Congratulations to Buzzie Bavasi and Jack Olsen (The Dodger Story, May 15 et seq.). I am not truthfully a Dodger fan, but for once someone has written an article about the inside life of a sports star. I am really looking forward to reading the rest. So keep them coming.
ANTHONY DI RESTA
New York City
Contrary to published reports, Sandy Koufax quit baseball because of a pain, not in his arm but in his neck. It was given to him by Buzzie Bavasi, who combines with Walter O'Malley to form one of the least admirable success stories baseball has ever known.
I enjoyed the first part of your series on Buzzie Bavasi, though I thought Buzzie's reasoning a good deal less than sparkling at times. For example, Buzzie doubts that Sandy Koufax himself attracted additional fans. Rather he says it was 1) the crucial games in which the Dodgers used him that drew more fans, and 2) the other teams often pitted their best pitchers against Koufax, thus attracting attendance.
First of all, Buzzie should know that Sandy pitched every fourth day regardless of whether the Dodgers were playing the Mets or the Giants. Secondly, the other teams, if anything, tried to throw their ace pitchers against Sutton, Drysdale or Osteen to insure against a sweep of a three-game series, which could result if Koufax downed Bunning, Marichal, Maloney or Veale in the first game.
May 28, 1967
Bavasi's analysis is not only illogical, but I know from experience that it is wrong. Last September 3, a Saturday night, 26,888 people turned out to see the seventh-place Reds, with Joe Nuxhall pitching, face Sandy Koufax. (The next day 18,670 turned out to see Don Drysdale pitch against the Reds' Sammy Ellis.) This game with the Reds was obviously not crucial, and it is equally clear that the Reds did not throw their best pitcher against Koufax. The extra 8,218 people were there for one reason: to see the greatest pitcher of all time.
At $125,000 a year I would say that Koufax was grossly underpaid. For what he did for the Dodgers, they should have given him the franchise.
GILBERT E. GILDEA
My roommate and I read with interest the weekly issues of SI. However, we especially enjoyed the issue of May 15 and the article about Giacomo Agostini (Viva! But Hide Your Women), who was previously unknown to us. We are "hidden women," more by circumstance than by choice. Stranded in upstate New York, midst the cold, rainy weather, with only the prospect of comprehensive exams to brighten our outlook, we were greatly cheered by Giacomo's smiling face. We would like to obtain two pictures of this chipper fellow. They would do wonders for our morale.
Tonight, while studying for my departmental exams, I received a phone call from a Vassar girl I've been dating for over a year. She tactfully informed me that she had just written you to request not one but two pictures of Giacomo Agostini to cheer her through study week. She has the enclosed picture of me but is obviously unimpressed. The "lambent grin" is missing, but I had salt water in my eye.
But to get to the point, I now need some cheering and would be delighted to hear from any girl who might be interested in running a fingertip over my admittedly less magnificent mug.
What a thrilling account Bob Ottum put together on the ridiculous, romantic, rewarding life of Giacomo Agostini and his motorcycle magnificence.
From one who knows absolutely nothing of the sport (other than the image of menace and terror motorcyclists have created in this country) to a young man who knows the true meaning of daring, goes all my admiration and respect.
Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.
Concerning Bob Ottum's view of motorcycling in the U.S.: "We know all about riders in the U.S., and you can have most of them." Never during my association with your magazine have I read a more biased and flagrantly unfair opinion. I question whether his opinion reflects that of SI. Perhaps Mr. Ottum spoke hastily, being unacquainted with the actual state of motorcycling today. In that case I can forgive his ignorance.
JAMES J. SCHWARZWALDER
Congratulations! I had just about given up hope on an article about European GP racing. You are 100% correct in saying that the Americans don't know what it is all about. To prove the point further just look at the type of motorcycle racing that is televised in the U.S. Greasy, boring and unimaginative, that about sums up the dirt-track racing in America. How I long for a Brands Hatch or an Isle of Man here in the U.S. That picture of Agostini leaning over his machine, his finger lightly feathering the clutch, is a road-racing enthusiast's delight.
WILLIAM B. GRIMMEL
Kew Gardens, N.Y.
I watched via TV the final holes of the Houston Champions International golf tournament on May 7. The Frank Beard-Arnold Palmer match was exciting and unforgettable. Arnie bogeyed a hole, and Frank had a chance at a birdie, but when his putt missed, members of Arnie's Army cheered. I'm sure Arnie, being the great sportsman that he is, was upset by this unbelievable display of poor sportsmanship.
I've been in Arnie's Army, and there is a real spirit in that group. But it should never sink to the level of cheering when his opponent's putts fail to drop. After all, the gallery was rather quiet at the Olympic Club on June 19, 1966. I know. I was there, and I was quiet, too.
In the tournament at Houston, Arnie didn't lose. Frank Beard won. I was sorry Arnie didn't win, but any golfer who can sink an 18-foot birdie putt worth $9,200 on the final hole deserves our respect and acclamation. Some of us choke on a 10-inch putt worth a dime. Right?
REV. ALBERT S. HIDY JR.
I've heard so much about how the Yankee fans mistreated Roger Maris that I thought someone should come to their defense. I think Maris is a good player. But he is not a superstar, and that's where the trouble started.
After Maris had his ultrafantastic year in 1961, the fans thought they had another superstar. Even though few people expected Maris to hit more than 60 home runs in 1962, almost everyone thought that 40 was well within his reach. When he was injured, they still expected almost as many homers, if not in '62, then at least in '63. You see, Yankee fans are used to superstars, like Mantle, being injured but still coming back with great years. When Maris failed to do this, the fans felt cheated—or perhaps disillusioned is the word. That's when and why they got on Maris.
This isn't an excuse for Maris being booed; he didn't do anything to deserve it. This is just the reason it happened.
R. E. JACKSON
The Bronx, N.Y.
Your first two paragraphs on Bill Bradley, "Anomalous Knick" (SCORECARD, May 8), were just fine. But when you put in that sly comment about Cazzie Russell you were pushing your luck. Give Cazzie a chance. He averages in double figures (not bad for a rookie). Jerry West only averaged 17.6 as a rookie.
New York City
By posing the questions, "Can he [Bradley] become the instant star everyone expects him to be? Or will he be another Cazzie Russell?" you indicate only two poles of success: either he stars instantly or he flops like Cazzie Russell.
But perhaps you have chosen the wrong player for comparison; Cazzie Russell, while no instant star, will probably soon become one.