FATTI MASCHII, PAROLE FEMINE
What a spectacular issue (May 7) for sports fans from the state of Maryland! You gave us articles on Spectacular Bid, now the Kentucky Derby winner; our spectacular Orioles, perched atop the American League East; the University of Maryland's spectacular hurdler and baton-carrier, Renaldo Nehemiah; and the spectacular Bullets (forget the "Washington" misnomer; the address of the Bullets reads Landover, Md.).
Your only sin was the omission of the showdown in lacrosse between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation. On April 28 Johns Hopkins edged Maryland 13 to 12 to remain undefeated and retain its top ranking.
JANICE C. GREENBERG
Because the NBA playoff series between the defending champion Washington Bullets and the dynamic young Atlanta Hawks was one of the most electrifying sporting events in recent memory, my friends and I were confident that SI would feature the story. Sure enough, our May 7 issues arrived bearing a photograph of Elvin Hayes et al. on the cover and Curry Kirkpatrick's account of the action (Alive, but Just Barely). Kirkpatrick captured the mood and meaning of this compelling competition.
As proud, albeit undernourished, supporters of Atlanta sports, we applaud both teams and suggest that if the NBA had more coaches like Hubie Brown and more teams like the Hawks—i.e., teams with pro-level skills but collegiate enthusiasm—it could then shed any images of bored players dogging their way through boring games.
May 20, 1979
I know it's not saying much in view of our past sports records, but I've never been more proud to be an Atlanta fan. Thanks for the great coverage of a memorable matchup.
WALTON H. REEVES
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Sarah Pileggi's article on Byron Nelson was fantastic (Good Lord of Golf, May 7). I don't know how she gained so much insight into the game, but as a golf writer she deserves to be ranked up there with Bernard Darwin and Herbert Warren Wind.
Sarah Pileggi's article is the finest golf writing I've read in 50 years.
Fort Lee, N.J.
I wrote a lot of golf articles, mostly on style analysis, back in the '20s and '30s, and more recently (November and December 1975) I have had articles published in PGA Magazine (formerly Professional Golfer). What interested me most about Sarah Pileggi's superb article was the remark that Byron Nelson had huge hands. Large hands usually go with large feet, and both of these are tremendous assets for a golfer. The other famous golfer who had huge hands was Harry Vardon. He won six British Opens and one U.S. Open and was also the greatest golfer of his day.
Incidentally, Nelson was the first topflight golfer I ever saw who, instead of playing onto a braced left leg, as was the fashion in those days, bent his left leg toward the hole at impact, which is now the technique almost universally used by the majority of the leading professional golfers.
Except for Vardon and Hagen, I have had the good fortune to see in action all of the great professional players who are charter members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. I have marveled at the performances of Sarazen, Snead, Hogan, Palmer, Player and Nicklaus over many years. Yet the man who stands out in my memory, just a little ahead of all the others, is Byron Nelson.
It is unfortunate that Nelson's retirement in 1946, before the era of televised golf, prevented the millions of present-day players and fans from seeing him display his skills. To those of us who were privileged to see him at his peak, his ability can only be described as awesome.
Golf has always been fortunate to have men of caliber as its champions. None of golf's greats has ever combined skill and sportsmanship to a higher degree than Byron Nelson.
Three cheers for Mac Wilkins and Al Feuerbach for initiating what I hope will be an annual event for weight throwers (A Biggie of a Meet at Mac and Al's, May 7). These two have proved that they are giants not only in stature but also in heart and guts. They have done much for their events. As a former college discus thrower, I sincerely appreciate the fine job SI did in covering this meet.
Eliminate team nicknames that reflect on American Indians (SCORECARD, May 7)? Why stop with Indian names? How about other ethnic groups such as the Vikings, Trojans, Spartans and, most blasphemous of all, the Fighting Irish? Here in Oregon we are civilized enough to use some rather innocuous nicknames. We have Ducks, Beavers, Blazers and Timbers. We also have perhaps the greatest nickname of all: the Portland State University football team of Coach Darrel (Mouse) Davis is affectionately called the Fighting Mice.
MARK C. PADGETT
Aren't we carrying this "ethnic slur" controversy to ridiculous lengths? If Indian designations for team nicknames are derogatory, will we next see clergymen protesting the Demon Deacons (Wake Forest) and the Battling Bishops (Ohio Wesleyan)? Or Louisianans of Acadian descent protesting the Ragin' Cajuns (Southwestern Louisiana)? The Religious Society of Friends protesting the Quakers (Penn)? Or Northern Irishmen protesting the Orangemen (Syracuse)? Personally, I find the Maryland Terps very offensive!
