Bravo! As a longtime dedicated reader of SI, I wish to compliment you on the outstanding Rod Carew analysis by Ted Williams and John Underwood ("I Hope Rod Carew Hits .400," July 18). I also wish Carew good luck in his quest for a .400 season.
WILLIAM D. NUESKE
None of our sportswriters have enough guts to say it in this town, but Rod Carew is not an All-Star first baseman! He is a great hitter, but he is playing out of position. Rod is not a big enough target for his infielders to throw to. His shorter stretch gives runners almost a full step on close plays. On wide or high throws he can't keep his foot on base, and they go past him, giving the runner an extra base—or, if he gets the throw, the runner is safe because Carew had to leave the bag to make the play. You don't have to be left-handed to play first, but it helps. Rod throws right-handed. Of course, he never claimed to be a first baseman. The owner of the Twins can take the credit for that.
After reading everything I always wanted to know about chewing tobacco, the following week my efforts are concentrated on Rod Carew, baseball's best hitter. Rod has clouded one issue for me. How can he bat left-handed and chew tobacco in his right cheek, as pictured, and expect to hit .400?
Ted Williams' analysis of Rod Carew was full of backhanded compliments and qualifications and loaded with egoisms in reference to Williams' own glorious career. The title should've read: "I hope Rod Carew hits .400...but I hope the fans will never equate Carew's prowess with mine."
July 31, 1977
I think Rod Carew could hit .400 if he faced the Twins' pitching.
The day I received your copy of SI with Williams on your cover, Carl Yastrzemski passed him on the Alltime Red Sox Hit List.
Rod Carew—the best hitter in baseball? Sure. It's hard to even get into a good discussion or argument on the matter. But the worst hitter in major league baseball? Ah, that would be a topic for scintillating debate in barrooms the baseball world over!
WILLIAM E. CARSLEY
It was the best cover story I ever read in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
Garden City, N.Y.
I recall another article, actually a series of articles, written by Ted Williams on hitting, which appeared in your magazine approximately 10 years ago. I dug out my old clippings and found Part V of that series, entitled The Science of Batting, which I had cut out for reference to improve my batting when I was active in baseball. After reading the article again, I am convinced this is the best piece on hitting I have seen.
Of all the great athletes in sports over the years, no other had the ability not only to analyze his own great talent but, more important, to pass it on to us in such profound and understandable terms.
Herman Weiskopf earns a big E for a mammoth effort (Hitters Can Be Ranked, July 18). However, all he proved is the old theory that you can do anything with figures. And that no matter what set of numbers are used, the same old name keeps emerging atop the heap—Ty Cobb, the greatest baseball player ever.
Herm Weiskopf may fool some of the hitters some of the time, but he shouldn't attempt to fool their long-term fans. The main problem is comparing hitters playing in different eras. Weiskopfs "True Batting Average" fails precisely because it makes each hitter's apparent quality depend on the ineptitude of his contemporaries. Imagine two hitters, X and Y, of identical skill as hitters, and facing pitching of equal stringency. In Year One X hits .300 and in Year Two Y also hits .300. But X's contemporaries produce a major league batting average of only .200 for Year One. According to Weiskopfs calculation, X's "true" average would turn out to be .3927. Batter Y plays with a better group of hitters in Year Two and the majors' average rises to .250. Because his colleagues are better than were X's, Y is to be assigned an average of only .3142. Only the quality of other hitters places X above Y. Yet X would finish above the illustrious Cobb in Weiskopf's ranking while Y would finish below poor DiMaggio. This difference would have nothing to do with their own relative skills as hitters.
With statistical wizardry of this sort, Harvard should overwhelm Michigan, Bobick should murder Ali and the Yankees should invariably beat Boston.
New Haven, Conn.
Regarding your article on the British Open (A Braw Brawl for Tom and Jack, July 18)—reports of the decline of Jack Nicklaus are greatly exaggerated.
West Lafayette, Ind.
The controversy that always arises over who should be named Sportsman of the Year is already settled. Tom Watson.
Dan Jenkins aptly termed the final rounds of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 British Open "the best two rounds of golf ever played."
