COSTLY FREE AGENT
No player is a better example of today's artificial superstar than SI cover figure Reggie Jackson (He's Free at Last, Aug. 30). Not that Jackson isn't a good ballplayer—he is just that. But for anyone to rate him as a giant of the game, a man deserving of the enormous contract he has his eye on, is absurd and regrettable. One recalls his excessive strikeouts and his .265 lifetime batting average and winces at the notion of his being classed with legitimate superstars such as Stan Musial, Henry Aaron or Willie Mays.
Jackson admits that he will soon be an "overpaid athlete" (perhaps confusing the future with the present), but he rationalizes that he is "just taking advantage of the rules. No, he is doing more than that. He is taking advantage of us as well, or he will be when inflated ticket prices follow inflated salaries. Rather than sentimentalize about giving "a little back to the town where I play," Jackson and other such opportunists might do a more tangible service by simply asking for salaries commensurate with their talents.
Port Arthur, Texas
Reggie Jackson said it all. Not only is he overpaid, but so are more than half of the athletes in pro sports.
Baltimore may not be Reggie Jackson's kind of town, but then Reggie Jackson isn't Baltimore's kind of superstar, e.g., Johnny Unitas and the Robinsons, Frank and Brooks. Sport today isn't what it used to be.
September 12, 1976
Another masterpiece by Ron Fimrite! His article on Reggie Jackson was great in every detail. The Oriole front office had better get on the stick and give Reggie the multiyear contract he deserves. The Orioles need Reggie in the lineup, not just this year but for another four or five years.
Ellicott City, Md.
I was happy to see that such a fine modest gentleman as Dick Siderowf (A Plain Man's Fancy, Aug. 30) got some recognition. His kind of class is missing in today's world of money-hungry athletes.
I had the pleasure of going through basic training with Siderowf at Fort Dix, N.J. in 1959. Many of the high-ranking officers on the post gave Dick opportunities to get out of his duties as a trainee and play a quick 18 holes. Never did he take advantage of this situation. Sport needs more men like Siderowf. Business does, too!
After Dick Siderowf won his second British Amateur championship, I felt that he was denied the acclaim due him. Thank you for featuring this unsung champion. I have never met Dick, but I have always admired him.
FOR CHRIS' SAKE
Thank you for your fine article on lovely Chris Evert (Say Hello to the Girl Next Door, Aug. 30). As both a player and a fan, I find it comforting to know that beneath all that talent and success there remains a warm, perceptive, intelligent human being.
Why do people root against athletes who are No. 1? Jealousy? Chris Evert is unique, someone who comes along only once in a great while. And who said she isn't beautiful? Look at your picture!
East Canton, Ohio
Thanks to Curry Kirkpatrick for his excellent article on Chris Evert. If Ms. Evert has not had all the fans on her side in the past, she can be sure of at least one more now.
I wish Chris Evert was the girl next door.
ROBERT S. ROBINSON
Woodland Hills, Calif.
PLACING DR. RICHARDS
It is time to set aside emotional reactions to the controversy over Dr. Renee Richards (Scorecard, Aug. 23) and examine the facts pertinent to a fair resolution of her case. I propose that a screening test be composed of two parts—the first being a gynecological confirmation of sex, and the second being a test of strength and visual-motor skills. The former could obviously be performed quite easily by a gynecologist, while the latter could be administered by specialists in physical education or kinesthesiologists from any major university. Such tests of strength and visual-motor skills are readily available and easily administered. If it could be shown that Dr. Richards does, indeed, have significantly greater strength and visual-motor skills than would be normal for a woman tennis player, then she should be excluded from play. However, I don't think this is likely to be the case; consider the obvious strength and skills of such women tennis players as Betty Stove, Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova.
University of New Orleans
Re SCORECARD (Aug. 30), Minnesota Viking Offensive Guard Ed White is wrong. When an individual's stomach hangs over his belt, it is not Dunlap's disease but Dunlop's (referring to the tire manufacturer). Hence the expression "spare tire."
However, since I weigh a meek 98 pounds and White weighs a hefty 253, I will immediately forgive him his grievous error.
St. Ann. Mo.
After reading John Underwood's superb article on John McKay (A Three-Hour Time Difference, Aug. 23), I think the decision to put an expansion team on your cover displays your uncanny knack for seeking out and reporting on the most interesting and unique personalities in the sporting world.
As a former UPI sportswriter, my impression of my new across-the-lagoon neighbor. Coach John McKay, was that he was the brashest, most caustic egotist I had ever heard interviewed.
After just a few weeks of molding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a quality football team, he also may have proved himself to be the best coach in football.
Win or lose, he'll sure tell it like it is.
