It is sad that Bill Veeck is not the Commissioner of Baseball, because then the whole baseball world would benefit from this great man's innovative genius instead of just the Chicago White Sox fans (Y'All Come On Down, Y'Heah, March 13). Hats off to Veeck for restoring some of the magic and flair of baseball's golden era.
DAVID L. DORN
Beaver Dam, Wis.
It was great to read about Veeck's Wrecks and their striving to be No. 1. What really caught my eye, though, was the disgruntled look on the face of superstar Bobby Bonds. Could you have him smile next time? It looks as though he can hardly wait for next year when he may be a free agent.
Bobby Bonds' description of the Chicago White Sox uniform is accurate. "Different" is just the word. Shirts not tucked in and collars sticking out—that is not the way I think a baseball uniform should look.
THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE
Ron Reid's article, Coach, You're Fired! (March 13) was an emotional view of pro football and its big-business overtones. When big business finds itself lagging behind its competition, it replaces the field general and his crew much the way the head coach of a team is replaced. The one difference is that a pro sports franchise is in a way the spiritual property of the fans. Corporate firings occur every day, but they don't affect us the way a firing in sports does. It hurts even more when a man of Paul Wiggin's stature is involved.
RICHARD W. DAIDONE
New York City
March 27, 1978
Your article exposing the untimely and unjust dismissal by the Kansas City Chiefs of Coach Paul Wiggin and his staff represented journalism at its finest. In 1957 I was recruited by Stanford University, and Paul Wiggin, then a graduate student, spent two days with me. In later years I talked with him several times when he served as an assistant coach for the 49ers. He is an extremely dedicated and personable individual. It's a shame Lamar Hunt & Co. did not stand by this fine man.
Westlake Village, Calif.
Why all the sympathy for Paul Wiggin? I can see his family getting upset, but all the crying seems a little ridiculous. Wiggin never did anything to warrant staying on as coach. Taking a 5-9 team halfway through a season that would see it finish 2-12, second worst in the league, doesn't take too much talent, and getting paid $65,000 a year for three years isn't bad.
THE WORLD OF CLAIMERS
Thank you for Demmie Stathoplos' earthy insight into the world of trainer June Johnson (It's June in Midwinter, March 13). Solid reporting on all levels of racing is what a great sports magazine must give its readers.
It's too bad June and her husband Wade ever left quarter-horse racing, Los Alamitos Race Course and the legend that is Go Man Go. While Charles Town and Shenandoah Downs arc battling cold weather (3°F.) and uncertain futures, quarter-horse racing is booming. Los Alamitos' winter meeting averaged 6,909 fans, who bet $886,335 daily. And this Orange County, Calif. track seldom, if ever, sees a below-freezing day.
One may thrill to a magnificent race run by a beautiful colt like Alydar, but the majority of racehorses are like those that haunt the tracks of Charles Town and Shenandoah—nameless, broken-down, doomed; appearing for a brief moment, then forgotten. This is the true face of racing, not the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness or the Belmont.
I commend your reporting the facts on what really goes on behind the scene at tracks such as Charles Town, but I must condemn your position. You almost made the use of Butazolidin and Lasix sound humane, when, in my opinion, the drugs are used so that crippled horses, not feeling any pain, will run faster than their old and sore legs or torn membranes would otherwise carry them. The result is a breakdown, and the miserable animal is finally put out of its pain for good. It would be interesting to see statistics on how many horses on Bute break down as compared with horses not on Bute.
St. Davids, Pa.
As one of the many sufferers of lower back problems I was extremely disappointed with the superficial treatment of this subject in your article How To Put Bad Backs Behind You (March 13). I recall your articles on tennis elbow and on the knee, which, by comparison, could have come from Scientific American. Your readers deserve better than to have their lower back pain increased by such journalism.
Los Altos, Calif.
After three pregnancies in rapid succession and constantly having to lift one or more young children I had chronic low back pain. I took up belly dancing shortly after the birth of my third baby. The improvement was remarkable. This is one therapy that is not only effective, but also cheap and loads of fun.
MARGARET S. LANARD, M.D.
•SI's medical expert cautions that while exercise to strengthen the back muscles is obviously the best treatment and belly dancing may provide this for some, sudden belly dancing, like sudden tennis on the weekend, may result in the opposite effect.—ED.
VIEWS OF BRADENTON
After reading Larry Keith's story "Florida Like You Want It To Be" (March 6), I find it difficult to believe he was describing the same community I have been proud and privileged to call home for some 35 years. While Keith's statements were technically correct, in many cases they were also misleading because he did not balance the negative with the positive aspects of our community.
