Your choice of Tom Seaver as Sportsman of the Year (Dec. 22) is an excellent one. The dictionary defines sportsman as "One who plays fair and can take defeat without complaint and victory without boasting." Tom Seaver certainly fits this definition to the letter. After an infrequent loss, he would not complain, but go out and work harder in preparation for his next effort. After a victory he would give the credit to a teammate who contributed to the win.
But Tom Seaver is not one of those spineless men who pretends that team victory is the only thing that matters. After his "imperfect" game of July 9 he was asked whether he was disappointed at losing the perfect game. Some would have answered no, but Seaver did not try to fool anyone.
During the summer the New York Mets captured the spirit of America, and Tom Seaver was the heart and soul of the Mets. He is, without a doubt, the All-American Boy. Every American boy can look up to him and say, "I want to be like him when I grow up!" If there were more Tom Seavers, America would be a better place.
Tom Seaver is a man every American can be proud of. Living in Metsland, I felt this pride during that magical summer. Two months after the World Series I can still feel it.
January 5, 1970
As an objective fan, I feel you have cheapened your Sportsman of the Year Award by presenting it to what amounts to a rookie in the world of sports.
The Mets' rise this year ranks as one of the alltime thrills in the American tradition of rooting for the underdog, and the club's fine pitcher, Tom Seaver, is deserving of accolades for leading the Mets' rapid ascent to prominence.
But in the vast sports world, where so many fine athletes have toiled for more years and have received far more plaudits than Tom Seaver, it seems unjust that a novice hero has been selected over the countless athletes who are deserving of this honor each year.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Your most coveted accolade, the title of Sportsman of the Year, could not have been given to a worthier recipient. However, Mr. Leggett should most definitely have given more credit to the team, the Mets as an entity. Climbing from ninth place to World Champions was by no means a one-man effort, for if it had been they wouldn't have reached the top.
PRISCILLA ALDEN KONECKY
New York City
I do not believe in your selection for Sportsman of the Year. You're right in saying that Tom Seaver had a great year, but I think that there are other athletes more qualified for this honor.
They are Rod Laver, the greatest living tennis player, and Pelé, the fantastic soccer player who scored the 1,000th goal of his career.
Get off your major sports kick and choose the real Sportsman of the Year.
Your Dec. 22 issue was the best that I have come across in years. The article There Were No Greener Pastures exemplified sports illustration at its best. However, I was disappointed that no mention was made of the most popular sport in the world: soccer. Specifically, I was looking for the most popular sport star in the world, the Bobby Hull and Joe Namath of soccer, Brazil's Pelé.
New York City
Don't you remember Mazeroski's mighty wallop that beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series?
Your article on the greatest sporting events of the '60s was truly great—with one big mistake. While the odds against the Mets winning the pennant were actually 25 to 1, the 1967 Boston Red Sox did beat the insurmountable odds of 75 to 1 and then carried the World Series to seven games. How could you possibly forget the "impossible dream"?
You nearly overlooked the Boston Celtics. The 42-page spread was supposed to be a tribute to the entire 1960s. Ken Venturi's 1964 U.S. Open title was great, but how many other big ones did he ever win? Joe Namath's Super Bowl win was a great accomplishment, and he will go down in football history because of that one electrifying performance.
The so-called experts continually overlooked the Celtics' pride and dedication and picked losers like Chamberlain to knock them off. But the "old men" of Boston always had that little extra that made them so tremendous.
The Olympics are properly considered the most important sporting event in any four-year period. For that reason it would have been a criminal omission if SPORTS ILLUSTRATED had not included Wilma Rudolph and Debbie Meyer, both winners of three gold medals. Only three times since 1900 has any man won four gold medals in a single Olympiad. How could you neglect Don Schollander's performance in the 1964 Olympic Games?
New Haven, Conn.
Notwithstanding the fact that very often the general public is misled by articles it reads in magazines, I feel compelled to comment on Mr. Harry Lancaster (E-Rupption in Wildcat Country, Dec. 22). Mr. Lancaster's antics, which definitely cannot be labeled as colorful, are the sure signs of a man who has played second fiddle for 21 years to a master of his profession such as Adolph Rupp. Although it is a trademark of my generation to put down the Establishment, I must beg to differ in the case of Kentucky. In fact, I'd like to see Adolph Rupp, the grand old man of college athletics, coach forever, and Harry Lancaster, a victim of delayed success, scuttle on down his narrow pathway to nowhere.
As a card-carrying Kentucky grad, I gladly accept Mr. Kirkpatrick's label of "Ruppologist" (if it was kindly meant). In the course of my travels since leaving the blue grass I have discovered that my home state is famous for four things: whiskey, cigarettes, horses and Rupp. The first three are all right, but nothing to carry a card for. The Baron is something else. It was he who, before and after the Bear, provided us with the perennial solace of "Wait until basketball season!"
