THE CEREMONY AND THE RULE
I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed Dan Jenkins' article Where Ceremony Rules (April 8). His inside picture of the Masters was delightful, and I felt I was actually seeing Bowman Milligan "answer the call."
Jay Maisel's photographs could not have been better. His beautiful shots of that magnificent course will keep me daydreaming until I can get my driver in hand again.
J. C. Box
Lieut. Commander, USN
Los Alamitos, Calif.
After what happened to Roberto de Vicenzo (Golf's Craziest Drama, April 22) it appears to me that the Masters officials ought to put Bowman Milligan in charge of the tournament and Cliff Roberts in charge of the kitchen.
Many sports have archaic rules, but none can match the relic that was used to deny Roberto de Vicenzo his chance to win the Masters golf championship. Certainly he violated a USGA rule by incorrectly recording his score and therefore should be penalized, but one cannot keep from laughing at the rule itself.
Does a baseball player have to validate in writing the balls and strikes that are incurred or must the team sign a statement verifying the runs it has scored in order to claim a victory? Must a tennis player be required to write down every point of every game and set?
With the sophisticated scoreboards, cameras and judges that closely monitor all professional matches today, it seems ridiculous that every golfer must go through the routine of recording the score on every hole. Even though it is only a trivial chore, he should be too busy concentrating on his game to attend to a formality that any scoreboard or judge can perform. Bob Goalby deserves the Masters championship, but the rules of golf need amending.
The Masters officials have applied a rule with an inexorable finality that would be unexpected even in a court of law. Probably 5,000 persons witnessed the fact that de Vicenzo made a birdie 3 on the 17th hole. Millions of others witnessed that fact on their television screens, and even the tournament officials acknowledged it publicly. But then those same officials closed their eyes to the fact and accepted the myth that, instead of a birdie 3, de Vicenzo really made a par 4 because that figure appeared in the appropriate square on his scorecard. I am disappointed in them.
Carl Yastrzemski would never have won the Triple Crown if he had had to compile his batting average, RBIs and home runs while he was running the bases. If tournament officials can offer $100,000 or $125,000 in prize money surely they can afford $1,000 or so for official scorers to follow the players and record every shot.
I nominate Roberto de Vicenzo for Sportsman of the Year.
Riviera Beach, Fla.
SALUTES TO SPRING
Each of us knows the first sign of spring. For some it's a man loosening up winter-stiff muscles with a tennis racket. For golf nuts it's a packed driving range on a warm Tuesday night. But baseball buffs turn to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for their first taste of the excitement, movement and spectacle of a new season. Nowhere else is the spring more beautifully anticipated.
In this year's special baseball issue (April 15) you have recorded in pictures the moods of the game. In words you expose the "just folks" ingredients of our national pastime. Here's to a great spring, a hot summer race, a classic fall and SI's continued excellent coverage.
Kew Garden Hills, N.Y.
In last year's outlook on the baseball season SI predicted a "rising dynasty for the Birds." The way things worked out, however, the highest flying birds turned out to be the St. Louis Cardinals. As for your American League predictions for this year, only the future—and Eddie Stanky's Chicago White Sox—will tell for sure.
Why, why, why do you people refuse to believe that the Chicago Cubs are for real? In your most gracious moment you grant that if Centerfielder Adolfo Phillips "can put two good half seasons together instead of just one, the Cubs again will contend for the title." What an absurd statement! Do you think that the Cubs are so weak that they must depend on just one man? The Cubs are so improved over last year that I, for one, would be astonished if they don't have the pennant won by Labor Day.
One thing that has really teed me off this year is that everyone, including SI, is predicting the Houston Astros to finish last. I look for this team to finish at least in third place.
New Martinsville, W. Va.
I got a tremendous kick out of Frank Deford's article Coochee Coos Another Tune (April 8). I was living in Fargo, N. Dak. in 1954 when James Grant, a skinny, scared kid, came north with the Fargo-Moorhead Twins (now defunct) of the Class C Northern League for the opening of the season. Most of the players in the league were veterans who hadn't quite made it or young kids like Joe Pepitone and Roger Maris, both of whom played for Fargo-Moorhead, and Bill Bruton and Hank Aaron, who played for the Eau Claire Braves of Eau Claire, Wis.
