UP WITH THE BIRDS
Ron Fimrite's article on the Cardinals (Cashing in Those Intangibles, Aug. 6) was excellent. Since early in the season, when you reported how bad the Cardinals were doing, I just sat back and waited for the rookies to improve, the pitching to come around, the bats to get hot and the Cubs to choke. With Wise and Gibby and Cleveland winning, how can the Cards lose?
Fimrite's comments on the St. Louis fans' appreciation and knowledge of baseball are as refreshing as his perspective of what is making the team a pennant contender.
New York City
Red Schoendienst and the Cardinal front office should be given a lot of credit for not panicking and putting the whole team on the trading block, as some people in St. Louis suggested.
Three cheers to the Cardinal players, the rookies and veterans who held fast to the belief that, with five wins and 20 losses, there was no place to go but up.
I don't think Don Shula, coach of the Miami Dolphins, will ever forget John McKay, coach of USC and this year's great All-Star team, for what he said (Two-Sided, For Once, Aug. 6): "Just give 'em to Don Shula. He'll have 'em in the Super Bowl in three years." It was a great compliment to a great coach, but the same to Mr. McKay—certainly a great coach himself.
East Lansing, Mich.
McKay with his experience realized that the game itself would be won by the team that could best operate as one unit. With that thought in mind he set out to prepare the All-Stars mentally, rather than physically endangering them with heavy workouts in practice sessions.
In the game itself, however, although the All-Stars had plenty of talent, desire and know-how, they showed a lack of concentration. As a result, this was all the Dolphins needed; they had that little extra mental unity being an established team.
If nothing else, the All-Stars proved that they could play with the best of the pros, and anytime that can be done that's some kind of achievement.
I am a little puzzled by John Underwood's comments regarding the New England Patriots and their draftees in relation to the All-Star Game against the Dolphins. The way Underwood writes it, it sounds as if the Patriots kept their draftees off the team. Actually, there were three Patriot draftees on the All-Star squad—including Sam Cunningham, the only player who was significantly injured in practice.
KARL F. STEPHENS, M.D.
It was good to see SPORTS ILLUSTRATED recognizing the young American soccer players who have contributed so much this season to their teams in the NASL (Learning the Game by Rote, Aug. 6).
To keep readers up to date, rookie Kyle Rote Jr. led the league in total points and the remarkable Joe Fink finished tied for second in goals-scored—the highest statistical finish by American players in any season.
Thanks Joe, thanks Kyle, your accomplishments this year have probably done more for soccer's rising popularity in the U.S. than any individual's in the past; you arrived in the nick of time.
It is interesting that the new crop of homegrown soccer players includes the son of a football star (Rote), and the son of a major league baseballer (Miami's Mike Seerey).
RUFUS L. MOYER
State College, Pa.
When we started all this seven years ago, not only was there no sign of a good young American pro soccer player, but also of Americans who cared how many young Americans there were in pro soccer.
New York Cosmos
New York City
Perhaps next time you cover the Girls' 16 National Tennis Championships (A Sweet 16 Dance at Charleston, Aug. 6) you could give a little more coverage to the real champ, Betsy Nagelsen, who, despite her obvious handicap of not having a pro sister or tennis experts for parents, won the championship and has a bright future in women's tennis.
Rolling Prairie, Ind.
I was deeply disappointed with the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED commentary on the Lance Rentzel case. It was utterly devoid of any pretense of objectivity. How you can possibly draw an analogy between a pernicious, pervasive conspiracy to fix a World Series and the isolated private activities of one football player in the off-season is beyond my understanding.
I feel you do a grave disservice to Ed Garvey and the readers of this magazine by willfully neglecting to present his side of the litigation. Lance Rentzel has been duly apprehended and processed by the appropriate legal authorities. His punishments have been determined by the courts, as they would have been with any other citizen in similar circumstances.
That is precisely where matters should end. There is no reason why Rentzel or anyone should suffer double jeopardy for his offenses. There is no justification for the despotic Rozelle to impose additional arbitrary sanctions and deny Rentzel his opportunity to earn a livelihood.
