THE MAKING OF A PITCHER
This Met fan congratulates you for your excellent article on the abilities of our Tom Seaver (Tom Terrific and His Mystic Talent, July 24). The crisp, lucid style of writing, the fine balance of the poetic and the analytic provide a perfect mirror of Seaver in his best form.
So much has been written about the Mets' main man that is just a rehash of old stuff that Pat Jordan's fine article comes through as a clear, new voice in the journalistic wilderness.
Congratulations on an interesting article. But are you sure you are not confusing mystic talent with mystic linguistics?
Pat Jordan refers to the records of Grover Cleveland Alexander, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Warren Spahn, all obviously late starters, when comparing Tom Seaver's 95 victories before the age of 27. He then conveniently swings his journalistic pendulum to the "first five full seasons" to compare Seaver with Walter Johnson.
August 6, 1972
Putting them in proper perspective, Johnson, who started pitching in the majors at 19, had won 174 games, 79 more than Tom, before he reached the age of 27. Alexander, who didn't pitch in the majors until age 24, won 128 games in his first five full seasons of play.
By stating that Alexander had won only 70 games by his 27th birthday, Mr. Jordan denies the reader knowledge that Alexander had actually won those 70 games in his first three seasons. Could this omission constitute a journalistic balk?
Seaver did establish a one-game superiority over rookie Burt (No-Hit) Hooton, but Mr. Jordan fails to even acknowledge the existence of Hooton's teammate, Fergie Jenkins (five 20-victory seasons in a row), who, though just one year older than Seaver, actually totaled 107 victories during those same five seasons ending in '71, 12 more than Tom.
Tom Terrific has a new fan. Seaver defies the old adage of all brawn and no brain. I admire athletes with exceptional talent, but those with his character are indeed exceptional. Reaching personal goals, fulfilling one's potential, cultivating the aspects of one's talent are only a few of the characteristics that make Seaver the man he is.
Thanks to SI and Pat Jordan for explaining Tom Seaver's dedication to himself and to his profession.
E. DARLENE WALROND
The article by Pat Jordan is one of the most interesting and helpful stories I have ever read in SI. I suggest that you make it available as a reprint and get it into the hands of as many young athletes as possible. Tom Seaver's philosophy could be profitable to many of us—young or old.
NORMAN L. MACDONALD
What a disappointment! How could you put anyone but Tremendous Trevino on your July 24 cover? And that Nicklaus-slanted article (Slamming the Door on Jack)—wow! Go get 'em, Lee.
SEYMOUR KOVNAT, D.D.S.
I am disappointed in the way SI claimed Lee Trevino had a "lucky win." I consider Mr. Trevino one of the top golfers—if not the top golfer—in the world. If Jack Nicklaus had come back six strokes and won, would it have been a "miracle win" or a superb game of golf?
My congratulations to Dan Jenkins on a great article about Lee Trevino's British Open victory. I pay tribute to Super Mex, who managed to survive Jack Nicklaus' powerful charge. Even though I'm a Trevino fan, I also pay tribute to Nicklaus, who came ever so close after shaving six strokes off par before bogeying 16.
Re Dan Jenkins' remark about "the awkward, silly, faraway sound of bagpipes," I am sure he did not make that comment in Scotland. If he had, the littlest man in all of Scotland would have stuffed him in a haggis and fed him to the Loch Ness Monster!
Being fans of Bobby Fischer and avid fans of championship chess, we found Roy Blount's article (Boris in Wonderland, July 24) quite annoying. He is so quick to criticize things that he really does not understand. Fischer's actions are part of his plan to outwit Spassky. It is also evident that these actions are as much a part of his game as his use of the Nimzo-Indian or Sicilian defense. Chess is Fischer's whole life. Let him live and play in his own manner.
Cherry Hill, N.J.
What is this match for? The entertainment of the public or to establish the world chess champion? I agree Bobby Fischer should have thought over the consequences of selling the camera rights beforehand, but it is his privilege to have the cameras removed. Instead of condemning Fischer, let's praise him for his wizardry at chess. If I were competing for the world title I would demand perfect conditions. Wouldn't you?
Ask ballplayers about the conditions of the parks they perform in, or boxers about some of the rings they have fought in. Consider the warped floors basketball players have to contend with, or the gravel pits football stars put up with, or the cow pastures golfers are required to chip and putt on. Any athlete who is paid for a performance should have one thing in mind, and that is to play to his utmost ability to please the spectators who support the game. Winning isn't everything, as proven by the composure and poise of Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield.
My advice to Bobby Fischer is twofold: he should either enter the field of opera or write a book entitled How To Be the No. 1 Crybaby.
