Thanks to Ron Fimrite for his very human story (In Cuba, It's Viva El Grand Old Game, June 6). I anticipate, however, the usual rash of letters that will castigate SI for delving into a political issue. To this expected response, I say if the Fimrite article is political, so is every other article dealing with sports in any publication. What are sports if they are not reflections of the political systems that govern us?
How can you praise a guy like Lenny Randle (One Mindless Moment, June 6)? I admit he is an exceptional ballplayer, but his attacking Lucchesi because of being called a punk was inexcusable. I'm all for Lucchesi taking him to criminal court.
San Angelo, Texas
The Mets finally have a player who keeps his mouth shut and plays ball. His aggressiveness on the base paths and his batting average have proved that he deserves his $80,000 a year.
JOHN TIERNEY III
Glen Wild, N.Y.
No one, not even an athlete as talented as Randle, could return a punt for Arizona State to beat Arizona in a football game and then lead the Wildcats to the NCAA baseball championships later the same year. Randle played for the Arizona State Sun Devils and not the University of Arizona Wildcats. Confusing the two schools may be petty to you, but down here it would warrant reprisal from vigilantes.
June 19, 1977
A.J. vs. THE BIRD
Incredible. On May 29 a man performed a feat never before accomplished in the history of auto racing: A. J. Foyt won his fourth Indianapolis 500, an event that has the greatest single-day attendance of any sport anywhere. And yet, your cover depicted the Bird, a losing pitcher on one of the worst teams in all of baseball.
THOMAS N. OLVEY
MARK A. POPE
One man does not a team make. Yes. Mark Fidrych throws bubblegum at opposing players, uses the biggest bat and draws fans by talking to baseballs. But what about the pennant, the World Series, the total team concept? The Bird is one big turkey and so are the Tigers.
WILLIG AND ABLE
Sam Moses' piece on George Willig's journey up the World Trade Center (The Only Way To Go Is Up, June 6) should be adopted by college English departments for its symbolic expression of the meaning of life. It's also good to know that all Americans have not succumbed to the idea that climbing to positions at the top level of government or business is the only road to fulfilling one's existence.
Scotch Plains, N.J.
Real spunk and genius went into both George Willig's climb of the 110-story World Trade Center and Sam Moses' article covering the extraordinary event. Thanks, SI, for recognizing true sportsmanship—the almost forgotten dream of challenging an "unconquered mountain." Reading Moses' personal account of the series of events leading up to the actual climb and his colorful account of Willig's feat really made me want to stand up and cheer.
DIANE M. BRANAGAN
Chevy Chase, Md.
When it's all said and done, when the touchdowns have been scored, the dunks have been slammed, the par-fives eagled and the winners have taken all, there will still be only the one man who did with his brain, his muscle and his courage what no one had ever done before. I nominate George Willig for Sportsman of the Year.
Your assumption is that the country has been lifted by this triumph of the human spirit, but in my estimation the support given Willig by the press can only be destructive. A few years ago when Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the Center's towers, he apparently triggered the motivation for daredevils such as Willig, and now the tremendous publicity will probably inspire others to seek such instantaneous fame, others who may not be as surefooted as their predecessors. When one of these Petit-Willig prodigies ends up face down in front of a skyscraper, the blame for his death will fall on those who laughed off or actively encouraged the previous attempts.
KEVIN MICHAEL MIMS
You made a bad call with your conclusion that Houston Rocket Coach Tom Nissalke is irresponsible and a poor sport (SCORECARD. May 30). His address to the crowd was delivered in reasoned tones 10 minutes after the end of the game with Philadelphia. The crowd had settled down, and there were at most 2,000 fans still in the Summit.
Nissalke is so under control during games that he seems a breed apart from most pro coaches. Not only did he deserve the NBA Coach of the Year award, but he should also be acclaimed Most Sportsmanlike NBA Coach of the Year.
WILLIAM JACOB TANNER
Houston is not my favorite NBA team and Tom Nissalke is hardly my favorite coach. Nevertheless, both the club and the coach deserve better treatment than you accorded them.
The entire episode you describe was the inevitable result of egregious officiating that has plagued the league for decades. I began attending NBA games in Fort Wayne in 1942. Officiating in those days was poor, but since then it has gotten progressively worse. Playing skills have vastly improved, however, and the gap between improving play and deteriorating officiating has become a vast gulf. I no longer attend NBA games because the mediocre officiating is an affront to players, coaches, fans and commentators.
RICHARD L. MORTON
The real fault for the deplorable situation must rest with the NBA itself. The league left itself wide open by failing to provide the two best referees in the league for the game (there were no other games that day) and employing Jake O'Donnell and Joe Gushue, both residents of the Philadelphia area. While the place of residence of the two officials probably didn't affect their decisions, it opened the door to valid and embarrassing criticism of the league.
If Nissalke was so wrong, then Gene Shue and Tommy Heinsohn should be put away forever. Both constantly abuse the referees and have virtually every NBA official in the palms of their hands. Heinsohn and Shue are the "deplorable" ones, but so far, at any rate, I've never read a single criticism in SI against either one.
Your article on the U.S. Volleyball Association National Championships (The Big Cy Wasn't One Bit Shy, May 23) was fine, but it really missed the major story of the tournament, the major star of the games and possibly the dominant force of the next few years. I'm talking about Flora Hyman, the 6'5" black woman who led the South Bay Spoilers to the women's championship. She had just returned from the North Central American and Caribbean Championships (NORCECA) where she led a resurgent American women's team to second place behind Cuba and where she was honored as the outstanding player in the event.
Flo Hyman's quality as a player and as an individual was reflected in everything she did in Hilo. She dominated the tournament like no other player ever has, turning a team of good players into a great team. She deserves all of the individual credit bestowed upon her and merits wider recognition.
ALBERT M. MONACO JR.
United States Volleyball Association
We were delighted with your article on Phil Woosnam (Nothing But Blue Skies Does Woosnam See, May 30) and glad you got a picture of the Woosnam smile. Since he first arrived in Atlanta I have often thought that with all that fantastic energy and enthusiasm, if one were looking for an illustration to define "infectious" smile, he would be the perfect subject.
The dedication and zeal is also infectious. Woosnam's belief in his sport and in its future attracted a dedicated band of converts even if the box office could not produce a profit quickly enough for owners. We still believe soccer can succeed in Atlanta. Incidentally, Woosnam is the only coach who has ever brought a major league championship to the city.
BILLIE S. ERWIN
Stone Mountain, Ga.
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