After reading the article on Willie Mays (Say Hey No More, Aug. 7), I feel sorry for the little boys who live in Mark Mulvoy's neighborhood. I'm sure he takes delight in gathering up their baseballs when they land in his yard. To thousands of little boys, and to baseball fans of all ages, Willie Mays is immortal. He is immune to knockdowns, strikeouts, errors—and to old age. Please let us hang on to our memories of the big guys. We want to remember these men, who have contributed so much to sport, at their best.
Willie Mays is still a great ballplayer and he will die a great ballplayer. Willie playing anywhere but center field sounds funny, but so did the idea of the other great center fielder, Mickey Mantle, playing first base. Willie is Mr. Giant. Without him there are no Giants.
From your account one would gather that Willie is a malingering, neurotic hypochondriac, bumbling about the outfield and grudgingly resentful at the plate. How about his friendliness (he's always talking and laughing), his even temper (has he ever been thrown out of a game?), his sportsmanship (his interviews are gems of modesty) and his leadership (he's an excellent team captain). You might add that his batting average and RBI totals are respectable, too.
You speak of the aging Willie Mays struggling to finish the season. You show Mr. Mays sitting in the locker room looking quite dejected and you present two pictures exhibiting a Mays error as if it were something usual.
August 20, 1967
Well, I just listened to the poor rundown Mays hit two homers and a double, driving in three runs—all within a span of two games. The batting average of Mays is no longer in the .280s (it was .296 on August 3). Could it be that the man is getting well?
SAN FRANCISCO SOPHISTRY
Perhaps the reason that Willie Mays does not get the protection he wants is that Marichal and the other Giant pitchers don't dare protect him (and the other Giant hitters) for fear they will incur the wrath of San Francisco fans and sportswriters. After Marichal's notorious retaliation against Roseboro several seasons ago, Marichal received more criticism from the San Francisco sportswriters than from those of any other area, including Los Angeles. At the same time, the San Francisco press (and fans) have long idolized Don Drysdale, even though he has consistently been accused of throwing at Giant batters, particularly Mays. Giant fans, and 49er fans, endure beanings and other assorted indignities visited on the home team in silence, saving their hoots and catcalls for the locals, perhaps from a misplaced sense of what constitutes sophistication. This has to be one of the reasons that the Giants and the 49ers never live up to their potential.
JOHN A. JUDGE
The All-Star charity football game has become a farce and a bore (No Place for Stars to Shine, Aug. 14). Imagine Wilt Chamberlain and Co., or the Baltimore Orioles, playing an All-Star college team in basketball or baseball. It would be no contest, just as the football game turned out to be. With professional sports as they are today, the possibility of an upset has become less and less of a reality.
I suggest that the promoters take an objective look at the All-Star game and modernize its concept. Why not have the college All-Stars play against a team of the top professional rookies of the previous season? Or against a team of the top three-year men selected by coaches, players or fans? Give such a team three weeks to practice, as the All-Stars have, and you'd have quite a game, with tremendous fan appeal.
I have no doubt that golf's best shot for Gay Brewer is the fade (How to Hit Golf's Best Shot, Aug. 7), but to consider it the best shot in golf seems totally unfounded.
Brewer does not seem to realize that the weekend golfer's chronic problem is not hooking but avoiding the ills of the dub, such as the topped shot, shanked shot, etc. Brewer's information might also cause the more competent golfer to have trouble making solid contact and to come up with a banana slice.
Kansas City, Mo.
Golf's best shot is the fade? Phooey! Golf's best shot remains the firm, well-stroked putt, hit with confidence.
Gay Brewer plays golf with the mien of a man walking to the electric chair. He is obviously under a terrific strain to keep that freak swing operating.
New York City
Your August 7 article about the Pan-American Games at Winnipeg (The Winning Ways of Winnipeg) was interesting enough, but it lacked one thing. The author did not even mention one swimmer who deserves as much attention as anyone else: Catie Ball. She broke two world records, in the women's 100-meter breaststroke and in the 400-meter medley relay, and she won the 200-meter breaststroke. Catie Ball is one of the greatest swimmers in the world, and one would think the author could have found space enough to mention her name.
Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Are you sure you aren't pulling our leg with that color shot of U.S. girl gymnasts at Winnipeg? They look more like the type that made Flo Ziegfeld and Billy Rose reach for their fountain pens.
COLTMAN D. SHEPARD
"Shocking fuchsia tights!" What do you suggest one wear for one of the most feminine and difficult of sports for women? Movement wouldn't be so easy in a dull, tarnished suit of armor. As for your statement that women's gymnastics was the closest thing to a girly show that old Winnipeg had ever offered—good for old Winnipeg!
But it would be nice if you would say more for the competitors than their ability to put on a girly show. Gymnastics is not so easy, believe me. My personal congratulations to Susan McDonnell and all the other women gymnasts.
SHELLS AND ROADS
Congratulations on an illuminating article about the conservation battle over the oyster-shell beds of Galveston Bay (Dredging Up a Texas Squabble, Aug. 14). It may not be pertinent today, but a few decades ago there was another use for oyster shells, perhaps unimportant compared to their present value as ingredients for cement and chicken feed, but a mighty influential factor in forming a visitor's impression of exotic, unusual and charming southern landscapes. I refer to oyster-shell roads. Biloxi and Gulf-port and Mobile—the Gulf resorts generally—were famous for them. They were hard packed, porous, pleasant underfoot, washed clean after every rain, winding away through live oaks and magnolias and gleaming white even on the darkest night.
Perhaps oyster-shell roads were so much a part of the southern countryside that Southerners took them for granted. But visitors never did. I ran across a passage about them the other day in the writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a proper Bostonian, published in 1870, describing the great Shell Road of South Carolina. It ran some 50 miles from Beaufort to Charleston and was the only road between those cities. "A beautiful avenue," Higginson called it. The Shell Road crossed causeways to islands, wound around plantations and was "a smooth and shaded road.... Riding through the solemn starlight, or soft, gray mist, or densest blackness, through pine woods and cypress swamps, or past sullen brooks—never, in all the days of my life, shall I forget the magic of those haunted nights."
If we have to ruin Galveston Bay by dredging up the shell beds in it, let's at least use the shells to beautify the landscape.
Spring Valley, N.Y.
THE FACTS, PLEASE
For three years in Minnesota I really enjoyed Fran Tarkenton's scrambling (Quarterback on the Run, July 17, et seq.), but now that he's gone (as well as Van Brocklin) the Vikings might start winning. I'd rather have a winner than an occasional exciting play.
JAMES W. BROWN, M.D.
La Jolla, Calif.
After three parts and several pages of writing and explanations by Fran Tarkenton about the Minnesota Vikings, he dismisses the part that most people will want to find out about—his problems with Van Brocklin—by saying: "There's no point in going into the gory details. They're personal, and they're irrelevant." That certainly does not tell us why Fran and Norm drifted apart. Give us the facts, sir, just the facts.
Rocky River, Ohio