Your Nov. 12 cover photo of Pistol Pete Maravich was the best you have ever had, and the article He's Shooting the Works matched it. But the most spectacular, by far, was the shot on page 26 of the Pistol in action. That photo captured everything Maravich is. You can almost feel the excitement; I keep waiting for the ball to fall in. The Pistol is having a fantastic year.
I was ecstatic to see an article about my idol, Pistol Pete Maravich. In my eyes he is the biggest sensation in basketball and deserves the title of superstar. I have been an avid fan of the Pistol since his glory days at LSU. Since then he has taken a lot of abuse from the press, not to mention the stubborn fan who says a good basketball player should not be a hot dog. Admittedly, Maravich has that characteristic, but that is his game and he excels at it. Basketball is more exciting, thanks to him.
Anyone who can handle all of the hardships Pistol Pete went through should have received the Rookie of the Year award just for his determination. Now Maravich is having his best season and, barring injuries, he probably will do for pro basketball what he did for the college game. He definitely is a step ahead of the other players.
My compliments to Rick Telander for his excellent article They Always Go Home Again (Nov. 12). His writing painted a vivid and realistic picture of some of the incomparable athletic ability to be found on New York's playgrounds. When I was a student in Peoria, Ill., Telander was the star at a rival high school. He was all-everything, but in addition he was a very friendly person who always had a hello for everybody. Now I am happy to see SI taking advantage of his wit and insight.
La Mesa, Calif.
November 26, 1973
They Always Go Home Again truly characterized the excitement and mystique of playground basketball. Every city has its own local talents, some of whom make it big while others remain as heroes in the hearts of local spectators. My old high school playground in Pittsburgh spawned much of the same. It was not uncommon to see Connie Hawkins saunter onto the court during the summer months in the days when he was playing for the Pittsburgh team in the old ABL. Other stars such as Ken Durrett, Willie Somerset, Greg (Stretch) Howard, Brian Generalovich, Walt Mangham and Jim McCoy made frequent appearances. However, there was one special player whom nobody outside of our basketball zone knew except by reputation. He was a 5'3" butcher in his late 20s or early 30s named Bernie Greenberg. He was usually the first pick and had moves and passes that continue to mystify everyone who has ever seen him play. With his butcher hat falling as he squirmed his way toward the basket, he was one of our playground's superstars and certainly my "main man." As Rick Telander has aptly said, playground basketball is not just a game but a way of living.
I was chagrined upon reading Tex Maule's article (In It Just for Kicks, Nov. 5) about the plethora of field goals in the NFL today. Mr. Maule, regrettably, used this opportunity to take yet another cheap shot at the old AFL. His statement that the established NFL had a monopoly on the good defensive players was a slight upon the quality of the "other league." While it is true that defensive backs like Lem Barney and Herb Adderley played in the NFL, it is tremendously unfair for Maule, in one sentence, to negate the contributions of players such as Willie Brown, Johnny Robinson, Dave Grayson and others. Maule's contention that allegedly "inferior" coverage in the secondary gave birth to the zone defense ignores the possibility that the AFL possessed the outstanding quarterbacks and receivers of the day. No Morrall or Kapp (the NFL's Super Bowl quarterbacks of 1968 and 1969) could possibly rate with Namath, Dawson, Lamonica or Hadl. Equally so, Don Maynard, Otis Taylor, Lance Alworth and Fred Biletnikoff were easily the finest receivers of that time; and they, too, played in the AFL. Did it not occur to Maule that superior offensive play was a primary reason for the creation of zone defenses in the old AFL?
Tex Maule ought to wake up to the fact that the American Football League was not inferior; he should also refrain from his repeated cheap shots at the quality of play therein. The Jets really did beat the Colts that day, Tex, and the next year Kansas City did outclass Minnesota.
PAUL M. SCHACKMAN
New York City
I agree with Maule's idea of returning the ball to the line of scrimmage after a missed field goal from outside the 20-yard line, along with outlawing the fair catch. However, the field goal is not the only part of the kicking game that has become boring. The point after touchdown is so commonplace that hardly anyone even watches it anymore. By far the best solution to this would be to reinstate the two-point conversion in pro football.
ARA GO BRAGH
The article by Pat Putnam ('Twos a Great Day for the Irish, Nov. 5) provided excellent insights into the electrically charged atmosphere that was pervasive all week at Notre Dame and proved highly combustible on game day.
Not only was Anthony Davis shut off, as was the Southern California ground game that netted only 68 yards, but save for one big play that produced a score, Quarterback Pat Haden was consistently checked. It was poetic justice that the skein of 23 games without defeat by USC came to a grinding halt at South Bend, the site where it had been originally spawned. Let's hear it for Ara—a great big "Ara go bragh!"