For example, he said, "Largely ignored by the rest of the population are hundreds of poor black families who live in ramshackle houses on unpaved streets." In the four years that I have been on the city council, we have spent more than $3 million to upgrade and improve the predominantly black community. We are just about to complete a project in which we demolished nine blocks of substandard buildings and relocated the residents to better housing. Incidentally, the dilapidated buildings shown in your photograph on page 30 were torn down almost a year ago. As for "an auditorium that was condemned and closed three years ago," the city and county have agreed to jointly repair and expand the building, which has won numerous architectural awards.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," but I—and apparently thousands of others—find considerable beauty in Bradenton's clean, safe streets, its bright blue skies, free of smog, its balmy temperatures and cooling Gulf breezes, its graceful palms and majestic oaks, its scenic mile-wide river, its colorful tropical foliage and birds, and its outstanding public facilities, such as modern hospitals, a new central library and a good school system.
WILLIAM A. EVERS
City of Bradenton, Fla.
Larry Keith's article on Bradenton brought back fond memories of my days as a Cardinal player in the 1920s. He gave an accurate portrayal of the sort of town it was then, as well as of how little it has changed.
May I point out one slight error in Larry's report? The Gas House Gang of Frank Frisch and Dizzy Dean was not the first Cardinal team to train at Bradenton. In 1923, my third year as a Cardinal, Branch Rickey, who was then our manager and general manager, had us train at Bradenton. It was also our training site the following year, after which we trained at Stockton, Calif. for one year and at San Antonio, Texas the next. We moved back to Florida in 1927, but the site was Avon Park. That was Frisch's first year with the Cardinals, and it was after that (in 1930) that the club returned to Bradenton.
GEORGE (SPECS) TOPORCER
Huntington Station, N.Y.
MORE ON PRAIRIE CITY
After reading Girls Win, Boys Lose. (March 6) I felt old memories stirring up. I, too, lived in Prairie City in the early '60s but had pretty much forgotten those days. Now I can sit back with renewed vigor and wonder where my basketball heroines are: Cheryl, Charlotte, Jeanine and the rest. Douglas Bauer captured everything just as it was. And I doubt it has changed all that much. He did neglect to tell about the bus trips for away games and how the girls were always in the front and the boys in the back. Of course, on the way home there was some occasional cheating. Ricker-racker, firecracker, sis boom bah!/ Prairie City Plainsmen, rah, rah, rah!
DONALD E. GUTHRIE
Bay City, Texas
Douglas Bauer truly portrayed the seriousness of girls' basketball in small Iowa towns. I'm proud to say that my mother is the Mona Van Steenbergen mentioned in the article, so basketball has played a large role in my life. I wouldn't want it any other way.
Sioux City, Iowa
WINNING COACHES (CONT.)
The winningest active junior college basketball coach is Dick Baldwin, age 56, of Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y. Now in his 31st year at Broome, Baldwin has won 694 games. Ray Meyer's achievement (571 wins) at DePaul (Reawakening the Glory, Feb. 27) is outstanding, but Baldwin s fine record also deserves national attention.
OLD PROS (CONT.)
Please tell Walter Bingham for me that young rabbit Dave Nevatt may deserve his shot at winning a PGA tournament but certainly not at the expense of past winners of the PGA's annual blue ribbon event (Let's Ring Out the Old and Ring In the New, Feb. 27). Bingham's report was sadly one-sided in favor of some kids who are not able to qualify for run-of-the-mill tournaments.
Who among us would want to watch the Jack Renners, Don Pooleys and Phil Hancocks if he could instead watch Sam Snead, Dow Finsterwald, Jerry Barber and Jack Fleck, whose steady golf beat Ben Hogan for the 1955 U.S. Open championship? Having caddied for Walter Hagen in 1928 in a four-ball match with Gene Sarazen, Johnny Farrell and a local pro, Jock Hendry, my sympathies are with the old geezers. The kids will have their day soon enough.
San Pedro, Calif.
Being in Los Angeles on business earlier this year and having some time to spare, I plunked down eight bucks to spend a few sunny hours watching the L.A. Open. I did so in order to see the likes of Jay Hebert, Dow Finsterwald, Jim Ferrier and other magic names stroll the course. I would pay $8 just to watch Sam Snead hit practice balls.
Let the rabbits play for $666.66 on Monday and Tuesday, but save the great ones for the spectators. Where are you, Ralph Nader? Golf needs you.
It is my opinion that these fallen heroes of yesteryear should not be so highly revered. Undoubtedly they must have been great golfers to win either the PGA championship or the U.S. Open, prizes coveted by golfers of all generations. However, they cannot stand with the likes of Bobby Jones, who retired at his peak. An athlete's failure to realize the loss of his once-great ability is one of the tragic scenes in sports. The players on the PGA tour and in professional sports in general are looked upon as men with talents far above those of other mortals. If this mystique is lost through fumbling mediocrity, the image of all professional sports suffers.
JOSEPH M. ZOLADZ
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