Hats off to SI and John Underwood for his in-depth study of one of sport's truly remarkable individuals, Rod Laver (Rocket Heard Round the World, May 31). Few athletes in the history of sport have demonstrated such skill or, indeed, dominated their field as has Laver. Rod has shown that hard work, desire and superb concentration can overcome all obstacles.
PIETER W. CARVALHO
Williamsville, N Y.
John Underwood's Rocket Heard Round the World just has to be the greatest piece of tennis reporting ever. The substance of the man and the spirit of the game are rarely put together in such graphic fashion.
LAWRENCE L. HILLIARD
Arlington Heights, Ill.
Great. That's the only word to describe John Underwood's article on Rod Laver. Laver's brilliant play is second to none and recognition of this fact is certainly due. Tennis is such a publicity-starved sport, the Laver Legend is hardly known. Thanks for making the Rocket heard.
KEVIN M. PATES
THE HOT ONES
After reading three outstanding articles on baseball. Curtain Up on a Mod New Act (April 19), Tightening-Up at "The Fens" (May 24) and Off to a Sizzling Start (May 31), I have come to the conclusion that the Boston Red Sox are the team to watch.
We don't need new uniforms or 20 different days (bat, ball or helmet) to draw the nearly two million fans we do every year. We've proven that we can at least play to a standoff with the now nervous Birds and that Sonny Siebert can beat Vida Blue. Having gone to that game on May 28, I was very much impressed with Blue, but I guess the final score is what counts. And if Earl Weaver should be reading this now, I would like to inform him that while he can't seem to beat Dick Williams and his A's, we can. I guess that's characteristic of a division-winning team.
Roy Blount's article Off to a Sizzling Start was truly impressive. But as a home-town fan, I must stick up for my home-town team. Ralph Garr is a fine ballplayer and will be burning up the base paths for quite a while. But you have failed to mention that he is not eligible for Rookie of the Year. Which leaves the question: Who is the hottest rookie in the National League?
Here are a few clues. He is a Philadelphia Phillie. He was batting over .300, has made the most thrilling outfield catches and has been wearing out Philadelphia Phil and Phillis.
Give up? It is Willie Montanez, Richie Allen's replacement as Philadelphia's longest-ball hitter. Unlike Allen, however, Willie is never booed. In fact, when he comes to bat, The Vet (Veterans Stadium) goes wild.
Having subscribed to your magazine for the past five years, I look at it as the most accurate and precise sports magazine on the market. But Roy Blount failed to mention the best bet for baseball's next superstar, Bobby Bonds. His rare combination of speed and power go unmatched in baseball. He may strike out a lot, but I recall that he had 200 hits last year. A leadoff man is supposed to score runs, and Bonds is among the leaders in the NL this season.
I really enjoyed Peter Carry's pro basketball analysis (Meanwhile, Back at the Merge, May 24). He made some interesting observations on the status of the two leagues, but I think he made a mistake by underestimating the power of the ABA. The ABA teams have a wide variety of established veterans and a great many topnotch rookies. The only spot on the court where the NBA has the advantage is inside, and that's it.
Another thing the fans want is an ABA-NBA championship. The Milwaukee Bucks are not world champs until they play the Utah Stars.
I was surprised on reading Ron Fimrite's article on college baseball (A Dropout with a Big Future, May 31). Burt Hooton is the best collegiate pitcher in the nation. I have seen him several times and he is as good as, if not better than, they say. But when paying tribute to such a deserving ballplayer it was uncalled for to drag Pan American University's baseball team through the mud.
Pan American has played tremendous ball all year long, especially against Texas. It was also unnecessary to call Coach Al Ogle-tree a minor league dropout. Many people are very lucky that Ogletree took this route. He not only has developed baseball at Pan American but in the region as well. He has done a tremendous job wherever he has been, and he has the statistics to prove it. If Texas is as good as you say, then it should have beaten Pan American, even without Hooton.
FIDENCIO GUERRA JR.
I read with interest the article by Ron Fimrite. He mentions that basketball at Pan American University is not much. Yet the university has three players in the pro ranks right now, namely, Luke Jackson, Otto Moore and Fred Taylor. The school won a national basketball title in 1963 and was runner-up in 1964. Basketball Coach Sam Williams has won over 200 ball games.
Pan American University also won national tennis titles in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965.
What was the purpose of Ron Fimrite's categorizing of PAU and Texas players? Is there any connection between being black, Latin, a junior-college graduate or a South Texan and being able to play baseball?
Also, about Fimrite's slur against the basketball teams of Pan American University, PAU claims to have sent more basketball players to the pros than any other university in Texas.
CAROLYN H. MENGES
If Burt Hooton wants to gain notoriety, why doesn't he call himself Who-Hoo? Then Who-Hoo Hooton could battle Woo-Woo Worster for the Most Popular Athlete in Te-Te-Texas award.
Grand Junction, Colo.
BIG-GAME HUNTER (CONT.)
In his letter that you published in the May 24 issue of SI, Mr. C.J. McElroy wrote: "I hope that a magazine will have the guts to print the true story of what it takes to be a great trophy hunter." If he's looking for more praise, I don't have it for him. But I think I have the true story.
I agree that it takes a lot of work, time and money to be a great trophy hunter. But more important to continued success is a callous disregard for the life of the one most magnificent male in each herd of every species so that the trophy hunter can, with complete detachment, kill the selected animal for no more reason than self-aggrandizement. Surely, there can be no glory in reducing the one most majestic, the one most powerful, the one most magnificent animal one can find to a lifeless carcass that is left as carrion while the hunter carries off the horns.
Now, I'm not antigun, antihunting, a little old lady in tennis shoes or a bleeding-heart member of the Bambi school. I'm a realist with moral and ethical principles. I'm a member of the National Rifle Association, and I own more guns and shoot more shells than most of the people in the United States. I know that the trophy animal is frequently past his prime (I hope this is not a good reason to die) and that selective hunting is necessary for the benefit of all animals. But let's not offer, accept or expect prizes and public accolades for our work; let's do it to help the animals and their environment instead of ourselves and our pride. Don't you agree that the haunting beauty of wildlife is much more striking in a natural environment than when the head is mounted on a wall and that the silver platter tarnishes in a few months?
I wonder if Mr. McElroy has ever considered camera hunting combined with registered rifle, pistol and shotgun competition as a good substitute for trophy hunting. It costs a lot of money, it takes a lot of time to become a recognized expert, the weather, terrain and competition are rough and the trophies are beautiful. And a good percentage of the money spent on these sports will be used for wildlife conservation.
ROBERT L. HOFFMAN
Hunting for food (although becoming less of a necessity all along) might be considered acceptable, while hunting for trophies is quite another matter. Personally, I would like to see men like Mr. McElroy pursue their trophies with a camera. They could still face the challenges of extreme weather conditions and rugged terrain and ultimately gain the same personal victories. In this way the great wild specimens could be left to roam in their domain and to remain for others who might wish to seek them out, stalk them and gaze in awe.
BILL T. PEHRSON
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