For those of us who were around when Hack Wilson played, Mark Kram's article (Why Ain't I in the Hall?, April 11) is one of the best written, most poignant and most convincing ever to appear in your magazine.
EMIL STECK JR.
As I stood in the crowd at the 1975 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, watching Ralph Kiner receive his award, I couldn't help but notice this little old man who was fervently extolling another outfielder named Hack Wilson. Everyone just assumed the poor guy was senile; no one seemed to know much about a baseball player by the name of Hack Wilson. Afterward, the man told me that he lived in Chicago and had been a Cub fan for most of his 90 years. He said he'd seen great players come and go but that Hack had set records that will never be broken. And then he eagerly went on to cite all of Wilson's statistics. Even though this extraordinary character died before I was born, I suddenly became one of Wilson's fans. Kram was certainly accurate when he closed his article by saying that "the fans never forgot Hack Wilson. Only baseball did."
I remember Hack Wilson also. But not the way Mark Kram does.
I played second base for a club of traveling amateurs. We roamed the country during the summer months challenging any team we could find, usually another group of amateurs. Like Hack Wilson, we spent many a night and early morning in the speakeasies. One night, in fact, we met Mr. Wilson in one of these. What happened I have never forgotten and never will. A drink, another drink, a fight, and a shattered bottle of booze. Thanks to Mr. Wilson's rage, I have since viewed the right side of my life over the bridge of my nose. The sight of my right eye was gone; my ball playing days were over.
April 24, 1977
I suggest that Mr. Kram is searching for something with one of his eyes closed, too.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I have won at least four pitchers of beer at the pub here answering trivia questions to which Hack Wilson was the answer. But like a lot of other people, I assumed he was already in the Hall of Fame. He had to be—190RBIs!
So, maybe Hack is in better company being "on the out." Ten years from now there'll probably be some free agents elected to the Hall who couldn't bat in 190 runs with their mouths, although that's what'll get them there.
ROBERT M. KUNKEL
Kram was right on except for the two fly balls Hack missed in the 1929 World Series. I listened to this game on radio, and the announcers and writers all said Hack lost those two fly balls in the sun and that he didn't have a chance. Even the great outfielders, the likes of DiMaggio, Mantle and Kaline, couldn't have caught the two Hack was so unjustly criticized for missing.
I'm in no position to nominate Hack Wilson to the Hall of Fame, but Mark Kram should get an award for an exceptionally well-written story.
Mercer Island High School
Mercer Island, Wash.
INS AND OUTS
In considering who ought to be in the Hall of Fame, Robert Creamer should have added Pete Browning (.343 lifetime average) and Arky Vaughan (.318 lifetime average, .385 in 1935).
Also, how can Gil Hodges be ignored?
Duke Snider hit 40 or more home runs for five consecutive seasons (1953-57) with the Brooklyn Dodgers. During this same period, the Duke averaged 117 RBIs per season. Such consistency merits Snider membership in the Hall of Fame, along with the other New York centerfielders of his day—Mantle, who is in, and Mays, who surely will make it when he becomes eligible.
Garden City, N.Y.
The writers who overlook Duke Snider are the same guys who would miss Raquel Welch in a crowded elevator.
Creamer did not have to go back before 1900 to find shortstops who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. One of the travesties of the Hall is that the two greatest shortstops of their era, Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese, have failed to gain election. The closed-mindedness of the voting writers is incredible. This kind of failure is the best justification for continued balloting by the Old-Timers' Committee.
New York City
Are you trying to tell us that Red Schoendienst was as good a fielder as Charlie Gehringer?
HAROLD I. SINGER
Take a Chance (Frank) and put Johnny Mize in his place at first.
Where is Johnny Vander Meer? Besides two no-hitters, he was the National League strikeout leader three times. Or Doc Cramer of the Red Sox? He was a great outfielder in the '30s. Or Larry MacPhail?
The irony of major league baseball today: Creamer described Max Carey's .285 lifetime batting average as "only...above average..." Tommy McCarthy is described as "only a .292 hitter...." How would Mr. Creamer describe Bobby Grich's lifetime average of .261? That mediocrity of that sort is rewarded with a $1.5 million contract speaks poorly of the owners who willingly dish it out at the expense of developing the kind of talent able to hit "only" .292.
Who can argue with the late Philip Wrigley's refusal to pay millions of dollars to the likes of Bobby Grich when he already had so much mediocrity playing for him at cut-rate prices?
LEE S. SIMONSON
THE SEASON AHEAD
I feel that your staff did an excellent job predicting the pennant races in all four divisions (April 11). My predictions were exactly the same. However, you made a big mistake by saying the Yankees wouldn't run away with the division. The Yanks will have at least 105 victories while second-place Boston should have no more than 90.
You say the Cardinals will move from fifth to fourth this season. I say they'll win their division. Just watch.
BILLY DON BURTON
You say the Twins will finish in fourth place in the Western Division of the American League. I say that they will give the Royals a tough run for first place and maybe even win the division.
Park Hill, Okla.
