NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle points out (Star-Struck Canton, Aug. 5) that "if NFL players are given total freedom to negotiate their services, the league would be dominated by a few rich teams and would eventually lose both fan interest and revenue."
Surprisingly, Ed Garvey, director of the players' union, ostensibly agrees. "Let those teams go out of business if they can't run a profitable enterprise," says Garvey. "That's what happens in American industry."
I thought Garvey had the interests of all players at heart, not just a few superstar wheeler-dealers. When teams go out of existence, many players lose jobs.
Will the day come when Garvey will be able to claim: "The operation was a success but the patient died"?
THOMAS STAPLETON JR.
August 18, 1974
So Ed Garvey thinks some of the teams should be allowed to go out of business.
His statement implies that if a team cannot compete without the reserve clause, it is because of management inefficiency. But no amount of efficiency will allow Lou Saban of Buffalo to offer the climate and movie-industry contacts of Southern California, or Art Modell of Cleveland the night life and media exposure of New York. Nor, with their smaller markets, can they expect to outbid the teams of those areas.
The claim is made that everyone else has the right to change employers at will. But some other businesses do use contracts restricting key employees from working for a competitor in the same industry within a specific time period.
Further, companies in most other industries, if at a disadvantage because of location, can move to the same city as their competitor. Would that work in professional sports? And in other industries, if one company becomes too predominant, the Federal Government may act. Now if one team wins the Super Bowl three times running and attendance falls off elsewhere, will the Sherman Anti-Trust Act apply?
GOODBY TO ALL THAT
Once again you have outdone yourselves, and author Roger Kahn (In the Catbird Seat, Aug. 5) has once again made the game of baseball more personal.
In these days when most ball parks look alike and are impersonal—save Fenway, Wrigley, Tiger and White Sox parks—the glory days of Ebbets Field with Jackie Robinson and its other heroes are captured magnificently by Kahn and Bob Weaver.
B.J. SCOTT FORST
Huntington Station, N.Y.
I was the typical 10-year-old who watched Jackie get up and brush off the dirt from his rear end; who watched Carl turn a sure single to right into an out at first; who watched Campy pick off a man stealing, as if he were tossing the ball back to the mound.
Today I am the typical 32-year-old businessman flying the shuttle back from Boston and crying for my 9-year-old son, who will not have the advantages in life that both my father and I had. Thanks for telling me something that I had almost forgotten.
Port Washington, N.Y.
I saw my first major league game in 1940 in Ebbets Field. On that day of overwhelming impressions, two things stood out: the incredible combination of colors—the green, green grass, the rich brown infield dirt, the brilliant white Dodger uniforms—and the smell of the grass. Somehow I never expected that smell. I mean in the middle of Brooklyn, in that ratty old ball park! Later in the game, the cigar smoke, spilled beer, hot dogs, Hilda Chester and the guy who used to scream "Cookeeee" numbed the sensibilities. But that initial smell Eve never forgotten. And somehow when O'Malley moved to LA. and when Monsanto invented AstroTurf, baseball for me lost its magic. Pete Reiser, where are you?
I lived only three blocks from Ebbets Field. At the time I was rather fortunate because the father of one of my friends worked there. When the Dodgers were away, we were allowed to play on the field. I couldn't start to explain the feeling of being on the same field where some of the world's most famous ballplayers made their names.
Reading and enjoying Roger Kahn's piece brought to mind many trips I made to Ebbets Field from New Rochelle, N.Y. to root for the Dodgers.
Invariably sitting in front of me in the grandstand behind home plate was a vociferous rooter for all the visiting teams. He didn't care who the opponents were.
Every time a play or a decision went against the Dodgers, his booming voice would cry out, "Eat your hearts out, you bums!"
I often wonder if he went out to California with the team.
A. RANDALL RUSKIN, D.D.S.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
I heartily concur that Ken Brett (A Pitcher with a Lot of Clout, Aug. 5) is indeed a very pleasant and refreshing flashback to those good old and long-gone days of the above-average hitting pitchers. I can well recall Wes Farrell of the Indians with his natural hitting ability. Also, back in the '30s there was Fred (Red) Lucas, the pugnacious hurler of the Cincinnati Reds and, subsequently, the Pirates. Though not a power hitter such as Ferrell or Brett, Lucas was a very reliable and productive pinch hitter, besides getting his share of hits in the games in which he pitched. For my part, the American League designated-hitter role is for the birds (and I don't mean the Orioles) and I'm glad that the National League did not adopt it. It makes for a far more exciting game when the pitcher takes his regular turn at the plate, since there is always the element of surprise in the eventuality of an unexpected and timely hit. Would that there were more fine hitting pitchers around today like Kenny Brett, for I'm sure that the game would then be more exciting.
