You have made, in my opinion, the only conceivable choice for Sportsman of the Year: Bobby Orr (Dec. 21). I would certainly like to congratulate you on your excellent article on him. Jack Olsen did a truly commendable job of showing the other side of Orr, the off-the-ice side that very few people are aware of but which is also exemplified by your award. Bobby is truly a unique person as well as a unique athlete and you have done him justice. Nice work.
My thanks to Jack Olsen for that beautiful story. Before I read it I liked Bobby Orr, but it was a sort of hero worship. After reading the article I still like him; I also respect and admire him much more than I did before. In a world where too many players "cultivate the image of the big bad athlete," it is refreshing to have this insight into the life of a remarkable man.
Only one thing troubles me about your naming Bobby Orr 1970 Sportsman of the Year. Who else will you find to name for this honor in 1971, '72, '73, '74...?
FREDERIC C. MARSTON
Jack Olsen said that Bobby Orr "is the greatest player ever to don skates." Bah! Humbug!
January 4, 1971
Your choice for Sportsman of the Year was an excellent one. Not since Bill Russell and Bart Starr has one man dominated a sport as much as Bobby Orr. He has revolutionized hockey. He even has taught the older players new tricks and has every hockey-minded youngster patterning himself after him. Your article revealed how kind and generous a man Bobby Orr is, especially to children and adults less fortunate than he. The NHL has been gifted with a fine player and man.
After reading cover to cover the edition of Dec. 21, I felt you put in an extra measure of devotion, turning out one of the top issues of SI. The sentiment is in step with the season.
EDWARD G. EGAN
Old Greenwich, Conn.
NEW YEAR'S HOPES
Thank you for the article on Mountaineer Mitch Michaud (Upon a Peak in Delaware, Dec. 14). Dan Levin has done a superb job of capturing the joys and frustrations of all longtime mountain climbers and hikers. The therapeutic effects of the article are almost as refreshing as the sport itself.
STEPHEN R. Fox
Whatever his purpose, Mitch Michaud exhibits a life-style that America knew before she became entwined in electric cords and superhighways. Instead of climbing lofty peaks we shuffle through trash-laden streets. The only way out of this quagmire is to grab a sack and fill it with hopes of a cleaner tomorrow. Bravo! To Dan Levin and SI, and to Mitch Michaud. You really got down to earth.
LAWRENCE B. JOBSON
Silver Spring, Md.
NOTRE DAME 1970
Thanks to Harper's (Notre Dame: Our First Great Catholic University? May 1967) and NBC's First Tuesday (Dec. 1), millions of people have been informed of the changes at Notre Dame. Your article (The Greening of the Fighting Irish, Dec. 14), however, does more to show the role of the Notre Dame athletic tradition as an integral part of the change in the university than any other. I believe that this tradition is the keystone from which much of the greatness of the school is derived and the focal point of its continual quest for excellence.
RICHARD H. WOODS
Congratulations to Jerry Kirshenbaum on a fine article. Notre Dame has received a great deal of publicity about its football tradition, but sometimes the academic side of this excellent institution is overlooked. Mr. Kirshenbaum seems to have captured the true atmosphere that exists here on campus and discovered the "something special" that makes the spirit of Notre Dame unique.
Notre Dame, Ind.
Jerry Kirshenbaum's article is not only accurate and thoughtful, it is cause for all Notre Dame men to stand tall with the school that educated them and introduced them to the value of the human spirit. On a campus that was once famous for parochial thought, freedom of thought now prevails. I know, because I witnessed the change.
I can't tell you how gratified I am to see you humanize and extol a great athletic institution. I would add just one other thing—Beat Texas!
When they referred to their university as the Catholic Harvard, we are sure that Notre Dame supporters were overlooking the oldest and most prestigious Catholic university in the country. We would like to remind the Fighting Leprechauns that they have always been regarded as the Georgetown of the West.
I would like to extend a congratulatory hand to Melvin Maddocks for one of the best-written articles I've read in a long time (Just Another Face in a Rearview Mirror, Nov. 16). As interesting as Colin Newell and the sport of motorcycling are, Mr. Maddocks' superb use of the English language made them seem even more so. This is the first time I have seen any of his work in SI, but I look forward to more Melvin Maddocks bylines in the future.
