Yours is the first objective, levelheaded account of the Muhammad Ali-Jimmy Young fight I have read (The Champ Looked Like a Chump, May 10). While Ali did nothing to enhance his reputation, Young did not at any time take charge of the fight, although it appeared that he could have, almost at will. Instead, he fought a "cute" fight, content to make an undertrained, overconfident Ali look bad. This might have been enough to outpoint another contender in a nontitle encounter, but you do not strip the heavyweight champion of the world of his crown simply because he has embarrassed himself. The challenger has to have shown himself to be clearly superior and in command. Jimmy Young did neither, and it was gratifying to see Mark Kram put things in perspective without resorting to an apologia for Ali's sorry performance.
By receiving more than $1 million for fighting Jimmy Young, Muhammad Ali proved that you can get something for nothing. As a champion, Ali is expected to set a good example, but we saw a shell of a fighter giving a shell of a performance in what was insultingly called a title defense. Ali has announced he will retire at the end of this year. May I suggest that he meet his signed commitments and then retire at the end of September? Ali has given life and excitement to boxing, but I do not believe that anyone wants to see a fading Ali in the ring merely going through the motions and taking the fans for granted.
Boy, have the critics and anti-Ali forces risen up. One letdown by Ali, and they tear him to shreds. Maybe it wasn't the greatest show on earth, but the critics should remember that Ali has done more for boxing than anyone else ever has.
PRINCE, UECKER & WOLF
My hat goes off to William Leggett for his in-depth look at Monday Night Baseball (TV/RADIO, May 10). I think it's a great idea to continue Monday Night Baseball, but let's have announcers who get excited when a ball is hit in the gap for extra bases instead of discussing who the greatest pitcher was during the Depression years. What happened to the exuberant Harry Caray, who could make a one-hour rain delay exciting? Bob Prince, Bob Uecker and Warner Wolf make a stolen base, a triple into the corner or a diving backhanded stab sound like the news.
White Hall, Ill.
May 23, 1976
William Leggett's TV/RADIO column, usually articulate and perceptive, roamed far off base in its assessment of ABC's coverage of major league baseball. Bob Prince, Bob Uecker and Warner Wolf have achieved what NBC's Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek failed to accomplish during a decade of exclusive coverage—make baseball come alive, give the sport an exuberance and flair.
Give me Bob Prince's vibrancy and fervor every Monday night. Let Kubek lull Leggett to sleep.
William Leggett adequately displayed his dislike for ABC's version of Monday Night Baseball. He concentrated much of his criticism on Announcer Warner Wolf. I don't believe all the tomatoes Leggett threw at Wolf were justified. I have watched Wolf at work for six years, and I think he is one of the finest sportscasters around today.
Come back home, Warner. Washington still loves you!
SHARON L. RAYMOND
Chevy Chase, Md.
While I am inclined to agree with William Leggett's evaluation of Warner Wolf's announcing prowess, I think Leggett should check out his facts on Roy While of the Yankees. White, whose glove supposedly "goes clank in the night," compiled a fielding average of .984 last year, a mark superior to those of superstars such as Reggie Jackson (.965) and Fred Lynn (.983). In 1971 White tied a major league record by playing an entire season in Yankee Stadium's tough-sun field without committing a single error. White's nonexistent throwing arm was responsible for 11 outfield assists in 1975, a mark identical to that of Lynn, whose fielding abilities have never been subject to criticism. White also hit .290 in 1975, with 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
William Leggett could not have made a truer assertion regarding Al Michaels" thoroughness and accuracy as an announcer. Michaels was the voice of the Hawaii Islanders Triple A baseball club before he moved up to the big time, and he impressed me then as an eloquent and knowledgeable play-by-play man whose delivery was as smooth as silk.
J. A. KINIMAKA
New York City
Bill Verigan (VIEWPOINT, May 10) will never make me believe all people go to the Indy 500 to see crashes. It is an exciting race. I go down at least two days before qualifying just to see the cars and the changes that have been made in them.
Verigan should check the accident statistics for automobiles on streets and highways. He just might have to stay at home.
MRS. D. E. HENDRICKS
One could dispute Bill Verigan's entire attitude, as I am sure most auto-racing fans do, but the most telling weakness of his viewpoint is the statement, "A man who sets Indianapolis as his goal is different—more daring, more reckless." Indeed, Indy drivers are different, and they are more daring. But they are not reckless. They are skilled. They might have been reckless at the beginning of their auto-racing careers, but by the time they drive at Indy, they're not. Witness such early "hard chargers" as Bobby Unser, A. J. Foyt and Roger McCluskey. They were all mature-thinking drivers by the time they made it to the Brickyard.
New York City
Herman Weiskopf did a good job on the story on Wade Schalles (Working His Way Up From the Bottom, May 10). If Dan Gable has been our best college and international wrestler of recent years, Wonderous Wade has surely been the most exciting. Ever since he won a state high school championship in 1969, Pennsylvania wrestling fans have been following Wade's career with enthusiasm. And he hasn't disappointed us.