WILLIAM D. SIEDLECKI
Roy Blount Jr. has written a fine and well considered article on the game of chess, and I applaud his literary accomplishment. However, I must disagree with his statement that Bobby Fischer is at his best in a back-room situation. Bobby showed that he can win in the larger arena by taking the fifth game in 27 moves and evening the series at 2½ points each. I am sure that Bobby will continue to perform well wherever he plays, and that he will end the Soviet Union's chess dominance by returning with the world championship.
DOWN FROM OLYMPUS
William Johnson put together quite an article (Defender of the Faith, July 24). Avery Brundage is indeed a very difficult man to classify.
I found myself not only enlightened but also appalled over the makeup of the IOC. Speaking only in the realm of track and field, I do not understand how most of those individuals can relate to or empathize with the life-style and motivations of today's "amateur" athlete. It is easy for Mr. Brundage to stand by the precepts of the Olympic movement when he has $25 million in the bank.
My hope is that more publications will explore the phenomenon of the IOC and, in so doing, generate some changes from within. We need people who can identify with the "poor folks."
The most thought-provoking point in your series of articles on the Olympic Games was Mr. Brundage's definition of sport as play: "Sport is a pastime and a diversion...opposed to work—free, spontaneous, joyous—for recreation."
Mr. Brundage has brought into focus a fundamental difficulty in keeping the Olympics closed to professionals. To win a gold medal in the Olympics today, a competitor must devote his life to the development of his talent. Even if the competitor considers his preparation a joy, such total dedication is more than mere recreation. It is work, not sport. Keeping the Olympics closed to professionals may be desirable, but it is hardly conceivable.
So Jim Kilroy says we had the "right people" talking to the IOC. From the results, we obviously did not. Perhaps one of the reasons for Los Angeles' defeat in its bid to host the 1976 Games is the air of pompous superiority Kilroy conveys in his remarks. Jesse Owens "can't sit down...and talk with the kind of men who are on the IOC.... We had blacks on our committee, and we were going to let them speak. We had an Administration man, and he was going to talk about Kent State."
Jim Kilroy comes across as being much stuffier and more self-righteous than Avery Brundage.
BY THE BOOK
I was very disappointed to read Tex Maule's article concerning the attempt to sell the Los Angeles Rams' playbook to Saint Coach J. D. Roberts (Would You Buy a Used Playbook from This Man? July 24). Apparently Tex Maule and Paul Brown feel that it would be better to forgive and forget, without letting the NFL front office know, rather than to follow the course of action taken by Roberts.
The criticism of the New Orleans Saints for contacting the FBI is uncalled for. Roberts did not call the FBI, he called the NFL front office. So, in all probability, Pete Rozelle was the one who had the final say so far as contacting the FBI was concerned.
In my opinion, Pete Rozelle has done more to uphold the dignity of professional football in the last 10 years than 10 Paul Browns. How could the integrity of the game be upheld in full view of millions of fans—including very impressionable youngsters—if a matter such as the illegal selling of a playbook were brushed under a rug? I think Pete Rozelle and the NFL had adequate reason to call in the FBI. The exposure which professional football is subject to warrants the strict policing of the sport.
ROBERT M. CISNEROS JR.
Why make a federal case over Quarterback Karl Sweetan's attempted sale of a play-book to Saint Head Coach J. D. Roberts? Because that's the way it should be!
If a pro football team's playbook is so insignificant, why compose one? Why fine a rookie $500 or $1,000 if it is lost? Why not exchange playbooks with other clubs? Better yet, print them all in The Wall Street Journal each year. Hats off to J. D.
I do not condone Karl Sweetan's actions, but I do agree with most of the pro coaches that the FBI should not have been brought into it. I believe this was strictly a football problem and could have been solved through the disciplinary channels of football.
DAVID L. BRUNA
Brunssum, The Netherlands
The way Karl Sweetan played as a Ram, it's hard to believe he ever had a playbook.
Marina Del Rey, Calif.
As an avid bicycle racer and Merckxist, I was delighted to see John Underwood's article (The Majesty of Monsieur Merckx, July 24). However, I would like to make a correction. Jacques Anquetil's first Tour de France win came not in 1961 (the beginning of his four-year streak) but in 1957. He therefore still holds the record for most Tour victories (five) and is tied with Merckx for most consecutive wins (four).
HOWARD C. RUNYON
Fair Haven, N.J.
I nominate Eddy Merckx for Sportsman of the Year. As John Underwood said, his achievement is comparable to Henry Aaron batting .442.
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