As an A's fan, I wish to compliment Ron Fimrite on his fine article (On Tour With "Hair" July 31).
Indeed, the A's are a solid ball club with power (most home runs in the American League), pitching (second best to Baltimore in ERA), speed (Campaneris, Rudi, Jackson, Bando and Hendrick) and near-errorless fielding. All of this and a great manager in Dick Williams have given the A's the best record in the American League and a substantial lead over the Chicago White Sox. We'll see them in the World Series.
Ron Fimrite's feature story on the Oakland A's was very moving. It almost made me sorry our Red Sox knocked them off in four out of six games.
R. F. BUTTERWORTH
My heart really bled for Oakland Catcher Dave Duncan after I read that he felt his statistics were sufficient for him to make the All-Star team but that Earl Weaver kept him off by selecting "a mere rookie" from the Red Sox by the name of Carlton Fisk. If Duncan had looked in the newspapers, he would have noticed more impressive statistics—those held by Fisk. Carlton was hitting .310 and had a slugging percentage of .624! White Sox organist Nancy Faust plays Jesus Christ Superstar when the fantastic Dick Allen appears at the plate, yet he was batting only .300 and slugging .574.
If Duncan had criticized Weaver for not having picked Relievers Sparky Lyle and Terry Forster, I could agree with him.
I thoroughly enjoyed the article. As we know, the A's are a balanced, wholesome team. They don't have rules on clothes, hair or even bed checks. As Catcher Dave Duncan put it, "We do what we want off the field with whoever we want."
I feel there are other teams with just as much talent as Oakland, if not more, but something is lacking—a little freedom.
I have just finished reading Barry McDermott's article (Putting Out the Fires in New York, July 31), and I must say it is excellent. Sparky Lyle has to be the most underrated reliever in the majors. We all know Earl Weaver left Sparky out of the All-Star lineup. Danny Murtaugh of the National League picked Tug McGraw and Clay Carroll, who are both relievers.
I hope Sparky gets voted the American League Fireman of 1972 so that, once and for all, everyone will know who is No. 1.
Second-guessing is probably more of a national pastime than the game of baseball itself. But what irony. Earl Weaver omitted Sparky Lyle and asked, "Which of my selections would anyone like to switch for Lyle?" It was interesting, of course, that three of his former 20-game winners were chosen. Since Danny Murtaugh went with Tug McGraw and came out victorious, I guess it is obvious whom Lyle could have replaced! Hats off to SI for pointing out Weaver's "dilemma."
ROBERT M. WATERSON
New Haven, Conn.
I want to commend Marc Simont on a fantastic job of characterizing Willie Stargell, Walter Alston, Danny Murtaugh and other recognizable players in his illustrations of the 1971 All-Star Game (Stars in Your Eyes, July 24).
I have seen art in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED before, but I have never seen anything like the All-Star Game. On TV it is colorful, but in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED it is like fantasia. The expressions are funny and the color, sights and "sounds" are great.
One picture shows the players sneaking out, trying to avoid autograph hunters. I ask, where would they be without us?
Your July 31 issue was an extremely satisfying one for me, particularly because you happened to include articles on two professional ball clubs I consider to be the very best in their respective sports.
There was an excellent piece on the powerhouse Oakland Athletics. Charlie Finley has done one heck of a job building the A's into consistent winners.
I'd also like to congratulate your staff and Photographer Rich Clarkson for the preseason look at the Kansas City Chiefs (Go, Go, Go, Go, Go). It sort of gives the fans around the country an exclusive peek at the 1973 Super Bowl champions.
My sincere thanks for the photographs of the Kansas City Chiefs during training camp. I have long been a fan of the Chiefs, even though I am a Texan and most people down here like the world champion Dallas Cowboys.
