ALEX IN WONDERLAND
Your article (For Failure to Give His Best, July 5) has altered my opinion of Alex Johnson even more. Being a professional baseball player, I have on many occasions talked to Alex. In 1970 I was a member of the Boston Red Sox, and on that final day of the season when he beat out Carl Yastrzemski for the batting title, the manner in which he did it tore me up. This year, in the games in which I've competed against him, I've spoken to him and feel that something has torn the man up completely. I feel that something terrible happened to Alex that affects his play on the field. In my opinion it was of racial origin, and to this day, unfortunately, racial problems still exist in pro ball. I find it regrettable to say that I don't think Alex can continue in baseball, but if he does or if he chooses another vocation, I wish Johnson all the luck in the world. Wherever he goes, I hope everyone will treat him a little more humanely.
Chicago White Sox
Alex Johnson proved his ability by winning the American League batting title in 1970. He is a man with great talent, if he would only use it. If the controversial superstar is not interested in baseball anymore, then he should enter some other profession. I agree with the suspension, because it will help relieve the tension on the ball-club and give Alex time to think it over.
Should Johnson be condemned because he is not utilizing his ample baseball talents and is therefore making a mockery of those players in the majors and minors who are working as hard as they can? Or should he be sympathized with as an individual with problems in and out of the context of baseball? There is no quick and mutually satisfying answer, but I do believe that the only solution is communication. Alex Johnson should realize that he must speak his mind, and the Angel management should listen with an open mind and with an intent to help the man.
It seems to me that Alex Johnson has taken on that great American institution, baseball, and like anyone who takes on an American institution, he is being crucified for it. Johnson has not only criticized baseball but had the nerve to do it from behind a black skin. So now everyone is trying to make him look like a fanatic.
Why pick on Alex Johnson? Don't you think he has enough troubles as it is? The Angels, supposedly pennant contenders, just need something to gripe about, so they pick on one of baseball's best because he is not showing hot-doggin' hustle. Johnson does not smoke or drink nor does he violate curfew. And yet he is bad for baseball. At an Angel game Johnson went out of his way to sign autographs for kids while some of his teammates almost beat up the little kids for asking for them. As far as I'm concerned, Alex Johnson is a hero.
I originally thought Johnson was just another troublemaker, but after reading your article I can easily imagine his troubles and why they would cause him to care less about his team. I think his suspension will give him time to cope with his troubles and come back ready to perform like the Johnson of 1970.
If a player such as Johnson has problems, I feel they should be settled off the field only. A man who brings his troubles on the playing field, no matter how great they may be, is not a true ballplayer in my book.
Lower Burrell, Va.
I suspect Chris Schenkel knows Joyce Kilmer is a he (THEY SAID IT, July 5). However, you may have an overzealous editor who changed the actual quotation from he to she. I sure would like to know the facts. Did Chris say "she"?
•It was Mr. Schenkel's tongue that slipped, not the editor's pencil.—ED.
We feel called upon to vindicate the NCAA in the handling of the 1971 NCAA Golf Championships (Gentle Ben Roughs Up the College Crowd, July 5). Our coach, Vic Kelley, was chairman of the tournament, and we believe we gained some insight into the enormous amount of work that went into it. If Lanny Wadkins has some better ideas on how to run the tournament in a more efficient manner, we're sure Mr. Kelley and the NCAA would be anxious to hear them. With a field of 226 players, it is commendable the tournament was finished at all. The normal professional field is 144-150, and even then there are problems concerning slow play, caddies, practice facilities, etc. As participants in the tournament, we have no major complaints. Rather, we commend the exceptional play by most of the field.
UCLA Golf Team
PUT UP OR SHUT UP
I was shocked at the audacity of Ohio State Tight End Jan White and his agent, Tony Razzano, in lashing out at the Buffalo Bills in Morton Sharnik's article The Buckeyes Don't Have It (July 5). The terms offered to White as a second-round draft choice seem quite fair. After all, does he expect the Bills to pay him a fortune when the team has to worry about 45 veterans and 16 other draft choices? As yet he has not shown he is another John Mackey. Also, playing in dilapidated War Memorial Stadium has not helped the Bills' financial woes. Let Jan White get his master's in criminology; we still have O. J. Simpson, Dennis Shaw, J. D. Hill....