Nobody took Mudcat very seriously until he started his first game. He was 19 and had plenty of pizazz. We hadn't seen a fast ball like his before, and I guess some of the guys he played against hadn't either. He won 21 games, the Fargo-Moorhead Twins won the pennant and Mr. Grant went right on up. Roger Maris and a short right field didn't hurt the Twins' records much either.
Grant is a great guy and I wish him the best.
JOHN E. HOWARD
We were greatly entertained by Gil Rogin's story on our own Don Schollander (Is Schollander a Swimmer? April 1), but we would like to rectify one small factual omission which mars an otherwise shining piece of reportage. Scholls implies that he and his roommates are the legitimate heirs to the Punt Club tradition at Yale's Berkeley College but that the tradition is now on the decline; we wish to go on record as saying that the Punt Club lives, and that at 598 Berkeley the word "work" is still worth little. We still have the original Punt Club bar, symbolic of the club's glorious tradition; we continue to maintain the Punt Club's high standards and carry her name proudly, despite the claims of would-be pretenders to the coveted title.
THE PUNT CLUB
New Haven, Conn.
Concerning your article, Is Schollander a Swimmer?, I fail to see the point. Is this not the Don Schollander that won four gold medals in the Tokyo Olympics? If he's not a swimmer, swimming has no future.
In regard to A City of Complexes (April 1), I believe I have detected some sour grapes from the many American cities without the amount of professional sports teams that Oakland has; I also detected some jealousy from an Oakland rival—namely San Francisco.
In SCORECARD of April 1, you criticize the Boston Celtics for deliberately losing to Detroit so that the Pistons could enter the playoffs rather than the Cincinnati Royals, whom Boston has had more trouble beating. You call it "indefensible," but the purpose of professional sports is to win—both championships and money—and if the NBA championship selection method is so irrational as to present a team with a better chance to gain ultimate league victory by losing a particular contest rather than by winning it, that team can hardly be criticized for seizing that chance.
If you want to call something indefensible, aim your words at the playoff systems, interdivision play and other promotional gimmicks that create these inevitable and undesirable conflict-of-interest situations. Only baseball, because it plays a uniform schedule and has no playoffs, avoids problems of this kind, and this is one reason why the World Series is a true championship event.
SI would do better to crusade for the abolition of playoffs and the establishment of a rational approach to championship selection than to label "indefensible" a team's effort to improve its ultimate chances of winning.
BRUCE J. HAVIGHURST
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Operation Build and Destroy (April 1) should arouse the ire of all those who love the out-of-doors and the natural wonders of America. Edwin Shrake writes a poignant, illustrative article showing what can happen to the heritage that belongs to all of us. It should never be "too late to stop now," as Senator Cooper suggests. Thank goodness some of our legislators have long ago realized that once the land is pillaged they can't bring it back.
Please continue your fine efforts to keep the public informed about our America. The efforts are most welcome and very much appreciated.
Des Plaines, Ill.
Operation Build and Destroy is the story of the United States from its inception. In due time the continent will be stripped of all vestiges of nature—picked clean as a skeleton by the wolves of commercialism. If this is what so-called progress seeks, we had best give the land back to the Indians. They deserve it. We don't.
WESTER A. WHITE
It is about time Charles Goren ceased his tasteless attacks on Alvin Roth, or else allowed more imaginative minds to fill his bridge columns. In The Verdict Is Nix on the Negative Double (April 8) Goren gives us his critical analysis of a hand in which declarer made four spades doubled, a result made possible by an opponent's use of the negative double earlier in the auction. As most bridge players are aware, the negative double was invented by Roth. What is more, the hand itself is no example. West made his negative double on insufficient values (less than one defensive trick), and the contract cannot be fulfilled against correct defense, as Mr. Goren himself points out!
Mr. Goren has previously written a similar article attacking the unusual no trump (SI, Nov. 6), also an Alvin Roth original. On still another occasion he commented that no sooner had the book Bridge is a Partnership Game by Roth and Stone been published than Roth and Stone's own partnership was on the rocks (SI, April 3, 1967).
JAMES F. HOUGHTON
•Despite the fact that he considers Alvin Roth one of the game's most brilliant theorists, Expert Goren stands pat on what he said.—ED.