Baseball fans will be surprised at the young, scrappy Baltimore Orioles. Even with their lack of experience, the Orioles have a first-rate organization and a winning tradition. You say, "For the first time since 1967, Baltimore has no chance to win anything." Don't be surprised when September rolls around and the Birds are in the thick of a pennant chase.
The Phillies are going all the way. Carlton, Kaat, Lonborg and Christenson are the best pitchers in the league. Luzinski, Maddox and Johnstone are the best outfielders: and Schmidt, Bowa, Sizemore and Hebner are the best infielders in history. And with the addition of rookies Andrews, Lerch and Iorg, the Phillies are on their way.
You say Joe Rudi is the best leftfielder in baseball. Have you forgotten George Foster of Cincinnati? Last year he hit .306, .036 higher than Rudi; he scored 32 more runs than Rudi. He also hit 16 more home runs and stole 17 bases compared to Rudi's six. He led the NL with 121 RBIs, and Rudi had only 94. Rudi outclassed Foster in only one offensive category—doubles. Moreover, Rudi trailed Foster in fielding percentage, having made only two errors in 332 chances to Rudi's three in 258 chances.
The Blue Jays and the Expos aren't doing all that badly in the new season, so it is not too soon, America, to prepare for a Canadian World Series. One particular problem must be faced. The late October weather could snow out the Series. As a result, it would have to be concluded the following May, because April is also too cold and/or snowy.
Furthermore, this would delay the opening of the 1978 season. There is a silver lining, however. All this would cut short the schedule.
State College, Pa.
I believe the safest way to play bridge is by computer terminal (It Wasn't AH in the Cards, April 11). The players can be isolated so no unauthorized communication can take place. It seems worth a try.
Thank you for the look ahead at the NASL season (A Laughing Matter No Longer, April 11). But I don't think the Fort Lauderdale Strikers will occupy their division's basement, as you say. From the way they looked in their opener against St. Louis, I think they will have a good season.
You might be right as to who is going to win Soccer Bowl '77. But Coach Jimmy Gabriel's Seattle Sounders will not wind up last. The Sounders are a good strong team, and despite a loss to Team Hawaii in their opener, I think they will finish first or second.
Mercer Island, Wash.
Foreign players may be taking the NASL seriously, but what about our own sports media? Finding scores and stories of games in most newspapers is still next to impossible. How much longer do we have to wait until sportswriters admit there's something else being played before cheering crowds in the summer besides baseball?
We attended this year's U.S. Grand Prix West and couldn't have been more delighted with the outcome (Bull's-Eye for the Black Dart, April 11). We hope Mario Andretti's racing luck has changed for the better so that his true greatness will now shine through.
STEVE AND LISA VOIVODAS
After my recent stay at Sawgrass I fully agree with your article (In a Class All by Itself—For Now, March 28). I saw water moccasins and alligators. I found the course to be extremely tough, with 200 acres of fresh-water ponds, plus 111 sand traps, some as long as 50 yards. I must admit, though, that the course was in fantastic shape, even if my viewpoint most of the time was from swampland out of bounds. I feel the TPC should remain at Sawgrass, as it is a test of skill, concentration and the ability to maintain your composure.
A LITTLE GOOD NEWS
I am one sports fan who is sick of lawsuits, broken contracts, strike threats and walkouts. Give us more good news like U.S.C. swimmer Joe Bottom's miraculous healing and glorification of God, not self (Bottom Was on Top in Very Fast Company, April 4).
Colorado Springs, Colo.
I enjoyed Robert Boyle's report on the second annual National Collegiate Boxing Association championships (It's That Old College Try, April 11).
For the record, while it is true that the first official NCAA tournament was held in 1937, two NCAA-sponsored tournaments were held before that date, the first taking place at Penn State in 1932 as a tryout for collegiate Olympic team candidates. The tournament drew 75 boxers from 35 colleges. The second was held in 1936, again an Olympic year, at the University of Virginia.
Boxing in the '20s and '30s was considerably different from today's collegiate version. For one thing, the boxers didn't wear headgear, cheering wasn't permitted during rounds and ring officials, as well as sports-writers, usually sported tuxedoes.
GEORGE A. SCOTT
DEFENDING OUR PASTIME
If Steve Vande Zande of Tucson (19TH HOLE, April 11). who claims baseball is "the slowest, dullest, most boring...game ever," expects you to turn your attention away from the great sport, I suggest he subscribe to Tiddledywinks Illustrated, instead.
DAN AND ROB HOWALD
I hope you're not taking Vande Zande's advice or even considering it. Baseball has always been and will always be this nation's pastime and its most interesting sport. If he doesn't like it he can move to Russia!
Santa Maria, Calif.
I totally agree with Mr. Vande Zande. I personally think hockey is the most exciting, most interesting sport ever. It's a shame hockey isn't more popular in the U.S.
Since the Russians have not claimed to have invented baseball, let them have Mr. Vande Zande instead.
Any game that can hold my wife's attention from start to finish and prompt her to ask me to take her out to the ball game is worth something.
CRAIG L. RICHARDSON
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