BRICKS AND THE BRICKYARD
Picking a winner in the 500 is like shooting at a flock of fast-moving ducks. I guess you fellows just picked the right duck.
Congratulations on your forecast, and thank you for the sparkling Bob Ottum story on A.J. Foyt (Driver in a Tight Corner, June 1).
How do you do it? You were the only national magazine to give Cassius Clay even half a chance of beating Sonny Liston. You picked Northern Dancer to win the Kentucky Derby. And, last but not least, you put A. J. Foyt on your cover for Indianapolis. After watching Clay pummel Liston, Northern Dancer take the roses and Foyt coast to victory at the 500, I could no longer withhold my praise. Congratulations on a fine job!
Now that A. J. Foyt has won the infamous Indy 500 (at the cost of two other racers' lives) and proved the Offy roadsters still hold the edge over rear-engined cars (The Magnificent and the Macabre, June 8), let's stop this macabre showing of foolish speed that kills!
FRED E. LANGLEY
June 14, 1964
Auto racing is a dangerous profession. Drivers like Eddie Sachs and Dave Mac-Donald who enter it voluntarily know and accept this. I cannot speak for MacDonald, but I know Sachs loved racing and the 500, and he would have been the last one to want the tragedy of his and MacDonald's deaths in the 500 to be used as a weapon to hurt the sport.
As races go, the 500 is remarkably safe. There had not been a death in the race for five years preceding this year's tragedy. Even this year there were only the breakdowns of the Clark and Jones cars to mar it further, and there was not a single driver failure in the 198 laps following the fatal accident.
In the last five years of safe 500s the crowds have steadily risen, not fallen. It is not death that draws interest, but the performance of brave and skilled men in magnificently prepared machines in the face of danger. The loss of Sachs and MacDonald is a great one. But the 500 is a great race, and we would not want to lose it or the new theater-TV exposure of it. Sachs and MacDonald would not have wanted it. Remember, both drove in races in which men were killed, yet they continued in the sport they loved.
Do not let the doomsayers and sob sisters spoil their memory. Let us regret their loss, but be proud of them.
I would like to thank you for the recent coverage you gave me and the sport of marathon racing following my victory at Yonkers, N.Y. (Straight Man in a Twisty Race, June 1).
For the past four years, while running abroad, I've done my very best to be a good ambassador for my country and have always tried to maintain the very best relations with the Amateur Athletic Union. The single quotation you used concerning me and the AAU would give the impression there was some animosity between myself and that organization. Actually, my association with the AAU—prior to leaving the U.S. in 1960, again last summer on tour in Russia and yet again at Yonkers a week ago—has been excellent.
I do not, in any case, want to do anything to jeopardize this fine relationship or to indicate in any way that the AAU has anything but the best interests of all athletes in mind.
It was a pity that what was otherwise a very colorful and informative article had to be disfigured by belaboring certain "eccentricities" I might have.
I pointed out to your reporter that drinking beer by an athlete is viewed in an entirely different light in England than it is here in America. I hope the American youngsters will take special notice of the intensive training I do (about 125-130 miles a week) and view the more sensational aspects of the article in their proper perspective.
It's about time you had an article on Buddy Edelen. He has been running marathons in Europe for some time now, and this is the first time the American people have been given the particulars on one of the best chances of the U.S. for a marathon gold medal since the year one.
Woonsocket, S. Dak.
John Lovesey's article on Buddy Edelen was informative and interesting, but the caption that "he is the best American marathon runner ever" is not only misleading but untrue. He could very well become the greatest marathon runner in U.S. history, but at this premature date it is too early for such sweeping generalities.
Greatness in marathon running, possibly more than any phase of active sport, is based on longevity as well as consistent success at the highest competitive level possible. Buddy has never competed in the Olympic Games. This single fact alone disallows the claim of his alltime greatness.
Let's give the boy at least five to eight more years of successful marathon running before calling him the greatest ever.
Head Track Coach, Penn State U.
University Park, Pa.
That was a real nice story Robert H. Boyle did on Buster Mathis (At the Fair with Fat Buster, June 1). I thought you might like to know some more about the boy. He is quite a credit to our city!
Bus loves kids and has been a fine influence on underprivileged children in our local boxing tournaments. He helped teach a lot of boys how to box, and some of them went on to win city and state titles. They will tell you Buster had a lot to do with their success, and they will also tell you that they helped Buster to win the national crown and the Olympic trials—by sparring with him. Buster will agree. He helped the boys and they helped him!
When Buster got back home from the Olympic trials, he visited the children at Juvenile Home. He played basketball with them. He loves the kids, and the feeling is definitely mutual.
Your article on Buster Mathis reminded me of my own amateur boxing career.
This was in Clovis, N. Mex. some years ago. Some friends of mine became interested in boxing and decided that they would enter the Golden Gloves, which at that time was held in Amarillo, Texas, about 100 miles away. I never was sure just how it happened, but I ended up sending in my entry just like the others. I gave them my name and address, my age (15), my classification (novice) and my weight (260).
I suppose whoever read my entry blank thought I was kidding because, to my great relief, I never heard a word from them. It is nice now to be able to sit on the sidelines and say, "Hit 'em one for me, Buster!"
DAVID L. TRAVIS
Bob Boyle's Olympic trials boxing story conveys a distorted impression of the makeup of the squad selected by the Olympic Committee. He is telling the reader that the AAU team walked away with the biggest slice of titles—even though the armed forces contributed over half of the entries.
The truth is that seven of the 10 divisions were won by members of the services and 11 of 14 alternates are similarly servicemen.
Your recent SCORECARD note (May 18) that Ralph Branca's brother was about to purchase some old grandstand seats from the Polo Grounds made me think your readers might be interested in my efforts to do the same. My secretary began the deal, innocently enough, by dialing the Polo Grounds and explaining what she wanted to a woman who answered. The woman told her that she should call the New York Mets, which she did. The woman who took her call at the Mets' office informed her that the Polo Grounds had been sold to the City of New York, and that she should contact the New York Housing Authority. The Housing Authority operator said they didn't handle such matters there but that she would transfer the call to someone who did.
The someone listened politely, then offered to switch the call to the personnel office. The personnel people just laughed.
Mine is a persistent secretary, however, and she dialed the Housing Authority again. This time a gentleman answered and assured her that the demolition department could help. It did, by giving her the number of the Wrecking Corporation of America, which had been awarded the contract to tear down the Polo Grounds.
At this point, having repeated herself 10 times, my secretary inexplicably resigned from the fray, leaving me to make the final and finally successful call.
Since then, I have made that last sad trip to the Polo Grounds. Three seats that were once joined proudly together in section 16 of the lower stands behind first base now occupy a place of honor in my hallway. There is even a chunk of gum stuck under one of them. And my secretary is very pleased to know that she did not dial in vain.
WINFIELD A. CARLOUGH JR.
New York City