HOME ON THE RANGERS
Congratulations to William Leggett for his perceptive article on the plight of the New York Ranger hockey team and its followers (In New York, Hockey's House Is Not a Home, March 8). As a long-suffering fan, I can only say amen to such well directed and richly deserved criticisms of the Madison Square Garden Corporation for its policy of profits without playoffs.
MICHAEL F. SULLIVAN
In Boston we have a hockey team that loses consistently and avoids playoffs like the plague, yet it, too, draws crowds like the Rangers. The difference is that in Boston we don't have any superstars to trade away.
Leggett lists the players the Rangers have traded away in recent years. They may constitute an all-star team, as he says, but it would be a very old one. Andy Bathgate, when traded, was past his prime, and the Henry trade brought the Rangers three up-and-coming young players, an addition that has already begun to show results. Meanwhile, the expanded farm system has produced such young players as Rod Gilbert and Rod Soiling, already established major leaguers at a tender age.
The incentive to play hockey in New York may be somewhat lacking, but the very fact that Cammy Henry was disheartened on leaving shows that all players do not feel the same way. As far as being recognized on the street, would a baseball player like Roger Maris or Whitey Ford, familiar faces to the American sports fan, be noticed on a Montreal street? Probably not.
Leggett sees the onslaught of colored rubber balls at the Garden as a form of fan frustration, but to me it seems like a type of oddball enthusiasm. If the same antics are repeated at a Met game—as they probably will be—they will be hailed as a show of affection. The fact that the Rangers have played to 90% capacity for the current season indicates the real enthusiasm of the fans, who support the team no matter where it stands.
Granted that blame for the team's previous failure must be shouldered by the management, Emile Francis has already begun the tedious work of rebuilding, and his courage in trading away an aging drawing card for future success indicates better things to come. Maybe not in the next few years, but soon indeed.
I do not believe Leggett's criticism of New-York is fair. In New York we have so much of spectator interest—the opera, theaters, orchestras, clubs, galleries, as well as other sports—that a player cannot, and should not, expect the same adulation found in the other league towns. In Toronto, for example, hockey is blown out of all sporting perspective. Why? Because there is so little else of interest in Toronto.
Instead of adoration. New York offers its players the finest recreation and entertainment center in North America and the most dynamic and exciting city in which to live—or work. In 1967 the Rangers will move into the new Madison Square Garden. It will be the largest (20,000), most modern, most comfortable hockey palace in the world. Surely this is proof of management interest in the team and its fans.
The only trouble with New York hockey, to this fan, would seem to be too many fair-weather supporters like Mr. Leggett.
New York City
I have been going to hockey games for 15 years and I can't imagine any fans in any sport rooting more avidly for their team than do the Ranger diehards. Although Mr. Leggett's knock on the Ranger front office is certainly warranted, his knock on the Ranger fans is most certainly not.
Nothing more clearly explains the attitude of the Ranger management toward its fans than the long line of the faithful who wailed to receive a refund on Stanley Cup tickets on a cold March night in 1959, after the Rangers lost six games out of their last seven to be eliminated from the play-oils on the last night of the season. Only one ticket window was opened to accommodate them. Ranger fans are either the world's greatest sports enthusiasts or plain masochists—and some of us aren't yet sure which.
FRANCIS M. GREGORY JR.
Notre Dame, Ind.
I never had any complaints about New York hockey fans. In all the years that I played for the Rangers, I don't ever recall being booed. They were always behind me, and I have said for publication more times than I remember that I always wanted to finish my career with the Rangers.
Sure, the Chicago fans have been kind to me, and I hope I can be kind to them. It is true that there were two or three who picked the players up at the railroad station early in the morning. That kind of enthusiasm happens when a team is up there, and I do not doubt that New York fans would be equally thoughtful if the Rangers got up there.
I'm just a simple housewife who likes baseball, so I'd like to ask a simple question: What have you got against Sandy Koufax? Two years ago, when you should have given him the Sportsman of the Year award, you gave it instead to Pete Rozelle. Now you have the audacity to say that Dean Chance is the best pitcher in baseball (Take the Boy out of the Country, March 8). I notice you qualified that statement with the words "right now." Perhaps that is because you know that Sandy is again showing us here in Florida that his arm is in good working order and that as soon as the season starts he will make you cat your words.
Dean Chance may have great confidence, great potential and one great season, but "right now" the two best pitchers around are Koufax and Marichal.
