This seems to be the year for taking potshots at Abner Doubleday, whom Harold Peterson has failed to prove did not invent baseball in 1839 (Baseball's Johnny Apple-seed, April 14). How about the possibility that Alexander Cartwright was present that day in 1839 when Doubleday laid out the diamond, set up the rules and named the game? How about the possibility that he heard about it from a friend? And that he then began to modify or develop the rules, if, in fact, he did this at all?
My great-great-grandfather Phineas Bark kept a diary as he came West, and I never thought of parlaying it into a claim that he invented anything. But now that you bring it up, there is that entry in May 1851. It seems that as he rode along the banks of the Green River toward Fort Bridger he spied a ball (the very same one Alick lost, no doubt). He started toward it, and at that moment an Indian rode down from the rocks and swatted it with his lance. Old Phineas whacked it back with the butt of his rifle. I look forward to your big Polo Issue this summer.
In your April 14 Baseball Issue you attempted to explode some myths. I'd like to correct one thing in your LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER. You said that Vince Lombardi was not a member of Fordham's Seven Blocks of Granite but was with a group called the Rocks.
Where did you come across the term Rocks? I have all the official football guides going back to 1930, and in the 1937 guide, on page 148, the 1936 Fordham line is referred to as the Seven Blocks of Granite. There is no mention anywhere of the term Rocks. Also, in the Fordham sports brochure for 1966 the lines of both 1936 and 1937 are called the Blocks.
May 4, 1969
•Vince Lombardi is a chip off the old Blocks.—ED.
I found the letter from Publisher Garry Valk in your April 14 issue very interesting. However, I wish to take exception to his attitude toward John Franklin Baker. As a boy, I was a great fan of the old Philadelphia Athletics under Connie Mack. I was in Shibe Park every time I could possibly make it, and I always sat back of third base to watch my hero, Frank Baker.
In 1911 the Athletics won the American League pennant, and the New York Giants won the National League pennant. The Giants won the first game of the World Series 2-1. The Athletics won the second game 3-1. The pitchers in that game were Plank and Marquard. The game was won by Frank Baker with a home run.
The third game of the Series was played at the Polo Grounds in New York. I went with my father to see it. The pitchers were Coombs and Mathewson. In the ninth inning, with one out, Frank Baker hit another home run, which tied the score. The game was finally won by the Athletics in the 11th inning 3-2.
My point is that Frank was called Home Run Baker because of these two homers off Rube Marquard and Christy Mathewson and not because of the 12 he hit during the season of 1913.
Furthermore, it is utterly unfair to compare Frank Baker and Clifford Cravath with Babe Ruth. Those were the days of the "dead" ball.
E. LANSING BENNETT
East Dennis, Mass.
I read and reread the line re Babe Ruth's Called Shot World Series homer: "But he did not really call the shot." Who says he didn't? I mean, aside from you and Charlie Root?
•In 1957 the late Herbert Simons, who was editor of Baseball Digest and an eyewitness of the 1932 World Series, reviewed all of the evidence—and non-evidence—of the Called Shot and concluded, "It never happened." Several years later, John Walsh, a free-lance writer, disputed Simons' findings and presented his Case for Faith in the Babe's Called Shot. SI stands with Simons.—ED.
The Masters has come and gone, reflected in an atrocious story, After the Others Had Gone, George Was Left (April 21). Following the tradition set two weeks previously in which he both ends and titles his story at the expense of the unfortunate Roberto de Vicenzo's broken English ("What a stupid I am"), Dan Jenkins spends most of his story mocking Billy Casper's religious habits and the eccentricities of the "mystery players" on the tour.
Is golf that much of a pseudosport (the game of the portly participant who never has to do so much as jog) that the focus must be on Casper strolling with the Lord, humming hymns and going to church ("of course") on Sunday? Then there is Knudson, wearing sunglasses, so naturally he is "hiding behind his shades." (Yes, Jenkins is hip!) And, of course, Spiro Agnew must be dragged in as a simile for Coody.
The story is complemented by Curry Kirkpatrick's tale of a new hero (Bruce and His Babies Storm Augusta), which, thankfully, is better than the other. But Kirkpatrick also wanders in search of something to say. Does he not know that "sockhops" died long ago? And must he trot out the standard star bit—he outdrives Arnie, dresses like Joe and is Jewish like Sandy—so that he is a combination of Palmer-Namath-Koufax? And outgraduates Benjamin, too.
Thankfully these articles were followed by five fine feature stories.
Dan Jenkins goes berserk every once in a while, and perhaps he overflowed a bit, writing the Masters report, also drenching Curry Kirkpatrick in the process. Analysis and insights, yes. Unjustified derision for the ensemble of events and persons, NO! It really wasn't a good week for Dan, Curry and SI.
Articles like this by Dan Jenkins are the reason we subscribe to SI. His superbly written piece took us to the whole Masters tournament, not just the four finishing holes.
Mrs. HENRY C. STEVENS
I read your notice of the new version of Tom Swifties (SCORECARD, April 21) and I have decided to cue in.
Horseshoes is a dead ringer. Soccer is a riot. In bowling you can hear a pin drop. Skiing is a snow job. Rowing is a stroke of genius. Riflery is a blast. Tennis is a racket; so is badminton. Tennis players are sometimes on grass. Track stars run in circles (or ovals) and get nowhere fast. Golfers are real swingers. Pole vaulters move up in the world. Surfing is a wipe-out. Bad golfers get teed off.
I have tried to give everyone equal time, but I found it impossible to touch all bases. If you noticed that I left out baseball I figured I'd let the base runners slide.
NORMAN H. NUSBAUM
RULES OF THE ROAD
Your recent SCORECARD article about the Yellow River Raceway disaster (Peril at Yellow River, March 17), offered several worthy solutions to the problem of auto racing at unsanctioned and thereby unsafe tracks. But these solutions were all aimed at the national associations that govern the sport. I think the "outlaw" tracks should be placed under the jurisdiction of the local law enforcement agencies. The law prohibits racing by citizens under far less dangerous conditions. I feel that the law enforcement agencies should act on this matter before another unnecessary disaster occurs at one of these unsanctioned tracks.
RULES OF THE GAME
In your article on Ted Williams (Teaching Them Ted's Way, March 17) reference was made to Joe McCarthy's "Ten Commandments of Baseball." Judging by the two that were given as illustrations, these sound like some pretty good rules to follow.
Can you tell me where I can get a copy of the rules? I have four sons, and last year we were in three winning peewee league contests. I would like to post the commandments in their rooms—they may prove to be influential.
ESTHER E. WIECZOREK
•Here they are:
1) Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
2) You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
3) An outfielder who throws back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.
4) Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.
5) When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E. He who changes his mind may have to change a good leg for a bad one.
6) Do not alibi on bad hops. Anybody can field the good ones.
7) Always run them out. You never can tell.
8) Do not quit.
9) Do not find too much fault with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.
10) A pitcher who hasn't control hasn't anything.—ED.
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