BOUQUETS TO BLANCHFLOWER
Having more than once considered sports-casting as a career, I read with interest Danny Blanchflower's article, Just One Truth for Me (June 10). I was profoundly disappointed when, at the beginning of the year, I learned that Mr. Blanchflower would no longer be working for CBS. His humor and accurate descriptions of the action were a pleasure to listen to.
The comments of the CBS sports staff intrigue me. They told Mr. Blanchflower, in effect, that if one team makes an error it should be described as a tremendous play executed by the other team. How absurd! Is it a tremendous play when a runner in baseball gets to first base because the shortstop has booted a ground ball that he should have had? Is it a tremendous play when a defensive middle guard makes a touchdown with a ball fumbled by a halfback on the halfback's 10 yard line?
Come on, Mr. MacPhail! Get with it! Americans are quite willing to accept the bad play in a sport, be it baseball, football, hockey or what have you. They may not approve of the bad play, but they certainly won't accept any attempts on the part of a sportscaster to turn a bad play into a good play. You might just as well call a 300-foot home run a Ruthian shot.
JAMES S. GAMBLE
CBS made a poor play and I am announcing it, publicly.
June 23, 1968
After watching several television broadcasts of professional soccer, I am utterly appalled at the irrational interruptions of an action that is not meant to be so hacked apart. I therefore agree completely with Danny Blanchflower and his conclusions concerning sport and the media.
Sport should be a display of talent, real talent, and we ought not carve such demonstrations of ability and dexterity (any more than we ought to try to repaint the Mona Lisa or to rewrite Moby Dick) into bite-size pieces which can be conveniently fitted into commercial lapses.
Danny Blanchflower's courage startles, yes, even shocks, because we have been so treated and conditioned to expect blasé, dull and often meaningless commentary from professionals who know but fear to speak. Let us have more of his stock!
After reading Danny Blanchflower's recent article on professional soccer in America, I felt refreshed and exhilarated. Here is a man who called the shots as he saw them. His love of sport and his honesty, which he exhibited as a commentator and in his article, is a refreshing breeze in an area where money increasingly becomes "the name of the game." May the world of sport find more Danny Blanchflowers.
F. D. VASTINE
Prospect Park, Pa.
His name may be Blanchflower, but a flower he isn't. Cheers for his just-one-truth approach to TV sports "color." His was the pause that refreshed, and, more important, informed. Too bad Danny Blanchflower was just a pause. He and soccer and TV sports reporting deserve better.
As a citizen of the State of New York and of the United States, I greatly mourned the tragic death of Senator Robert Kennedy this past week. Although I was never a great advocate of the Senator's political ideology, I held a deep respect for him as an individual and as a human being. Thus I was shocked when a majority of major league baseball teams played out the schedule on the day of his funeral and on the day of national mourning. To me, this entails a public display of a lack of national pride, human sensibility and general common sense.
I was further horrified to learn that fines have been levied upon major league ballplayers for having the respect and decency to refrain from participating on the day of the interment. People have been saying that this is a sick nation, a statement to which I do not adhere. Unfortunately, major league baseball has done much to reinforce this sentiment.
I was greatly disappointed to see the "great" American pastime of baseball echo the bickering, divisiveness and pettiness prevailing in our country. I had hoped the sports world would be a leader in compassion, restraint and teamwork (brotherhood)—something our less fortunate could respect and have pride in—especially in honor of a man in whose life athletics played such a strong part.
You would think a lesson could have been learned from the confusion after Dr. King's death. But, no, as a tribute to Senator Kennedy baseball owners pursued the almighty buck, while many players tried to demonstrate their feeling and respect, only to be put down as insurrectionists.
This was just another example of the ineffectiveness of the commissioner's office. Commissioner Eckert refused to make a decision to postpone or not postpone and left it up to the home-team clubs to decide, for fear of alienating the owners, since he is only their pawn anyway.
I highly commend Milt Pappas, Dave Giusti, Maury Wills and the others who sincerely tried to make baseball seem like an all-American tradition again for at least one day. Maybe baseball ought to be converted into a democratic operation in which the players elect a commissioner and the league presidents. This would set a genuine example for our kids, and maybe serve to curtail the polarization of our youth to violence on the one hand and dropout hippiedom on the other.
Lincoln Park, N.J.
This past week Commissioner Eckert batted .000 and led the major leagues in thoughtlessness and stupidity. It looks more and more like the national pastime is becoming the national dollar sign.
•For SI's views, see page 11.—ED.
The Ted Williams story (Hitting Was My Life, June 10) is superb! It has Ted's insight, his crypticness and his salty flavor.
Years ago I had a friend who was also a client and who lived in Cincinnati. When he was in New York on business and the Red Sox were in town we would invariably be at Yankee Stadium. One day I asked Bill, "How is it that we never see a game at Crosley Field when I'm out there?" He said, "It's not that I love baseball less, but that I love Ted Williams more. I would rather watch Ted take batting practice than see an entire National League game!"
For me, his statement was the tribute of one perfectionist to another.
H. H. DOBBERTEEN
It is an outright shame that Ted Williams has not spoken out before. An athlete of his stature should have declared himself earlier, so as to influence this generation. His independence is practically a fault, but Ted is a champion with a type of dignity few ever achieve, much less envision.
My hat is off to SI for telling us more about this recluse of a hero.
LIEUT. MICHAEL R. PATTERSON
A few years ago the mother of a senior at Harvard died suddenly just prior to commencement. The boy's father traveled extensively on his job and could not get home for his son's graduation. The father asked a friend to try to attend, explaining that the boy would be lonesome. The friend knew Ted Williams personally and told him the story. Ted volunteered, adding that he did not want anyone to know why he was there.
On commencement day, Ted and the boy strolled through the Yard, followed by the news media who were trying to ascertain the reason for the presence of the Red Sox star. To this day they have never been told.
Here are two people who will always remember Ted's kindness.
I would like to congratulate Tex Maule on one of the most touching stories I have ever read in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (A Flare in the Dark, June 3). It is hard to believe that the whites of South Africa could limit the blacks to such a lowly standing. How people can condemn other people because of a difference of skin color is beyond me.
ROBIN T. ANKENY
A few of the finalists must be still gasping for air from the recent Los Angeles City High School swimming championships. They were black and, according to Frank Braun, South African Olympic leader, "in swimming the water closes their [Africans'] pores so that they cannot get rid of carbon dioxide, and they tire quickly."
This hot air by Braun on why blacks can't swim competitively is an insult to those in this country who are making an honest endeavor to develop themselves into competitors of national class. The American black hasn't made it yet, but with more facilities open to him and with the greater number of competent coaches and better nutrition, he will. If he doesn't, it won't be because of his poor little ole black pores.
Editor, Swimming World
North Hollywood, Calif.