To me and, I am sure, to tens of thousands of others, the most dramatic and moving part of the closing of the U.S. Open was not the smile of the winner, Lee Trevino, or his engaging welcome to his new role as the hero in this rags-to-riches story. It was not the champion himself or the dream of the golden throne he would perhaps soon enjoy that riveted attention. It was the courage, the smile and the unbending spirit of the man whom ABC so shamefully made a spectacle of in his walk down the road of defeat—Arnold Palmer. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED also contributed to this show of a lack of integrity and loss of judgment in sportsmanship in the article Lee's Fleas Cheer "Super Mex" to Victory (June 24)—beginning with the phrase, "since Arnold Palmer, whoever that is, came along," and continuing with a series of smears throughout the article.
Thanks in a large measure to television and the credibility gap in the news media in general, the character and integrity of my country and yours has descended to its lowest point in my lifetime. And I hate to see a magazine bearing the title that yours does speed the fall.
I am not one of Arnie's Army. I do not play golf. But I do admire that rare man who, in outstanding fashion, is accepted by youth as an example of those qualities of character that now seem to have been condemned to obsolescence. You do yourselves and your country no service by lampooning Arnold Palmer's image.
JOHN R. CAMPBELL JR.
Wellesley Hills, Mass.
I resent Dan Jenkins' remark, "Arnold Palmer, whoever that is." Palmer has afforded sportswriters much colorful and interesting copy for many, many years, and it is really not in the tradition to kick a man and insult him when he is down—temporarily.
July 7, 1968
Why was he placed in the last grouping at the Open? Palmer was a sportsman and a gentleman to accept such an insult.
Ormond Beach, Fla.
I can identify Arnold Palmer for Dan Jenkins (whoever that is). Mr. Palmer is the golfer chiefly responsible for Lee Trevino's $30,000 paycheck in the U.S. Open. I do not credit Arnold for Lee's victory, but I do credit him for the amount of money won. Arnold is the golfer who caught the imagination of every sports-minded person and every money-minded promoter. Without Palmer, Casper, Boros and a very few others, Lee Trevino's victory in the U.S. Open (if the tourney still existed) would be buried in obscurity and would be worth a fat $3,000.
Long live the king!
ROBERT E. GIBNEY
As an ex-Marine who rose to the distinguished rank of corporal, I derive little grief from the difficulties that three-star generals occasionally get into. I do feel, however, that a lot of people are having a great deal of fun castigating General Eckert (SCORECARD and 19TH HOLE, June 24) for reasons that are not wholly sound. It is all well and good to say that Judge Landis would have handled the "weekend of mourning" situation differently, but this is 1968, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the owners do not want a Judge Landis, but a man from the Chandler-Frick-Eckert mold who will be a figurehead and will not interfere with their wishes.
I can't prove this, but I would bet that General Eckert would like to be a strong commissioner, but the baseball owners won't allow him to be one. A man does not attain his position in the armed services without appreciable leadership capability. Therefore, Eckert now finds himself in a job which pays something like $65,000 a year plus expenses, with nothing to do except go to a few ball games and keep his mouth shut. Frankly, this is a situation that I could live with. If the people who have been crucifying him could put themselves in Commissioner Eckert's position, I think that they would do the same thing—nothing. If there are rocks to be thrown, I say throw them at the men who rate them: the owners.
GREGORY Z. THOMAJAN
Imagine the Boston writers being petty enough to resent Ted Williams' saying they smelled badly (Hitting Was My Life, June 10, et seq.). I have long thought Boston had the country's most capable group of sportswriters and that Mel Webb was among the most respected.
As a person, Williams was an overgrown child and, like all children, he was capable of great charm and generosity but also of great boorishness and selfishness. He failed badly to give the Sox the leadership he could have given them. A good day at bat for Ted was a good day, even if the team lost, and vice versa. Boston won only one pennant during his long career.
As a hitter, Williams was certainly a great one. But he never ranked at the top among the clutch hitters in the league, perhaps because a pitch an inch off would be taken for a walk rather than swung at for the hit that was sorely needed.
I think your articles on Ted Williams are extremely interesting, well written and, most important, factual. Having been a Red Sox fan for many years and having had access to the Boston newspapers during this time, I can honestly say that Ted Williams has had more half truths and deliberately distorted stories written about him than any other man in sports history.
To give you an idea of what he was up against, one of his many Boston writer-critics recently referred to the Celtics as the Smeltics because they lost an important playoff game. Is it any wonder that Ted had troubles with this type of reporting?
E. F. HARRIGAN
It's about time someone finally defended Ted Williams, even if it did have to be Ted Williams himself. Never have I heard of a group of people, like those Boston sportswriters, persecuting a man with so few reasons. I don't blame Williams for wanting to be alone and for not associating with the press when everything he said was quoted out of context and distorted to the point that he looked like a castoff from a Hell's Angels camp.