FRANK R. WYNNE
Los Alamitos, Calif.
My congratulations to Notre Dame. Once again they have overcome a vicious one-game schedule.
DON'T KNOCK WORST
I am glad to see a rating for the kind of college football I'm familiar with, namely the Worst of the Worst (When You Stand on Your Head, Syracuse Is No. 1, Oct. 29). However, if justice is to be served, then Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute deserves a choice place on the list. Here are some examples: J) The Engineers have produced one of football's longest winless streaks that ended in 1965 after 43 games and included 34 straight losses; 2) Even when RPI scored its greatest number of points in recent memory, 43, it still couldn't win; 3) Two years ago, boasting the leading small-college passer and receiver, Bob Baron and Kalle Kontson, they soared to a stunning 4-5 season; 4) That year, utilizing one of their favorite strategies, the fourth-quarter fold, the Engineers coasted into the final period leading 27-0. They pulled themselves together, though, and staged a brilliant come-from-ahead defeat, 27-28.
Not content to rest on past glory, however, the team started this year with a new coach, high hopes and a five-game losing streak. It was not until their third game that they scored their first point. A month ago, facing a team that had not scored a point all season, the Engineers graciously let the opposition score first but still went into the fourth quarter leading 14-3. Quickly going into the now-famous final-period flop, they lost 14-18. Two weeks ago against St. Lawrence they again snatched defeat from the yawn of victory. Leading 17-6 with seven minutes to go, they managed to lose 17-19.
Steve Harvey is a favorite of all my contemporaries. We in the class of '71 are saddened to see Brown's failure to hit the Worst Ten this season. But we have faith that we will return to Harvey's fold, though it doesn't look as if we will make much of a run at the top (or bottom, as you wish).
Seriously, the games were always fun, and winning a sporting event, or losing, is not one's whole life. The humility of losing is, in many ways, a more valuable lesson to learn.
DAVID T. MORGAN
OUT OF THE CHAIR
I was just set to relax after a hard day at the office when you upset the whole thing. You printed that misty-eyed look at softball (It's Workmen's Compensation, Nov. 5). Thirty-five years ago there were no Little Leagues, Babe Ruth or Pony leagues because every small-town kid played softball and managed to play it with any old bat and ball he could get his hands on and in any vacant lot he didn't get run off of. You could do that with a softball but not the hardball—that was for Chicago and the Cubs. But today every one of my old softball buddies must be stirring uneasily somewhere, a copy of SI in one hand and an urge to get out of that comfortable chair and onto the sandlot once again. My thanks to Keith Mano.
A great thing about softball is the many-faceted personalities of its players and fans. The loyal troops of players' wives, girl friends, children and just plain old fans generate almost as much excitement as do the individuals who play the game. The greatest thing about softball is that it truly is a game that can be played and witnessed by all kinds of people.
Fast-pitch softball is major league entertainment only if you're thrilled by strikeouts. The complete domination of the game by the pitchers is the main reason why it has faded in popularity. Five years ago 70% of the soft-ball players in the U.S. played fast-pitch; now, more than 70% play slow-pitch because it is a fast, action-packed, high-scoring game that involves all 10 men on each team, not just the pitcher and the catcher.
Regarding your article Adieu, Adieu, Kind Friends...(Nov. 5), your writer, Frank Deford, states the case that Riva Ridge's 1972 Preakness defeat was brought about by a "State Fair speedball."
I take exception to this and feel it demeans Bee Bee Bee, the horse in question, his trainer, Del Carroll, and owner William Farish. Bee Bee Bee had won races at major tracks, and Del Carroll had predicted to the Daily Racing Form a year before the race that Bee Bee Bee lit the Preakness like a glove and would probably win it. I think you owe all concerned an apology.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
PENALTY: 20 YEARS
I read with great interest the letter from Clancy Cross in your Nov. 5 issue and have only one comment. It is fortunate that Mr. Cross resides in Moorhead, Minn., for if he-were within striking distance I would be penalized for roughing the punner.
Having thoroughly enjoyed jeannette Bruce's essay on ghostly athletes (Shades of Old Sports, Oct. 29), I must take exception to her assumption that the relatively youthful American sports (football, basketball, baseball) provide us with no phantom Hankers, ghoulish guards or celestial southpaws.
A trip to the Notre Dame campus would have afforded Bruce a chance to visit venerable Washington Hall in search of the ghost of George Gipp. (Reports that the ghost is really Ronald Reagan in a nightgown are grossly exaggerated.) George occasionally leaves his sanctuary to take his place in the lineup as the 12th man when the Fighting Irish need him.
MICHAEL P. COMISKEY
No ghosts in football? What about the one that galloped for Illinois?
GEORGE W. HEIM
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