WILLIAM F. O'BRIEN
THE LONG VIEW
The new flip technique in the long jump (The Flip That Led to a Flap, July 29) is enjoying a lot of publicity and is touted in your magazine as being "the first significant long-jump breakthrough in more than 50 years." This is probably true, as there are only so many things a jumper can do on his way to and into the sandpit. But while we are revolutionizing jumping technique let's make an even more fundamental change.
No matter who the jumper, no matter where the pit, no matter what the weather, there is one constant in every long jump, and that is the foul line, or the "scratch line," the thin strip along the takeoff board that has bedeviled jumpers throughout its existence.
At one time there was a need for such a line as an aid in measuring the jump and as a measure of standardization. But is it truly fair to those who don't "have their steps down" and jump before they reach the line, stagger their runs in order to reach the line or cross the line for a foul? Of course it isn't. This psychological dependence we have built up around a standard foul line is nothing more than a crutch for clipboard-wielding officials.
Rather than have a scratch line, why not have jumpers rub some talc-like nonslip substance on the bottoms of their shoes that would be picked up by a special track surface in the last 20 feet or so of the runway? The officials, clipboards and all, could then measure from the tip of the last talc mark to the rearmost imprint in the sandpit to ascertain the length of the jump.
This no-scratch system would undoubtedly be a boon to the jumpers and greatly increase the distances of their jumps.
If the IAAF outlaws the somersault in the long jump, it will be losing potential fans. The only real highlight I can recall in the otherwise dark history of this event is Bob Beamon's spectacular 29'2¼" jump at Mexico City. Outside of the triple jump, the long jump is the least-noticed track event.
ON THE FLY
I was pleased to discover that someone has brought to light the circumstances of Fly Williams and his future (Where Can the Fly Land? July 29). I have been a fan of the Fly ever since I saw him perform in the 1973 Mideast Regionals. This is just another case in which a talented ghetto athlete has gotten shafted by the recruiters. I can only hope that this is not a fatal swatting of the Fly.
There is no doubt in my mind that some pro team will pick up Fly Williams. He not only will make it in the pros, he will be one of the best.
I enjoyed your informative article on the Superdome in New Orleans (The Louisiana Purchase, July 22) and, as an interested citizen, eagerly look forward to the opening of this great facility. The Dome will stimulate the economy of the entire area and will provide thousands of sport fans with the finest facility in the United States for watching a great variety of athletic contests.
The prime movers you mentioned in your article deserve a portion of credit for the realization of this dream, but you overlooked the man most responsible for the financing of the Superdome. I am referring to James H. Jones, chairman of the board of the First National Bank of Commerce, New Orleans, who pushed and pleaded and pushed again to see this idea become steel and mortar. Some people report that Mr. Jones' success was in some way related to "luck" due to the timing of the bond issue, which his bank had underwritten, but I am sure Mr. Jones would agree with me and Coach Darrell Royal, who once said, "Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity." Mr. Jones was prepared, and he created the opportunity.
Merchants National Bank
In response to J. D. Reed's wonderings about the existence of "some prime loony" who may still want to watch a football game "the old way, wrapped in the car blanket in a brick stadium with a Thanksgiving blizzard blowing in his teeth," I must be that "loony." If the Superdome is the future, I prefer to stay in the Dark Ages.
Having read numerous articles on golf in SI by Dan Jenkins, I was surprised by his analysis of Dale Hayes' violation of "a well-known rule of golf" in the British Open (Gary Player's Expo, July 22).
Dan is incorrect when he says that once you drop a provisional, that is the ball you play. A provisional is exactly what the word implies. In case "a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds, to save time the player may at once play another ball provisionally as nearly as possible from the spot at which the original ball was played." This ball must be declared a provisional, and it must be played before going forward to look for the original ball. The provisional may be played until the golfer reaches the spot where the original is likely to be. If the provisional is played beyond that point, the original ball is deemed lost.
Thus, Hayes did not play or attempt to play a provisional ball. He had either abandoned his ball as lost or the allotted five-minute search time had expired, in which case he was obliged to return to the previous point and put another ball into play.
EDWARD J. RIDLER
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