ROBERT W. TALIAFERRO
John Underwood gave us a tremendous introduction to what goes on in an expansion team's camp. I plan to be a follower of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks this season, but I think the Sea-hawks should have shared your cover with the Bucs. A narrow loss to a championship team (the Los Angeles Rams) overshadows a dull victory over the Atlanta Falcons any day. Nonetheless, congratulations on another great cover.
As a Houston fan, I have been insulted! It took the Oilers years before they were granted an SI cover.
Congratulations to Barry McDermott on the fine article on Joe O'Brien (True Grit Was Behind the Whip, Aug. 23). O'Brien has the discipline and determination to be successful in any field of human endeavor.
An addendum to the story is that he drove two sub-two-minute miles at Scioto Downs that same evening, including Nero's 1:56[4/5] track record for 4-year-old pacers, then was taken by ambulance to a hospital for X rays and treatment of his injuries.
ALBERT A. GABEL, D.V.M.
Expanding baseball's playoff system, as suggested by reader Joe Bosso (Aug. 30), would be the worst thing that ever happened to the game. Baseball has always maintained character and integrity in its major league playoff structure, which sets it apart from and, I think, above the other big-league sports.
Hope springs eternal, and the pennants are never really won until September anyway. Where is the excitement in watching two or more also-rans "fighting it out" for second place and a chance to spring an upset in the playoffs with a hot pitcher or two? Baseball rewards excellence over an entire season, making the long schedule meaningful.
RICHARD F. TEETSEL
MULES AND BURROS
My congratulations to Robert Cantwell on his fine article (These Mules Are Not Jackasses, Aug. 16). Mules are very interesting and peculiar animals. I must admit, though, that I was disappointed when reading about Mule Days in Bishop, Calif. to find no mention of the Mule Days we have celebrated annually in Benson, N.C. for quite some time. They are famous in this part of the country. Our celebration, complete with a grand parade of horses and mules, rodeos, mule-pulling contests and a Miss Mule Days pageant, is exciting and enjoyable for all ages. I only hope if you ever write another story on mules you'll think about Benson. Our next Mule Days celebration begins on Sept. 23.
I am disappointed that you did not cover the 28th annual World's Championship Pack Burro Race, which I witnessed on July 25 at Fairplay, Colo. The race, called the most grueling in the world by participants, covers a 25-mile course at elevations above 12,000 feet. Moreover, rules call for participants to walk, run or carry their burros—but not ride.
A 10-foot lead rope is the contestant's only way of increasing the progress of his animal. In addition, burros are equipped with a regulation pack saddle and 25 pounds of weight, including such oldtime prospector's equipment as gold pan, pick and shovel.
Joe Glavinick of Leadville, Colo. won for the sixth time and the second time in succession. He and his burro Ringo had a winning time of four hours, 29 minutes and 59.5 seconds.
STEVE KELLY'S FATE
William Oscar Johnson wrote a moving article about Stephen P. Kelly and his attempt to make the Olympic team (Bronx Boy Makes Good, July 5). I know that the U.S. didn't win medals in any kayak races, but what happened to Steve? It's like not knowing the end of a serial.
•Kelly and his U.S. teammates. Bruce Barton, Peter Deyo and Brent Turner, failed to make the semifinals in the 1,000-meter kayak fours. They finished fifth in their preliminary heat (behind East Germany, Poland, West Germany and Hungary) and fourth in their repechage (behind Sweden, Great Britain and Czechoslovakia).—ED.
NO GYM IN SAMOA
Congratulations to Richard W. Johnston for his article on the emerging Samoan athlete in college football (Shake 'em Out of the Coconut Trees, Aug. 16). He obviously did his research, and I found the article to be correct in every aspect except one. The quote by Ia Saipaia—"In Samoa you've got only two ways to go—to the gym and school, or to become a thief. You have to make the decision"—is incorrect and very misleading, especially to anyone reading about Samoans for the first time.
To be sure, a young Samoan does not have many options as to where he might go once school is out, especially if he is looking for some kind of organized activity. But life as a thief is certainly not one of those options. The fa'a Samoa, which Johnston mentioned, provides the young Samoan with his sense of values, goals and pride and, especially on the village level, keeps him so busy with family projects that little time is left for him to contemplate ripping off his next door neighbor.
Furthermore, there is not one proper gymnasium in the whole territory. There is not one quarter-mile track, regulation swimming pool, baseball diamond, venue for field events or athletic shower or locker-room facility at any of the four government or two parochial schools, and there is only one regulation football field, located at the Community College. Since 1951 the Department of the Interior has been appointing American governors to administrate these American islands, but not one has used his influence to appropriate the funds needed to build proper athletic facilities. Thus, the emergence of the Samoan football player, as well as other outstanding Samoan athletes such as Olympians Greg Louganis (diving) and Lelei Fonoimoana (swimming) and Tony Solaita of the California Angels, is all the more outstanding.
Former Assistant to the Governor of American Samoa
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