I caddied for Art Wall in last fall's Kemper Open and Charlie Sifford played with us the first two days of the tournament. I never knew or really understood the added pressure on Sifford until I read William Johnson's superb article. Thank you, Mr. Johnson, for opening up my eyes.
GARY S. LARRABEE
I enjoyed your story on Charlie Sifford and other Negro golfers. But it seems curious to me that Bill Stennis, who is sponsoring a Negro golfer to the tune of some $15,000 a year, was not identified as a Negro. My point is this: the Negro is fully identified when it comes to poverty and problems. But he is not properly identified when it comes to wealth and success.
The lack of the balanced view of American Negroes is dangerous, shameful and harmful. Both blacks and whites need to know more about successful Negroes. Bill Stennis is a success in the fried chicken business because he has an excellent product and because he is a smart businessman.
A. S. (Doc) YOUNG
I admire a man like Sifford, who knows what he wants out of life and, through courage and determination, has made it for himself through professional golf. However, the last sentence in the article, "Nothin' ain't ever as good for a black man as it ought to be," made me sick. I would say, "Anything can be as good for a black man (or any man) as he wants it to be." Maybe Charlie has never heard of that basketball player on the cover of SI, with the caption "The Million Dollar Finish" above his head. Maybe that ain't as good as it should be. How about "The Two Million Dollar Finish"? And that picture of Charlie holding a $20,000 check. All right, Charlie, I'm all for you; you've worked hard and deserved to win. But my father has worked hard farming all his life and has seen rough times also. How many $20,000 checks do you think he's ever held? Not too many. I don't think that's as good for him as it ought to be, either.
May I congratulate you on your March 31 cover? For this is what sport is all about: Lew Alcindor's smiling face shows the happiness of man when he has reached the ultimate in his sport.
I have calculated Lew Alcindor's high school and college won-lost record.
Power Memorial High School: 95-6
Can anyone else duplicate that record?
I wish to congratulate Robert Cantwell on his article, The Ultimate Confrontation (March 24). He appears to have no axe to grind with anyone, no undercover motive in his story and an uncommon understanding of the factors involved in this matter. He appears to be concerned only for the good of all. And that makes him rare today.
The article was excellent.
GEORGE S. OCHSNER
Getty Oil Company
Robert Cantwell mentioned a Sandy Smith who claimed to be the discoverer of an oil lake in the Arctic which led the Navy to set aside an oil reserve. I knew him personally and his full name was Alexander Malcolm Smith. He was in his late 70s when I worked for him on a prospect drill in Atlin, British Columbia during the summer of 1936. He was in excellent physical shape and could walk the legs off a much younger man. He lived in Juneau, Alaska many years and made this his base for a number of promotional ventures. He was a colorful fellow, a fastidious dresser and had no trouble attracting the fairer sex. I believe he fathered a child in his mid-80s. His tall tales were sometimes hard to believe, but your article brings out one of his stories as the truth. I recall that Sandy was a member of the Explorer's Club in New York. He passed away in 1958 at the age of 99.
ARNOLD J. ELIEFF
Robert Cantwell presents a vital prologue to what can be seen as a test of man's feelings toward the natural environment. No less than the variousness of life and the unique identities of other life-styles are at stake in the Brooks Range and in the rest of the world.
SI can be applauded for having presented the case.
In the same mail that I received the March 24 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED with your article The Ultimate Confrontation, I also received a tape recording from my son, who teaches school in the interior of Alaska. In it he tells of flying over that great scar made by the winter road and the disregard the truckers have for other peoples' property. He also speaks of the stories told by the copter pilots of shooting caribou and bear with pistols as they fly back and forth.
I just wish more people would realize what the oil industry is doing to our last frontier, the only area left where our young people can learn what it is like to be a pioneer and hunt and fish in the wilds.
JAMES I. HAMILTON
The article on why hitters may do better this season (From Mountain to Molehill, March 24) is a good one, as far as it goes. I am certain there will be more hitting this year than last, but not because of any change in the mound. Changing the strike zone may help, but the most important factor will be expansion. The last time the majors expanded, in 1961, Roger Maris hit 61 homers, Mickey Mantle 54 and guys who never had much of a batting average (like Norm Cash and Elston Howard) were up above .340. Expansion is the key to more hitting because it means thinned-out pitching staffs. Guys who would normally be hurling for Triple A teams are going to find themselves in the majors in 1969, and the hitters are going to love it.
This, of course, works both ways. There are going to be some minor league hitters in the big time, too. But, generally speaking, expansion means more hitting. At least it did in 1961.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
We were pleased to see the pitching mound developed by our company pictured in Bill Leggett's article. However, we were a little distressed to have it referred to as "a 15-inch plastic slab" and to see Dave Giusti of the Cardinals standing on it in his cleats.
The purpose for which this mound was developed was to duplicate the outdoor pitcher-catcher relationship indoors. Designed for field house and gymnasium use, it meets the precise height and slope of regulation scholastic and collegiate pitching mounds. The surface is nonskid textured for use with gym shoes. It is one-piece, molded of durable fiber glass.
Alex Nahigian, coach of Providence College, dreamed up the idea, and Everett Pearson of Bergson Products, former Brown University athlete, designed and developed it. Although new this year, Indoor Pitching Mounds have been ordered by many schools and colleges to keep their pitchers in top form during the inclement weather.
Should the professionals indicate an interest in the mound, we are prepared to produce a 10-inch elevation model in addition to the present 15-inch elevation model.
C. J. GOTTHARDT
Bergson Products, Inc.
Concerning your article on the Astro Grand Prix midget races held recently in Houston (Poor Li'l Midgets, Texas Style, March 17), did you know that driving a midget is considered the most challenging of all oval-track racing? To succeed on the dirt in a midget, you must keep your reflexes sharp and possess the utmost in control. In short, it separates the men from the boys. The championship, of course, cannot be decided in one or two races; it must be decided over the span of an entire season. You seemed to have felt that because of the inferior condition of the track the races should have been canceled. Really, now.
By the way, you apparently didn't know that all the drivers entered in the Astro Grand Prix had to have finished in the 1968 USAC midget point standing. I don't believe that they appreciated being called "barnstormers from another circuit."
R. L. MASON
You mention in SCORECARD (March 17) that Suffolk Downs will run the richest and longest turf race in history. However, we still claim the richest horse race in the world, the All American Futurity, run at Ruidoso Downs. The purse was more than $600,000 in 1968, and in the near future it will probably top $1 million.
We wish to thank your fine publication for the great coverage it has, but we could not resist pointing out our facts.
DON B. STARK
Ruidoso, N. Mex.
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