You could see them right there in the picture under his pants and you knew his mind was on them, not on his stroke. Then there was the time a month later when he was looking for "height and bite with the long iron." Well, even I know that it would take a long iron with a lot of bite to hit two balls at once and that's what Jack was trying to do. But I guess what the artist was really saying is Jack shoulda stood in bed on that particular day.
Anyway, the next time the champ turned up, there were two of him, all mixed up with each other in two colors and both trying to make the same putt. Only one was a little fatter so he couldn't bend over so much. "Stand up to those putts," Jack was saying, but that was a pretty transparent way to conceal the fact he was really just worrying about his weight. And if you're worried about your weight, you can't sink putts.
Anyway, the point is—and you people are sure making it—if pros like Nicklaus and Barber have that kind of trouble, what chance has the ordinary guy? That's why I wonder how your golf readers are getting on.
New York City