Though Mr. Kirkpatrick's "E-Rupptions" in last week's article were at times embarrassing, perhaps some good will come of them. Hopefully, somebody will have the courage to shut off the pettiness before it becomes dis-Rupptive to the team. The Big Blue can get a hundred penny pinchers to fill the job of athletic director, but there's only one Adolph Rupp.
WILLIAM B. HORNBACK
You have convinced me of the error of my ways (Desecrate with Howls So Jolly, Dec. 15).
For months I have been fighting a rearguard action in trying to convince my local police department to nab some of the more avid members of the National Defilement Association who have been littering my yard with no-return bottles and expertly emptied beer cans.
This morning, as I was removing the remnants of an eight-inch snowfall from in front of my mailbox, I discovered how effectively one buried beer can can ruin an otherwise perfectly functioning snowblower.
I have given up my fight and am now collecting other samples of the litter from my yard as I prepare to recruit new members for the NDA. From the cooperation I've gotten in the past, I feel certain that when I leave my samples with our local police they will be more than willing to sign up for membership.
DOUGLAS D. WEBSTER
I have just finished reading Desecrate with Howls So Jolly, and I must say that it is one of the best satires ever written. I'll have to rate it with Swift's Gulliver's Travels as one of the most amusing, cynical stories ever. If only every American could read this story and think about it. Frank Deford is a genius.
It is well known that television did kill the minor leagues. However, William Johnson (TV Made It All a New Game, Dec. 22) has voiced the popular opinion that it also has ruined the great national game. This may not be true.
The minor leagues had two functions: to train potential major league players and to entertain the fans outside of the Northeast part of this country. The major leagues have obviously taken over in the second respect. Fans throughout the land can follow a major league team in their general area.
The main purpose of the minors—producing major league players—is being carried out elsewhere. Minor leagues have died amid great publicity, while other leagues have been born in deafening silence. A boy entering pro ball plays in special rookie leagues, fall instructional leagues and winter leagues in Latin America, besides regular minor leagues. These teams are not interested in winning above all; they are designed to develop future big-league stars. Teams in the rookie and instructional leagues are run by special instructors hired by each major league team. These men are specialists in developing young players. Latin American winter leagues give local boys and young Americans a chance to play competitive baseball. Any athletes who have played four years in the majors aren't allowed to play in the leagues.
The greatest development, however, has been in the development of college baseball. Many colleges in warm areas play baseball almost all year. The best college teams, Arizona State and Southern California, play as many games as some minor league teams. After four years of college baseball many young men can go almost directly into the major leagues.
In 1969 the New York Mets obtained fair work from two former college pitchers, Gary Gentry and Tom Seaver. Each came into the National League with less than two years of professional experience. Gentry had played in the Florida Instructional League and for Arizona State University. He won 17 games in one season for ASU and five games in Florida. He also pitched in the minor leagues in 1967. Seaver, besides pitching in the minors, pitched at one time for USC. His lack of minor league pitching experience did not prevent him from becoming a fairly good major league baseball player.
The demise of the minor leagues may not have been such a great loss.
South Bound Brook, N.J.
I want to congratulate Robert Boyle for his fine article concerning Mr. Abplanalp. Robert Abplanalp should be commended not only for his great success in the financial world, but for that very inventiveness that will greatly benefit mankind. I'm talking especially of his desalination gismo.
Recently he became an honorary member of the Honor Society of Fordham Prep, his former school. The award took place at the school's ground-breaking ceremony for a new building. Would you believe that the original design of the new structure resembled an aerosol can?
River Edge, N.J.
FAIR AND WARMER
In expanding professional football (For the Saints, Realignment Is a Love-in, Dec. 15) Tex Maule has gratuitously allocated franchises to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on some far-off lucky day for us Canadians. Of course, we'll have to have domed stadiums by then, Tex observes offhandedly.
A couple of notes:
a) Who said Canada wanted in—besides Tex, I mean? The baseball Expos tried to promote two preseason NFL games in Montreal last September, and both flopped (the paper said the Expos blew $100,000 on the two games). Some years ago I saw the Giants and the Bears play a preseason game in Toronto. They drew less than 5,000, so apparently nothing has changed.
b) I'm bewildered by the assumption there'll have to be domed stadiums if and when. Watching Detroit in the snow on last Thanksgiving Day, watching the 49ers play in a Minnesota blizzard and the Jets and the Chiefs in New York last Saturday, Canadians have to wonder just why in hell we're obliged to build domes.
Does anybody in your office own an atlas? Are you aware that Toronto is latitudinally south of present NFL cities Minneapolis and Green Bay? Do you know that Windsor, Ontario is across the river south of Detroit? Do you know that in an average winter Buffalo gets almost twice as much snow as Toronto? Do you know that Vancouver's climate is not much colder than San Francisco's—with less wind? And where in the world do you get the notion it's any warmer in New York or Boston or Philadelphia on any given Dec. 20 than it is in Toronto?