ERNEST B. JOHNSON
In my opinion, Commissioner Rozelle's only fault lies in being too long-suffering with the most spoiled and arrogant group of adults in America. I only wish he had stuck to his guns and suspended Joe Namath back when all this foolishness first came to public attention. I would also like to see mandatory drug tests as often as is necessary to expel any player who might set such a sorry example for present and future athletes and other involved young people.
I am presently a season ticket-holder with the Atlanta Falcons. I would sooner purchase tickets to see what some may call mediocre players who are great men than to pay the salaries and pensions for great players who are sorry men.
College Park, Ga.
FLOW GENTLY (CONT.)
In regard to a letter written by Gorden Blain about the article on Don Maynard (Oh, How Gently Flows This Don, July 23) of the New York Jets: not only did this NFL fanatic unjustly put down Maynard and his "other AFL cohorts," but he failed to realize that AFL or former AFL teams captured the Super Bowl crown four out of the last five seasons.
The main reason that the Jets made it to the Super Bowl, if you recall, was due to the fact that Don Maynard made a phenomenal catch that set up the winning touchdown late in the final quarter of the AFL championship game. As a matter of fact, Maynard went on to score that big touchdown on the following play.
We agree that Raymond Berry's reception record was unbelievable, but this record now belongs to Don Maynard of the New York Jets.
Before all the Willie Davises hit five homers to sweep Kansas City in the World Series, and before all the Roger Staubachs lead their teams to 17-0-0 finishes, and before all the hockey sticks, basketballs and tennis rackets have set new records for 1973, allow me to cast an early August vote for Sportsman of the Year.
Is there really any other choice than the youthful, hard-hitting, supercharged, onetime mortal, superhero of golf? Tom Weiskopf...superstar.
West Covina, Calif.
I would like to nominate for Sportsman of the Year, Secretariat the superhorse. His Triple Crown win makes him worthy of this award. No exhibition—by man or beast—so far this year can come close to matching what he did!
JOHN R. SIMON
New York City
In regard to your two articles in the July 30 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED on the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles, thank you very much. Although it was not the first time I have read an article about Philadelphia teams in SI, it was one of the first that ever treated the Phillies as something other than a cellar-dweller, and the Eagles got the recognition they deserved for the trading and shaping they are doing for the future. So three cheers for Bob Hertzel (Philly Gets a Trio to Cheer) and Joe Marshall (The Eagles Warm Up for a Fast Takeoff).
Rebuilding is probably the most overused word heard in Philadelphia. From Society Hill to Veterans Stadium, that is all we've heard for the past countless years.
The Phillies started to rebuild in 1957 when rookies Harry Anderson, Turk Farrell, Ed Bouchee, Bob Bowman and Rookie Pitcher of the Year Jack Sanford inspired our few remaining Whiz Kids. Then the Eagles gave us many negative thrills since the mid-1960s—starting with a head coach with a 15-year contract who traded away some fine players and ending with an anti-hair fanatic who never accomplished anything.
Now, according to your July 30 issue, we may see the fruits ripen. Haven't I heard that song before? It still rings in my ears. But Philly fans live in hope.
DAVID E. FETTERMAN
Willow Grove, Pa.
As a disciple of Dick Young's philosophy that baseball is a religion (It's Religion, Baby—Not Show Biz, April 9), I have wanted many times in the past to walk out of "First Veterans Church" and look for a new religion outside the Philadelphia sports area. But lo and behold, like an angel from heaven, the mailman brought tidings of joy in your July 30 issue. I have faced a complete resurrection of faith with the arrival of two well-done articles on the three wise men of the Philadelphia Phillies, namely Luzinski, Unser and Robinson, and on the 11 apostles of the Philadelphia Eagles. The 12th apostle is the Eagles' new head coach, Mike McCormack.
MUSIC MAN (CONT.)
I'm a little curious as to when Billy Williams hit five homers in a doubleheader as claimed by Barry McDermott (Bend an Ear to Billy's Music, July 23). There was so much fanfare last year when Nate Colbert tied Stan Musial's 1954 feat in that category that it seems odd that we heard nothing about Billy Williams doing it. That may be the point your writer is trying to make in regard to Williams, but I'm not sure if all his facts are straight.
•Williams hit five home runs in consecutive games—not in a doubleheader—against Philadelphia and New York in 1968.—ED
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