THE BUCS' RETORT
Please inform Ron Fimrite that what they call it in Pittsburgh is pitching! They also call it fielding. Whatever does Mr. Fimrite call that fiasco he tried to pass off as writing (A Birdbath for the Pirates, Oct. 18)?
Quite a wit, your Ron Fimrite. His article is a classic in crossing bridges before you come to them and counting chickens before they're hatched. Eat your humble pie, Mr. Fimrite. You deserve every bite.
CHRISTINE M. GARBER
A birdbath for the Pirates? No, sir. It was the plank for the Birds, and they received the bath.
DENNIS R. KLIMO
May Ron Fimrite be made to eat his words (bird food, so to speak), then jump in the birdbath with the Orioles and slowly sink away.
Allison Park, Pa.
All season long SI has ignored Pittsburgh pitching, calling it mediocre at best. Ron Fimrite said Weaver was stretching his imagination to conclude that there were good arms on the Pirate staff. Well, Blass, Bruce (Kison) and Briles might not agree. Wake up, SI. The pitching of Blass & Co. is great, and great is what the Bucs are, too!
You did show fantastic foresight on one point. There are hundreds of minor league baseball players. Yet, in the article An Old Hand with a Prospect (June 14), Pat Jordan wrote about none other than Bruce Kison, now of the Pirates and one of the heroes of the 1971 World Series.
Bruce Kison's performance in the playoff and in the Series was a fascinating and happy sequel to that brilliant article about him a few months ago.
W. MONTAGUE DOWNS, M.D.
Dan Jenkins' article Oklahoma Wins the Wishbone War (Oct. 18) was a memorable rendition of a historic day. But Oklahomans question his claim that Quarterback Jack Mildren "had been a big disappointment." After his junior year, Mildren had an OU career record of the second most yards passing, the second most yards in total offense for one season, the second most yards passing in one year and the most completed forward passes in a single game—and that was against Nebraska.
Jack Mildren is an unconditional hero, and we await his 1971 Thanksgiving Day performance against the Cornhuskers. Here the issue of No. 1 and No. 2 will be genuinely settled.
Governor of Oklahoma
Obviously Oklahoma has it all over Texas. However, the title of your article is rather misleading. True, the Sooners won a battle in the Wishbone War, but there is this guy in Alabama named Bear Bryant....
So the hockey season has started, and since the Canadiens ended up in third place and, through a rather ridiculous playoff system, won the Stanley Cup, they have become the greatest team in hockey (Enter the Icemen, Oct. 18). Montreal Goalie Ken Dryden becomes the new Georges Vezina, never mind Ed Giacomin and Tony Esposito. Guy Lafleur, although unproven, becomes the most accomplished player since Bobby Orr. Meanwhile, Ranger Defenseman Brad Park had a poor season while being selected to an All-Star berth and scoring 44 points. And if he has a good season the Ranger defense, which allowed 177 goals last season, just might be able to rival Montreal's, which gave up 216.
Maybe you are right: Montreal is a great team, Boston is second best despite its 76-goal scorer and New York is hanging in the race by its Vezina goaltending. But I think it would be advisable to see what actually happens before any names are engraved on the Stanley Cup.
Shame on you, Mark Mulvoy! Have you flipped your wig over the summer? How can you have the audacity to pick Montreal to beat out the mighty Bruins in 1971-72? The Bostonians have perhaps the best hockey team ever, and this year they will finish no lower than first.
JEFF DE FEO
I enjoyed your article on the opening of the National Hockey League season, and as a Chicago Black Hawk fan I particularly appreciated the comment by Boston's Phil Esposito: "Nobody remembers the 37 records we set...just...the Stanley Cup we didn't win."
In 1968-69 Bobby Hull set a record by scoring 58 goals, but the Hawks finished in last place. A winner can talk about records, but a loser has nothing to say.
ROBERT H. SLOSS
Highland Park, Ill.
Your no-holds preview was excellent. But neither the antics of Ken Dryden nor the million-dollar price of Bobby Orr and his animals will contain the New York Rangers. The most balanced attack in the league will bring the Stanley Cup to New York.
Silver Spring, Md.
After the Minnesota North Stars finish the 1971-72 hockey season, everybody, including Mark Mulvoy, will know what the Goldy Shuffle is.
