Your article on Oakland (A City of Complexes, April 1) was very well done and Frank Deford should be commended for a well-researched report. Oakland is my home town and I'm proud of it, not because we have finally outdone San Francisco but because Oakland—maybe with the aid of the coliseum complex—has finally emerged as a city with its own color, charm and style. I think Oakland is in a stage of "getting back" at San Francisco for the many years of ridicule. I hope that this "getting back" will not be a permanent way of life. Oakland can elevate itself from this pettiness and become an attraction on its own.
Mr. Deford's perception of Oakland is very real and nakedly true. Since I am away at school, I can see the situation objectively. I hope this article will inspire effective corrective measures by the city fathers.
Many thanks to SI and Writer Frank Deford for an outstanding and comprehensive effort. The article was timely and as objective as any I've read. Undoubtedly you will be swamped with letters from indignant and outraged Oakland partisans, all of which will only make the article more believable.
Frank Deford's reporting on Oakland makes Pravda read like the Christian Science Monitor. I am surprised SI would stoop to this level. With writers like him, you don't need subscribers like me.
W.E. RISEDORPH, D.D.S.
April 15, 1968
Fearing that you might reject out of hand any antagonistic letter from an Oakland native concerning Frank Deford's article, let me first praise the author for his attempt to point out the futility of a community's trying to gain identity for itself simply by gathering up every loose sports franchise in creation. It is a point well taken.
There are, however, certain valid criticisms that can be made. The author accuses the Oakland Tribune of being overly optimistic in assessing the chances of the various Oakland franchises, while he spouts rumor after rumor of disaster for these same teams, hardly a more realistic approach. He chides the city for not supporting the Seals and the Oaks, even when, as Deford himself admits, the former are inept, the latter are hardly worse off than the ABA as a whole, and both are mired deep in last place in their respective leagues. There is little to indicate that they would draw better elsewhere.
Concerning the facts that many Oakland Negro residents feel resentment against their white neighbors and that a school bond issue failed at the polls, these are hardly circumstances peculiar to Oakland. This city's relative tranquillity during recent "long, hot summers" and the private generosity that finally did raise the money that the defeated bond issue would have contributed for high school athletics are signs that there just may be, Mr. Deford to the contrary, "something different about Oakland."
J. SCOTT SHEARER
You call baseball's expansion teams the "high minors" (SCORECARD, April 1). What about the majors of, say, 1920? Were they high minors? The population of the United States in 1920 was about 105,000,000 and it supplied enough major league talent for 16 teams. Are you saying that nearly 200,000,000 people can't supply enough baseball talent for 24 major league teams?
Why is it, in the eyes of some fans and writers, that modern-day baseball never seems to be as good as it was in Grandpa's time? Records in most sports are being broken year after year and future stars for most sports are being born every day. Wouldn't this also be true of baseball?
A MAN WHO SWIMS
I am sure this is only one of many letters you have received congratulating Gilbert Rogin for his exceptional article on Don Schollander, who is obviously an extraordinary personality (Is Schollander a Swimmer? April 1). Speaking as one of Schollander's contemporaries, I must say that I was amazed by the perception and clarity Schollander exhibited in his grasp of the problems of this younger generation. I was also considerably enlightened by several of his conclusions.
Twenty years from now SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will be remembered as having been the first to introduce this athlete as an intellectually gifted, articulate person, for I am certain that Schollander will remain in the public eye, no less as a swimmer but more as a man "who happened to swim."
JOHN C. CLARK
Thank you for Gilbert Rogin's revealing story on that well-known "nonswimmer," Don Schollander. He showed the public that Schollander is not an athlete but a spoiled brat. No true athlete "bags it," as Schollander bragged of doing in a meet against Dartmouth. No true athlete tells the press, "inwardly I feel I own the 200." No decent team captain would sit aloof in the balcony of the natatorium reading a newspaper while his teammates were beginning the meet.
Athletes don't have to devote 24 hours a day to their sport. That does not keep Don Schollander from being a true swimmer. It is his definitely self-centered attitude.
It is certainly refreshing and very unusual to find that a person prominent in the collegiate sports world is so adept at expressing himself, evaluating his ideals and maintaining his pleasing personality and all-American image, without becoming a demigod like Bill Bradley. I hope Don Schollander typifies our U.S. Olympians.
JAMES LIBBY JR.
As captain of Yale's 1966 swimming team, I take decided exception to Don Schollander's remark that Yale is not the place for anyone who is really interested in swimming. An examination of the scores of this year's NCAA championships shows that the Yale team, which finished second overall, scored more points in the swimming events than any other team in the meet. This fact speaks for itself in any comparison of the merits of the Yale swimming program with the programs of other schools.
More important, however, is Yale's "no-cut" policy, which assures everyone who tries out for the team a full season of training and competition. For those swimmers who have not attained the competitive status of a Schollander, this is an important and meaningful part of a college athletic career. To be able to run this program with such success is, I think, a great tribute to Coach Phil Moriarty and his assistants.
GEORGE S. HILL JR.
New York City
Last August you focused state and national attention upon the conservation problems of Galveston Bay, where the dredging of oyster shell for industrial purposes is depleting a precious natural resource (Dredging Up a Texas Squabble, Aug. 14). The destruction of live oyster reefs has been ignored by the state agency responsible for the regulation of dredging. Indeed, the heartless exploitation is licensed and approved by the state. The dredgers have protected themselves through the years by building warm personal relationships with key political figures, and this, coupled with the public apathy that resulted from the failure of Texas newspapers to expose the situation, has enabled the shell dredgers to remove most of the shell from the bay.
At last it appears that this combination may be broken, for the three leading candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination have spoken out against harmful shell dredging. The leading liberal, Don Yarborough, the leading conservative, Preston Smith, and the leading moderate, John Hill, have all taken public stands against the destruction of oyster reefs in Galveston Bay. In addition, the Dallas Morning News and The Houston Post have contributed lengthy studies of the issue.
Such developments were unthinkable in Texas politics even two years ago. Much of this increased public awareness can be traced to your article, which may yet compel the state to recognize the facts that Edwin Shrake presented so clearly.
ED J. HARRIS
Robert Boyle's article, How to Stop the Pillage of America (Dec. 11), has had a very interesting impact, from my viewpoint. Conservationists throughout the country have, of course, reacted to SI's proposals, but even more important to me is the fact that two local Long Island happenings may very well have long-range conservation importance.
As a direct result of your article, a local Bay Shore Lions Club has asked me to speak to its members. The club has already formed a conservation committee, and it now wants to promote a Lions' conservation endeavor. It is most unusual to find a group of businessmen (many of them builders) willing to reexamine, in the light of a new viewpoint, what, in essence, is the product of their own works.
Secondly, and at least partially as a result of your article, I have been invited to advise one township on Long Island in conservation planning.
From a conservation standpoint, I consider these important steps forward.
Conservation Planners Inc.
New York City