THOMAS STEPHEN TERPACK
Come on! Athletic nicknames are chosen to symbolize things like bravery and desire, qualities we want in our athletic teams. Or else they are chosen because they are synonymous with a place, like Milwaukee Brewers or Baltimore Orioles. They are not chosen to demean people or ethnic groups. People who are looking for things to be offended by are going to find them, no matter what.
JOHN H. KISSINGER
It seems the biggest beef of the car owners in their brouhaha with USAC (A Way to Upset CART, April 30) is the cost of racing. Exactly who was responsible for driving up that cost? Did USAC, or the Indianapolis Speedway, or Pocono, or Ontario put a gun to the heads of the owners and require exotic machines? Did someone threaten Penske, Patrick et al., with mayhem if they didn't enter the "sport" of racing?
Actually, auto racing at that level is a business. In other business endeavors, if the results can't justify the costs, you go out of business. I suggest that as the logical alternative to those who originally drove up the cost by using the expensive components to try to win the prize money that they now complain is too small.
LUMIR S. PALMA
HE WAS THERE
I am writing in reference to Anita Verschoth's Carnival Time (April 30). The article was excellent but inaccurate in one segment, the description of the 1928 race at 175 yards in which Charlie Paddock opposed three Penn sprinters, Scull, Ball and Boyle. The author of the article may have used newspaper accounts of the race for research and, in fairness to the writer, I should point out that the newspaper writers covering the event were focusing on Paddock and their reporting was probably slanted in that direction. Certainly a normal reaction.
Contrary to Verschoth's account, Paddock did not run in the lane next to the wall. On the outside, next to the wall, was Boyle, the Penn freshman. Paddock was well away from the wall, in the inside lane. Scull and Ball were between Boyle and Paddock. The young freshman, Boyle, unknown in college track, did have some fairly impressive credentials. As an Illinois schoolboy competing for Rockford High, Boyle was the national high school champ indoors in the high jump and a solid 9.8 sprinter. Lawson Robertson, the Penn coach, told Boyle before the race not to be too impressed by Paddock's reputation. "Just run your race and you'll beat him."
Paddock, always a showman, did his best before the race to enhance his reputation as a world-class sprinter, looking for a bit of wood to tap on for luck, and saying in an aside to Boyle, "Don't freeze, kid. Just run your race." Boyle, a very hungry young athlete, was determined to do just that. A very fast starter, the kid got out with the gun, opened up a firm five-yard lead, and the way he was running neither Paddock, Scull nor Ball was going to catch him.
Then it happened. Suddenly Boyle saw bodies and bricks spilling from a crumbling wall. Not knowing exactly what was happening, he slowed, then swerved to the inside, away from the bricks and bodies. Meanwhile, Paddock, Scull and Ball were out of danger. They simply continued running. Boyle lost his advantage but made up the 10 yards he had lost when confronted by the collapsing wall and finished second, closing to within two feet of the striding Paddock at the finish.
This is how it happened. I was there. I was the kid in the blue jersey and white trunks wearing for the first time a pair of varsity spikes. I've always thought that I would have won the race and never looked back, as they say at the racetrack, if only that wall had held out for a few seconds more!
LAMOINE E. BOYLE
WHO'S THE GREATEST?
Congratulations to John Papanek on a fine article (An Office Party to Remember, April 23) on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. For years now Kareem has taken criticism about the type of basketball he plays. Wilt Chamberlain has made many harsh remarks about Kareem, claiming that he doesn't play defense well enough to be considered a great center. During Kareem's 10 years of pro ball he has taken a tongue-lashing from just about everyone. It's time he was recognized as a great center. So next time anyone has anything to say about Kareem's style of play, put yourself in his shoes. He can't do it all. There are 10 men on the court, not one!
San Bernardino, Calif.
There is no question about it, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is overrated. Here's a guy 7'2" who averages only 14.8 rebounds a game. Wilt Chamberlain's career average of 22.9 made it look easy. Abdul-Jabbar seems to be afraid of big opposing players. Wilt weighed 275 pounds or more and he was more physical and didn't stand around watching other people control the boards. Wilt could do it all like no one before him or after him. He could play both ends and control a game. Bill Russell wasn't the greatest, Wilt was. Russell didn't have to worry about scoring points because he had the greatest coach and players to back him up. If Russell played on a team that needed offense he wouldn't have stood out as he did with the Celtics. If Kareem can't get more rebounds per game, his height is wasted because smaller players make him look bad.
I commend Kathy Blumenstock on her interesting and well-written article (A Dam Site Better Than Bottles, April 23), but I was horrified to read that probably half of our Kentucky nurse-mare farms knock the nurse mare's own foals in the head and sell them for pet food. What a deplorable thing to be happening in our beloved Bluegrass country! Surely all those unwanted foals could be supplied to a waiting list of horse lovers for $50 as Bill Taylor Jr. and Wilson Nicholls do at their nurse-mare farm.
GLEN E. VAN SLYKE
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.