EARL & CO.
I have been a consistent follower of Earl Monroe since he entered the NBA in 1967 with the Baltimore Bullets. I must say that SI has been one of the few magazines to recognize that The Pearl is back (Add One-on-One to All for One, April 16). When Earl played for Baltimore he received recognition from fans all over the country. When he joined the Knicks, however, he began an uphill fight to retain that acclaim while suffering bone spurs in his foot, having to adjust to a different style of play, sitting on the bench for much of last year and learning to work with another backcourt superstar, Walt Frazier, something Baltimore did not have. The fact that Earl has worked hard at adjusting to these factors makes him a better player than he was at Baltimore. He deserves respect.
I thoroughly enjoyed your article concerning the New York Knickerbockers' first-round playoff win over the Baltimore Bullets, but there was one fact I believe you failed to mention. It was the Knick bench, or Baltimore's lack of one, that gave New York the decisive edge. Phil (Action) Jackson, Dean (The Dream) Meminger and Jerry Lucas have—during the season and the playoffs—sparked the Knicks to great heights.
Earl Monroe was the star of the Baltimore playoff series, but the victories belong to all the New York players—a team that plays as a team.
I must congratulate Mark Mulvoy for not only recognizing the Rangers as powerhouses, but for recognizing the man who has built and rebuilt the team, Emile Francis (War for the Inscrutable East, April 16). Players have faded away and been traded away with The Cat at the helm, and Emile has been criticized at times. But he has done one fine job as coach of the Broadway Blues. Ranger fans should be satisfied with beating the ex-champ Bruins. If the Rangers don't win the Stanley Cup this year, I, for one, will still be proud to say that at least we caged the animals in Boston.
Morgantown, W. Va.
A lot has been said about the Ranger-Bruin confrontation. I'd like to add a little. I am a devout Boston fan even though I live in New York. New Yorkers have gone crazy over the Ranger victory. All I can say is, it's about time. The Rangers haven't beaten the Bruins in Stanley Cup play since 1940—the last time the cup came to New York. Is this a sign of things to come? I doubt it. I would like to thank you for mentioning the "marvelous Boston rookie, Greg Sheppard." In his own quiet way he has made a place for himself on the Bruin team and stands a very good chance of winning Rookie of the Year honors for 1973.
And why not have the Hambletonian at the Saratoga thoroughbred track (SCORECARD, April 16)? To hold the trotting classic for 3-year-olds at the "fortress of the thoroughbred Establishment" would not be so strange as you think. After all, it was the "jugheads" who started racing in Saratoga—on Aug. 14, 1847, to be exact. The very first race in Saratoga history was won on that date by Lady Suffolk, The Old Gray Mare, who was called America's "first great athletic hero."
The 1850s saw a veritable parade of fine trotting horses compete at Saratoga, including Flora Temple, Sontag, O'Blennis, Lancet and Jack Rossiter, the latter setting a world record for two heats.
Only when the sport of trotting fell on hard times, I suppose because of the Civil War, did thoroughbred racing make its start at the spa (1863). The meeting, needless to say, was held at the old trotting track. The success of this meeting encouraged its backers to build a new track in 1864 and Saratoga thoroughbred racing was on its way.
Not quite. In July of 1865 a "trotting festival" was held at the new thoroughbred track. It was a dismal failure, but only because the entry of the great Dexter appears to have scared off most of the opposition.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
SKINS VS. SHIRTS
Congratulations to Jerry Kirshenbaum on his article concerning the nudist Olympics (For Each a Place in the Sun, April 16). I found it un(bare)ably funny.
Los Alamos, N. Mex.
As a sports fan, I found it very hard to accept the fact that so much space in your April 16 issue was devoted to the opening of the nudist season while none was devoted to baseball. The naked truth is that, you should concern yourselves with the millions of baseball fans, not some 100,000 nudists.
Frank Deford's article on Joe Garagiola (It's Not the Game, April 9) possesses one of the rarest qualities I have ever seen in a piece of writing. The author has made himself so unobtrusive that the words come across not so much written or even spoken, but rather lived.
As a young baseball-crazed boy, I became acquainted with Joe Garagiola through his book Baseball Is a Funny Game and his appearances on television. He combined, for me, two of the greatest experiences in life—baseball and humor. But as I grew older things changed. Joe turned to more serious topics. Unreasonably, I objected to Joe's having opinions and feelings. What I wanted was the funny stories. This article may not change my attitude entirely, but I now know Joe Garagiola the man, and thus have more on which to base my judgment. For this, I thank Frank Deford and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
I went into the article on Joe Garagiola with a negative mind on the garrulous one (a lousy fifth-string catcher with an early-Dangerfield approach to humor, is the way I looked at him) and came out with a revised impression and respect for the man as an athlete and as a person. I also came away with the feeling that hairlessness can't be all bad.
Cheers and toasts to Mr. Deford for his unveiling of Garagiola. Play Joe or keep him. For a long time.
While it is no crime to succeed in a competitive business, as Joe Garagiola has done, I must question Frank Deford's characterization of Garagiola's success as a triumph of the American system and culture.
Perhaps Garagiola represents to Madison Avenue the archetype of the average man, but for everyone to accept him as such would also mean accepting the advertising media's equation that insipidness equals wholesomeness, and loud hilarity equals warmth. It is that reasoning that allows Deford to dare describe Sale of the Century as in any way cerebral or dignified, even in relation to an even dumber program.
I view Garagiola's ties to baseball as extremely thin, and in fact they may exist only inasmuch as baseball (supposedly) is for everyone, regardless of ethnic origin. Television allows a poor Italian to become as slick a huckster, in his way, as any fair-haired, blue-eyed Mayflower descendant.
