POWER OF THE PEN
Your derogatory article on Sonny Liston (Sonny Slams Ahead, July 29) represents a flagrant effort on your part to destroy a man's character by the power of the pen.
Your fabled knight-errant, St. Floyd, whom you sent into battle, sword in hand, astride a white charger, has failed to slay the Dragon, and now you have set yourself up to conduct a personal vendetta. All the things you say about Liston may be true, but must a heavyweight champion adhere to all the niceties of Emily Post to be accepted as a champion? I think not. And you had better agree, because Liston is here to stay for a long time.
It is getting a little nauseating to read all the bunk sportswriters are putting out these days about Sonny Liston ruining boxing. Liston has been true to his profession. He has fought all the contenders on his way to the championship, and as long as Liston obeys the law the most important thing is the way he conducts himself in the ring. Good guys are a dime a dozen, but talent is rare.
PRESTON G. ACKER
Robert H. Boyle's candid psychoanalysis of Sonny Liston was revealing and, at points, entertaining, but I am afraid he is suffering a delusion if he feels that God can save boxing. The "sport" of boxing passed the salvation stage years ago, long before the current gladiator was crowned king. As far back as I can remember the god of boxing has been the almighty dollar. It has always been run and supported by greedy men who set themselves up as little gods and then go on to become greedier and bigger gods.
Writer Boyle implies in his article that Liston is bad for boxing because he, too, is money-preoccupied and void of warm and human feelings. It has been rumored that a relatively well-known and likable fighter by the name of Joe Louis made over $4 million during his reign as heavyweight champion, and yet it is also well known that Joe is now broke and in debt for the remainder of his life to the U.S. Government. I and others are therefore prompted to ask: What happened to all that money? Can any of us say that the era of Louis was better for boxing than the era of Liston is or will be? Wasn't the million-dollar gate the preoccupation of the promoters during the Louis era? Is it not still the main preoccupation today when Liston is king?
The salvation of boxing as a sport is not in the hands of God. It is in the hands of mortal men who are willing to put hearts and minds ahead of the god of legal tender.
DAVID C. MCNAIR
New York City
Just when I was prepared to accept your assessment of Sonny Liston as a rude, overbearing, insufferable human being, I came upon a paragraph midway through the story that brought me up short. A man who would refuse to shake hands with Toots Shor can't be all bad. There is hope for redemption yet.
New York City
As a longtime devotee of the so-called minor sport of archery I was more than delighted to see your August 5 cover and story featuring our now ex-world champion, Nancy Vonderheide (She Started at the Top). However, you have succeeded only in whetting my appetite for a sequel. Surely we deserve a picture, at least, of our new world champion, Victoria (Sam) Cook, who defeated Nancy in Helsinki.
New York City
AS OLD AS MATHEWSELAH
I've taken a gander at many a poultry gag in my day, but Bobby Bragan's fowl ball about "Chicken Catcher Torre" (SCORECARD, July 15) wins the pulletser prize. No doubt he had just finished eating improperly plucked waterfowl, and was feeling down in the mouth. Your publicity will perhaps serve to egg him on, so in the future we may expect comments about "swimming upstream to Spahn," "Boiling on the green," and even (shudder) "Aaron go Bragan."
W. R. ANDERSON
•Although we first heard it from the Milwaukee manager, New York Mirror Columnist Dan Parker claims he laid the egg and Bragan poached it.—ED.
I have been struggling to shoot 99 since June 1. Last night I finished Arnold Palmer's third article in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (My Came and Yours, July 15 et seq.) and today shot 88.
If I keep this up I should at least be in the 70s!
ROBERT V. JOEL, M.D.
HAVEMANN HAS HEADACHES?
Ernest Havemann's article, Worried Man with a Frightening Filly (July 22), was most enjoyable. But no matter how you slice it, a man who wins a Caliente 5-10 and comes up with a filly like Nubile (in medical circles it has even been pronounced "new-bile") deserves to be in the horse business, worry and all.
I was lured into racing by my retired father, Dr. Peter Graffagnino, late in 1956—as a partner in the now slumbering Crabgrass Stables. We had our luck early with a 2-year-old stakes winner, Beauguerre, and in the next year with Noureddin, an almost very topnotcher who ran the race that Silky Sullivan forgot to run and came within one length of winning the 1958 Kentucky Derby. After a couple of years in the elite racing circles, in 1960 (which was to have been the year of real glory) both bowed a tendon in the same week. And we were in the breeding business.
Dad died almost two years ago. The stable at that time consisted of me and 24 horses of various sexes and ages scattered over five states. By some judicious and not so judicious selling, directly and via claiming, I have somehow managed to stay alive (barely) in a business entirely unsuited to my professional income.
But as Havemann says, the fire of eternal hope that burns within the breast of each horseman is unquenchable. In '64 and '65, when the Beauguerres and Noureddins really get to running—who knows! I can picture the white columns, the farm and the paddocks now. I can even count the profit. And there will be no more complaining women in the office, no more babies to deliver—just horse headaches forever.
P. C. GRAFFAGNINO, M.D.
This is in vehement protest to the editorial comment contained in "Goodby to All That" (SCORECARD, July 15.)
What right do you have to advise people all over the U.S. to "forget about Sebago" and tell a man "not to be so foolish as to assemble his tackle, pack his gear and hie off to Maine in the hope of catching a Sebago landlock of even respectable size?"
While it is true Sebago is now in a fishing slump, both salmon and bass have been taken from it this spring and summer and are being brought in almost daily. There have been no conclusions finalized about pesticides being responsible for the situation, and our Department of Fish and Game is working hard on the problem.
Your article has accomplished no purpose whatever except to thoughtlessly harm the tourist business in Maine.
SHERMAN K. CROCKETT
South Casco, Me.
SAFETY AT SEA
Your report on the transatlantic race (Rough Ride on a Sea of Troubles, Aug. 5) gave a vivid picture of the tragicomic temperament required to win yacht races, and the description of the race itself was just brief enough to prevent mal de mer by suggestion. However, I am curious about the two opening pictures of Jim Ivins at the helm, which show him wearing what looks like a window washer's belt. Admitted, Ondine in mid-Atlantic looks immaculate, but surely this is no time for dressing ship.
•Ivins actually is wearing two safety belts. While at the helm he is attached to a line fixed to the mizzen mast. The second belt he wears at all times. It has lines at either side, terminating in snap hooks that he can clip to any fixed object on deck (or even in his berth). The belt also contains a whistle, a waterproof flashlight, a dye marker and a self-inflating life preserver.—ED.