My hearty congratulations to William Leggett for that masterpiece, The Rise and Fall of the Fabulous Phillies (March 1). I would like to take this opportunity to remind Phillies fans to get their World Series tickets early, because the same thing won't happen twice.
ANDREW C. CRAIG
Fabulous they were and fabulous they are.
When are you going to stop worrying about how the Phillies lost the pennant and start writing about how the Cardinals won it? After all, they only came from 11 games back on August 21 to reach the top in a thrilling finish on the last day of the season. They only won the World Series. They only had the best infield in the league, the best manager, the best general manager and fans who loyally waited 18 years for the pennant.
I think you tended to underemphasize the role of Gene Mauch in both the rise and the complete collapse of the team in 1964. Mauch, with his controversial moves, led the team to many exciting victories for most of the year. However, as Joe Nuxhall suggested in your article, the Little General pushed the panic button after the second loss to Cincinnati. He promptly began to use Bunning and Short with just two days rest, and they lost their effectiveness. If Mauch had left his pitching staff alone those last two weeks, I am quite sure the pennant would be flying from Connie Mack Stadium instead of in St. Louis.
This point was proved the last two days of the season, when Bunning and Short, with their normal rest, both pitched well and won.
Congratulations for the well-deserved article on Lennie Wirtz, the basketball official (Little Pal on the Dead Run, March 1). It is a fine tribute to refs everywhere.
In the article on Lennie Wirtz, Bil Gilbert made several unfavorable remarks about U. of Virginia students that need to be refuted. True, we are considered to offer the most ardent student support in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and we're proud of it. But to say we would spit on an opposing player to rattle him is absurd.
It is true that in the past unpopular and/or questionable decisions by referees at University of Virginia home basketball games have been met with an unsportsmanlike shower of refuse. This, however, is no longer the case. When Bill Gibson was acquired as coach, a new attitude toward basketball was acquired as well. U. Va.'s Memorial Gymnasium may still be considered a snake pit, but the only fangs opponents need worry about are emotional ones. U. Va. crowds may still be boisterous, but they are no longer obnoxious.
My thanks to Frank Deford for a fine article on the New Mexico Lobos and the Western Athletic Conference as a whole (The Five Immovable Objects Stood Fast, Feb. 22). I've been wondering when someone would finally realize that basketball is played out here!
It is enlightening to learn of the great improvement of the Western Athletic Conference. New Mexico certainly deserves to be rated as one of the finer teams in the nation. But the statement that "the entire Western Athletic Conference...is playing basketball that is at least the equal of any in the country" is a gross exaggeration. Their interconference edge does not prove much, for they have not played the best from other conferences. The Missouri Valley Conference holds an edge over the WAC, and still has one of its weakest groups of teams in many years.
All the facts point to the Big Ten as the most powerful conference to emerge in a long time. Despite some weaker terms, it contains five of the top teams in the country—Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. If these teams entered the WAC, New Mexico and Brigham Young would have to struggle for fourth or fifth place and might finish as far down as sixth and seventh.
These Big Ten teams have received little attention from your magazine, although they are undoubtedly the most exciting to watch and have some very special characteristics: Indiana's press, Michigan's power off the boards, Illinois' shooting and Minnesota's rebounding and fast break. And there is no conference that could come close to assembling the kind of team these five could put together. Centers: Bill Buntin and Skip Thoren (probably the best all-round center in the nation). Forwards: Lou Hudson, the Van Arsdales, Don Freeman, Chris Pervall. Guards: Tal Brody, Cazzie Russell, Jon McGlocklin, Don Yates, Archie Clark.
OF ALL PLACES
As native Montanans we were pleased that you mentioned Duke's Mike Lewis as one of the outstanding young freshmen in college basketball (BASKETBALL'S WEEK, March 1). However, we were quite displeased by your snide remark that Mike is from "of all places, Missoula, Mont." May we point out that Montana (of all places) has produced many outstanding athletes? To name a few: the late Wayne Estes, Benny Reynolds (champion rodeo star), Gene Davis (Oklahoma State's outstanding wrestler), Doug Brown (distance runner) and Dave McNally of the Baltimore Orioles.
We could name more, but we hope that by now you may have gotten the point about Montana.
