BRICKBATS FOR DESIS
Saying that the American League's designated hitters get more hits than the National League's pitchers (Off the Bike and into the Box, May 7) is like saying that bricklayers lay more bricks than brain surgeons do. Of course they get more hits, but whatever the game is they're playing, it isn't baseball to me. Part of the charm of baseball is in seeing the manager exploit the strengths and weaknesses of his players, making his moves to utilize the skills, or lack of them, that each man possesses. The DH rule has taken much of this finesse out of the game, profoundly changing it for the worse.
If one DH is good, I'll bet my Pirate yearbook that somebody is going to figure that two is better. If two, why not nine? Better yet, why not 18—nine righties and nine lefties? How about bringing back Dick Stuart and giving him a job as a DFB (designated first baseman)? More jobs for young and old!
There are possibilities in other sports, too. Consider a DBFGR (designated blocked field goal runner) for Garo Yepremian. Suit up Bill Sharman and have him become Wilt Chamberlain's DFS (designated foul shooter). And, by all means, have a DP (designated putter) for Sam Snead.
All of these things make about as much sense to me as the DH rule. What scares me is that I can truly see them coming.
JAMES W. DAVIS
Princeton Junction, N.J.
While the designated hitter will produce a lot more hits and runs for the American League than ever before, I feel that the DH should bat ninth in his team's batting order, the spot that pitchers have been relegated to over the years. After all, it's the pitcher the DH is replacing, isn't it?
If, as William Leggett suggests in his article, the American League has a more exciting brand of baseball due to its new DH rule, somebody had better tell its fans. On Sunday, May 6, the American League drew only 64,745 for seven games (including one doubleheader); the Nationals drew 137,002 for seven (one doubleheader). That is an average of 19,572 for Feeney's boys as compared with 9,249 for Cronin's. If the DH is as stimulating as Mr. Leggett suggests and if the National League were to adopt it, I assume the NL probably would draw three times as many fans as the AL. However, I predict that Chub Feeney will stick with his DO (designated out, i.e., the pitcher) and feel twice as nice about it.
B. RONALD ROMMEL
Kansas City, Kans.
Regarding your article, Charles Feeney may answer Joe Cronin's "letter" thus:
Glad you are enjoying yourself. We can hardly wait to see you in the World Series where your Desis will have to take the rest of the year off and your pitchers, who haven't swung wood all season, will have to fend for themselves, just like the good old days. We think it will be a lot of fun.
Concerning your article on Luis Tiant (Where There's Smoke, There's Luis, May 7), I thought that the pictures were obnoxious. At least you could have shown more photos of Luis playing baseball; I really don't want to see him taking a shower. I like Tiant, but I like him best in a uniform.
I enjoyed Myron Cope's article on Luis Tiant. Tiant never has gotten the credit he deserves, but Eddie Kasko has done something right by putting him in the Red Sox starting rotation.
Charleston, W. Va.
PAT FOR PAT
Your May 7 article on Pat Stapleton (Little Biff Man of the Black Hawks) was much appreciated and long overdue. Though Bobby Hull remains my particular passion (I'm even subscribing to a Winnipeg newspaper to keep track of his new team), I have long considered Stapleton the Hawks' outstanding all-round performer, going back to the rookie days of his flat-top haircut. The writers have too long singled out the Orrs, Parks, Magnusons and other big-name defensemen. It is nice to see that someone at last has recognized Pat's talents as a hockey player.
JOHN JAY WILHEIM
THE AMERICANIZATION OF SOCCER
Congratulations on Gwilym S. Brown's interesting article Quick, Somebody, a Pelé (May 7). I sympathize with Phil Woosnam, who is doing his best to promote soccer in the U.S. It really is a shame that professional soccer has continued to meet "America's mulish reluctance," and that all sincere or business-oriented attempts at introducing it in this country have remained almost fruitless. One reason for this may be found in the fact that Woosnam and Clive Toye are "trying to build a pyramid from the top down," ignoring at the same time the "groundwork at the schoolboy and amateur level." They seem to have overlooked the fact that whatever has been done for soccer in this country is due to the unselfish efforts of many individuals from among various ethnic groups: Ukrainians, Germans, Greeks, Italians, etc. Many existing amateur soccer leagues have for years been doing the groundwork (e.g., the German American Soccer Association in New York). As a result, the youngsters from those leagues are the ones now playing soccer on high school and college levels, and they should be credited for the fact that "over 600 colleges now field organized teams."