I have been a diehard fan of the San Francisco 49ers since their beginning. Being such a fan and willing to pay stiff admission prices to see my team play, I think I am entitled to see a team comprised of players who really want to play. I say chuck those prima donnas who put money first. A few more cases like those uppity Buckeyes and I will stop being interested in pro football.
I realize rookies want a large sum of money to play pro football. Well, if they want it bad enough, let them earn it and the right to ask for it. Produce, and then ask for a large sum.
FRED A. EGLIP
Perhaps one should examine the entire scope of intercollegiate athletics. Does the NCAA advocate athletics to supplement one's educational endeavors or does it advocate athletics as a steppingstone to professional sports? If more of the so-called students would concentrate on attaining a degree instead of impressing professional scouts, then perhaps they would have some alternative if pro teams do not offer them the money they desire.
As a high school girls' physical education teacher, I was most distressed to see your recognition of Terri Phillips' achievement in the July 5 FACES IN THE CROWD. The American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation establishes percentiles according to age and sex for their fitness tests. For girls' sit-ups, the 100th percentile and "ceiling" is 50. Ruptured muscles in the abdominal wall and severe strain on the back could result from an excess, especially as many as Miss Phillips was allowed to do.
After having read about this somewhat dubious feat, I recalled that I, as a junior in high school when taking the Marine Physical Fitness Test for my physical education class, had attained a speed of about one sit-up per second for the short time of two minutes. Upon completion of this task, I was somewhat fatigued but pleased with what I then believed to be something of an accomplishment. But Miss Phillips' 45 per minute put me to shame.
Being the cynic I am, I checked the Guinness Book of World Records for what is considered the world record in sit-ups. I found to my chagrin that on June 6, 1966, Special Agent John R. Greenshields of the FBI completed 15,011 sit-ups in less than six hours. This comes to about 2,500 per hour and therefore, because of the extreme number of sit-ups and the corresponding fatigue that sets in, your report of 2,700 in one hour seemed reasonable.
PAUL MILES MATTHIAS
Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn has created more dissatisfaction than ever with the fan voting system for the All-Star game. I attended two baseball games during the voting period and received approximately 20 ballots while entering the stadium. This shows that the current voting system is not only inaccurate but is nothing more than a popularity contest. The selection should be left to the players, who are the experts.
I think the best solution for the picking of the All-Star team is not being used. I realize the fans support the teams and should have a hand in the selections. As it stands now, the fans pick the first team except the pitchers and the managers pick the rest of the squad including the pitchers. I think a better selection process would be to allow the players to select the first team and the pitchers (of course they couldn't vote for their teammates). Then let the fans pick the second team. This would not only allow the fans to see their favorites but would mean that the players who deserve to play would play. If their are duplications between the players' selections and the fans', the managers would fill in the vacant spots.
In the LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER commenting on Exterminating a Ping-Pong Pest (June 28), Dick Miles stated that "no American has ever won the world title." If you'll check the records you will see that Ruth Aarons won a world title for the U.S. in 1936. Wait until Women's Lib gets wind of this.
IRVIN C. LAMON
I am sure Miles was referring to the type of players that ordinarily participate in a weekly neighborhood session, but what he did not tell me is how to beat a person who hits a Klampar Hungarian goulash side-spin loop drive or a Sch√∂ler chopper. Actually, I am speaking of the same shots one encounters at a typical USTTA tournament, even though the players are not as adept as Hungary's Tibor Klampar (recent winner of the Vanderbilt tournament) or Germany's Eberhard Sch√∂ler. Even Miles might shudder at the thought of meeting one of these two.
This leads me to the thought of how great it would be for the NCAA to adopt a table tennis program on an intercollegiate basis in place of some minor sports that have high operating costs and low income. Table tennis would be the perfect game to help relieve colleges and universities of their financial burdens.
RAYMOND K. FILZ
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