HERE COMES THE ROADRUNNER
It won't be either a tortoise or a hare that captures the batting crown (Aesop Is the Official Scorer, July 26)—but a road-runner. Speedster Ralph Garr of the Atlanta Braves, the major league's next .400 hitter, will win in a walkaway. Beep! Beep!, Joe and Willie.
PAUL L. FLECK
I think by season's end, Mark Mulvoy will think of Glenn Beckert of the Chicago Cubs as more than a "long shot" for the National League batting title. How many times does Joe Torre sacrifice or hit behind a hitter as Beckert does? Glenn has to give up a few points on his average by hitting second in the Cubs' lineup.
WATCH OUT FOR RICO
In your brief list of noteworthy comebacks (SCORECARD, July 26), you failed to include Rico Carty. After missing the entire 1968 season because of tuberculosis, he came back in 1969 and batted .342 to lead the Atlanta Braves to the Western Division championship in the National League and won the batting title with a .366 average last year. He has yet to play a game this season because of an injury and will have to come back again. When he does, I hope you don't overlook him again.
DISSENT IN DIXIE
In Africa Was Right on in Dixie (July 26), one part disturbed me. That was the reference to the black vs. white scoreboard that students from Malcolm X Liberation University displayed. It's a shame that many sports events today become subjects of race demonstrations. It's about time sports were looked at for their own sake. Enough of this social and political exploitation.
ELLIOTT A. BLUM
New York City
August 8, 1971
Notwithstanding their travel and severely packed competitive schedule, the U.S. distance men were adversely affected by the North Carolina heat and humidity during the recent Pan Africa-U.S. track and field meet at Durham. A disproportionately large number of our athletes live, train and often race in drier or cooler climes.
Just as research before, during and after the Mexico City Games demonstrated the value of training at an altitude equivalent to the altitude of competition, so the U.S. military research complex has for years been accruing an impressive array of information on the debilitating effects of heat and humidity during strenuous activity. It may be well for athletes whose events require an excess of two minutes of continuous effort to recognize the heat-and-humidity factor as of import equal to that of altitude.
RICHARD S. MACH
The crowd at the Pan Africa-U.S. meet, which I attended, was not predominantly black, although Peter Carry gave the impression that the black and white citizens could not support a spectacle of this nature together. They most certainly did, and the entire community is a lot better because of it.
The U.S. women performed brilliantly, but there was no mention of this or their score. Evidently the writer was more interested in the bongo drums in the stands than in giving comprehensive coverage to a major sporting event.
CHARLES B. STANLEY
In SCORECARD (July 26) you castigate the NAACP for planning to stage protests at sporting events in which South African players compete. You say that South African athletes are not necessarily representatives of apartheid, just as our athletes are not representatives of the Ku Klux Klan. This assumption is faulty, however, because apartheid is South Africa's national policy, whereas the Klan is only a private organization. This is an important distinction, which you should not try to minimize.
TERRY MICHAEL BANKS
Pity those poor Cleveland Indian fans. Ken Harrelson turns in his glove for a golf stick. Sam McDowell decides he'd rather watch the Indians on TV than go out to the ball park. Manager Al Dark is blamed for the team's sorry state and is fired. No wonder the fans latch onto a colorful but relatively insignificant ballplayer named Gomer Hodge (Gomer Is Tops in the Tepee, July 26).
Let Cleveland make a big noise over Hodge, but why does he rate a national story when the best pinch hitter in the American League is Rich McKinney of the Chicago White Sox? Just compare their batting averages. McKinney is hitting a hefty .588 with 10 pinch hits, while Hodge is mired at .232. Just because McKinney doesn't have a vocabulary sprinkled with "Dad gums" and "fellas" doesn't mean he wouldn't make a more significant story than Hodge.
BETTER THAN BLANDA
George Blanda (I Keep Getting My Kicks, July 19 et seq.) is an ancient marvel, but I think my dad, Steve Wozniak, is even better. He is 56 years old, and he is rated the 10th best marathon swimmer in the world. He was the world's marathon swimming champion, and he is the only man ever to win the national long-distance championship four years in a row. He also won the President's Cup race three years in succession and, as a pro, he won the Canadian Pro National and was in the top three in money winnings from 1947 to 1963. Even at 56, he is the only man in the world who can kickboard for 17 miles nonstop. Furthermore, he trains with me three and four miles a day and still races in marathons. He does not win them anymore but finishes in the money.
Tex Maule's description of Muhammad Ali (He Has Heavy Things on His Mind, July 26) in the twilight of a boxing career—but certainly not life—is without doubt the most analytical article on the man yet. While I have not always found myself in agreement with Ali's principles, he is beginning to make himself clearer to me and, after all, this is the key means of communication. A few more articles like this, and Muhammad Ali will be understood by many more people.
I believe sports should be played for fun and exercise, not for fame, money and because a parent wants to relive his life through his offspring's accomplishments (Happiness Is Six Hours a Day with Your Eye on the Ball, July 26). I am sorry that Chris Evert is intelligent and charming. It takes neither to be a great tennis player. It takes given ability and practice, and Chris has both. I feel that Chris is missing a lot by not being a normal teen-ager. She may not mind missing youth now, but what if she misses it when it is too late to live it?
Being a tennis buff of sorts, I should like to go on record as a 100% booster of personable Chris Evert, the 16-year-old lass who has progressed so amazingly well in tennis. True, she has achieved most of these wins on familiar clay courts, but with her natural ability and gritty determination I'm confident she will prove equally capable on grass surfaces and will stroke on to bigger and better tennis triumphs. Here's to you, Chris.
WILLIAM F O'BRIEN
ANYONE FOR BIKE POLO?
Until I read George Plimpton's article on bicycle polo (The Rajahs' Came Falls on Hard Times, July 19), I never knew such a sport existed on such a grand scale. I always thought bike polo was what my friends and I play in the street with croquet mallets and a tennis ball. The object of our game is, while dodging cars, to knock the ball across a manhole cover. The penalty for ramming someone with your bike is five laps around the block. Who knows, someday it may replace stickball!
TRUE BLUE (CONT.)
In Roy Blount's article Humming a Rhapsody in Blue (July 12), he wrote, "Traditionally, fireballing lefthanders either mature late or break down early," and using Warren Spahn as one of his examples, he wrote, "He was 25 before he won a big-league game."
It's true that Spahn didn't win his first major league game until he was 25, but it wasn't because he matured late as was the case with the other lefthanders. He pitched only four games for the Boston Braves in 1942, then entered the service for three years before returning in 1946 to win in the majors for the first time. It was military service that held Spahn up. He neither matured late nor broke down early and really didn't belong in Blount's story. Spahn may be the sole exception to the generalization, since he won 21 games in 1947 and won 20 or more 12 times after that.
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