Congratulations on the selection of Ken Venturi as Sportsman of the Year and the excellent article about him (Dec. 21). The story of Ken's comeback is one of the most inspiring I've ever read.
As they say, golf is a humblin' game.
You've just got to be kidding! Ken Venturi is a tremendous individual and, no doubt, Comeback Athlete of the Year, but hardly Sportsman of the Year. Why, he wasn't even the best golfer in 1964! One thing is for certain: he does have the most beautiful wife in sports, doesn't he?
Santa Barbara, Calif.
I should have thought your ridiculous pick last year would have led you to a sensible Sportsman, but apparently not.
THOMAS H. GOREY
Salt Lake City
January 4, 1965
I find it unfortunate that your choice of the Sportsman of the Year is a professional. During the past year the Winter and Summer Olympic Games were held, the Davis Cup Challenge Round was played and the America's Cup was defended. In these events hundreds, probably thousands, of men and women competed at a sacrifice to themselves in time and money. These people are the basis of any sport, and in a year in which they dominated the athletic scene I feel that your choice should have come from their ranks.
Your man was the one natural candidate for Sportsman of the Year honors. I stood at the 11th tee in that simmering cauldron and watched Venturi literally pulled up the incline to the elevated surface of the tee. He could scarcely walk. Few that close expected him to be the Open champion that day.
Venturi is not just the winner of the most important of all golf tournaments. He is an exemplification of the very essence of competitive sports: determination, courage and the will to succeed. His dogged fight, from the brink of oblivion to the very peak of his profession, will stand as an example to many for a long time to come.
LIGHT ON LUCADELLO
Robert Creamer's account of his ability to drop a "Claude Passeau landscape" into a cultured conversation (I Remember Lucadello, Dec. 14) has given baseball buffs like myself new hope of social acceptance.
I think I have found situations in which to introduce Ramazzotti's Piano Concerto in B Minor and Lade's beautiful painting, Lady on the Lake (ex-Cubs Bob Ramazzotti and Doyle Lade). But where, Mr. Creamer, does one fit in Marv Rotblatt (an obscure pitcher for the White Sox in the late '40s)?
Park Ridge, Ill.
•Nothing to it. Everybody who is anybody has seen that rare Rotblatt at Munich's famed Alte Pinakothek.—ED.
Yes, I remember Lucadello, although I've not thought of him for a long time, and I'm glad to be reminded.
In the last couple of years I, too, have successfully initiated several stimulating discussions in desperately intellectual cocktail company. We've debated, for example, the accomplishments of the Renaissance painter Sisti (a student of Cuccinello) and the relative talents of the Russian novelists Novikoff and Strincevich. We've also discussed in detail the poignant career of that now-forgotten British socialist whose brilliant political future was wrecked by his inability to avoid social blunders in proper society. This, of course, is Fabian Gaffke.
DOW M. DRUKKER
I remember Lucadello all right, and I only wish I didn't. But there he is, seared traumatically on the pulsing tissue of what was once a romantic, cultural-type—if over-young—heart. The heart belonged to a young man who found himself one summer long ago, free of all the baseball stadiums and other uncouth concerns of the U.S., standing alone and hopeful outside a railroad station in, of all wonderful places, Venice. And what was he waiting for? A gondola to take him to a hotel. A gondola on a moonlit night in the city of the Doges when the ripples on the Grand Canal were etched in silver, and anything could happen to a sensitive sophomore with the right attitudes about romance. Did Mr. Creamer ever wait for a gondola to take him to the ball park on a night like that? And if he did, was there by chance somebody else waiting for a gondola—a bob-haired blonde who looked, in that Venetian moonlight at least, like the Bartlett Aphrodite herself? And if there was, did she suggest slyly and without words that they might share the gondola? Well, if she did, Creamer would have been right in his element, because that's just what this blonde, who turned out to be not the Bartlett Aphrodite at all but a bob-haired boob from St. Louis, did to me. And do you know what she said as we snuggled down together in the stern sheets of that gondola with culture and beauty and romance slopping all around us? "Well, kiddo," she said in the cultured tones of a Cookie Lavagetto, "what do you think of the Browns' chances this year?"