We suggest that contact with those leagues, sincere cooperation with them and financial support of their efforts (by those who support NASL and others) will be of more service to soccer than imported British teams, which draw only a handful of spectators and do not appeal to those ethnic groups that have been doing the Herculean work for the sport.
JOSEPH V. KRAWCZENIUK
It was nice to see the story on the long-ignored North American Soccer League. However, it is doubtful that readers will fully appreciate the inroads that native Americans have made into this once all-foreign league. For instance, last year the St. Louis Stars were the only team to field a starting lineup that was more than half American. The result was a division title and a narrow loss in the playoff finals.
Over the winter, the league's nine teams drafted a total of 43 college seniors, and several of the clubs will be using their selections as the nuclei of revamped and distinctly North American squads. The newly formed Philadelphia Atoms have gone a step further by hiring Al Miller as one of the very few American-born coaches in the history of the circuit.
To sum it up, the North American Soccer League has made more progress down the road to Americanization in six years than the National Hockey League has in 50.
RICHARD S. HARLAN
Upper Montclair, N.J.
Soccer? American soccer? You bet. Our Massapequas Soccer Club alone has 1,400 boys playing on 87 different teams. Soccer is growing all over the country and we all hope that this will be reflected in your magazine by many more articles. The new Pelé is alive and he is an American.
ALAN E. MAHER
Massapequa Park, N.Y.
I once said that if SI ever ran an article on the North American Soccer League I would eat that issue. I wish to report that the May 7 issue goes very well with mustard and mayonnaise (although the staples are tough). I hope I can make a regular diet of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
As one who has been in country & Western music for six of my seven years in broadcasting, not only as an announcer but also as sports director, I see the impact of Jerry Clower (Knock 'im Out, Jay-ree! April 30) every day. Not only do I receive hundreds of requests for Jerry's "coon-huntin' " stories, but people have started calling in for Mississippi State scores right in the middle of LSU-Tulane country.
Jerry Clower has brought hours upon hours of that good old down-home country humor to people everywhere, no matter what background they claim. Hats off for sharing with the rest of the nation some of Jerry's humor, feelings and beliefs.
Oh yes, I could've sworn I heard somebody at a Port Sulphur game yell, "Knock 'im out, Johnnnn!"
Port Sulphur, La.
Roy Blount's article is a tribute to a man who has done a great deal to destroy the "white racist" image that the South has retained. The reason Jerry Clower is so successful and loved by all people with whom he comes into contact is that he is able to look deeper than a man's skin before judging what kind of person he is.
Jerry Clower may be a country boy from East Fork, Miss., but considering his comment, "If I'd been born black, I'd have made Stokely Carmichael look like a circumstance," I can't help but think ol' Jay-ree would have broken the color line at "Miss'ippi State" much earlier than the mid-'60s.
The article by Mark Kram on Jeff Cooper and his efforts on behalf of pistol shooters (Of Arms and Men They Sing, May 7) was misleading. First, Charles Askins Jr. is a retired colonel in the Army. He is also a veteran of the Border Patrol and past national pistol champion as well as the author of several books on pistols. Second, Jeff Cooper is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and is entitled to wear "scrambled eggs" on his hat; he earned them the hard way. He was one of the runners-up for an award recently given to the person who has done the most for handgunners (the winner was Elmer Keith of Idaho, who is really the historian-apostle for those of us who love to shoot pistols).
One small pat on the back. When you quit taking cheap shots at Dick Davis, the shooters, etc. and started talking about Cooper the man, you did manage to show some insight.
Your magazine has failed to fully recognize the many shooting sports: trap, skeet, pistol, rifle and hunting. Articles on these sports, written and reported in the same serious manner as you report on bridge, etc., would certainly be appreciated by many American sportsmen.
WILLIAM L. GEORGE
McGuire AFB, N.J.
The Mark Kram piece on Jeff Cooper's Las Vegas combat shoot is probably the fairest treatment shooters have had from you people in a while.
One demurrer: there is a very great deal more literature about target shooting than the good writings of Colonel Charles Askins Jr. Jeff Cooper's articles on combat pistol are classics, as Kram suggests later on.
BILL R. DAVIDSON
Western Media Representative
National Rifle Association
Thanks to Brock Yates for his timely article (Shall We Gather at the Squash Courts? May 7), which reflects a current boom in America in racquetball /handball courts. (For the record, squash is played on an entirely different size court.)
Racquetball's rapid growth as a complete family sport can be attributed to the fact that it is just plain fun, coupled with any degree of exercise one wishes to derive from it.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.