They used to say "you can't tell the players without a scorecard." Now you need a sales receipt and a canceled check. Baseball's latest deal (Bowie Stops Charlie's Checks, June 28) has proved once again that Charles O. Finley should be sent to the showers. Aristotle Onassis once said that you aren't rich and famous enough until you start messing around with people's playthings (in his case a casino). Well, Charlie O. might be rich and famous but he ain't too bright. Bowie Kuhn made a monumental decision he should be commended for.
If it is fair to judge a man by the enemies he makes, then Bowie Kuhn is a genius. Just imagine, baseball's three leading rinky dinks—Charles Finley, George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin—are all mad at him. What higher praise could the commissioner receive?
South Bound Brook, N.J.
Ron Fimrite's article was excellent on current events but weak on history, both modern and ancient. Oakland did not win "four straight American League pennants." It lost the playoffs in both 1971 and 1975.
Moreover, the statement that "it took Connie Mack several years each time to reduce his 1909-14 and 1927-32 teams to cellar rubble" is clearly erroneous. The Philadelphia A's tumbled from first in 1914 to last place in 1915, losing 109 games; they remained "cellar rubble" for the next six seasons.
BRUCE J. HAVIGHURST
July 11, 1976
•The A's did tumble from first place in 1914 to eighth in 1915 but not because Mack sold off players. He got rid of only one star, Eddie Collins. Two others, Pitchers Eddie Plank and Chief Bender, jumped to the Federal League, and a third, Home Run Baker, held out all season.—ED.
Today when I watch a baseball game I recognize the players by their attorneys. Now let's get to Mr. Wonderful Commissioner Kuhn. I believe, Mr. Commissioner, that you are starting late if you plan to save baseball from total embarrassment. You should have started last year after beer night at the Cleveland Stadium or when this year's troubles started with the reserve clause and the Andy Messersmith case. A lot of bad things have happened while you have been in office.
Well, just as I expected, diatribes about the Olympic basketball selections have appeared in 19TH HOLE (June 28). It makes me wonder whether the letter writers, particularly Mr. McKone, actually read the article in question, or merely enough of it to support their own views.
If I remember correctly, Dean Smith was only one of 10 coaches who voted on the team, and three of the players he wanted did not make the squad. As for the question of whether seven of the 15 best amateurs in the country are from the ACC, the answer is no. At least five of the best chose not to attend the Trials. This team is merely the best 15 out of the 50 who cared enough to show up.
It is unfortunate that Mr. McKone feels that he must now cheer for Canada, Mexico or Yugoslavia, because that will cause him to lose the pleasure of seeing the gold medal come back to the U.S.
DAVID A. THOMPSON
Frank Fuhrer (Not Nearly as Sweet as He Looks, June 28) may be compared to Charlie Finley—with one exception: Fuhrer explodes when "the integrity of our schedule is at stake," and wonders how people can "take Team Tennis seriously if we rearrange our schedule." Finley, on the other hand, would be less criticized if he demonstrated the same concern for the fans.
When will managers (and athletes) realize that, without fans, there are no games or matches...and no money?
How dare Dan Jenkins (You Were Great, Jerry Pate, June 28) not include the Knickered Knight among the youngsters who have won the U.S. Open? Nicklaus and Jones, for sure, but Gene Sarazen outdid them both by winning when he was only 20. And he proved he belonged with them by winning the Open again 10 years later.
As for Jerry Pate—his first Open victory is not the last we wish to hear of him.
New York City
JOE'S SWAN SONG
I am flabbergasted by Robert H. Boyle's gentle treatment of the grossly out-of-shape Smokin' Joe Frazier in his swan-song fight with George Foreman (Smokin' Joe Burns Out, June 28). Boyle conjectures that had "fans known Frazier was going to trip the light fantastic there undoubtedly would have been a sell-out [crowd of] 17,000 instead of the 10,341 who did attend." A far better bet would have been that if fans had known Frazier would be coming into the fight at 224½ pounds nobody would have showed up.
E. L. Doctorow's After the Nightmare, (June 28) is a perfect example of what heights sports journalism can reach. His article is a mixture of many things. While it is ostensibly a sports story, it is also a deeply moving human story, a political story, even a comment on the world today. Thanks for remembering that there is more to sports than who wins the Super Bowl or the World Series.
MITCHELL S. KANDER
I greatly enjoyed Bill Gilbert's article A Turn Along the Old Pike (June 21 et seq.). I attend Washington and Jefferson College, which abuts Route 40 in Washington, Pa. W&J is rich in history, especially where sports are concerned. Football coaches and players include Bob Folwell, Sol Metzger, Earle (Greasy) Neale, John Heisman, Andy Kerr, Bill Amos and Deacon Dan Towler. In 1922 W&J's undefeated team went to the Rose Bowl, the smallest school ever to play there, and tied the University of California's "wonder team" 0-0. In that game, W&J set records that still stand: most punts (16) and fewest first downs allowed (2).
W&J's Alltime All-America is Tackle Wilbur (Fats) Henry. A charter member of both college and pro football halls of fame, Henry was among the greatest players at his position.
On Sunday, June 20, the Chicago White Sox lost their 10th consecutive game. Earlier this season they won 10 in a row. Is this some kind of record, say, for most consecutive wins and losses by a team in a season? Or does another team have this dubious distinction?
J. VAN HOOT
San Jose, Calif.
•No such record is kept officially. However, a cursory check of the books turned up the 1953 New York Yankees, who won 18 straight, then lost nine in a row.—ED.
Just as a footnote to Doug Looney's excellent story on Stanley Dancer (Dancer's Two-Stop Two-Step, June 14), Dancer's double at two tracks was rare, but it was not his first.
On June 25, 1969 Dancer drove two horses to victory at two different tracks in two different countries, both for one owner, Ernest B. Morris, president of Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc., Saratoga Springs, N.Y. In an early nonbetting $12,940 Grand Circuit event at Saratoga, Dancer won by 1¼ lengths with Nancy Lynne. He then flew to Montreal and Blue Bonnets Raceway, where he won a $12,250 open trot with Eric B in 2:02.3.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
YOUNG BLACK BELT
I must respond to Kent Hannon's article Chop Off the Old Block (June 7). While I applaud 8-year-old Freddie Simons for his interest in karate, I feel that his seniors have made the worst possible mistake in awarding a youth the grade of black belt. This demeans all of the martial arts and is a slap in the face of every adult holder of the black belt. It is not the young student who is at fault here, but he should wear a brown belt until he is an adult and then be awarded his grade of black belt. Here is hoping that this practice will not persist.
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