IN THE PINK
Chalk up another for Steve Cauthen: not only did he win the Kentucky Derby but he also withstood SI's supposed cover jinx. Your 1977 Sportsman of the Year cover (Dec. 19-26) showed him posing in the flamingo, black and white silks of Louis and Patrice Wolfson, owners of Affirmed. Who won the Derby? The Wolfsons. Affirmed and Cauthen.
San Clemente, Calif.
I am disappointed that the cover of your May 15 issue featured young Steve Cauthen and a horse rather than Pete Rose, whose 3,000th hit, in my opinion, was the week's most significant accomplishment in sport. Whether one likes or dislikes Rose, it is hard to name anyone who has more consistently contributed to baseball in the last 15 years. Affirmed may be prettier, but Pete was the more deserving.
THOMAS B. TALBOT JR.
It is rewarding to be able to watch a man like Pete Rose perform (Past 3,000 and Still Counting, May 15). In this day of huge salaries and extensive commercial endorsements, it is unusual for an athlete to have as his highest priority the full development of his athletic potential. Rose is such a man. May he find the strength to pass Ty Cobb's career total of 4,191 hits.
Lake Zurich, Ill.
I found one aspect of Ron Fimrite's article on Pete Rose's 3,000th hit puzzling. My idol, Mickey Mantle, was classified among "numerous other superb hitters who enjoyed full and relatively injury-free careers who have not gotten 3,000 hits." As one who has followed Mantle's career, I always have been of the opinion that injuries took a severe toll on him, despite his achievements. Maybe his injuries were not of the magnitude of Lou Gehrig's, Ducky Medwick's or Mickey Cochrane's, but their effect upon his career is obvious. Mantle played his last game in 1968, before he turned 37, the age at which Rose, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker each got his 3,000th hit. After he had won his last MVP award in 1962 (despite missing 39 games). Mantle enjoyed only one season in which, statistically, he approached his former standards. During those last six years, injuries significantly cut down his playing time (he missed a total of 242 games) and hampered him when he did play. As most Mantle fans—and many of his critics—will attest, part of the mystique of Mickey Mantle is contemplating what he would have achieved and how long he would have played had he not suffered the numerous injuries that he did.
To call Mickey Mantle "relatively injury-free" is akin to calling Joe Namath Jack-Be-Quick. Mantle's career was full because he had the courage to play with pain and diminished physical ability.
JOANNE SCHILLER OHLSON
Ron Fimrite errs in including George Sisler among the "relatively injury-free...who have not gotten 3,000 hits." Sisler, who fell only 188 hits short of 3,000, had 246 hits in 1922 and 194 in 1924, so it stands to reason he would have gotten the necessary hits if he hadn't been sidelined the entire 1923 season with sinus and eye troubles.
In fact, the missing year divides Sisler's career into almost equal halves. From 1915 through 1922 he had 1,498 hits in 4.155 at bats for a .361 average, including .420 in 1922. From 1924 through 1930 he had 1,314 hits in 4,112 at bats for a .320 average, including .305 in 1924. The eye problem obviously had its effect, as Sisler's lifetime average dropped from .361 before 1923 to .340 overall. Given a full and trouble-free career, Sisler would still be one of Rose's targets.
I saw a Notre Dame fencing team win a national title. I saw John Wooden coach for the last time at Notre Dame when his UCLA team, which included David Meyers. Richard Washington and Marques Johnson, lost to the Irish. And I thrilled to Dan Devine's team as it crushed Texas in the Cotton Bowl. So one might think that I have seen the best of Notre Dame sporting events. However, the very best was captured by Rick Telander in his article Look Out for the Manhole Cover (May 15). It is events like the bookstore basketball tournament that make Notre Dame such a great place, and I wouldn't have traded my seat on the concrete for all the 50-yard-line tickets in the world.
MICHAEL T. BIERMAN
Notre Dame Law School, 1977
What makes Notre Dame God's gift to intramural sports?
1978 Purdue Intramural
As a former Michigan Stater and dedicated sports freak, I had to chuckle at my first thought after reading Rick Telander's article: If I didn't hate Notre Dame so much, it might have been a fun place to go to school.
North Muskegon, Mich.
Hooray for Bookstore Basketball Commissioner Tim Bourret! Hooray for the Bus Tours! Hooray for SI! You have found America's true sportsmen—those who go all out for the sheer joy of it. Reading your article on Notre Dame's bookstore tournament made me glad to be young, alive and in college.
Baxter Springs, Kans.
