After watching our performance in the U.S.-U.S.S.R. track meet, I would like to offer a few comments of my own. Our defeat was no disaster in itself. The usual post-Olympic letdown and our injuries contributed directly to our mediocre showing. But the ultimate cause, which could result in a real disaster for our track and field program in general, has to be the NCAA-AAU feud. Sure we know that everyone who was eligible did compete, and so on, but our young athletes are confused and upset and looking for leadership.
I was a fair hammer thrower at the Naval Academy and received many letters from track clubs, meet sponsors and AAU officials, all concerned with the power struggle. My coaches were often unable to give advice on when or where to compete because their loyalties were necessarily divided for the simple reason that they had competed under and worked with both the AAU and NCAA.
It is not really the matter of an athlete's being permitted to compete in any individual meet or the obvious squabbles that are causing the trouble. The problem lies in the fact that all the energies of the many capable individuals on both sides are devoted to the hassle. If this energy had been expended instead to provide promotion and publicity for meets, or guidance for our younger track stars, I can't help but feel that we would have developed a consistently strong track organization. We have to encourage and guide our young men and women with capable and unified leadership. We have to develop teamwork on the executive level. Our athletes are, I'm sure, ready to respond to such leadership.
We don't have to beat Russia every year, but let's face it, prestige is nice and, as you recently pointed out, our international prestige in amateur sports is suffering. It is time we started to correct the situation.
HENRY J. SAGE
1st Lieut., USMC
I enjoyed your article on U.S. Davis Cupper Arthur Ashe and his contribution to the U.S. victory over Mexico in the American Zone final (An Understudy Takes Charge, Aug. 9). However, I do not agree with. Writer Frank Deford that Osuna's loss to Ashe was mainly due to Osuna's bad knee. Deford failed to mention that in the fourth round at Wimbledon just a few weeks before Osuna defeated Ashe in three straight sets. Osuna was suffering with the same knee trouble then. This was a great win for Ashe.
As for Spain, Santana will probably come closer to losing both singles than he will to winning them. It will be the U.S. 4-1.
Re your article The Latins Storm las Grandes Ligas (Aug. 9), we here in Springfield, Mass., where the Washington Senators sent so many of their Cambria-discovered Cubans, recall with pride and affection their contributions to our rather drab teams of the '39, '40, '41 era. Had he chosen to, Robert Boyle could have listed a number of excellent ballplayers who sojourned in Springfield and then moved up to las grandes ligas. There were Rene Monteagudo, Tommy de la Cruz, Reggie Otero and Mike Guerra. There were Alex Carrasquel from Venezuela and men like Gil Torres, Roberto Ortiz and Agapito Mayor. The standouts in my memory were the slick pitchers Monteagudo and De la Cruz, the smooth First Baseman Otero and the fiery Catcher Fermin (Mike) Guerra.
Though Washington was frequently last in many ways, it was always first in the Latin-American League.
G. ROBERT RICHARDSON
The article on American track nuts (Some Fanatics Whose Fun Is Playing Old Records, Aug. 2) made fascinating reading for a limey nut like myself. But Author Gerald Holland was guilty of the sort of insularity that is supposed to be the preserve of the English. The world track-nut population is far from limited to the 10,000 readers of that excellent magazine Track & Field News.
The readers of SI may like to know that there are 137 members of the worldwide Association of Track and Field Statisticians who avidly collect data on the sport and publish it each year in book form.
Here in England the National Union of Track Statisticians (spells NUTS, naturally) numbers some 55 fanatical souls. Most of us are strictly nonathletes, though that doesn't prevent us from organizing our own track meet. Included in the NUTS ranks are a 45.7-second 400-meter man and another who has run 800 meters in 1:48.7, plus an Irish housewife who ran 440 yards in 54.9 seconds at the age of 34.
Assistant Editor, World Sports
We were quite sure that Kelso would get a nice column in your magazine for nosing out "mighty" Malicious and that alltime great Pia Star in the mediocre time of 1:49[4/5] (Faith and Form at Saratoga, Aug. 16). However, on the same day a horse called Native Diver (This Native Never Left Home, July 26) galloped to an easy victory at Del Mar. The race was at a mile and a sixteenth and the Diver carried 131 pounds. He rattled off fractions of 22⅕ 45, 1:09, 1:34 and a final time of 1:40.
Immediately after the race his owner, Lou K. Shapiro, issued a challenge for a match race between Kelso and Native Diver to determine America's greatest gelding. He is even willing to let Kelso's owner set the time and place. It would be the greatest thing in racing since Swaps vs. Nashua and the only way to convince us Westerners that Kelso is as good as you say.
Native Diver Fan Club
Thank you for sending me the July 19 edition of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED containing the article Rubber Race at Ratzeburg by Mr. Hugh D. Whall. Unfortunately, this report is not entirely correct.
For instance, Mr. Whall writes, "Then the starting gun boomed...." The crews were started, according to the rules of the FISA (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron), by the spoken command: "√ätes-vous pr√™ts? Partez!"
Secondly, Mr. Whall notes, "None of the Germans had thought to offer [Vesper Coach Al] Rosenberg a place on the launch." I myself took Mr. Rosenberg and Assistant Coach Dietrich Rose in the regatta launch.
Finally, nobody in Ratzeburg yelled the Nazi call "Sieg Heil!" Mr. Whall claims to have heard. Nobody but he heard the crowd roar "Heil!" in response. I wonder what Mr. Whall intends by this malicious lie.
Coach, Ratzeburg Rowing Club Crew
Ratzeburg, West Germany
•SPORTS ILLUSTRATED regrets that faulty translation by an interpreter and an unpracticed ear combined to mistake the traditional and rapidly spoken German victory salute, "Zicke-zacke Zicke-zacke-Hei! Hei! Hei!" for the better remembered—and best forgotten—"Sieg Heil." Onetime Ratzeburger Dietrich Rose had taught the cheer to the Vesper crew which, with Rose leading, thus saluted the victorious German crew at the presentation of the prize. The "starting gun" was meant metaphorically. As for the launch incident, it is true that Coach Adam did invite Coach Rosenberg to accompany him on his boat, but only after a Vesper man had reminded German officials of the oversight.—ED.
You write off the death of a young Italian skier, Walter Mussner, during the Cervinia Flying Kilometer Ski Race with the obtuse observation: "This sort of skiing is less a matter of skill than of aiming oneself in the right direction-straight down. It has about as much relation to competitive sport as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel" (SCORECARD, Aug. 9).
If this is so then what of downhill skiing or bobsledding? Does not Art Arfons employ skill in steering his jet-on-wheels in a straight line? And why do ski fliers, who seek distance over form, continue to try to shatter the 500-foot barrier?
Surely the quest to be the fastest man on skis (Mussner's 106 mph when he crashed was very near the world ski-speed record) is just as competitive a sport as a race to see who is the fastest on wheels, on runners, on skates or on feet.
Arfons survived; Mussner did not. I see no difference in the skill, courage or determination needed to break either record.
I just noticed in your June 21 article by Jack Mann, Decline and Fall of a Dynasty, that longtime Yankee Scout Bob Connery is reported dead. Not so. Bob Connery is very much alive and celebrated his 85th birthday on March 20 of this year. He has been in failing health the past two years but lives at the St. Paul Athletic Club most of the time. When he is there one can still hear him trading baseball and sports stories.
C.R. CHADBOURN, M.D.