My thanks and congratulations to Melvin Maddocks for his article on youth hockey (New Awakening in Orr Land, Oct. 11). It was a long time in coming but well worth the wait. The hockey mania has indeed hit in more places than Boston.
What a delight to read your article on youth hockey! As transplanted Canadians we were thrilled to find a gung-ho minor hockey program out here in San Diego, even though it means practices beginning not at four or five a.m. but at one a.m. on Saturdays and games beginning at two a.m. on Sundays. With nearly 400 boys playing the game and a waiting list besides, one rink is hardly enough.
Meanwhile, we have sent two boys to Canada in Junior A, one made the final cut of the WHL's San Diego Gulls and two more are at American colleges on hockey scholarships a la Chicago's Keith Magnuson and Montreal's Ken Dryden. Not bad for an eight-year-old program 15 miles from Mexico.
More than 1,500 boys aged four through 20 years have been playing for the past five years in The Greater New York City Ice Hockey League. Watched over by seven fanatics, this league has just received the highest honor it ever hoped to achieve. Seven of its boys have been signed by St. Catharines Junior B Black Hawks of the prestigious Ontario Hockey Association. One boy is with Guelph and one boy is in Canadian Junior A hockey. I can speak authoritatively on this subject since I have been the league's director of publicity and player personnel since its inception. For all the boys in Bruins Country like Doug D. in your story, there are many more throughout the U.S. who, if given the opportunity, can excel in this once only Canadian sport.
In New York youth hockey does not fall apart after a boy reaches 14. Like his Canadian counterpart, who plays 60 to 80 games a season, the New York boy, between bantam age (14) and junior (20), averages 60 games playing NHL rules. Significantly, last February two New York City-based clubs of bantams and juniors handily defeated Kingston, Ontario's best representatives, in a less than gentle exhibition. Let's not rule out the determination of the youthful American athlete. Supervised properly, he can and usually does outperform any and all rivals.
GERALD N. RODELLI
New York City
If I were just beginning to become interested in hockey your article would have frightened me away. Your portrayal of the father of a young ice-hockey player is far from typical. The Town of Oyster Bay Ice Hockey League (Long Island, N.Y.) began with 200 boys six years ago and has grown to more than 700 youngsters who play on three outdoor artificial ice rinks. Our success is due to the fact that we do not turn away any player regardless of ability. The fathers are fine, dedicated men who put up with cold weather, lengthy travel and ungodly hours just to enable their sons to play the great game of ice hockey. The goal of our league and the other fine leagues here on Long Island is to provide fun for the recreational player as well as to develop the better players. We all strive to become better, but if by chance we are fortunate enough to develop the great American superstar, it will simply be an additiona bonus for our hockey program.
CHARLES J. MILLNER
Having spent nine years on the squirt-pee-wee-bantam-midget-junior-hockey route with countless early, early morning jaunts to frigid rinks. I think I know quite a bit about it. Believe me, Melvin Maddocks tells it like it is. It is a beautifully written piece and he captures the whole bit, wobbly ankles, pratfalls, overly decaled helmets, over-zealous dads and all.
The wonderful relationship of kids-to-kids, parents-to-parents, kids-to-parents and kids-to-dedicated coaches certainly must be one of the most vital aspects of the whole youth-hockey picture.
It was gratifying indeed to see an article on the North American Soccer League gracing the pages of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Are We Finally Starting to Dig the World's Game? Oct. 4). We just wish that soccer boosters like NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam would recognize the damage they do to their own cause in making exaggerated claims. We refer to the statement that 1,000 teams from each side of the border will participate in the 1972 Washington-British Columbia exchange program. In fact, only some 700 teams from each side will take part. This is still a gigantic undertaking, and upward of 21,000 players will engage in this friendly soccer rivalry. Parents included, we estimate that more than 40,000 soccer adherents will cross the border at Blaine, Wash. during a three-week period in the spring of 1972.
The rate of Washington Junior soccer growth would be speeded up greatly if only we had a full-time paid administrator. Mr. Woosnam and his colleagues might benefit themselves if they helped us to find and support such a person. The 8-year-old player of 1971 will be the soccer fan of 1981, and many of the parents of these junior players are the fans of today.
If our progress is slow, it is also steady, and we are certain that soccer will eventually be a major sport in America.
WILLIAM (TOMMY) GRIEVE
Washington State Junior
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