I enjoyed the article about Notre Dame's bookstore basketball tourney, but I was rankled by the editorial decision concerning what was an obscene name for an entrant and what wasn't. For the life of me I can't think of a name for an entry more obscene than P.L.O. Bus Tours! It is obviously more unsavory than any scatological reference the students could conjure up, and one would have to go a long way to find any group that deserves disdain more than the P.L.O.
SHELDON L. ROSENZWEIG
PRIDE OF MOUNT VERNON
In your March 31, 1975 issue you printed a letter of mine regarding the 1971 Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High School basketball team and the fact that four of its starters later starred for college teams that went to postseason tournaments in 1974. I think it would be appropriate to bring your readers up to date about the accomplishments of those Mount Vernon players.
The two guards in 1971 were Gus Williams, who starred for USC and is now with the Seattle SuperSonics, and Earl Tatum (Marquette. Indiana Pacers). A backcourt substitute that year was Ray Williams, Gus' brother, who is now playing for the New York Knicks. Of the forwards. Rudy Hackett was a star at Syracuse and played for the Nets and the Pacers during the 1976-77 season. The other forward, Mike Young, started for Manhattan College in 1973-74 and 1974-75 when the Jaspers went to the NIT.
It seems incredible that there could have been so much talent on one high school team, particularly a suburban one.
Gays Mills, Wis.
Congratulations to Sam Snead for his outstanding play in the Legends of Golf tournament (A Living Legend Lives Up to His Name, May 8). No congratulations to Dan Jenkins, however. Jenkins mentioned Ben Hogan as though he were the only legend of the game who did not compete in the tournament. Has he forgotten the equally talented and equally legendary Byron Nelson?
Although retired for 32 years, Nelson still holds these alltime PGA records: 19 tournaments won in 1945, 11 consecutive tournaments won in 1945, 113 consecutive tournaments in the money and a 68.33 strokes-per-round average for 1945.
Also, is Jenkins aware that Nelson, Hogan and Snead were all born in 1912 and that they had played in about the same number of major championships at the time of Nelson's retirement from the tour following the 1946 PGA? By then, Nelson had won five majors: the 1937 Masters, the 1939 U.S. Open, the 1940 PGA (beating Snead in the final match), the 1942 Masters (beating Hogan in a playoff), and the 1945 PGA. But Snead had won only one major tournament, the 1942 PGA, and Hogan had just won his first major tournament, the 1946 PGA.
By all means, let us pay tribute to Snead and take nothing away from Hogan's acknowledged greatness. However, let's not forget the man who was at least their equal, one who is still recognized by knowledgeable golf people as the pioneer of the modern golf swing—Byron Nelson.
What a thrill it was to watch Sam Snead. Those of us who did not see him in his prime can only wonder how much he would have won with today's purses.
Overland Park, Kans.
I'd like to thank Dan Jenkins for mentioning the fact that Art Wall should have been included in the tournament. After being the top money-winner in 1959, Art had many physical problems. However, he never talked about them and went on to win other tournaments, including one at Milwaukee when he was 51. For many of us here in Wall's hometown of Honesdale, Pa. he has exemplified all that is fine about the game of golf and, indeed, he has served as an inspiration to many of our youngsters. For us, he is a "living legend" and we hope that next year he will be included in the field.
Mike Souchak may never have won a major golf tournament, but according to the 1978 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records he still holds the record for the "lowest recorded score [for 72 holes] on a first-class course." In the 1955 Texas Open at San Antonio, Souchak shot 60 (33 out, 27 in), 68, 64 and 65 for a total of 257 (27 under par) and an average of 64.25 per round.
I don't particularly care for golf, but I always read Dan Jenkins' articles because they make me laugh.
I care still less about tennis (rural or otherwise), but I guess I'll be reading about that, too, as long as J. D. Reed is covering it (Courting Disaster, May 8). The image of Reed's friend Jim Harrison in Peds is going to stay with me for a long time.
Congratulations to J. D. Reed for his hilarious story on the treacherous game of rural tennis. It brings back memories!
101 FOR HOGAN
Professional racquetball player Marty Hogan is not a lout (Both the Best and Worst, April 10). Those of us who had the pleasure of his company at our racquetball facility found him a complete gentleman and an extremely poised young man of 20 who has reached the top of a very competitive profession. This is not only the opinion of two of our owners, Bill Lenkaitis and Randy Vataha—successful pro athletes in their own right—but it was also the very positive impression that Marty left with 101 members of our club who signed a petition to this effect.
We have seen Marty play in top tournaments on TV, and we agree that he is vocal and demonstrative. However, many other top pro athletes are psyched and use psych in competitive situations. We feel that your story did not capture the true personality of Hogan outside of the court. Marty is a nice guy. He's as solid off the court as he is on it. Print that!
Playoff Racquetball-Handball Club
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