SI is always so careful to name the authors, photographers and illustrators of its articles and to identify owners, managers, coaches and trainers that I was surprised to see that it did not name the architects of the round hunting lodge in West Fairlee, Vt. pictured on pages 26 and 27 of your March 1st issue.
This handsome and successful building was designed by the firm of E.H. and M.K. Hunter of Hanover, N.H. E.H. is Ted Hunter, Dartmouth and Olympic skier of the late '30s. M.K. is his wife, Peg.
JOHN R. SCOTFORD JR.
Congratulations to Dan Jenkins. I send fan letters about as often as I get divorces, but certainly his vivid and vibrant Best 18 in America (Feb. 15 and 22) deserves three rousing banzais.
I suspect that other ink-stained slaves may have envied that plush assignment and given Dan the business about it, but I am sure it wasn't easy to establish the glittering differences. Most writers, after the fifth hole, would have reduced the rest to the monotony of a litany on gopher holes. But Jenkins is neither hack nor hacker and can handle a Royal expertly, whether it be typewriter or golf ball. Myself, I bob and curtsy before both shrines, but know only enough about either to recognize professional polish when I see it.
THE REV. JOSEPH E. MANTON
You could have made a better choice for the 16th hole than the 405 yard, par-4 hole at Oakland Hills. Admittedly, it has its good points. However, I feel that the 16th hole at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, which is a 625-yard, par-5 hole is more difficult. It is termed "The Monster" by most of the golfers on the tour. Aside from being the longest hole in golf, the fairways are quite narrow, guarded by convenient fairway bunkers, and there is a large pond in front of the green.
My name is Tommy Havens and I am 10 years old and I live in the house on 2328 Club Road that gets all the golf balls from Scioto Country Club No. 2. My Dad makes me cut the grass and I always find about 10 golf balls every week. I love it because I can sell all the balls.
This year I am in the fifth grade at Columbus Academy School, which is where all the rich kids from Columbus Country Club go. It is an integrated school because they let some of us poor kids from Scioto Country Club go, too. As your magazine says, Columbus Country Club is more wealthy and aristocratic than Scioto. I know this is true because I can sell all my balls to the rich kids for 50¢ each. My Dad and his Scioto friends will only give me 10¢ each.
Big Julie Isaacson certainly makes for interesting reading (The Mouth and the Mitt, March 1), but I gather that Author Tex Maule was not overimpressed with the accuracy of Julie's testimony. In case Julie ever mentions his baseball career to Tex again, here are some facts about it:
1943: signed and released by Wellsville without playing in a game
1945: signed and released by Hornell without playing in a game
1948: signed and released by Miami Beach without playing in a game
1948: signed and released by Peekskill without playing in a game
I know about this because I checked with one of those statistics-happy sports fans who likes to look up the records of "former professional ballplayers."
I am constantly irritated by criticism of the way in which the ACC determines its basketball champion and representative to the NCAA playoffs. Your comment in BASKETBALL'S WEEK (Feb. 22) that "Duke must still win its silly postseason league tournament to get to the NCAA tournament" prompted this letter. There are many reasons why the ACC method meets my approval. But perhaps the best defense of the ACC system is the fact that it works. Of the 11 seasons in which the tournament has been used, the top-ranking team has won seven times. Once the second-ranked team won, and three times the fourth team was victorious. A second-division team has never won. In the past eight years the ACC champion, as selected under this system, has claimed first and second places once and third twice in the NCAA playoffs, a record not to be belittled.
It certainly is silly for the nation's eighth-ranked team to have to prove again its merit for an already well-earned berth in the NCAA championship. If, for obvious monetary reasons, the various postseason conference tournaments continue to be held, the regular-season conference-championship teams should have the opportunity to play the winner of the postseason tournament, should they be upset in the tournament. Take Davidson College, currently ranked seventh in the country and 23-1 in regular-season play—they won their regular-season conference title without a single loss, but they were upset and eliminated from a berth in the NCAA tournament by West Virginia 74-72 in the postseason Southern Conference tournament. The upset was by a team that Davidson had already defeated twice in regular-season play and whose seasonal record was a very poor 11-14. This method of selection simply is not logical.
RAY H. TAYLOR JR.