New York City
Your editorial on Alaskan polar-bear hunting by plane (SCORECARD, Dec. 14) reminded me of a TV tale I saw some time ago about the danger faced by four men plus, of course, the crew of a 100-foot boat, while hunting polar bear. The four who chartered the boat had rifles powerful enough to kill at a mile. At night they slept in warm bunks. When on deck they were bundled up. The boat cruised around until they spotted a bear swimming. They chased it onto a cake of ice. Now came the most dangerous part of all. The four were on the deck, at least six feet above the water, shooting from about 200 feet. The danger was that the bear might swim to the boat, climb up the side and kill the men with the rifles.
The net result was that these brave characters took this chance not once but four times, killing three grown bears and one cub. I certainly hope that something will be done to save the polar bear before more brave hunters murder them all on a cake of ice.
JOHN R. DEWSON
Prairie View, Ill.
Hunting and tracking from boats is fine in Norway during its season. In Alaska hunting and tracking from small aircraft is the only way. Your SCORECARD writers should undergo a polar bear hunt sometime; they then would be qualified to judge and write on the hunt. It is a challenge as well as dangerous.
WILLIAM R. COLLIE
As a sports and science-fiction fan, I enjoyed Theodore Sturgeon's piece, How to Forget Baseball (Dec. 21), very much. However, I wonder if anyone has caught the disparity between the rules of Quoit and the description of the play. The "rules" state that the Spot completes a circle each 15 seconds, or that each player has only 7½ seconds to score during one roll around the Track. But then we are told that during one such 7½-second period, Florio managed to wave to the crowd, blow a kiss, do a roundoff, two back handsprings and a high back somersault, a dive and a roll, strut beside the Spot, play-act, walk away and still have part of his body in the Spot for five seconds!
This seems analogous to being told a quarterback has 30 seconds to get the ball in play and finding out that he also managed to describe the strengths and weaknesses of each defensive player, go over the whole game plan, walk over to converse with the coach, wave to his parents, blow a kiss to his girl friend and still get the ball in play.
HAROLD F. WILLIAMSON JR.
I would like to add a few words to the item about Kelso and my paintings of him (SCORECARD, Dec. 21).
Kelso, in my estimation, is the greatest racehorse America has ever produced. No matter how many horses I portray on canvas, he will always be my sentimental favorite despite the fact that he may not be the ideal "picture horse."
RICHARD STONE REEVES
AD ASTROS PER ASPERA
I am writing this to defend the new name of the Houston Colt .45s—the Houston Astros—and to prove that "Astros" is not such a bad name.
After all, what is a Phillie? It could be the misspelled designation of a young horse, or perhaps a type of steak (mignon). And what about the Dodgers? Webster defines a dodger as one who evades or cheats. Who thought up that name, a New York Giant?
Perhaps the prize for worst choice goes to the other Los Angeles team, the Angels. Yea for the immortal spirits! Kansas City players look like grasshoppers in their uniforms. Wouldn't it be a pleasant surprise to see a baseball team take the field wearing wings and with halos around their heads? The spectator would never see an argument between these players and the umpires!
The lack of good unused nicknames has given fits to owners of new clubs. The Houston owners were faced with the same problem, and I believe they deserve more praise than criticism for their selection.
Anyway, the name Knickerbockers stuck, didn't it?
GARY VAN GELDER
My heartfelt thanks to SI at this holiday season. Because of your tender solicitude for the world of sports and things sporting, the curly-coated retriever has now made a small but concrete step back to deserved popularity in the U.S. The enclosed picture [below] will show what I mean. It is by way of announcing the birth of quadruplets, sired by my stud, Berry's Gem of Chilliwack ("Love Call for Curly," 19TH HOLE, June 10, 1963). They are out of the beautiful black bitch, Burtoncurl Aphrodite, that SI helped me locate and obtain from England (19TH HOLE, Oct. 7, 1963).
So far as I know, this is the only AKC-registered litter of curlies to be whelped in North America in 1964. Judging by my correspondence with dog lovers and retriever fanciers, much of it dating from the time SI publicized my Chilli, it will probably not be the last.