In your May 23 SCORECARD, you mentioned the bat-swinging incidents which have taken place recently in baseball. You also suggested that, in the next such incident, Commissioner Eckert ban the offending player from baseball forever.
I must disagree with this position. When, in 1919, eight members of the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series, Commissioner Landis banned them from ever again participating in organized baseball. To suggest that a person who undertook to strike a fellow player with a bat be given the same punishment is absurd.
As for the idea that such a punishment might deter a player from smashing another with a bat, it wouldn't. In such a heated argument, there is no time for thought. If there were, no player would ever strike another, regardless of the punishment. I, personally, am for strengthening baseball's rule in this matter, but I feel the punishment should fit the crime.
Your suggestion that Commissioner Eckert be prepared to take harsh disciplinary action in future cases involving attacks on players with baseball bats is an excellent one. Should he do this, however, notices to that effect posted in clubhouses should be printed in Spanish as well as in English.
THEODORE A. NESBIT
June 12, 1966
In the tradition of men who go to sea, a hearty "well done" for your article on the U.S. Coast Guard's Search and Rescue operations (S A R, May 30).
We of the Lake Tahoe Coast Guard Auxiliary are especially proud that you mentioned our "ocean in the sky." We are perhaps the smallest auxiliary in service and have a short two-to three-month season, but we manage to put in several thousand man-hours patrolling our better than 100 miles of coastline every summer. We patrol regattas, races, take part in Search and Rescue and even were called upon in the middle of a summer night last year to rescue an 1890 wood-burning steamboat. Our auxiliary fleet is composed of everything from $250 outboards to $50,000 cruisers plus a twin-engine aircraft. We are grateful to SI for the recognition you have given the USCG and the oft unsung Auxiliary.
ROBERT W. DUMM
Carnelian Bay, Calif.
NOM DE CHEVAL
Maybe I'm just an innocent abroad and should know all about Godolphin Darley, the French turf writer who helped your Whitney Tower talk to France's Francois Mathet (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, June 6). I don't know about M. Darley, but I do know enough about horse racing to remember that all modern Thoroughbreds are descended from three ancestors whose names, if I mistake not, were 1) the Darley Arabian, 2) the Godolphin Arabian and 3) the Byerley Turk. Because of this, I suspect that their apparent namesake is writing under a nom de cheval. Am I right?
F. H. VON STADE
•Right. The real name of this noted writer, handicapper, breeding theorist, sales agent and general promoter is Albert Neuhut.—ED.
I was born and raised on the Yankees and, consequently, I feel closely tied to their spirit and frame of mind. The juggling act of their higher echelons in recent years has somewhat appalled me, as did their slump last year. When they bounced Ralph Houk upstairs at the end of the '63 season, I began to have fears, for Houk was clearly a man who injected a winning spirit into the team. The following two years bore out my fears as Berra struggled to a pennant and Keane—beset by injuries, it is true—had no luck at all.
Therefore, I think William Leggett got caught off base in his article, A Dying Team Screams for Help (May 16). True, the Yankees' latest move is radical, but "panic stricken"? No. Instead, it appears that, for once, the front office is willing to admit a mistake and, from that point of view, they took the most direct step to correct it.
No criticism is intended for Keane, who has no need to prove his ability as a manager; but he did not have what the Yankees needed. Houk does. Yankee players work for Houk because they want to and because he demands it. Further, they respect him and believe in him. If Houk says they are going to win, it seems only right they should.
With the Iron Major back where he belongs, it should be an even better pennant race than you originally anticipated. I'm sorry I won't be there to see it, but I trust your issues will keep me up to date as the Yankees make it a real scramble.
ROBERT Le ROY
2ND LIEUT., USMCR
Chu Lai, Vietnam
I am a true Yankee fan, and I will fight anyone that says anything against Mickey Mantle.
I was interested to read Charles Garris' letter (19TH HOLE, June 6) on Texas game ranches: "Why not include a steer?...It is pretty much the same 'sport.' "
Cattle, at one time, were considered proper big game. Take a look at J. Frank Dobie's book, The Longhorns, in which he quotes many authorities. Wild cattle (Spanish and longhorn) were hunted along with buffalo, deer, wild hogs and wolves, among others. Texas cattle were "...animals miscalled tame, 50 times more dangerous to footmen than the fiercest buffalo." And: "To kill a buffalo is but child's play compared with [killing cattle]."
A hunting party in Texas years ago tangled with a longhorn: "Lynn had an eight-shooting pistol he had made himself, a rifle, and a pair of holsters; I had a rifle, a six-shooter, and a pair of holsters. Twenty shots went into the body of that black cow before we killed her."
A party was attacked by wild bulls in 1846 while traveling from Santa Fe to California. The party's leader, Colonel Cooke, reported: "The animals attacked in some instances without provocation...one ran on a man, caught him in the thigh, and threw him clear over his body lengthwise; then it charged on a team, ran its head into the first mule and tore out the entrails of the one beyond. Another ran against a sergeant, who escaped with severe bruises, as the horns passed at each side of him.... A bull, after receiving two balls through its heart and two through its lungs, ran on a man."
Cattle, people said in the old days, were "more dangerous to footmen than grizzly bears." And in their natural home, Texas brush, the longhorns were more than a match for any brush popper who tried to put a loop on them. Some lived their entire lives on Texas cattle ranches without ever feeling a rope, let alone Kansas sunshine.
I am not a hunter, but I would like to see someone fence off a few thousand acres of Texas thicket, stock it with longhorns, stir them up every day for five or 10 years, then throw it open to "big game" sportsmen—with blinds and war-surplus cannon forbidden. I suspect that any such longhorn hunting preserve would produce far more human casualties than wall trophies.
FREDIE STEVE HARRIS
HUSTLE, LUCK AND RUSSELL
In his "sour grapes" letter (19TH HOLE, May 23) Mr. William Prawdzik of Chicago attributed the success of the Boston Celtics to their luck in recovering loose balls and rebounds. He also bemoaned the number of lucky shots that accidentally go in. Anyone who knows even a little bit about basketball knows that there is more to the game than meets the eye. Those balls that bounce around the rim and go in are the result of the "soft shot," one many players work hard to perfect. It is used expressly because, even when the shot is a little bit off, the ball has a better chance of falling in if it has been put up softly. A low-trajectory cannon shot may look great when it swishes, but unless a player can hit 100% of his shots, it is just not good basketball.
As for the recovery of loose balls, hustle, not luck, is the word that should be used to describe the Celtics. No team that stands around gawking will recover many loose balls.
There is no doubt that a team must have a little luck to win so many consecutive world championships, but it is not luck alone that wins titles. In other words, never have I seen a basketball team, or any team in any sport, as consistently good as the Boston Celtics.
Now really! The Celtics have won the NBA championship nine years out of the past 10. Luck? Absolutely not! Lady Luck simply isn't that generous.
1ST LIEUT. FRANCIS J.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
I really got mad at William Prawdzik's criticism.
The Celtics overpower their opponents with defense. While other NBA teams are playing merely offensive basketball the Celtics are turning a defensive steal into an offensive score. It's true the other NBA teams can match the Celtics in skill and desire, but no other team can play defense the way the Celtics can; and that's the key to all their championships.
I guess the Celtics are lucky in a way, though; they have Bill Russell.
ROBERT BRUCE MCHENRY
Silver Spring, Md.
Mr. Prawdzik is to be pitied. Most people know that the kind of luck the Celtics have is known as skill. That is the stuff champions are made of.