I believe we need more men like Ted Williams who are not afraid of saying what's on their minds and who, at the same time, never argue with an umpire, a fellow player or management. Could you really ask for a better record?
THOMAS E. ASWELL
¬°VENGAMOS! BUT SLOWLY
Jack Olsen's screamingly funny story on driving to the Mexican Olympics (!Vengamos, Gringos! June 17) offered your readers far more scream than fun. Screaming through any farm community at 75 mph, in Mexico or the U.S., is certainly to be deplored, and I'm glad he takes the Mexican Highway Patrol to task for not being more alert to his dangerous driving.
No, speed killers are not wanted. But for the average driver who looks for a varied drive through a country that starts at the border as an arid desert, then drops down to lush, tropical sea level and proceeds to climb a heavily forested mountain, the drive from the U.S. border to Mexico City is a treat that more than 800,000 motorists enjoyed with car and camera last year. I hope your readers will forgive some show of pride in the fact that the safety records for Mexico show its traffic death rate to be only one-fifth the rate of the U.S.
One statement in the article is neither funny nor true! No cars will be turned back at the border. There are no restrictions on the number of cars entering Mexico, and none will be imposed. Mr. Olsen may have misunderstood the communiqué we did issue that all visitors to Mexico City during the period of the Olympics must secure a ticket to an Olympic event for each room reservation, and a room for each day they request a ticket. But this regulation is in the interest of improving on past Olympic experience when hordes of sports enthusiasts arrived at the Games with tickets to everything and no place to spend the night, while some hardy souls had the best rooms to stay at but could not get a seat at any of the competitions.
We certainly appreciate the tone of the article, which makes it clear that—in his words—the ugly American will receive the same courtesy he has expected everywhere else in the world. But we would not impose on him the penalty Mr. Olsen suggests—namely, "to spend the rest of their lives ordering dinner in Spanish in Decatur, Ill."
It seems only fair to make it clear to all your readers who are planning to drive to Mexico this year that Mr. Olsen's adventures, however laughable, have been very special indeed.
RACHMAEL BEN AVRAM
Foreign Press Service, Olympic Organizing Committee of Mexico
New York City
Cincinnati reader Stu Graff (19TH HOLE, June 17) states that Pete Rose's old high school, Western Hills, has sent eight players to the majors, "as many major league ballplayers as have been produced at any high school in the country."
I beg to differ. A quick check discloses that Beaumont High School in St. Louis has sent a total of 10 players to the majors during the past 25 years. Namely, Lee Thomas, Bob Miller, Roy Sievers, Bobby Hofman, Bob Wiesler, Lloyd Merritt, Jack Maguire, Buddy Blattner, Jim Goodwin and Chuck Diering.
I don't think Western Hills, or McClymonds High in Oakland, can match this record.
St. Louis, Mo.
RULES OF THUMB
Mark Mulvoy's rude and senseless comments regarding the decision made by Umpire Harry Wendelstedt on the batter hit by a Don Drysdale pitch (The Giants Find It Tough, June 10) were the most obviously biased that I have ever read. The rule which requires that a hit batter must have made an attempt to avoid being hit in order to be awarded first base is just one of the many rules a knowledgeable baseball follower remembers.
The umpire is paid to make decisions according to a set of rules, whether or not everyone remembers them. I would expect that the umpire should remember the rules of the game even if players, managers and sports reporters do not.
Mr. Wendelstedt should be commended for making the correct decision in a rather tense situation, and Mr. Mulvoy should be ashamed of his unfair criticism of that decision.
Officials at most sporting events go out of their way to protect the big names in sports. I have seen pro basketball games in which a big-name player such as Jerry West or Elgin Baylor would almost have to commit murder to have their sixth or last personal foul called on them. I have seen mediocre pro golfers ask for a free drop and be refused in situations where a Nicklaus or a Palmer would have been given relief. In fact, one year at the Masters I saw one player (whom I will not name) ask for a free drop. He was refused and, when the official walked away, the player remarked to the gallery, "I guess it depends on who you are as to whether or not you get a fair ruling."
The latest incident is Don Drysdale's record-breaking shutout in San Francisco. With the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Drysdale hit Dick Dietz with a pitch. Umpire Harry Wendelstedt said Dietz made no attempt to get out of the way of the pitch and simply called it a ball. If Willie Mays had been at bat I wonder if the umpire would have made the same call. A few weeks ago Joe Torre was hit in the head with a pitch he said he never saw. Since he didn't see it, he made no attempt to get out of the way. If Umpire Wendelstedt had been behind the plate, Joe Torre would probably have been asked to complete his turn at bat before going to the hospital for X rays.
A pitcher as great as Drysdale doesn't need help to pitch a shutout. Let's quit giving the big names the breaks. They don't need them.