HITS AND ERRORS
Congratulations on a superb article on the World Series (Mutiny and a Bounty, Oct. 29). William Leggett described as well as anyone can what I truly believe was the sloppiest Series in history. Only Bud Harrelson, Bert Campaneris and Reggie Jackson kept the so-called best teams in each league alive. And Mike Andrews! That poor guy didn't deserve to be forced into signing a false statement. If every man who made an error in that Series was fired, there wouldn't have been one person left to play.
William Leggett's article told everything there was to tell about the 1973 World Series, except for the most important part. The managers. Dick Williams and Yogi Berra took up the slack left by their teams' not-so-terrific play. Without good managers, Oakland and New York would have been even more embarrassed than they were.
North Kingstown, R.I.
What are you, sports columnists or critics? You sounded as though you were reviewing a new play instead of giving a report on sport's greatest event. I can remember when the World Series was looked upon as an important happening and talked about for months afterward. Now it is laughed at.
Maybe you didn't see the same World Series I saw because I saw two darn good baseball teams doing their best, while sportscasters such as Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek spent their time giving us the lowdown on the latest Charlie Finley caper. I enjoyed the Series and the fantastic plays made by both teams, even though I was for the A's all the way. The A's are winners. They are not freaks, as you make them out to be because of their long hair and mustaches, and I would hardly say that their uniforms are shocking. As for the errors they made, well, name one team in the history of baseball that never had a slipup and I'll eat my baseball. The A's have won the World Series two years straight. They are real pros.
November 12, 1973
Three Chinese cheers for Ron Fimrite: Fooiee! Fooiee! Fooiee! His so-called articles on the playoffs (Last Tango to Pennantville, Oct. 15) and the World Series (Buffoonery Rampant, Oct. 22) really stunk. Since when is he so perfect? Who cares if the teams bobbled a few balls; watching the Series was 100% better and more exciting than reading Fimrite's stories.
Hobbs, N. Mex.
What Ron Fimrite somewhat pessimistically termed a World Series displaying "more elements of low comedy than high drama" may very well be the saving grace of baseball for many frustrated fans. In recent years the automation of baseball has regrettably made it more of a science than a sport, with the result that the players on the field work in an infallible fashion more closely resembling clockwork than a team of individuals. Cincinnati's impersonal Big Red Machine was hopefully the climax of this transformation. Fans come to the ball park not to witness machines but to see humans, and humans who blunder occasionally, at that. The "buffoonery" in the Series reassured me that ballplayers, even on championship teams, really are still human. It also reestablished the excitement and individualism that used to make baseball what it now is not. Unpredictable is the word. My thanks to the A's and especially the Mets for bringing baseball down to earth again.
Along with millions of other viewers across America, I watched the fifth game of the World Series. I am amazed and dismayed at the cheap way NBC took advantage of its audience and the extremely poor taste in which it advertised its televised hockey games. I am referring to the NBC commercial showing not a 20-foot slap shot or a two-on-one break, but two hockey players slugging each other while the referee, who was trying to break it up, got smashed.
NBC has insulted the minds of America. Do NBC officials really think we care more about how the players fight than how they play? Is this unnecessary violence more apt to get us to watch these games on TV? Just how far are they prepared to go in search of the most effective eye-catcher they can get away with? What will they stop at before they begin to assume some kind of responsibility to their huge audience, many of whom are kids who look up to hockey players as their idols?
West Arlington, Mass.
The Dallas weekly football paper Bob Lilly's Pro Report (SCORECARD, Oct. 15) won't know how to report this one. The Cowboys lost 30-16 to "a disaster area." Pro Report suggested that Philadelphia be granted 16 first-round draft choices next season. However, I am sure the Eagles will be happy to wait until the 17th pick. The Cowboys could use the first 16 themselves.
Joe Marshall's article Now You See Him, Now You Don't (Oct. 29) was probably the best I have ever read in your magazine. It not only stated the bright side of the sensational season that O. J. Simpson is having but also mentioned the difficult day he had against the Miami Dolphins, gaining only 55 yards, far below his 163-yards-per-game average. Put him behind an experienced offensive line and, barring injuries, I believe it is a safe bet to say that Orenthal James Simpson would be well on his way to becoming the best running back in the history of professional football.
MICHAEL G. VER HAGUE
North Tonawanda, N.Y.
Many thanks for a very interesting article about O. J. Simpson. He is an individual—the team's leader and nucleus—yet he is devoted to the Bills, not to a record. Perhaps this is the real reason Simpson is the NFL's best.
JAMES FORTI JR.
Your article on O. J. Simpson was tremendous. However, your picture on page 31 also showed something else. Buffalo's No. 68, Joe DeLamielleure, is holding Baltimore's No. 53. Maybe that is why O.J. has gained so many yards.
Mt. Prospect, Ill.
FIGHT FOR THE BOTTOM
Although Syracuse may be leading in losses and spending more money per game, I feel Iowa deserves No. 1 in the Bottom 10 (When You Stand on Your Head, Syracuse Is No. 1, Oct. 29). Steve Harvey failed to notice the outstanding job Iowa is doing in dropping its games. And this is not Iowa's first non-winning season. No, sir. Iowa consistently produces some of the best losses and worst teams.
