Melvin Maddocks' article on Carlton Fisk (The New England Grit of Mr. Fisk, July 30) was one of the finest I have read in your magazine. Fisk is the best catcher in the American League right now and in a couple of years he will be better than "you know who" from the Cincinnati Reds. If the Red Sox win the pennant, which they have a good chance of doing, Fisk would be at the head of the line to win the MVP award. And no one deserves it more than that young hustler from New England.
It was really far out to find that I read the same books and see the same movies as Carlton Fisk, and I suffer from insomnia, too! If these are the makings of a great catcher—here I come.
Melvin Maddocks should check his facts more carefully. I'm referring to his paragraph on New England catchers, and Birdie Tebbetts in particular.
According to him, Birdie came from Burlington, Vt., when as a matter of fact he was actually born and brought up here in Nashua, N.H.
We don't have many big-league players from Nashua and want to be sure we get credit for those we do have.
EILEEN E. PHIPPARD
•Tebbetts was born in Burlington Nov. 10, 1909. His family moved to Nashua when he was a boy.—ED.
Is grit a characteristic found only in New England catchers? An uneducated baseball fan would gather as much by reading Melvin Maddocks' story.
But what about Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees, another bright young catcher? With all due regard to the New England grit of Mr. Fisk, he certainly does not monopolize all the catching talent in the American League.
As of July 29 Munson led Fisk in average .305 to .271. Even though Munson has hit fewer home runs, he leads in RBIs. Maddocks made a big deal about Fisk's all-star statistics, which are certainly impressive, but he failed to mention that they are second to those of Munson. Fisk batted more but Munson has more hits. As a result he has scored more runs. Munson is also one of the fastest catchers in baseball. Munson has done all this while coming from Ohio and bringing with him a bundle of grit—the Midwest variety.
Bobby Riggs (All the World's a Stage, July 30) is highly controversial and he has rubbed a lot of people of both sexes the wrong way. But for all his possible faults he has gotten many middle-aged and old men out of their easy chairs and onto a tennis court or jogging track or into a swimming pool. For this reason, and this reason alone, Bobby Riggs can do no wrong.
DOUGLAS R. HOLM
I would like to nominate Bobby Riggs for Sportswoman of the Year.
DAVID L. ANSELL
New City, N.Y.
One minute you have me feeling sorry for poor old Bobby Riggs and then the next minute I'm turning at least 12 shades of red and twiddling my thumbs in anticipation of The Match in which Billie Jean will beat him. Excuse me now, I feel another urge to go stick pins in my Bobby Riggs doll.
When I opened the July 23 issue and saw the article on land sales (Buy Now and Cry Later), my ire was raised because I didn't think it belonged in a sports magazine. However, upon reading the piece, I think the writer, Robert H. Boyle, and the magazine are due congratulations for an excellent example of investigative reporting. Although hardly related to sports, it must rank as one of the best articles to have appeared in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED since I became a subscriber. Coupled with the fact that the same issue included fine pieces on two sports greats who rarely get any print coverage, Billy Williams and Don Maynard, the July 23 SI can surely rate as one of the best ever.
MICHAEL D. HIRSCH
Bil Gilbert's To Capture Moments and Majesty (July 23) was excellent, as was the lead photograph by Ron Austing. However, the photograph is contained on two pages, which makes it virtually impossible to clip the picture and mount it so the two pages look as one.
Please, in the future, confine your photographs to one page, even if the size has to be reduced. In this way, they may be mounted and enjoyed for many years to come.
It was refreshing to read an article on nature photography in a sports magazine. Bil Gilbert expressed some stimulating ideas, as did the photographers themselves, not to mention the pictures.
A while back I was trying to choose between a subscription to SI and membership in the National Audubon Society. After deciding on one, I got both. Thanks.
The ABA has decided to ban the foul-out rule as an experiment. The league has a short memory.
Last October the Denver Rockets committed 56 fouls in a 155-111 loss to the Virginia Squires. Down by 18 points, Rocket Coach Alex Hannum ordered his men to foul deliberately during the last 17 minutes as a protest against the rules and the referees. Virginia had 30 personals, but they weren't trying.
For The Record (NOV. 6, 1972) reported: "The Rocket players complied reluctantly with Hannum's orders, the Squires protested to the commissioner, the referee said he would file some choice words, the league public-relations man, a spectator, was embarrassed and the fans booed."
Look forward to more games like this one, ABA fans.
Regarding your commentary on aluminum baseball bats (SCORECARD, July 9), an interesting sidelight on the subject occurred following the regular Indiana Collegiate Conference season.
Indiana Central College, winner of the ICC baseball title with an 8-0 record and 18-2 overall, batted .319 as a team in those 20 contests with nearly every player using the experimental aluminum bats.
Invited to the NCAA College Division Mideast Regional Playoff, Greyhound Coach Bill Bright was informed that during the postseason tournament the use of aluminum bats would be prohibited.
Returning to the wooden clubs, Central batters collected 52 hits in 150 times at bat in four games against the topflight competition of the Mideast Regionals, a .347 average. This raised the team average to .325, ranking IC third in the final College Division statistics.
Perhaps the IC players should have been using the old wooden sticks after all?
WINNING WAYS (CONT.)
No one would argue that George Allen is a winner (A Hundred Percent Is Not Enough, July 9). His record as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams and the Washington Redskins proves that point quickly. And no one would argue against his thesis that total effort, total preparation, compulsive work habits lead to professional success. But what is it all for?
As I read the article, I kept asking myself questions. I wondered if George Allen really believes that "Winners don't waste time, and that applies in every walk of life." Would Allen ever be wasteful enough to take an unplanned walk on a beach, or smell some fresh mint leaves from the garden? What kind of winner does he mean when he says "the winner is the only individual who is truly alive...every time you win, you're reborn; when you lose, you die a little"? I guess his wife Etty, who apparently understands him and is patient, is not alive. All she does is raise the children and put up with his being away from home so much. I'm glad he does try to get together with his family whenever he can! There's a real concerned man.
My major argument against his philosophy is that he's too black/white, too singularly goal-oriented, too tight. From this article, at least, he makes no distinction between his professional and his personal life. In fact, his personal life seems rather unimportant.
It is one thing to know what you want, to be willing to work hard for it, to be organized and thorough ("We will not let anything go without examining it"), to personally care about your team. It's another thing to be consumed by this passion for winning. George Allen is consumed. Winning is important, especially in your professional career. But is it everything?
Thanks anyway, but there's a missing link somewhere.
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR
There can be only one possible choice for Sportsman of the Year and that is Henry Aaron. Whether he cracks Ruth's record this year, as he might, or next year, doesn't really matter.
The pressure The Hammer has had to withstand has been unbelievable. And yet, none of the histrionics that accompanied Roger Maris' pursuit of 61 homers in a season has touched the marvelous Aaron.
Could there possibly be any more exemplary behavior on the part of an athlete chasing the most cherished baseball record in America?
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