Leonard Shecter's article on Bill Monbouquette (Humiliation of a Hero, June 12) was simply great. I am the bat boy for the New York Yankees and, after reading about Monbo, I have a warm feeling toward him. Monbo still appears to be the great pitcher he once was, but in order for him to win 14 games the team must hit. The Yankees are not scoring runs. Monbo lost his first start against Washington 2-1 because of the team's weak hitting.
Monbo's curve and slider seem to be strong and, take it from me, his fast ball is still humming. I have a swollen hand to prove it.
Having felt the "mortal" wound of a minor league cut many, many years ago, I consider Leonard Shecter's piece on Bill Monbouquette top-drawer human-interest material. I saw grown men cry like babies when handed a release and a "try again next year." As I read the Monbo story I felt that I was sitting there at the phone along with him, waiting for a call.
As a real fan of the Indy 500 I look forward every year to reading your articles on the event as much as I look forward to seeing the race itself. I say this because you seem able to capture the excitement of the race exactly as I feel it while at the track.
This year's article, Gentlemen, Junk Your Engines (June 12), was a masterpiece and portrayed the "pulse beat" perfectly. What a race! What an article! Helmets off to Bob Ottum for a superb job on a race that was exciting almost beyond words.
A. J. GILMASTER
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
Congratulations on your article on the 500. The turbine is a wondrous step forward in the field of automobiles. But it is definitely not on the same level of competition as the piston cars. Even if they won't allow turbines as powerful as Jones's it will still be the racing machine of tomorrow.
I hope the turbine will be accepted. Too many Indy races are now a matter of mechanical survival with many of the better drivers ending up as spectators at the finish. Head-to-head racing among the world's finest drivers for a full 500 miles is an exciting prospect. Dependable, safer (four-wheel drive) cars will put the emphasis on nerve and skill. If the turbine could be so reliable in its first race, think what it will be after a little more proving. Mechanical luck will always play a part in racing, but it should be kept as small a factor as possible.
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
CAPTURE THE FLAG
I hope that your item entitled "Time Out For Sport" (SCORECARD, June 12) was noticed by all sport fans, so that they will sit down and write to their Congressmen in support of Representative Richard Ottinger's (D., N.Y.) bill to separate sport from television's control. The only thing I suggest is that lacrosse be included in the bill. Along with soccer, lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. It is televised more and more often and already it is becoming involved in the TV "manipulation" problem. In the recent North-South College All-Star contest, the game was stopped each time the TV men held out a yellow flag. Admittedly, in this particular case, it may not have had any detrimental effect on the game. As a matter of fact, it was so hot that the players may have been happy to have had the breaks. But stoppage of play just because TV dictates it will hurt sport, especially in cases where the continuity of the action is important.
ARTHUR W. GREGG
Your comments about Fenway Park (Slow Death by Committee in Boston, June 12), were totally unwarranted. First, you describe Fenway as a decaying little ball park. The fact is, Fenway is among the best-kept parks in the country. It is always immaculately clean. Every seat was repainted this winter, as were the walls and rafters. There is never a bare spot on the field, which features well-trimmed, verdant grass.
Your second contention was even more absurd. There is absolutely no likelihood of the Red Sox becoming the San Diego Surfers. Boston is giving the club its usual wholehearted support. Attendance is up 65,000 over last year, including near sellouts on April 30, May 30 and June 9. I think SI owes Boston and the Red Sox an apology.
JONATHAN B. DUBITZKY
Mark Mulvoy's article hit the nail on the head, as every sports fan in Massachusetts knows. Many of us are already looking with great concern at the two problems that will inevitably confront us in the 1970s: 1) Will we root for the Mets or the Yankees? 2) Will the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) supply us with a 20¢ shuttle to Shea or Yankee Stadium?
Your reference to the dismissal of Penn Athletic Director Jerry Ford (FOR THE RECORD, June 12) was totally inaccurate. Ford was not fired for "alleged violations of the Ivy League athletic rules." On the contrary, he was the accuser, rather than the accused, charging that an administration official and a coach had committed such infractions. Isolated violations were found to have occurred in the spring of 1965, but the rumored slush fund alluded to by Ford in his charges was never confirmed.
The Daily Pennsylvanian
•SI erred. Jerry Ford is indeed one of the foremost proponents of the Ivy League—and of its ideals and its rules.—ED.
BACK ON THE TRACK
As one who really enjoys racing and wants to see it prosper I would like to offer a few suggestions in line with your editorial "Out of the Running" (SCORECARD, June 5). In New England there are only two tracks where one can visit the grandstand without being revolted by filth and disrepair: Green Mountain and Rockingham Park. Suffolk Downs's grandstand is barely passable, but all the others are miserable. The racing reporters act like paid press agents who close their eyes to the sordid picture. Since people are not knowledgeable, it is important that racing offer a spectacle as well as a sport, and the reporters and various racing commissioners should do everything in their power to make a visit to the racetrack a pleasant experience, win or lose.
In addition to this, I would like to see a purse arrangement that would be an incentive for older horses of ordinary caliber. Claiming races for 5-year-olds and up or 6- or 7-year-olds and up with a bonus purse would help to keep some horses around the track long enough for people to develop an affection for them. It doesn't take a million-dollar horse to do this, and one of the happiest times for me personally was, as a youth, watching and rooting for old Brass Monkey coming down the stretch with Babe Rubenstein cheering him on.
The Babe, with his stories of racing lore on a local radio station, and Lou Smith, the head of Rockingham and Green Mountain, are all that is good in the New England racing picture but, unfortunately, I am afraid they are not enough.
FREEMAN F. DODGE
Jimmy Kilroe's theory that racing is hurting because the sport is too intricate for the public is sheer nonsense. The most intricate factor is that when you pay your two bucks admission you have to be a Houdini to find a decent seat. There may be 500 people in the grandstand, but it always seems as though they are holding 15,000 more seats for their friends. The biggest offenders are the women, who pile big overnight handbags on the seat next to them and tell you that the person sitting there is down making a bet.
Racing is the only sport where you pay a good buck to get in and have no guarantee that you will have a place to sit. Those paying admission should be given numbered seats as they come in, the early birds getting the better seats, the latecomers what is left. Those holding passes should stand.
Someday a smart vice-president may consider building grandstands in the infield. After all, the race is won at the finish line, and what happens in the backstretch does not concern the average fan.
You quote Jimmy Kilroe as saying that 80% of the horseplayers "don't know what they are doing." After a few visits to a U.S. racecourse they soon find out. They are putting $5 on the pari-mutuel for a $4 bet—20% has disappeared immediately. Put this "sport" on the same basis as roulette, craps or any other "game" where the house is the sure winner anyway and it will pay its way handsomely.
The public realizes that some charge must come off the top to keep the game going. But 20%? Aw, come on. Even the most stupid of us can see the futility of paying the money to get to the track and then putting up the $5 for a $4 bet—and that is exactly what it is. What to do about it? Don't ask me—except that I wish everybody would get his fingers out of the pot.