It is hard to picture Giovanni Garagiola smiling down from heaven merely because his son became the country's greatest babysitter for housewives until the soap operas come on.
Oak Park, Mich.
Bravo! Let me add my plaudits to Frank Deford's lyrical piece, a veritable encomium on Joe Garagiola. At a time when self-imposed identity crises are quite fashionable, it's good to have Joe around. If you will permit me to use a baseball analogy, I'd say Joe is a cinch for this year's MVP (Most Venerated Paesano).
THE REV. ROBERT A. UZZILIO
One of the great thrills of sport is to see a clever play executed casually, almost without apparent effort. For pun lovers, Frank Deford has done just that, right in the middle of his excellent article on Joe Garagiola.
In writing about identifiable trademarks, he says that Joe has "fallen heir" to one.
MUD IN YOUR EYE
Your article on Steve Carlton (Eliminator of the Variables, April 9) was very well written, but I thought it ironic that Steve would be photographed with a couple of Budweiser cans on the table in front of him. On the other hand, it may be his way of telling Mr. Busch that he is glad that the Cardinals traded him.
CALL TO WORSHIP (CONT.)
As a longtime fan of the Braves of Milwaukee and Atlanta, two cities I have never been in, I enjoyed Dick Young's piece on baseball and its disciples (It's Religion, Baby—Not Show Biz, April 9).
While I agree that football is much better suited to television than is baseball, I submit that baseball probably is better suited to radio broadcasts than any other sport and thereby provides nightly worship services for its fans.
Baseball is a structured sport. The offensive players run in well-defined paths, and the defensive players are responsible for well-defined areas. The average baseball fan can see the action in his mind as the announcer describes a line-drive single to left, a round-the-horn double play or the third baseman making a barehanded pick-up on a slow roller down the line. The listener can easily picture what everyone is doing when the batter hits one in the gap in right center with two on and two out. And as baseball's drama unfolds, the tension often is built on a series of routine plays that are most easy to imagine—the one-hopper to short, the popup to second, etc.
In other sports, players roam more freely, moving in different ways on virtually every play and frequently interchanging positions with teammates. The very possession of the ball or puck or whatever is often in doubt. Despite skilled announcers, it's just not easy to visualize exactly what is going on.
So give me baseball on radio as the perfect supplement to baseball at the park. May there always be 50,000-watt, clear-channel signals bouncing around the country at night. God bless the announcers, wherever they are.
RONALD C. ROBERTS
The article by Dick Young is one of the best I have ever read. Although I rarely watch a baseball game on TV, I am an occasional visitor to Fenway Park. There one reaches the pinnacle of fan enjoyment (or religious fervor). This feeling cannot be captured on television, no matter how exciting the game. It can only be thoroughly realized and enjoyed along with 30,000 others who are as much in love with baseball in general and the team in particular as you are.
Despite this feeling, however, I do not believe television will hurl baseball; in fact, it may actually result in an increase in paying customers. Whenever I watch a game on TV I get an overwhelming desire to drive into Boston so I can see baseball as it was meant to be seen: live and in real color, from the 12th row up in the center-field bleachers.
TIMOTHY M. BUTLER
Your three-line report on the result of this year's Grand National at Aintree, England (FOR THE RECORD, April 9) must be an SI record for brevity in covering the highlights of the world's greatest steeplechase. It was disappointing, to say the least, especially as it followed your excellent pre-race feature (Riding for a Fall) in the March 26 issue, which must have whetted the appetite of many readers for a fuller account of the race.
The records will show, as does your report, that Red Rum won, but this year's Grand National was dominated by a horse called Crisp, the Australian champion. It was Crisp's fantastic speed and fluent jumping that made this race one of the most memorable of all time. Picture it: this great horse, carrying a topweight of 168 pounds (conceding 23 pounds to the eventual winner), going like the proverbial hammer in hell, 20 lengths in front of the pack; he jumps the last fence still well in the clear and seems all set for victory, only to be beaten in the last few strides by Red Rum in a time almost 19 seconds better than the record set by the immortal Golden Miller 39 years ago.
"We will never see another race like that in 100 years" was one comment as the horses passed the post. We certainly won't.
BIG ON MIDGETS
Your recognition of the midgets was a mighty big surprise (Small Dreams of Hitting the Big Time, April 16). These pintsize machines do not get the attention they deserve. From a spectator standpoint, no other form of automobile racing can hold a candle to the midgets for sheer excitement and fun. I hope that this article will encourage SI readers to make a point of discovering the midgets for themselves, in person. They will be amazed.
Midget racing has been grossly under-publicized for the past several years, and your featured article on Jimmy Caruthers was a welcome item for many midget owners and drivers. Too many people around the country are unaware that midgets are still as prosperous as ever.
We do wish to emphasize that midget racing has contributed many more Indy 500 winners than the two drivers mentioned in your article: A. J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones, Johnny Parsons Sr., the Un-ser brothers and, of course, Rodger Ward, to name a few.
Thanks for your contribution to the mighty midgets.
JIM AND JUDIE JANOWSKI
I read and enjoyed your article on the love affair between Richard Petty and Andy Granatelli (Petty Blue, STP Red and Blooey, April 9). Certainly they both deserve acclaim, but let us continue to give credit where it is due. Mr. Granatelli's "lieutenant" states that the STP and Coca-Cola logos are the best known in the world. In an automobile article surely you must realize that the real world-famous logo is the VW of Volkswagen.
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