Your July 2 cover with Bobby Murcer and Ron Blomberg was the best you have had since the one featuring the two superstars of the Boston Bruins, Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito (May 8, 1972). The Yankees just might go all the way. They certainly have the talent.
Congratulations on a fantastic article (Pinstripes Are Back in Style). The Yankees are the talk of the area and pennant fever is rising. You overlooked some players, though. Fred Beene, a mediocre pitcher last year, has become an excellent middle- to late-inning relief specialist, and Gene Michael is having a super season at shortstop, both offensively and defensively. He ranks up there with Aparicio, Campaneris and Patek.
Congratulations on discovering the new New York Yankees. But why feature a part-time infielder with Bobby Murcer on the cover? Mel Stottlemyre certainly merits a picture somewhere in the story. The only Yankee player left from the last pennant season of 1964, he has retained the genuine pride of the Yankees through nine weary seasons.
Queens Village, N.Y.
After almost a decade of misery everyone is jumping on the Yankee bandwagon. Praise is being heaped on Ralph Houk, Sparky Lyle, Bobby Murcer and, strangely enough, Ron Blomberg. William Leggett had the audacity to draw a comparison between Blomberg and two of the most complete players of the past, Ted Williams and Stan Musial. Sure, Blomberg was hitting .400, but as of June 28 he had been to the plate only 157 times. Compare him with Minnesota's Rod Carew, who was hitting an honest .335 in 286 plate appearances. A true .400 hitter can face lefthanders and righthanders with equal success.
July 15, 1973
Met fans all over New York are sulking. We are spoiled; we are used to having all the attention. Now instead of household names like Milner, Mays and Seaver it is Lyle, Nettles and Munson. Break up the Yankees! I can't stand it.
Deer Park, N.Y.
A LOOK AT CHINA
While reading and enjoying William Johnson's article (Courting Time in Peking, July 2), I felt that one key point was neglected, that being the importance of sports in a country like China. While citizens of the U.S. are able to express themselves quite freely, the Maoist government has been extremely specific in defining how far a Chinese citizen can go in expressing himself. A basketball player, however, can release his inhibitions, although he must be ready to sacrifice himself to his team. The freedom the Chinese players enjoyed on the court was exemplified by their behind-the-back, over-the-head passes, by their fast-breaking offense and their freewheeling defense. Their play was almost antithetical to their disciplined society. These games showed me how important sports are. They preserve a freedom of expression that can never be infringed upon.
EARL CHIGS II
The article by William Johnson was excellent except for two things: 1) the picture on page 14 shows Quinn Buckner, Linda White, Ronnie Robinson and Jim Andrews, not Rich Kelley as your caption says; and 2) the picture on page 15 shows Andrews again, not Kelley, shaking hands with Madame Mao. Since Jim is one of the few from this area to make it big in college (University of Kentucky) and maybe the pros, I think he should be recognized.
•We didn't recognize Andrews in his new Kelley-like mustache. Our apologies to both.—ED.
As the father of Steve Parsons, the one-year-old track record holder mentioned in your May 21 FACES IN THE CROWD, I feel I should answer Stuart G. Morris' letter (June 11) suggesting that my wife and I may be "pushy parents." I can assure Mr. Morris and any others concerned that Steve entered into his track experience with the same positive excitement and enjoyment with which he "vacuums" the floor, "bathes" his sister and imitates adult speech. He exhibits the normal defense mechanism of identification. As the son of a coach, he has identified with running as a positive adult activity—just as a farm boy is interested in plants and animals.
Mr. Morris should be happy to know that Steve has never been, and hopefully will never be, pushed into any form of athletics. I cherish the advantages of athletics too much to make them a chore to my son. Only enjoyment, without the emotional overtones of competition, will determine how much running my son chooses to do. His one-year-old age-group records will hopefully be used as a humorous conversation piece in years to come.
In response to Arthur M. Bradford's letter (June 11), I would like to point out that many of the concerns he expresses about distance-running programs for children have been under investigation by some of us who are involved in the conduct of these age-group programs.
It has been my experience in more than 12 years of coaching track and dealing with the medical aspects of preadolescent athletes that sports injuries are rather rare in this age group. It is only with the onset of puberty and its subsequent muscular maturity that serious injuries such as pulled muscles, shin splints and ligamentous sprains occur. Our physiological studies also indicate that the hearts, lungs and circulation systems of children are as well able to adapt to the stresses of distance running as those of more mature runners.
On the other hand, I must join Mr. Bradford in condemning the psychological effects of some of the high-pressure coaching techniques that he has observed. We have found that the drop-out rate among youngsters who participate in California's age-group cross-country programs is nearly 50% per year. Certainly we must seek to make competitive sports more relaxed and enjoyable for these young people so that their talents can be nurtured, not destroyed.
C. HARMON BROWN, M.D.
AAA Girls' Age Group
Track and Field Committee
San Mateo, Calif.
You were kind enough to print some remarks from a speech I gave to the international Little League convention (SCORECARD, June 18). As the psychiatric member of the National Athletic Health Institute's Medical Advisory Board, I am interested in improving the quality of the athlete's experience in sports. We are trying to work through management and coaches at all levels of competition to help those officials to understand and meet the needs of athletes.
The old drill-sergeant style of coaching is often at cross purposes with the goal of athletic and personal excellence. While our primary goal is not to help coaches squeeze out the last ounce of performance, we believe higher achievement comes as a by-product of an improved player-coach relationship.
Happy players don't always win, of course, but they never lose.
THOMAS P. JOHNSON, M.D.
MORE ON GRAPHITE
We were very pleased to see the coverage you gave recently to the controversy over the use of graphite in golf-club shafts (A Power Hitter Goes on Trial, June 4). The pros and cons of the shaft were handled quite well; however, your comment on the origin of the graphite material itself was in error. The graphite fiber used in golf shafts is a very sophisticated high-performance reinforcement that has been in the research and development stage for seven years. It is manufactured by a complex process that involves carbonizing synthetic (polyacrylonitrile) fiber in an inert atmosphere at temperatures approaching 5000° Fahrenheit.
This fiber is then combined with a high-performance resin such as the epoxy resin used in the Aldila shaft. These reinforced plastic materials have demonstrated weight savings of more than 50% over comparable aluminum parts. This new material has other unique characteristics, such as high vibration damping and low thermal expansion. Vibrations in carbon composite structures stop in as little as one-tenth the time seen in metallic structures. Dimensional alterations resulting from temperature changes are generally one-fiftieth of what is normally expected with other materials. The material also has fatigue characteristics superior to metals. Until recently, the applications have been limited to prototype aerospace structures. The cost of the material has limited wider usage in commercial applications.
The golf shaft is only one of the applications involving sports equipment that are currently being pursued. Tennis rackets, javelins, archery products and other sporting equipment are not far behind.
JON B. DE VAULT
Applications Development Advanced Composites
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.