Regarding Ron Fimrite's article A Big Beginning for the Little League (Oct. 23), I don't know how or why the belief that the National League is superior to the American League came into vogue in recent years, but it is a belief that cannot be substantiated in fact.
After every baseball season, pseudoexperts look at the batting averages in the two leagues and declare the National the best, based on the fact that it has more .300-plus hitters. But hitting is not the name of the game in modern-day baseball. The game today is pitching, and the American League has the best pitchers. The National League may have more power hitters, but if they faced the American League's pitching day in and day out, they would not be nearly as impressive. Take a look at the records of the supposed power hitters of the National League for the last two or three All-Star Games and the World Series. What is more, the National League plays more often on artificial turf, which tends to inflate batting averages.
The hard cold facts of major league baseball are: 1) the American League leads in World Series victories, 41-28, and 2) the American League trails the National League by only six victories, 24-18, in All-Star Games.
I am not saying the American League is better than the National, but clearly the reverse is not true either.
JOHN A. SCHNEIDER JR.
Bay Village, Ohio
November 6, 1972
Have you no pity? The poor fans of Cleveland have suffered through 18 agonizing seasons with their pennantless Indians. And now that your magazine has finally seen lit to mention an event from the last World Series in which the Tribe participated, you blew it. I am referring to Ron Fimrite's article in which he acknowledges the great catch of Willie Mays off the bat of "Detroit's" Vic Wertz. While this is not a play Cleveland followers enjoy being reminded of, it is, nonetheless, probably the only significant event that ever occurred in a Cleveland World Series. So please give credit where credit is due. Wertz was a Detroit Tiger for a long time, but in 1954 he was an Indian, and I am sure Tribe boosters would like him remembered as such.
•It was a team error. Ron Fimrite caught the slip, but the correction failed to make it to the printers.—ED.
Thank you very much for a well-done article on specialty teams in general and those of the Washington Redskins in particular (Being Suicidal, Oct. 23). Ted Vactor, Bill Malinchak, Jon Jaqua & Co. have one of the more thankless jobs in pro football. But with these guys blocking punts, kicks and various downfield defenders, and with Marv Levy at the helm, it should be a super (bowl) year.
J. KEITH GARLAND
I thought you'd never get around to writing an article about Jack Scott. But you did (Jeepers! Peepers Is in Charge Now, Oct. 23), and I'm sure a lot of other people enjoyed reading it as much as I did.
Scott is not really such a radical, it's just that many physical educators and coaches are inflexible. They are opposed to and afraid of any changes that require more effort, human effort, on their part.
I hope Scott succeeds in making more people aware of the benefits that a physical-education and/or sports program can bring to our society, benefits in addition to the enjoyment of winning. Congratulations to Robert Fuller, new president of Oberlin College, for having the courage and intelligence to hire Jack Scott.
(MISS) BERT PETERSON
One of Jack Scott's most important premises is that the end does not justify the means in college athletics. Yet in his rush to further his noble experiment of sports sociology at Oberlin, Scott has employed a common big-time athletic tactic of driving out almost all of the previous staff in his department. Oberlin, with its keen sense of ethics, should soon realize whether Scott is a phony or merely insensitive.
JANE B. CORRIE
As a former basketball player and graduate of Oberlin College, I am in complete agreement with Jack Scott's values and with his plans for sports at Oberlin. But when a man of Coach Bill Grice's stature has to leave Oberlin, then something is rotten in my alma mater.
Assistant Professor of English
University of Washington
The juxtaposition in your Oct. 23 issue of the articles on Jack Scott and Pee Wee football (Sooner or Later, Champions) was nothing short of ironic. All that is wrong with amateur athletics and all that Jack Scott is fighting against is born throughout the country in just such kiddie leagues. Although Jay Cronley's article dealt with some of the more humorous aspects, it is here that winning at all costs is first emphasized by frustrated Vince Lombardis. If only all kiddie athletics were as innocent, fun and fruitful as Mr. Cronley's.
If Scott can influence others in his profession, then perhaps all athletic experiences, from elementary school right on through to the professional ranks, will be richer. Jack Scott, we all need you, and I look forward to your success.
Allow me to express my thanks to Brock Yates and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for the inspirational article on the Cannonball Baker coast-to-coast auto race (From Sea to Speeding Sea, Oct. 23). It should provide every rugged individualist in the Ayn Rand mold with the motivation to break free of the social contract and participate in no-holds-barred road races hither and yon. The only difference, of course, is that they will be unlikely to possess the athletic ability of Dan Gurney or a superb machine like the Ferrari. But then, that should make it just that much more interesting for those of us who, along with our wives and children, happen to be sharing their racetracks with them. Bon voyage!
JON G. MARCH
Patrick AFB, Fla.
I enjoyed the piece by Brock Yates. Whether or not the Cannonball Baker Memorial Race was morally right or wrong is unimportant. It is the spirit behind the race that counts. In a day and age when we are all told to be practical and realistic and where safety and security are obsessions with society, Yates stands out as someone different. As long as the present trend continues, the spirit of adventure will be destroyed. No longer will young men grow up with dreams of sailing ships and flying machines. They will grow up to be robots in a mechanized society. Thanks to Brock Yates and SI for adding a little color to a society that is rapidly becoming colorless.
JOHN RUHA JR.
The past year has been so full of sporting feats that the choice for Sportsman of the Year is a difficult one. In the interest of fairness, though, I believe that wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable must be considered. His dedication and remarkable accomplishments are an inspiration to those of us who participate in this little publicized sport. I nominate Dan Gable for Sportsman of the Year.
There are many athletes who dominate their sport for a year but few who dominate for a number of years. One exception is Billie Jean King. She has been the No. 1 woman tennis player for the past two years, and before that was battling Margaret Smith Court for the top ranking. Mrs. King is the one primarily responsible for the popularity and success of women's tennis and the women's pro tour. She is playing her best tennis at an age (28) when athletes are usually beginning to go downhill or are finished. At a time when most athletes are more concerned with making money, she has publicly stated that she plays tennis because she loves it. True, she thinks women should have prize money equal to the men's, because they deserve it. Mrs. King has totally dominated women's tennis this year. Give her the recognition she so rightly deserves.
Jack Nicklaus, Sportsman of the Year, Sportsman of the Decade and Sportsman of the Century. His record speaks for itself.
The late A.B. (Bull) Hancock Jr. of Claiborne Farm. Not only was he a champion in his own field of thoroughbred breeding and racing, he was a friend to all sports everywhere and a gentleman as well.
JAMES H. GRANTHAM
Mark Spitz, the best swimmer and the greatest Olympian of all time.
Mark Spitz, Bobby Fischer and Steve Carlton. All three should get the award because they cannot be compared.
Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
Bobby Hull of the Winnipeg Jets.
The greatest hitter in baseball: Billy Williams.
Mark Donohue. Even though he was laid up in a hospital for several weeks, his fabulous finish at Indianapolis, a superb showing at Trenton and one Can-Am victory (so far) certainly qualify him for the honor.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Olga Korbut, who showed true sportsmanship—not just ability, and not just a good attitude, but a marvelous combination of the two.
Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Wilt Chamberlain, who gave up his prominence in the prestigious scoring column to help his team.
White Plains, N.Y.
M. J. MADDOCKS
Frank Shorter, the first American to win the Olympic marathon in 64 years and the fifth-place finisher in the fastest 10,000-meter run in history.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
John Wooden, an outstanding man, a credit to his profession and to his university.
U.S. Senator, California
Adolph Rupp: four NCAA titles, 879 career wins, an .822 winning percentage, 22 All-Americas honored 33 times and 31 pros.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.