MODEL IN CLAY
As a faithful reader, I have enjoyed very much your coverage of Cassius Clay during his colorful career. I was, therefore, very pleased to see the beginning of A Case of Conscience, April 11 et seq., Jack Olsen's new series.
O.K., the point has been made: Clay has a conscience. But why waste valuable space in five issues to give publicity to his venomous and bigoted philosophy?
R. J. PREUSS
Five words would suffice: An unpatriotic, arrogant, mediocre screamer.
LOUIS B. MINTER
Beverly Hills, Calif.
If I never read anything else, Jack Olsen's opening article on Clay is worth the price of my subscription. However, I am really concerned as to whether or not we are doing right by the boy.
April 24, 1966
If we love sports, as I assume we do, and if we are concerned about our athletes, which we should be, are we not shortchanging Clay? While I abhor the statements Clay has made concerning his country, his loyalty and what patriotism means to him as a Muslim, I cannot but recall other champions who, if not out and out Bad Guys, were at least hypocrites of the first order. Clay is not what many would have us believe he is. To begin with, he appears far too naive to reel off those profound statements concerning U.S. policy without considerable offstage coaching. This leads me to believe that the wrong people have appropriated the Clay ear. What is now needed is someone of the stature of Martin Luther King to talk to Clay. If we wash our hands of this young man we are not serving the sport, the athlete or the country.
As a white I admit unashamedly that I have been rooting for a white hope to come along and take the championship, but as an American and a lover of sports I take keen exception to the way Cassius Clay has been handled since he became champion.
THOMAS C. GORDON
I am sure the boys in Vietnam can hardly wait for the following installments.
It is 11:35 p.m., and I am watching Johnny Carson's Tonight Show on TV. Johnny's guest is Cassius Clay, world heavyweight champion (excluding WBA).
As I watch the champion discuss his previous fights, I see not the loudmouthed, unpatriotic young man who would rather brag and put down his opponent, but a quiet, well-mannered young man who paid his opponents more compliments than himself.
I do not like Jack Olsen.
I do not like his articles on Cassius Clay.
I do not like SI.
You can strike my name off your subscription list.
MARION H. FERGUSON
Congratulations on a very thorough and informative look at the Masters golf tournament (April 4). The articles on the tournament and on the individual professionals, along with the color photographs, all made this one of SI's most memorable issues.
That full-page color picture of Jack Nicklaus in your April 4 issue is undoubtedly going up in locker rooms all over the country. Mine is framed.
We don't know what the Mona Lisa was thinking about with that famous inscrutable smile. But there's nothing inscrutable about Nicklaus' expression. He has just loused up a four-iron shot even as you and I dollar-Nassau shooters.
It gives us a good feeling to be in such company.
REAR ADMIRAL P. D. GALLERY, USN (RET.)
Having lived across the street from "Dr. Joe" Zbacnik during most of our adolescent years in Hibbing, Minn., I read your recent article, Downfall of a Stone-thrower (April 4), with a tongue-in-cheek smile. The Scotch Cup tournament in Vancouver was certainly not the first time Dr. Joe's brash, sarcastic manner had been met with an unsympathetic response. Long before his curling days, the fans of Hibbing taunted his cocky, arrogant approach to various activities and rewarded him by applauding his misfortunes.
Although I found the article nearly perfect, I believe you will find that Dr. Joe borrowed his rink's makeup from Fran Kleffman, one of the curlers who helped put Hibbing into U.S. curling prominence. Kleffman, whose rink represented Minnesota in two or three national competitions, had an extremely brilliant young curler by the name of Dick Brown throwing fourth rock, the so-called skip position. I recall that in one of the first international competitions following the national playdowns and in many major U.S. bonspiels they performed in exactly the manner of Dr. Joe. Kleffman, however, did not have the wrath of the fans upon him to merit such press coverage. He only had their respect as an outstanding "pro" of the game.
BENNY A. GRAFF
Mandan, N. Dak.
Three cheers for Acton Ostling Jr. and his stand on the "twirlers' revolt" at the University of Maryland (SCORECARD, April 11). Football is a precise sport, and the half-time entertainment should match it with precision marching.
Do West Point and Annapolis have girls in short skirts twirling batons? If the students prefer girl-watching they can simply stand by the stadium gate.
The charge that Mr. Ostling keeps girls out of the band simply because they are girls is partly true, for it is a rare girl who can withstand the grueling, perfect performance that Mr. Ostling demands. Girls belong in the stands—not on a football field, which is the masculine domain of football and precision marching. I know, because I marched under Mr. Ostling while attending Conard High School in West Hartford, Conn. and, therefore, am not completely unaware of his demanding schedules and temperament.