Kansas City's loss ought to be SI's gain. The article by Rick Telander (Football Is Like a Rose, July 31) was beautifully written, illustrating the bitter personal disappointment of the many also-rans. Perhaps those elusive ballplayers who hold out for fabulous contracts would do well to remember the psychological tension and physical demands of being a rookie in training camp and thank their lucky stars for the gifts they possess. As for Telander, his excellent talents as a writer would be an added attraction to your competent staff.
Rick Telander may not have made the grade as a pro defensive back, but he is a prime candidate for Rookie of the Year as a writer. His remembrance of the calm after the storm of his Chiefs tryout is one of the finest recent pieces of writing to appear in your magazine.
My congratulations go to Don Delliquanti on a small but worthwhile article (Pepi Struts Out Again, July 24). While Joe Pepitone has been cited continuously as a controversial, flamboyant figure, I am glad someone has cited him as a ballplayer to be reckoned with, not because of his exploits but because of his talent.
SALLY VAN HIMBERGEN
Your article on Joe Pepitone was great! Ask any kid who is a Cub fan to name the first ballplayer who comes to mind. He'll probably say Williams or Santo or Kessinger or Jenkins—or Pepitone. And take the signs that wave in Wrigley Field, such as MY GRANDMA LUVS JOE PEPITONE. Yes, Pepitone is becoming a household word, like food or bath.
I am a great Cub fan, but to me Pepi beats them all. Thanks to Don Delliquanti for a wonderful article.
Until I forced myself to read Beauty and the Beast (July 31), I admit I was a typically jealous Robyn Smith hater. But the article was a profound view of an amazing woman. Now I can only admire her and hope that she will be able to realize her greatest ambitions.
My gratitude to Frank Deford and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for letting me see the light.
Staten Island, N.Y.
Why, in an otherwise excellent article, must Frank Deford dwell in the first few paragraphs on Robyn's forfeited beauty? If a woman is pretty, should she be nothing else but that?
No man could ever appreciate how much against the current trend it is to give up the security and universal approval good looks bring. A female relying on her looks becomes less and less convinced of her personal worth and more and more desperate to retain her looks as her ticket to acceptance.
It's a vicious circle, and Robyn Smith is both smart and lucky to be out of it.
Robyn Smith accomplished the impossible. She broke into a man's world without employing the hard-nosed tactics that have made Women's Liberation a prime topic of conversation. Instead she chose to use desire and determination, something everyone respects in an athlete, whether a man or a woman.
Robyn Smith is to be admired in her attempt to stand out in the crowd, for she picked the harder route rather than follow the road of her sisters. Remember the old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"? Ms. Smith beat them; she didn't have to join them.
Personally I think Robyn is the best thing that has happened to horse racing in years. She brings a special aura to every race she is in. She's cute, yes, but of primary importance is that she can ride like hell. Anyone who has seen her in action will attest to that. The more mounts she gets, the better it will be for the sport.
R. THOMAS FLEMMING
Now that was a cover to look at!
I enjoyed your article Heads Up! Here's a Horse Race (July 24). Unfortunately your writer, Sungyung Chang, is not up to date on his attendance figures.
When he says that "120,000 people wedged themselves into Tokyo Racecourse 10 days ago for the Japanese Derby. There is no turf spectacle like it," he must have been ignorant of the attendance at the Kentucky Derbies in 1971 (123,258) and in 1972 (130,467).
I enjoyed Don Delliquanti's article about Hank Slider (A Blessing in Disguise from Bethlehem, July 24) very much. I have seen him on various television programs and thought he was well equipped to teach young players how to shoot a basketball. I am happy that college coaches have finally discovered him.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Since golf's Grand Slam has been put oil" at least another year, there is no chance that anyone will equal the 1972 sporting feats of Wilt Chamberlain. Along with Gail Goodrich and others, he showed the world the greatest basketball team ever. His unselfish play, superior defense and ability to score when needed were three of the most important factors in the Lakers' game-after-game success. I nominate Wilt for 1972 Sportsman of the Year.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
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