Melvin Maddocks asked, "Why would any average man, any sensible man, ride a motorcycle twice?" I am a family man with five children and five grandchildren. Maybe I'm hooked, but to me cycling is living. My two-wheeler provides both serenity and exhilaration. Even riding to work on a Monday morning is an invigorating experience that prepares me for the day. And after a pressure-packed day in the office, nothing surpasses the relaxation of a half-hour ride in the open spaces with the evening breezes in my face and the wonders of nature at my feet. Or I can take a challenging ride over an obstacle course with turns, jumps and hill climbs. And friendships—ah, there is the real reason this cycling grandfather leaves his expensive, air-conditioned, two-ton, complex monster in the garage while two-wheeling here, there and everywhere.
FRED W. MEYER
I would like to take you to task on just one part of the article: Maddocks' statement that motocross races "are all the fashion now." In some European countries it is not unusual to have spectator attendance numbering more than 100,000 at these events. In Belgium motocross is the most popular sport. In France whole townships devote an entire weekend to hosting the traveling band of international riders during their annual motocross promotion.
This particular branch of motorcycling, which is also the most spectacular and the most punishing (although, per capita, relatively safe), was established in the U.S. within the last three or four years. It is growing in popularity as each week goes by, pumped up by periodic visits of European factory riders. These men are the acknowledged masters—but the home riders are catching on quite rapidly. Motocross will not be a passing fancy but an accepted and respectable sport for many years to come.
Norton Villiers Corporation
Long Beach, Calif.
THE BUFFALO'S LAST STAND (CONT.)
I was impressed with the perspective of Bil Gilbert's article, The Great Buffalo Hunt? Shoot? Slaughter? (Nov. 23). However, you may wish to know that in 1897, when the "very last of the truly wild buffalo...were killed," there were wild bison present in Yellowstone National Park and in Canada. Wild bison of the mountain or wood bison subspecies survived in both areas to interbreed with plains bison introduced from captive herds. Both areas have truly wild bison but only Canada has a remnant of the pure wood bison strain.
In 1890 there were several bison herds larger than the 150 head owned by Buffalo Jones. There were probably 200 to 400 in Yellowstone; the Pablo-Allard herd of Montana was presumably larger, since it numbered about 300 head in 1896; and the records indicate that the wild bison of Canada numbered in the hundreds.
According to M. S. Garretson (American Bison, 1938, New York Zoological Society), Buffalo Jones was only one of at least five men who captured wild plains bison calves and started captive herds. Of these, he was a latecomer to the scene. Certainly he contributed to the perpetuation of the species, but only as one among others in terms of total effect.
Nonetheless, congratulations to Mr. Gilbert for including a large amount of real information in his article, rather than the myths that are so often repeated.
National Park Service
Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
I wish to point out that the last of the truly wild buffalo are still roaming about in Canada. A herd of several thousand animals is presently inhabiting Wood Buffalo National Park in the province of Alberta and in the Northwest Territories. Happily, this park, with an area of 17,300 square miles, is far from general civilization; therefore the buffalo can remain wild in an area not bound by barbed wire.
Grande Prairie, Alberta
If the people who were so anxious to shoot the excess buffalo at Arizona's Raymond Ranch want a real thrill, I recommend an experience I tried, quite unwittingly, seven years ago in Oklahoma. While touring the countryside with friends, I noted a herd of buffalo a quarter mile off the side of the road. Ignoring BEWARE OF DANGEROUS BUFFALO signs, we stalked a smaller portion of the herd. My friends soon succumbed to the Sonny Liston-type stares of the bulls, but I continued. I chased five of them 100 yards or so into the main herd and sat down (thinking myself accepted) and started counting them, reaching 57 before I heard and felt something like an express train approaching. Looking up, I beheld a bull buffalo in full charge at me. Gale Sayers has never made a run as spectacular as mine that day. I faked left and went right. It worked once, twice, three times, until I noticed that I was being turned back toward the rest of the herd. Finally, and luckily, the bull came to a halt and stood watching me. Our eyes met, and I sensed such pride on his part that he had repulsed me from his domain that I knew that it was not out of frustration that he had stopped.
Maybe this was the last victory the buffalo will win over us. Maybe, if the "hunters" of Raymond Ranch could sense the boldness and beauty of a buffalo from three feet away, they'd learn another, more meaningful lesson—as I did.
MICHAEL B. JONES
New York City
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