Mandatory domes, indeed.
T. G. HIGGINS
In response to the comments by Thomas C. Duddy over Coach John McKay's bone-headed call to go for the extra point rather than the two-point conversion in the USC-UCLA game, this play was widely discussed on TV sports shows and in newspaper sports sections on the West Coast. In a couple of interviews Coach McKay revealed that he had planned for the team to go for the extra two-point conversion, but when USC had scored to go ahead 13-12 there was such pandemonium, excitement and frenzy all around that the PAT team ran out on the field in jubilance, ready to add their one point to the score. Coach McKay was unable to organize the two-point conversion play as the kicking team had moved too quickly, and it was impossible to call them back. There were no USC time-outs left.
MIKE W. SMITH
TO THE RESCUE
I recently decided against renewing my subscription to SI, and one of the reasons that I gave you was not enough good fishing articles.
The Longest Silence, by Thomas McGuane in the Dec. 1 issue, goes a long way toward correcting that deficiency. McGuane must be a fly-fisherman's fisherman. If only you would see fit to have more of this kind of writing for those of us who fish for the thrill of the art—as so aptly put in the first paragraph. Keep in mind what McGuane said about the hunting-and-fishing periodicals. I believe that a lot of ardent fishermen are becoming bored with them. Why don't you come to our rescue much more often?
H. RAY BURKHART
SURFING IN A SEWER
I enjoyed reading your article on surfing in Santa Cruz (Doo Wa Diddie Squiggly Wigglies: Get Lost, Dec. 8). However, I feel I should explain the conditions of Monterey Bay. Surfers are restricted to certain areas due to sewage disposal. The contamination in the bay is rapidly increasing, and the desirable areas for surfing are diminishing. Therefore, the contest puts even more restriction on "a free man's art."
Although I delighted over New Kind of Wheel at GM (Dec. 15), I am sure that not even the mod John DeLorean can accomplish more than superficial changes at General Monster. The article belabors his good taste in several areas but neglects to tell us that the Pontiac division, which he pulled from the clutches of little old ladies from Pasadena, led the way in this tasteless crusade for more brute horsepower—usually used illegally on our highways and streets. Furthermore, Pontiac was the most flagrant violator in the use of names such as Grand Prix and Le Mans, titles few, if any, American cars have earned.
It is encouraging, however, to see anyone in high position at the mushmonster factory who believes that decent braking, steering and suspension must be had in all vehicles from Detroit. In 1959 and 1960 this country saw the worst excuses for automobiles ever offered in the history of automotives. Road & Track aptly called them the "awful awfuls." Bouncing about on their baby-buggy springs, one pump of the brakes and that was all one had. It would be difficult to select the most hideous of this motley lot, but I'll nominate either the Cadillac or the Chevrolet. The entire industry should have been indicted for homicidal negligence. But Ralph Nader proved that not only must our native carmakers be dragged kicking and screaming to a modicum of decency in the field, but that they are relatively invulnerable, even from the Congress. The token safety improvements are only 20 or 30 years behind the best of the European sedans, such as Mercedes-Benz and the English Rover, as well as behind in overall maneuverability, the crux of safety. Bobby Kennedy pinned down the head of GM at one time and made him admit that the so-called leader in the field spent very little of its revenue on safety research. Some leader.
I am not a sports car buff who sees no good in the native American product. I have owned various foreign vehicles and found them wanting in many degrees. My concern is that the directors of this huge and untouchable monolith have reduced the noble auto to the level of a piece of consumer durable goods, with our safety last in consideration. It has been said that we accept the carnage on the roads as the price we pay for our transportation by car. Of course we accept it, we have no choice. But it is not accepted with indifference, be assured.
The latest Nader blast is, as usual, well-founded but has no chance of success. The Big Three could have solved noxious emissions as a problem long ago, but it might have added a few dollars to the cost of the car, and that we cannot have. Can we? But the DeLoreans will go on entering the callow stock-car races (a misnomer) to enforce planned obsolescence. But with a straight face the head of GM's research says it is being worked on. Wow.
If Mr. DeLorean is flirting with politics and wants to impress his under-30 future voters, he might get more deeply involved with a new and vital crusade of the young: the protest against the destruction of our environment. With cars spewing forth a third or more of the gaseous wastes into the air, it may be a quicker end to the world via smog than legalized vehicular homicide. American business has indeed done more for our people and the world than all the government programs ever initiated, as DeLorean says, but now we'll see just how little the vast conglomerates like GM really care for a better world. It's easy to attack a sitting duck like GM (or commercial TV). The alternative is destruction, because it is obvious now that the carmakers will not act on their own.
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