JAMES P. OSICK
Dan Jenkins should be shot. He has no right to say Watson, who won his third major tournament to Nicklaus' 16, is No. 1.
South Orange, N.J.
Jack Nicklaus is the greatest athlete in the world today.
Thank you for The Grizzly's Rage to Live (July 18). It was a classic.
Ridgefield Park, N.J.
Douglas Chadwick's article poignantly illustrated man's war on nature. He expressed many of the ideals I have held about nature and man's senseless attempts to subdue and control it. I swelled with emotion as "Mr. Geefer Goddam Griz" defied mechanized, technological weaponry, using instinct and natural talents to win small battles. It was like a pleasant fairy tale. But, as the conclusion shows, these battles had little effect on the outcome. I am sorry Mr. Chadwick had to include the epilogue.
NEALE X. TRANGUCH
Your fine story brought me to tears. The grocery store owner from McConnellsburg, Pa. who shot the grizzly with his .357 magnum is not a sports hero. Aaron, Walton and Ali are sports heroes.
PROS ON VACATION
If I read one more generalization about Texas, I think I'll rip up the magazine with my bare hands. I refer to Robert Jones' cliché-laden remarks about John Fitzgerald in the article concerning off-season occupations of pro football players (My Vacation Was Nifty, July 11). It reminds me of the baseball announcer who stated, "It's a typical Texas night—warm and a little humid." In this huge state there is no typical anything.
Incidentally, since when is a Massachusetts accent a "twang"?
JO ANN THABET
It takes two to pas de deux: you neglected to mention the name of the lovely dancer posing with Brad Cusino at Anneliese von Oettingen's summer ballet camp. She looks like someone we should know about, too.
SHERRI LEE KATZ
•Sara Newton is a student at the Anneliese von Oettingen School of Ballet.—ED.
I was admiring your photo of the Washington crew winning at Henley (A Foreign Affair Ends a Domestic Dispute, July 11) when I suddenly realized something was wrong: Stroke, 7, 6 and 5 are O.K., but 4 and 2 appear to be rowing on starboard while 3 and bow are obviously rowing port!
Is this trick photography, or did Erickson switch the outriggers?
When I rowed at Cal (1934-37) I learned that the even numbers always rowed port, the odd numbers starboard. Have I been away too long?
W.W. STEVENS JR.
•Coach Dick Erickson uses many different outrigger arrangements.—ED.
How did Kenny Moore do in the Peachtree Road Race (Almost Too Warm for the Swarm, July 18)? Was he too modest to list his time or embarrassed by a poor showing?
St. Anthony, Minn.
•Moore is modest—but he finished 16th in 31:23.—ED.
Kenny Moore is a great runner, but he is even greater as a writer. After reading his articles in SI, I think his piece on Lasse Viren (An Enigma Wrapped in Glory, June 27) is the best of them all. Kenny's delicate words on Finnish people and countryside made my eyes wet. It is remarkable how he has been able to grasp the essence of this beautiful country in such a short time. Kenny has done a better job with his story than any Finnish writer ever did. For a Finn, everything in SI does not look like what we mean by sport, but this was magnificent. Maybe we'll see another one like this after Moscow?
I'm afraid that Frank Deford's generally perceptive review of One on One ("MOVIES, July 11) only begins to scratch the surface of what is wrong with that movie. Beyond the clichés common to a type of sports fiction that I felt I had outgrown in junior high school, there is dishonesty of approach in a movie that pretends to be an exposé of the abuses of college athletics but is really anti-sport. The few favorable references to sports are to an ideal of learning "control over one's body," as if teamwork and cooperation were outmoded concepts in modern society. And the concluding scene, in which Henry has renounced big-time athletics in favor of a pickup game with his girl friend and some neighborhood youngsters, suggests that even the development and fulfillment of a great individual talent is a worthless goal.
Beyond this, the love story that Mr. Deford finds so touching is based on a vapid anti-intellectual romanticism. Does love really conquer all, as the song suggests? The film appeals to the immature mind.
Prairie Village, Kans.
Frank Deford flatly denies that such coaches as portrayed in the movie exist and calls the recruiting practices portrayed "overblown fiction." All that was shown in the movie plus much, much more is being done to college athletes today.
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