Thank you for Barbara La Fontaine's story, "He's Just Got That Look" (April 26). At last we can see Sonny Liston as a person capable of having feelings and displaying emotions. Your discerning article certainly is a departure from the image so commonly put forth by the majority of the press.
H. L. SIEGEL
Three well-deserved cheers for a magnificent article on Sonny Liston. Sure, everyone knows Sonny has faults, which are hidden in this heart-warming story, but let's face it, who doesn't? Win or lose, Sonny Liston is still the true heavyweight champ in my book.
I'm 14 years old, and I think people my age need a champion we respect. Before this article I could not respect Sonny Liston, because I thought he was a drunk and a person who had no respect for the law. After reading this article I realize what kind of a person he really is, and I do respect him.
South San Francisco
I would like to thank SI and Barbara La Fontaine for bringing to light the true nature of a misrepresented and misinterpreted man.
Bowling Green, Ohio
THE HOMES OF THE BRAVES
Thank you for your moving article on the "passing" of our Milwaukee Braves (Leave Us Eddie Mattress, April 26). The wistful look on the face of the old lady who has been attending Opening Day games of the Brewers and the Braves in Milwaukee for 50 years reflects the feelings of all of us diehard Brave fans. That face mirrored the many pleasant memories of happier years and the fond hope that someone will come to Milwaukee's rescue in this outrageous situation before it is too late.
JAN T. SCHOLLER
Thirteen years ago I was a young fan of the Boston Braves. When they left town my heart went to Milwaukee with them. There could never be another Spahn, and even Ted Williams could not match the potential of a young third baseman named Mathews. Now once again the Braves are packing. Mr. McHale's decision to move his traveling road show has done what 12 years of absence could not do: the Braves are no longer my team and baseball is no longer my sport. Mr. Perini had a legitimate reason to move in 1953. Boston could not support two teams, and the Braves were clearly the one to go. However the situation in Milwaukee is different. The fact that a team has a couple of poor years at the gate is not reason enough to move, especially in view of last year's rejuvenation.
Someday the glamor will wear off in Atlanta. The team will drop in the standings, and the fans will stay home. I don't know what Mr. McHale will do then. For the first time since they left they are not even welcome back in Boston.
Why is everyone feeling so sorry for Milwaukee? The Braves have played there for only 12 years. They played in Boston for over 75 years, and when they decided to move to Milwaukee hardly a word was spoken in protest. But now Milwaukee is screaming foul because the Braves have decided to move again. It is really only poetic justice; they should not have had the Braves in the first place.
However, neither the Boston Brave fans nor the Milwaukee Brave fans should be pitied as much as the Atlanta fans. Atlanta has gotten hold of the most cruel, heartless, money-mad and, now, the most hated team in baseball—a team that will move, disregarding all its loyal fans, as soon as the attendance falls below one million.
It will be the Atlanta Braves in 1966, but will it be the same in 1976? I doubt it.
For in good time all things will come to all people. That has been the ruling thought for many years in the minds of many people in Atlanta. Ever since the '30s, Atlanta has been looking toward the major leagues. We have had a hand in producing some of its most outstanding players—including Eddie Mathews. Probably the Atlanta franchise has been the most successful operation in baseball, not only in the minors but the majors as well. In the days when the old Southern League was Class AA, Atlanta supported itself as well as the rest of the teams.
In losing seasons, faithful Atlanta fans have turned out in better numbers than those in many of the major league cities—many of them walking two miles to the ball park. This I know, because they passed me as I headed for the same destination.
Heaven knows we have had some frustrating experiences here in Atlanta, too. For years there has been an attempt to erect a stadium to house baseball properly. Finally Mayor Ivan Allen came along. Not only that, we were also handicapped by the race issue. Strangely enough, this was not really so much the sin of Atlanta as it was of the small county people. I can remember a good Negro player who had to be placed with Jacksonville, because of provincial minds, when the Braves had a former working agreement with Atlanta. That was a burden we were forced to jive with and outlive. Had it not been for this the Braves might never have visited Milwaukee—even temporarily. In the days when Eddie Mathews played with Atlanta we were only 300,000 in population, but our attendance record proved big league caliber. Seven thousand to 10,000 per game was great attendance in any league. Now Eddie is coming home and bringing his friends with him. We are grateful, humbly so. We've waited 20 years.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
My thanks to Franklin Russell for his fine article on cod fishing in Newfoundland (A Cold Dawn Run from Witless Bay to Erewhon, April 26). It brings back fond memories to me and to, I'm sure, anyone else who knows the thrill of heading down the bay, out into open waters to our favorite fishing spot. There is nothing quite like "boiling the pot" in a motorboat and sitting down to a feed of cod's heads, tongues and the rest.
The sad part of it is that—once more—the ugly head of automation reaches out to gobble up the last remains of our heritage. Our Canadian government allows foreign trawlers from across the ocean, with their floating factories, to invade our waters, and with their equipment they are putting the independent fisherman of Newfoundland out of business.
The day will soon be gone when, in the still of the early morning, the sounds of the one-cylinder motorboats can be heard heading out of the bay. So once again, Mr. Russell, "thanks for the memories."
We were grateful to see that you have given the pollution, by acid mine drainage, of Slippery Rock Creek nationwide attention (SCORECARD, April 5), but we regret that this is necessary.
No God-fearing man in this area has given up the fight, however, and letters by the thousands are being piled up on the desks of our state senators and representatives demanding support of House Bill 585, which is designed to strengthen the hand of the State Sanitary Water Board in dealing with all forms of water pollution.
The head of the Pennsylvania Sanitary Water Board, who pleaded inability to prevent the "death" of Slippery Rock Creek as a trout stream—because his hands were tied by the inadequacy of the laws—is now fighting the very bill that would give him the necessary legal recourse to do his job.
It is through the efforts of such fine publications as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that the plight of our streams has been brought into national focus, and we hope that our combined efforts may result in the eternal protection of our heritage.
WILLIAM I. MATHEWS
Slippery Rock, Pa.
Your baseball statistics (April 19) are certainly more significant measures of a player's value than the standard statistics of batting averages, RBIs, home runs, stolen bases, etc. However, even further improvement is possible. Under a system which I have developed, all phases of offensive baseball can be combined into one statistic. This overall figure is possible since the offensive game has essentially three components—getting on base, advancing runners to scoring position and scoring runners.
In this system, points are awarded for successes in each of these phases of the game and the total divided by the number of at bats. As a simple example, a batter would get three points for singling in a runner from second and then later stealing second base. He would also get three points for hitting a home run with the bases empty since, as in the first example, he got on base, advanced a runner (himself) to scoring position and scored a runner (again himself).
Several advantages of the system are readily apparent:
1) Hits with men on base are scored more highly than hits made with the bases empty.
2) A walk, under certain circumstances, is worth just as much as a base hit and can be so rewarded.
3) Perhaps the most important advantage is that every ballplayer can be compared with every other ballplayer. This system provides a common denominator by which such diverse phases of the game as base stealing and home run hitting can be included in the evaluation of a player's performance.
WILLIAM A. BRYANT