Alfred Wright's Open article (A Summit of Drama, June 27) sounded like one written by a press agent committed to the Hollywood star system. It was Palmer "Wham! zap! zowie!...that cataclysm with legs...an orange sweater bursting through the fog...playing like an Olympian," while it was Casper "patient...flawless, but conservative." Let's face it, Bill Casper whipped the pants off Palmer, and he did it using the same come-from-behind method that made Arnold so famous.
EDWARD J. HALLIGAN
Ridgefield Park, N.J.
Not to take anything away from Billy Casper's fine golf, I can't understand the sudden big deal about Palmer. He's still the greatest in my book, and Casper himself put his finger on the reason for it with his own definition of "charging" a golf course. "To me," said Casper, "charging the course is hitting onto the green so that you have a reasonable putt at a birdie...to Arnie, charging is tearing out the flagstick with every approach." Well, isn't that the difference?
J. D. DONATELLI
Of all the accounts I read of the recent national Open, only yours came within a two-iron of touching the critical factor in Palmer's collapse—the psychological change in Palmer's attitude from his seven-shot recovery in 1960 to his seven-shot collapse in 1966. Alfred Wright is to be commended.
Allow me to congratulate you on your awareness that "Arnold Palmer can still set a tournament on fire." Although I do not consider myself one of Arnie's Army, I feel that Palmer should not be counted out of any tournament that he enters.
July 10, 1966
For as long as I can remember, I have felt that the Masters was the tournament to win. However, after your excellent coverage of the 1966 U.S. Open I am beginning to have a change of heart. SI has once again captured all the flavor of the U.S. Open from all points of view.
BRUCE C. MONTGOMERY
Beach City, Ohio
Letter writer Richard E. Porch says, "If I bet against The Greek, I was much better off" (19TH HOLE, June 27). He's off all right—way off. As sports editor of the Las Vegas Sun, I can vouch for Jimmie The Greek any time. Snyder has been unusually psychic during the past nine months, averaging 81.2% right, including an 84% average on his pro football picks last season. Another example: in his last three "big race" predictions he picked Amberoid to win the Belmont, Buckpasser in the Arlington Classic and Drin in the Hollywood Park Cinema Handicap.
In his recent article, Ready for the Goal (June 20), Jack Olsen compares Jim Ryun's suffering during years of training in Kansas' severe weather with the California kid who "if there's a little fog outside says, 'Ah, it'll be real nice tomorrow and I'll work out then.' " While Mr. Olsen was writing his article Tim Danielson (FACES IN THE CROWD, July 4), an 18-year-old miler from the San Diego area, was getting ready to become the second high school star (after Ryun) ever to break four minutes, with a 3:59.4 mile at the recent San Diego Invitational. I'm not sure that he was able to accomplish this by training only on "nonfoggy" days, as Mr. Olsen suggests.
C. C. DARBY
A MANN'S TEARS
I would like to congratulate Jack Mann for his fair appraisal of Wes Westrum and the New York Mets (A Team That Can Make a Man Cry, June 27). Westrum is doing a fine job with the Mets this season. As Mann said, to follow the managerial reign of Casey Stengel is an unglorified task, but Wes has put the right amount of spirit and grace into his position. Perhaps 1969 will be the year for the Mets.
Maybe next time you decide to write an article about a tear-jerking baseball team, you will try the hapless Chicago Cubs. Not even the second-best manager in baseball (behind Wes Westrum, of course) will be able to save the Cubs from a 10th-place finish this year. In the meantime, as the Mets move upward through the standings, they will truly show themselves to be "a team that can make a Mann (Jack) cry."
The Mets have grown up. It's about time the writers that cover them did too. The time for mocking is over. This is a team of professionals. You don't mock the Yankees, and they are in even worse shape on the field than the Mets.
Regarding your LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER (June 27), I believe I can explain the scarcity of major league players who bat right-handed but throw left. My son is a left-handed boy who, like so many beginners, copied others he saw and batted right when he started playing. Last year—his first on a Little League farm team—he reached base only by walking and established a record of being hit five or six times by a pitched ball in an equal number of games. This year his coach had him change to batting left. He has since hit safely in every game and has yet to be hit by a pitched ball.
Right-hand hitting is unnatural for a left-handed individual, and it puts his dominant side (and probably his dominant eye) away from the pitching line, thus making it difficult for him to follow the ball. It is my suspicion that BRTL players are always handicapped this way, thus they never do reach their full potential. BLTR players, on the other hand, are probably equally handicapped, but since there are many more right-handed individuals a greater number of them are good enough athletes to overcome this handicap and make their way into the major leagues.
I would urge those who are working with young athletes who are at present BRTL players to convert them to BLTL—and let them enjoy being hitters.
F. TAYLOR MAUCK, M.D.
Why in the world does Jerry Hoffberger want a shorter baseball season (SCORECARD, June 20)? So his Orioles won't have as long to fight for the pennant? More expansion? O.K. Divisional playoffs? I'd love it. Inter-league play? Great, just great. But a shorter season? No, no, no!
I wish everybody would quit trying to change baseball. Come spring, there is only one thing that I look forward to more than baseball, and that is the closing of school.
As for saving money by not having to open the ball park as frequently, how can the Orioles' owner complain about 25,000 fans on week nights and 30,000 and 40,000 on weekends?
LOVE FOR SALE
Regarding Frank Deford's article about the recent professional tennis tournament at Forest Hills (Out of the Darkness, June 20), I don't begrudge the pros anything that will benefit their status, but I can't believe that the Van Alen Simplified Scoring System or a new service line is the answer. I don't think the game or the scoring system is what is wrong with pro tennis. What is needed is a change in the public attitude toward it, and this can only be gained through better promotion, better public relations and more accent on colorful players. Moving the service line back and adopting a new scoring system does nothing to help in these departments. All it does is change a game that has developed over the years into what can be a masterpiece of suspense and drama.
VASSS is aimed at speeding up the play, and the new service line is meant to discourage the big-service game, but the big-game players are the ones that draw the crowds. Take Pancho Gonzalez, whom Deford called the "ghost of tennis past." Pancho may not be the player he once was, but his colorful play and his big game can still draw more spectators than anybody. Why stack the cards against him? Moving the service line back only penalizes the older and now slower players like Gonzalez and Segura, and VASSS can work to favor the big server as well as to hamper him. Take a case where the serve changes—as it did in one match at Forest Hills—at 26-29. Five aces on the part of the man behind could have won the set, an impossibility with the regular love-and-deuce scoring.
Rod Laver is the player with the biggest game today. He was always on top of the net and he won the tournament. Where would pro football be without the bomb, baseball without home runs or golf without the big drivers? These features are a part of their appeal. Let the people who want to return to the era of "Tennis, anyone?" lengthen the court, count on their fingers and whatnot, but don't call it tennis.
P. W. TROSTORFF
Queens Village, N.Y.