As a native of Beaver County, Pa., I am always glad to see hometown figures receive national recognition such as your Oct. 9 cover story on Joe Namath. But it is thoroughly disappointing when an event that completely eclipses Joe's is put somewhere in the inner pages.
Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit, a feat achieved by only 11 men in the history of baseball, is in my opinion much more deserving of your cover.
When Roberto Clemente put on one of the greatest single performances in World Series history, you gave us Gus Johnson elbowing Dave DeBusschere on the cover. And now, after Clemente has achieved 3,000 hits, we see Joe Namath's smiling face for the eighth time in seven years. When Henry Aaron and Willie Mays made their 3,000th hits, you put them on the cover and also featured them in major articles. Clemente's feat gets only a few lines on pages 47 and 115.
Your failure to make Roberto Clemente your Oct. 9 cover subject typifies the indifference with which sports journalists have viewed the outstanding career of one of baseball's alltime great players.
Roberto's 3,000th hit is easily as notable a milestone as those of Henry Aaron and Willie Mays. Yet Clemente, whose lifetime batting average and four batting titles are highest among active players and who stands out as the best Latin American athlete ever to perform in the United States, has appeared on your cover only once, July 3, 1967.
My recommendation for Neil Leifer's 101st cover is Roberto Clemente. Give him the recognition he deserves!
JOSEPH P. O'DONNELL
I am glad to see that you have a hockey writer who knows what he is talking about (Hockey 72/73, Oct. 9). Mark Mulvoy tells it like it is in the NHL East Division. Although Boston has lost some talent, he states, "Still, there should be just enough Bruin left to beat New York." The New York Rangers have a fine team, but they can't play a physical game.
White Plains, N.Y.
Never in my life have I read such a biased job of reporting as was done by your Mark Mulvoy. Every other sentence was Bruins, Bruins and more Bruins. That is except when he was putting the knock on the New York Rangers. When he got tired of cheap-shotting the Rangers, he picked on the New York Islanders. And then for dessert he threw some unnecessary barbs at the New York Raiders.
Just because the Rangers decided not to be as tightfisted as the other NHL powers, they are painted as traitors. Mulvoy's assessment of Brad Park was most interesting—and most misleading. I can assure you that the Rangers would not pay $250,000 to a player who was not among the best in the league. Mr. Mulvoy thinks differently. All he talks about is Bobby Orr's knee. Brad Park almost singlehandedly carried the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. As it was, they came close to winning. But Mr. Mulvoy conveniently skips over this little tidbit of information. I shudder to think of the state of the world's learning if we all had Mr. Mulvoy's driving curiosity. Or is it more of that Bruin bias?
PHILLIP C. KIRSCHEN
I guess the Buffalo Sabres will have to make the playoffs this year or your writers will continue to belittle them. After all, they are going into their third year in the NHL and haven't won the cup yet! There are 15,360 people (or more) at nearly every Sabre game, including people who drive 60 miles (I do) for each game and pay handsomely for a season ticket. We love the Sabres and especially Gil Perreault, the best center in the league. Why not pick on another team now and then? Buffalo will be good, I promise.
Silver Creek, N.Y.
I think you did a good job reporting on the upcoming hockey season, especially on the WHA. But I don't see how you can pick a team like Winnipeg over a team like the Minnesota Fighting Saints. The Saints did not just go for two or three of the star players in the NHL, they filled their lineup with proven players.
New Hope, Minn.
Rx FOR TROUBLE (CONT.)
I have waited a long time to see my sentiments expressed in print, and Tom Meschery's article ("There Is a Disease in Sports Now...," Oct. 2) could not have done it better. Thank you for having the honesty to publish it.
Someone once told me that hockey was one of the few sports left where love of the game was still keen. Now that bubble has burst. Heaven only knows what will happen to swimming after Mark Spitz.
I hope the right people, i.e., the owners, the players and the press, will read Meschery's article, do some deep thinking and take positive action to redirect sports in this country.
Hopefully this article will be read and understood by many who love basketball and sport in general. All is not right with the game—or business—of sport, and Tom Meschery artfully points this out. His love for the game is obvious throughout the article, which makes his indictment all the more powerful. My hope is that there will be more voices like Meschery's speaking from within.
RICHARD P. MCQUELLON
Tom Meschery is a sensitive and perceptive man. I believe he reflects the attitude of many people who follow college and pro basketball. That loyalty and integrity have fled from the game is sufficient evidence that big-time basketball today exists not for the purpose of entertainment but for obtaining more and more money by any means possible. Perhaps the people who love the game most, the fans, should voice their disgust as Meschery has done. Maybe then the businessmen who control basketball will finally realize that some of its original ideals must return.