T. J. MURTAUGH
De Kalb, Ill.
I must protest Steve Harvey's listing of Texas-El Paso as the second worst among major college football teams. The Miners are certainly worse than No. 1 Syracuse. This is a team that has lost to such powerhouses as Utah (82-6), Colorado State (76-24) and Idaho (62-14).
I also want to nominate UTEP's nonfans as the worst in the nation for their consistent nonsupport of the Miners.
How dare Steve Harvey rank Oregon State University No. 10 on his Worst of the Worst list? We lost to No. 9 BYU and therefore deserve No. 9!
Making any top 10 is quite an honor for Wake Forest. However, to avoid any bitter feelings with Florida State, the Deacons will concede their fourth place to the No. 5 Seminoles on the basis of a 9-7 Wake Forest win over Florida State in September.
It doesn't seem fair that the University of Washington was left out of Steve Harvey's Bottom 10 college football teams. Jim Owens' Huskies have not only been easily defeated by 10th ranked Oregon State, they also have fallen to Hawaii and handed Duke its only victory of the season. A win over No. 1-ranked Syracuse is the team's only triumph. The Huskies deserve recognition.
If nothing else, the article was very amusing. Although Steve Harvey's poll certainly is deplored by some, as Joe Jares points out, it does provide us fans with a taste of the game's lighter side.
One question: Was it really necessary to go all the way to Los Angeles for Mr. Harvey's listing of the 10 worst teams? Wouldn't it have been easier to merely list the schedule (Syracuse, Army, Iowa...) that Penn State plays?
Barry McDermott's brilliant coverage of the Piccadilly World Match-play Championship at Wentworth (A Matchless Player at Match Play, Oct. 22) makes two things clear. One is that Gary Player is indeed the finest competitor in the game today. His "gamesmanship tactics," of which Miller complained, are the very essence of sport—and his return from major surgery to the top of his profession in less than a year is a tribute to his overall fitness.
The second point is that for all its additional prize money the U.S. pro golf tour gets duller each year. The World Cup and Piccadilly, golf's two most interesting events, are not part of the tour and include numerous foreign-born players, while the World Series of Golf is an annual bore and the poorly planned U.S. Professional Match-play Championship has gotten exactly what it has deserved—dull final matches each year.
There is a simple solution. Replace the two dreadful tournaments with one patterned after the two most interesting. To climax the summer golf season, stage a match-play event over Labor Day weekend, pitting 16 top foreign-born pros against 16 U.S. pros. The site could be rotated among, say, three or four courses to ensure consistency and wide exposure. Such a tournament might well be named after that matchless individual, Gary Player.
Santurce, Puerto Rico
Pushed to the Arctic Brink and Beyond (Oct. 15) was a most enjoyable article. I also have a desire to catch one of the "super flatfish" on rod and reel. They are taken in the waters of Washington and Alaska and British Columbia, too. The largest halibut in California, however, rarely exceeds 50 pounds, and because of overfishing they are now a rarity. Your fishing stories are different enough from those of the hunting and fishing magazines to keep me on the edge of my chair. Keep them coming.
UNDERRATED REFS (CONT.)
A thunderous ovation for Peter Carry ("The Highest Accolade Is Silence," Oct. 15). As both a fan of professional basketball and a college referee, I was pleased to see your depiction of pro referees as talented and capable professionals who must always perform under most difficult circumstances. In light of the general lack of recognition accorded professional officials, perhaps the highest accolade is being the subject of your story.
PATRICK J. CURRAN
In your fine feature on pro basketball officials it is stated that NBA Referee Richie Powers comes from the Bronx. Well, some of Richie's friends and fans would like it known that Richie now resides in Greenwich, Conn., where he is very much involved in community affairs. Richie is quite a guy and we are proud to say he lives in our town.
Thank you for the fine article Sinking the Rising Suns (Oct. 22). Rugby is one amateur sport that allows players to compete without the pollution of commercialism. It combines competitiveness and comradeship in the true spirit of amateurism. More articles on rugby would be most appreciated.
Indy Reds Rugby Football Club
CHOO CHOO (CONT.)
Ron Fimrite's magnificent story (A Long Locomotive for Choo Choo, Oct. 15) was a fine tribute to a great man. Although I have never met Charlie Justice, the whispering of his name among Chapel Hillians, the books exalting his hallowed feats and the godlike mystique surrounding him lead me to believe that he is more than just a hero—he is a myth.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Ron Fimrite's story on Charlie (Choo Choo) Justice was a gem. Like thousands of other North Carolinians, I used to spend my Saturday afternoons in Kenan Stadium watching Charlie thrill the crowds with his spectacular play. His performance in the Wake Forest-North Carolina game at Chapel Hill in 1948 produced one of the most unusual feats perhaps ever accomplished on the gridiron. Charlie ran untouched for a 65-yard touchdown only to have the play called back. After a time-out, he ran the same play and practically stepped in the same footsteps for 65 yards and the touchdown—130 yards on successive plays and never a hand laid on him. Unbelievable. Wake Forest had an outstanding football team that included many talented ex-servicemen. Charlie was not blessed with great speed, but his ability to change directions, stop on a dime and cut and reverse his field made him the most exciting football player I have seen in more than 40 years of spectating.
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