PAUL S. FEIN
Your excellent article shows the many problems of a great pitcher. Dean Chance has only one drawback, his mouth. People are going to start calling him the Cassius Clay of baseball.
JOE W. JEFER
Charleston AFB, S.C.
What a tremendous paradox is presented by Dean Chance. Here is a boy who out Ring Lardners Lardner. People, including myself, would wait with tingling excitement for the release of a Ring Lardncr story. His brash, uninhibited characters were loved. And yet in Chance we have a character who is resented by numerous people. What is the answer to this? It is becoming the fashion of our times to downgrade the fellow who has the courage to tell the whole world he is good and then goes on to prove it? How can recorded history be so quickly forgotten? We surely must remember Ruth, Cobb and Hornsby. None of these were shrinking violets. They told the world they were good. Then they went on to have their names engraved on the scrolls of history.
My hat is off to this boy Chance. This sick world needs more like him. You can have the careful—the Timid Tims.
EARL B. COYLE
I would like to congratulate you on your excellent and timely coverage of the recent Southern Conference tournament (The Agony of Lefty Driesell, March 8). At last the whole nation can sec firsthand what we at Davidson College have had to put up with during the last two seasons and how we have twice suffered tragic and unfair elimination from the NCAA playoffs even though we were far superior to the rest of the league.
I would also like to point out one more peculiarity that was not covered in your article. When All-America Fred Hetzel became the 19th player in major college basketball to break the 2,000-point mark, the conference official scorer not only failed to stop the game against VMI, as is customary in the rest of the country, but failed even to inform the tournament audience. As if this insult were not bad enough, tournament officials refused to let the managers present the game ball to Hetzel until the end of the tournament. They claimed they did not have enough basketballs for the other games. Quite a tribute to the player who was almost singly responsible for bringing $100,000 into the conference's coffers.
ROBERT K. RAMSEY
ON THE UPSWING
I read Huston Horn's article on indoor tennis with great interest (As Long As There's a Place to Go, Lei it Snow, March 8). But for those of us deeply involved with the tremendous growing pains of the game the story, although factual, did not really do justice to the current upswing of tennis.
I have spent three years researching the growth of indoor tennis and liken it to the situation of bowling 30 years ago, the rumble of thunder before the storm. As a tennis coach and professional player, I anticipate indoor tennis clubs cropping up in the same manner as bowling alleys did, years ago.
My wife is an architect, and we have built a precast concrete tennis club, adding a new dimension by having outdoor courts on the roof of our indoor facility. With four indoor courts and four outdoor courts above them, we have a year-round tennis club. Let it rain, snow, or what have you.
LIFE ON A LIMB
I am still bothered by Huntress Virginia Kraft's article on her jaguar hunt (A Meeting in the Mato Grosso, Feb. 22) and her statement. "But by then the contest was over." A contest implies equality of strength. In this case a single animal was tracked down and treed by a group of experienced hunters, well armed and with trained dogs to aid them.
It is a pity that a person endowed with the degree of courage and determination which Virginia Kraft apparently has does not devote herself to worthier projects. I wish that such as she could have a bit of Albert Schweitzer's feeling of "reverence for life."
MRS. CHARLES C. SMITH
I find your reader's objections to the jaguar hunt (19TH HOLE, March 8) even more entertaining than Virginia Kraft's story itself.
Anyone who has hunted anything anywhere in Latin America has earned the right to make the kill any bloody way he or she chooses. The preliminaries attendant to the do-in arc worth a campaign ribbon at the very least—for braving weather, insects, reptiles, the native citizenry, etc. If Miss Kraft wants to finish the tigre with a Japanese 47 mm. cannon, a Fort McHenry-era grenade, a claymore or a bottle of nitro, it should be O.K. by the multitude who have never essayed the hunting down there.
NOW WE ARE THREE
After reading letters from readers in New York and California concerning which state is the sports Mecca of the U.S. (19TH HOLE, Feb. 15 and March 8), I feel I should put in my two bits for the city of St. Louis.
When the teams from New York, Los Angeles or any other city in this country can provide for their fans the same consistent fine play and excitement that is provided by the St. Louis Hawks, baseball Cardinals and football Cardinals, then their city may claim the title of Sports Capital. The number of pro teams a city or state has doesn't really have anything to do with it.
In addition, L.A. and New York are very far behind St. Louis with its Harry Caray (Cards) and Jerry Gross (Hawks) when it comes to broadcasters. And when it comes to that very important category, the fans themselves, St. Louis again comes out far ahead of all the rest.