John William Lee's narrative describing his out-of-breath ascent of Japan's sacred Mt. Fuji (Ye Gods! What's Up!, Oct. 2) provided two types of information. First, his story brought to your readers an insight into what a memorable experience a climb up faraway Mt. Fuji can be. Second, his physical condition can be likened to the poor and dangerous physical condition of many people today. Using Mr. Lee as an example, perhaps he could have enjoyed the physical beauty of his unexpected hike more and worried less about the state of his heart, lungs and legs if he had taken time to do some type of exercise regularly. Regardless, let's be glad Mr. Lee returned from his hike tired but no less the worse for wear.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
I climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire this past August and was disappointed by how civilization had encroached upon the summit. However, after reading John William Lee's account of the filth and overcrowding on Fujiyama, a mountain I thought naively to be a pristine, isolated peak not often attained, I realized how relatively unspoiled Washington is in comparison. Thanks for the warning, Mr. Lee; that's one mountain I won't waste my money, equipment or eyes on.
The story by Robert Boyle (One Man's Family, Sept. 25) was most interesting to me, a lady who is not a football fan but is interested in the air we will breathe.
You broke the "news blackout" that it may be nine years before the New York Giants have their new home in the Jersey Meadowlands—and, let us pray, never there. The question of where the Giants will play for the next nine years was left unanswered.
THELMA J. KNOX
New York City
Robert H. Boyle was terrific on Wellington Mara. It's refreshing to read about a man so forceful yet so gentle. He's a success not only on the football field but also on the home front.
My congratulations on your article about Jan Stenerud (There Was Another Kick Coming, Sept. 25). When you're a goat, people forget all the good things you do, like 16 straight field goals, etc. Ron Reid did a fantastic job bringing out this fact.
Highland Heights, Ky.
How ironic that you mention Billy Williams in your SCORECARD (Oct. 2) as a player who receives no attention although he has been one of the most consistent hitters in the N.L. for the past 10 years. You mention the fact that the MVP award usually goes to a player with a pennant winner, but two other Cubs, Hank Sauer in 1952 and Ernie Banks in 1958 and '59, were not with pennant winners.
JAMES A. GASPRICH
Thank you for finally remembering (even though you won't have to replace your typewriter ribbon after the brevity of the article) the most underpublicized superstar in major league baseball. Year after year Billy Williams hits for average, hits for power, drives in runs, scores runs, makes the defensive plays—for what? Sure, his team has never won a world championship, so therefore he's not the MVP, right? Wrong! It takes more than one bat to carry a team. Did Johnny Bench do it all by himself two years ago when the Reds won? Not hardly. He had a lot of help from a lot of teammates. But their help won him a National League MVP. Neither Bench, nor Stargell, nor Clemente nor anyone else deserves the MVP as much as Williams. Maybe when you are second you try harder? Billy tries harder and deserves some long-overdue recognition.
I would like to nominate Roberto Clemente, perhaps the greatest Pirate of all time, as Sportsman of the Year. C'mon and make the 3,000-hit Bucco a happy one.
I hereby nominate Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies for Sportsman of the Year.
His statistics alone should be sufficient to justify this, as he leads the National League in strikeouts, 310, wins, 27, and complete games, 30. He is second in N.L. shutouts, eight, and in innings pitched, 346, and his ERA is 1.98. All this for a ball club that lost 97 games.
However, gentlemen, all the above figures are not the prime reason for my nomination. In a community where professional sports fans hunger for even a .500 ball club (of any sort), this bright shining image with No. 32 on his back has brought us a ray of hope. It was perhaps best exemplified the evening he won his 20th game. More than 42,000 fans applauded Steve and requested his appearance after the game's conclusion. He walked silently back and tipped his hat in a gracious and humble manner.
When the thousands of hands made contact, it was the most eerie sensation I've ever had. Steve's ability to be a man, throughout the season, is further reason I hope he is justly rewarded. Not only as a sportsman but as a gentleman.
JOHN MURRAY JR.
After reading Mark Kram (Just Call Him Shubert Ali, Oct. 2) I am left with a draining feeling of just plain old reportorial pedantic punditry. Perhaps the magazine Mr. Kram writes for should be called Sports Obfuscated rather than "Illustrated."
After sifting through the verbiage slung by Mr. Kram, I wonder who the heck won that fight, anyway? Was it fight or debate? Fists or forensics?
I need not a description of pathos in the ring. I face it everyday on the highways and on the job—not to mention Monday night football telecasts!
Why can't we just have the facts!? Please.
ROB A. DITTLER
Silver Spring, Md.
Thanks to Mark Kram for his Shubert Ali.
Floyd Patterson in my opinion is a splendid boxer. He is able to beat Oscar Bonavena and last seven rounds with Ali at the age of 37.
As for Muhammad Ali, he is nothing less than fantastic. After his great showing against Patterson and his superb performance against Jerry Quarry, I am most certain he can whip Joe Frazier. I feel if Ali trains hard enough he can dispose of Frazier and regain the heavyweight crown.
I'm sure I speak for thousands of my fellow 16-inch softball players when I applaud your recent coverage of our game (Fast, Slow, Kerplunk, Sept. 25).
Slow pitch, 16-inch softball is anything but the intraoffice, picnic, beer-soaked fiascos many sports fans unfortunately identify with our game. Our sport, on the good park league or industrial level, in Chicago and elsewhere, is a skilled athletic contest played by athletes who are often more dedicated than the professional sports brethren.
It's time that our game and our athletes got some national recognition, and I commend SI for granting it.
WILLIAM E. CARSLEY
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