When I read Jerry Kirshenbaum's fine article on USC swimmer John Naber (In the Back He's Way Out Front, May 10), I realized that Frank Deford had missed an essential part of religion in sport (April 19 et seq.) when he left out the athletes themselves. I'm sure that if Deford had talked to committed Christian athletes like Naber, he would have seen Sportianity in a different light.
After reading the article Play As You Go (May 10), I'm wondering why I went to a city college when I might have gone to Mount St. Mary's and had fun on a beautiful campus.
We enjoyed your article concerning the sports life of our school. However, what are you trying to do, get us in trouble? Our parents all think we're studying up here!
GARY T. ENGLESTAD
Congratulations to Bil Gilbert for his perceptive article. As an alumnus, I was delighted to read that the competitive spirit still flourishes at the Mount. Although I am obviously biased, I am convinced that the combination of a relatively good academic curriculum and a comprehensive yet low-keyed sports program provided me with an excellent education.
Perhaps of greater importance is Gilbert's description of how sports can be an integral part of an educational system without becoming a major industry. Sports administrators from the NCAA down to the Little League should take note.
EUGENE M. WALDRON JR.
I suggest that major league scouts check out the student named Savage who is pictured on page 51 of your May 10 issue. He must be a tremendous power hitter. Why else would the other team put its centerfielder on the roof of a distant dormitory?
I have been a sport fisherman since I was nine years old, and I have read hundreds of articles and stories about fishing. Many of the best were in your fine magazine. However, the article 5,760 Casts a Day: Now That's Plugging (April 26) left me feeling a bit ill.
While I have nothing against tournament fishing per se or fishing for money, I can't help but wonder what their effects will be on fishing in the future. Fishing is no longer fun when you need piles of lures and sophisticated sonar gear. In fact, it is no longer sport. Add a blitz of high-powered boats, arsenals of treble-hooked lures and the vision of big money, and what do you have?
We are at the stage where outdoor writers and pro fishermen are crying that the best fishing is ruined. Indeed it is. Ten years from now the pro fishermen will be fishing for each other.
If the day should ever come when I have to count my casts to see if I broke even, I'll hang it up!
JAMES F. SMITH
THE MAKING OF A RUNNER
As an aspiring distance runner and muscle physiologist, I read with great interest and enjoyment the fast-paced article by Kenny Moore (Watching Their Steps, May 3). However, it should be pointed out that Moore's assumption that runners are born, not made, is probably not correct. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that strongly suggests just the opposite.
Each individual's athletic capabilities are, of course, woven into the total fabric of his or her genetic tapestry, but there is also substantial reason to believe that slow-twitch and fast-twitch mammalian skeletal-muscle fibers may "interconvert" under the adaptive pressures of various forms of exercise. That is to say, the muscle biopsies described by Moore may have shown fiber ratios that were to a great extent the result of a particular kind and pattern of exercise, not the cause. So there is no need to disappoint "great numbers of eager kids"; our muscles may well be convertibles! Anyone who is interested can check the Proceeding of the Second International Symposium on Biochemistry of Exercise held in Magglingen, Switzerland, 1973: Metabolic Adaption to Prolonged Physical Exercise.
ROBERT NOAH ANDERSON
MIKE PETERSON'S WHEREABOUTS
Recently, while I was home for vacation I discovered that someone had strewed my back issues of SI all over my closet. Since they went all the way back to your Jan. 12, 1970 "Hawaiian Hideaway" issue, I had a great deal of nostalgic rereading to do.
As I read, one issue in particular caught my attention, and it prompts the following question: Whatever happened lo "Kansas Schoolboy Marvel" Mike Peterson? He appeared on the cover of your Aug. 9, 1971 issue, but I haven't heard or seen anything about him since. Surely an athlete of his caliber has made a big splash somewhere.
•After graduating from Yates Center High in 1971, Peterson went to Emporia (Kans.) State College, where he concentrated on baseball, playing mostly center field and setting several Emporia batting records, including most career hits. He was named to the Great Plains Athletic Conference team three times and twice made the NAIA District 10 All-Star Team. He then left college for an unsuccessful tryout with the California Angels. However, this month Peterson will report to the Seguin, Texas team in the newly formed Gulf States League, which has Class A status but no major league affiliation.—ED.
PLAUDITS FOR TWO UMPS
I think tribute should be paid to two of the most stylish umpires who ever worked a game of baseball. Both gentlemen, Chris Pelakoudas and Shag Crawford, are retired now, and I miss their individual contributions to the game.
With Crawford gone, no longer does a fan see an umpire with his mask right beside the catcher's ear and his eyes as close to the plate as Grote's or Bench's.
To watch Pelakoudas make a strike call was right up there with watching sunsets and waterfalls. It was a suspenseful thing. After a strike crossed the plate, one could go out for a knish and a beer and be back in time to see Pelakoudas perform his two-part ballet. First his right arm went up and over his head. Then it went down and out to his right, with all five fingers pointing outward. Nobody called a strike like Pelakoudas.
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