If the major league umpire holdout lasts any longer, I think Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn should give the umps a raise and take the money from the salaries of league presidents Chub Feeney and Lee MacPhail (They're Out! April 16). Their plantation-owner mentality is reminiscent of the attitude of the owners toward the players before the players demanded and got salaries commensurate with the owners' profits.
The farce that the substitute umps are making of game after game puts the lie to any suggestion that the regular umpires aren't needed. I, for one, hope the umpires hold out until the league presidents are embarrassed into doing what they should do out of common decency.
New York City
I am sympathetic to the request of the major league umpires for higher pay. Baseball umpires work many more games and are away from their families for a much longer period than pro basketball officials, who are earning substantially more.
Like basketball officials, baseball umpires are professionals. Their job is thankless and not easy. Therefore, I think their requests are legitimate. It's time umpires were heard.
JAMES MAIR JR.
Lisbon Falls, Maine
April 29, 1979
The umpire holdout brings to mind the reply Tim Hurst, an early (1890s) umpire, made when asked about his job: "You can't beat them hours." And you still can't. Throw in $30,000 (average pay) for seven months' work, and here's one fan who sheds no tears for the umpires.
LOPEZ & CO.
Your article A Pretty Post Pattern (April 16) was a little disturbing, because, as usual, Nancy Lopez was the main subject. Certainly Lopez is a great golfer, but so are Sandra Post, JoAnne Carner, Pat Bradley, Donna White, Judy Rankin and others. It is unfortunate that, among other players, prejudice against Lopez does exist, but it is not nearly as pervasive as the press, the television networks and even Ray Volpe, the commissioner of women's golf, imply. Volpe's suggestion that the other professionals "quit complaining and acting like a bunch of women" was a very low blow to their integrity. The other professionals are only fighting for their fair share of recognition.
Barry McDermott's article about Sandra Post's Colgate-Dinah Shore victory proves that Nancy Lopez does indeed command the lion's share of attention on the LPGA tour. However, it also proves that it isn't necessarily Lopez' fault. How can she be held accountable for what the press prints or what the fans think?
I've been a golfer for years but never gave a darn about the LPGA Tour (or the PGA Tour, for that matter) until Lopez came along and pepped things up a little. Now, as a byproduct of following Lopez, I have come to know Post, Carner, Rankin, Whitworth. Mann et al. The women of the tour should light candles for Lopez every night.
Do the LPGA players want publicity or not? First they were jealous of Laura Baugh and Jan Stephenson, and now they are jealous of Nancy Lopez. Much of the money and prestige that Sandra Post pocketed after winning the Colgate-Dinah Shore is the direct result of the popularity of the player who finished second—Lopez.
Wilmer Ames' sensitive approach to the story of Washington, D.C.'s inner-city, all-black weight-lifting team (An Uplifting Experience, April 16) was greatly appreciated. After five years of functioning in obscurity, the Crushers Unlimited have finally been spotlighted. With further help coming from people like Rick Robinson of the Montgomery County (Md.) Department of Recreation, the Crusher story will not end with SI coverage. The most significant pleasure of the story for me was realizing that a national magazine of the magnitude of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED found the time and space to cover a warming story about an unfamiliar group in an unfamiliar sport. You gave credit to a man—Bob Thompson—who is making a big difference. There are hundreds more like him out there. Keep finding them.
ALLAN D. EISEL
An Uplifting Experience was a revelation to me and an inspiration to thousands of kids who desperately need inspiration and an entrèe into the challenging and healthy world of sport. Never has SPORTS ILLUSTRATED been more illustrious. Thanks.
It was a pleasure to see Denis Potvin on your April 16 cover. I hope to see him on the cover again in a few weeks, holding the Stanley Cup for the Islanders.
I knew from the moment the Islanders finished atop the National Hockey League that there would be a rush to proclaim them as the greatest team ever. William Nack leads the crowd with his article Undaunted and Un-haunted.
No one doubts that Denis Potvin is a super player and that he should win the Hart Trophy as the Most Valuable Player. This is also the first year that he has really deserved the Norris Trophy for being the outstanding defenseman. However, people who dare to compare him with Bobby Orr either never saw Orr or have short memories. Neither Potvin nor anyone else can skate, shoot or pass like No. 4, and no one has ever come close, although I believe that a healthy Brad Park is second best.
As long as Orr's No. 4 hangs high in Boston Garden, all players skating below do so in his shadow. Sorry, Denis!
THOMAS DAYSPRING, M.D.
Pompton Lakes, N.J.
As a Boston Bruin fan, I have been privileged to see two superstar defensemen, Bobby Orr and Brad Park. In my opinion, Denis Potvin is in the same class.
BULLISH ABOUT HOCKEY
It was fine to see the recognition you gave to the talented young players on the Birmingham Bulls (Bullish over Baby Bulls, April 9). but the disparaging conclusions about attendance and fan support in Birmingham are incorrect.
A turnout of 5,000 fans a game to watch a team struggle to its third straight mediocre WHA finish in a city in which ice skating is a novelty and ice hockey virtually unknown is not exactly bad. And your reporter neglected to emphasize that attendance during the first two years of the Bulls' existence was considerably higher.
I've had season tickets for Bulls' games for three years now, even though each game means a round trip of 120 miles. A fellow who sits near me, and to my knowledge has missed only one game in three years, also drives a long distance. There is strong support for hockey and for the Bulls in Birmingham, and there would be much stronger support if we were to get a glimpse of NHL stars such as Lafleur, Esposito, Trottier, Dionne, et al. in a few games each season. It has been marvelous to see Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe.
The fans who will miss the Bulls and big league hockey in Birmingham are many, not few. Birmingham is a sports town, enjoying the Crimson Tide but loving all sports.
Even though the Birmingham Bulls averaged only 5,000 fans this year, 4,000 of them were hard-core hockey fanatics whose rebel yells would have inspired Robert E. Lee to try a few slap shots. One day Birmingham will earn itself a chance to have a team in the National Hockey League.
Giles Tippette's article (Going down the Road, April 2) brought back many memories to this old "Sears and Roebuck" cowboy (I spent more money on beer, doctors and entry fees than I ever won). We lived on "cowboy steak" (bologna), "borrowed" gas and the hope that we'd finally win a buckle down the road. Tippette's article describes 90% of the cowboys I knew. In rodeo it is fulfilling just to have been down the road.
"CACTUS" JACK MILLER
After reading Coles Phinizy's account and seeing Andrew Myer's all-encompassing illustrations of the Ensenada race (Captains Outrageous, April 2), I removed the plumbing from my bathtub and plugged the drain with a mast. Then I sewed some old sheets together for a spinnaker. And now I'm in the process of getting out my electric fan, jellyfishing bucket and water wings. As soon as I pick up a quart of tequila and a couple of cases of beer, I'm heading for Ensenada by land, sea or air.
Captains Outrageous is a classic article. Thank you for publishing it.
EDWARD E. ECKER
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
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