West Hartford, Conn.
BEST OF ENEMIES
As a dedicated fan of California Rugby, I was gratified to read your excellent story on the UC vs. Notre Dame game (Gentlemanly Game for Ruffians, April 4).
Though officially a nonletter sport at Cal, Rugby has always been one of the most exciting spectator sports on campus and is fast becoming one of the most popular. It is heartwarming to see that the game and, especially, the Cal Ruggers are finally receiving the publicity they have so long deserved.
I would like to say that in all of my travels with the Notre Dame Rugby team I have never been treated with so much hospitality as at the Cal campus (off the field, that is). Cal students should be proud of their fine campus, good times and, especially, their great Rugby team. But would the guy (or "baby") who is running around with my jersey (No. 20) please return it? Our season is still young.
JOHN L. ADAMS
Notre Dame, Ind.
We ruffians at Yale noted with interest your account of University of California Rugby, and we, too, adhere to the proposition that the final score of a match should be all but forgotten during the traditional postgame party. In keeping with this spirit, it must be said that waving one's own flag for the sake of publicity is not consonant with the special flavor of Rugby, either. However, wave we must—lest your readers are led to believe that the best of Rugby in this country can be found only on the West Coast.
Modern Rugby at Yale dates back to 1929, and its stalwarts have included All-America Footballer Clint Frank and former Mayor of New York City Robert F. Wagner. Further, though we applaud Cal's performance in Australia, we must report that the Yale Rugby Club has recently returned from an undefeated tour of another British outpost—Jamaica. And finally, we feel it necessary to point out that Yale, by a score of 18-0, defeated the same Indiana team that apparently blemished Notre Dame's record prior to the California tournament.
NORMAN V. CHIMENTI
New Haven, Conn.
THE BIG GAME
The most underrated set of athletes anywhere are the top tennis players of the post World War II era. Martin Kane's story of the recent contest of the best of them in Madison Square Garden (The Old Game Stages a Rally, April 4) reminds us that "Tilden-era oldsters" consider these pros "too dependent on the pure violence of the big serve and volley." Nostalgic cant!
True, players like Kramer, Gonzales, Jaroslav Drobny, the ex-Czech, Trabert, Hoad and Laver usually hit breathtaking bombs. But their games go far deeper than "pure violence." Each has special and subtle talents. Kramer's shot control was such that he could practice the theory of percentage tennis—aiming wide enough to beat an opponent, but not so wide as to risk an error. Gonzales, the very picture of violence, had the temperament to win the national amateur as a 20-year-old and stayed on top for years while the pros played year-round in courts of every sort around the world. Tony Trabert, never quite the No. 1 pro, had a backhand grip so versatile that he could use it to play a whole range of shots from a drop volley to an overhead backhand volley—all with the finest control.
Now, what about those players of the Tilden era? One suspects that their "long rallies, with their precision attack and defense," amounted more to laborious slugging than any real array of stroke play.
I suspect that not only Rosewall but any of his contemporaries is equipped with more shots than the whole Tilden-era crowd put together. I doubt that the Tilden set could stand up to the present-day pros any more than milers of the Roaring '20s could match Snell, Elliott or Jazy.
Compared to Rosewall's lob, the Tilden era lobs had all the control of a stringless balloon on a windy day. Rosewall has in fact turned this stroke into a kayo counter-punch that usually travels too high to be volleyed and too low to be smashed. He can practically drop a lob down the back of an opponent's neck, making even the biggest player behave like a demented Watusi dancer.
So, with all due respect to Mr. Tilden—allowing for the inferior tennis rackets of his day—let's give the players of the Kramer-Laver era their due.
EUGENE G. DOWNEY
New York City
It was indeed exciting to see these truly talented men play at the Garden. However, I cannot help but deplore the unfortunate circumstances that provide them with such limited opportunities to play and make good money as professionals. There is no doubt that the amateurs of tennis live off the fat of the land. This may be fine, but where does it leave the professional?
THE FANS OF DONG HA
This letter is to inform you that the soft-ball season began at Dong Ha Air Force Station, Republic of Vietnam, on March 12. In the first game, the officers of Detachment 1,620th Tactical Control Squadron soundly trounced the noncommissioned officers 10-5. Since Dong Ha is the northernmost American military installation in South Vietnam we undoubtedly have the record for the northernmost game ever to be played in South Vietnam. Incidentally, there was an SRO crowd of 35 bewildered, laughing Vietnamese children, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
1ST LIEUT. THOMAS A. FALLON, USAF
Dong Ha, South Vietnam