CARRYING THE TORCH
My compliments on Kathy Blumenstock's well-written article on Jim Craig's debut in the NHL (The Flame Is Still Burning Brightly, March 10). I am a season-ticket holder and was glad to see the first Omni sellout of the season. Thanks to Jim, Atlanta hockey fans are coming back to watch this exciting sport. Any other city wanting the Flames can now forget it!
Hockey on the cover of SI two weeks in a row! That's been a long time coming. Thanks for recognizing the best sport in the world. I hope the pros will learn from the U.S. Olympic team and that in the future they will make SI proud to put them on the cover more than a few times a year.
Burnaby, British Columbia
Move over, Bucky Dent. Now it's Jim Craig who's capturing the hearts of young American girls.
East Syracuse, N.Y.
Jim Craig is the Flame of our hearts!
MAURA HALL, 5TH FLOOR
Seton Hill College
March 24, 1980
Did Jim Craig ever find his father?
•Jim's father, Don Craig, says that he had swapped seats with two of his sons, Kevin and Dan, for the final game in order to sit closer to the goal, so Jim never did spot him. However, he saw Jim in the locker room right after the game.—ED.
As a state trooper, I find it difficult to believe that Jim Craig "didn't even like state troopers before." It's possible he didn't know any.
The Massachusetts State Police have an excellent reputation and are regarded as one of the finest state police agencies in the country. I hope his opinion has changed since the parade in North Easton when the three troopers provided him security along the route.
SERGEANT CHARLES D. GROSS
Michigan State Police
NOT GREEK TO ATHENS
In the article The Golden Goal (March 3) on the U.S. hockey team, you mentioned that the fans at a high school basketball game here in Athens, Ohio cheered when the U.S.-Soviet score was announced. That's right, we did! But you also suggested that many of us may never have seen a hockey game.
Just for the record, Athens is the home of the Midwest College Hockey League champions for the second consecutive year. The Ohio University Bobcats, coached by John Menzies, defeated the University of Toledo, Dayton and Dennison in a tournament here on Feb. 29, March 1 and 2. So we have indeed been exposed to good college hockey!
CAROL ANN D'ANDREA
Curry Kirkpatrick has a point. In his article Why the Game Is on the Level (March 3) he stated that great balance exists among college basketball teams. The current NCAA tournament offers more proof of this.
I must agree with Curry Kirkpatrick that the overall balance in college basketball has produced a most surprising and interesting year. That is precisely why I cannot understand his complete dismissal of all those "passive, unintelligent" teams from the Western half of the country. If Texas A&M athletes are not intelligent enough to play basketball, they can always become sportswriters.
Bay City, Texas
Curry Kirkpatrick said that the former Doctors of Dunk of Louisville turned into the Medics of Moderation and were in the midst of one of their end-of-season swoon songs. It occurs to me that the Cards were 7-0 against members of your preseason Top 20. They beat Ohio State, St. John's, Virginia Tech (twice) and Florida State (three times). They also won 18 games in a row, won the Metro tournament, were ranked in both major wire-service polls all year and have now reached the semifinal round of the NCAA championships. Not bad for a team that couldn't crack the SI Top 20!
I'm very grateful to Larry Keith and your magazine for writing off the UCLA Bruins last December (The Bruins Are in Ruins, Dec. 24-31). I was angry then at your overly harsh treatment of a team playing against not just their opponents, but also against the inflated standards that UCLA's heritage and a quick-to-criticize press have imposed. Now I am joyous! The Bruins have put it in SI's face!
In his article on Marvin Miller (Whither Opening Day 1980? March 3) Ron Fimrite says, "It is unlikely he will ever be elected to the Hall of Fame, but the fact remains that he has probably been a more influential figure than anyone in the game in this century."
This makes me wonder just what is considered "the game" today. Is it the pension-fund squabble? Bowie Kuhn vs. Charlie Finley? Free-agent movement? A cleverly worded contract? Is it the cleanup hitting power of a graying, but nonetheless hungry, union leader?
I hope the time has not passed when the essence of this poetic sport is found on the diamond. The beauty of baseball used to reside in men like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Sandy Koufax, to say nothing of the Fred Merkles, Satchel Paiges and Bo Belinskys. At least for the fan, therein still lies the game.
MARK D. ZIMMERMAN
If the owners are lamenting the players' so-called outrageous salaries, they have themselves to blame. It was partly the owners' lack of communication that brought about the price war over ballplayers. Thanks for a close look at Marvin Miller, a man who has helped the individuals who make the game so great—the players—receive their fair share.
Having, for the umpteenth time, just dried my tears for the poor, oppressed, underpaid, overworked wage slaves (called athletes), I wish to make this comment: pffft!
Until a few years ago I was an avid, loyal, rooting sports fan—and a paying one. When my eyes were opened to the avarice of owners and players alike, I had another comment: a plague on both their houses!
If the poor saps whose income averages $18,000 a year and who get their kicks by supporting these athletic wage slaves and their multimillion-dollar contracts think for one moment that the owners or the players have one ounce of gratitude for their support and loyalty, I suggest they read the latest about the "Los Angeles Raiders" football team.
As if Iran, inflation, Presidential primaries and Olympic boycotts weren't enough, we now find ourselves wondering if America's pastime will begin as scheduled. Sure, baseball players deserve life's precious amenities. No one can argue against job security. But to threaten the very existence of one of the last salvageable means the fan has of alleviating everyday pressure and enjoying true clean fun is inexcusable.
Can't each party set aside its grievances—or compromise accordingly—and play ball?
Who says Charlie Finley is a dummy? Obviously he's got some smarts, because he hired baseball's greatest manager—Billy Martin (Berkeley Billy Comes Home Again, March 10). Maybe Yankee owner George Steinbrenner is the dummy. East is East and West is West. Look out, American League, Oakland's got the best!
New York City
I think Billy Martin is a disgrace to the game, with all of this hiring and firing nonsense and all the barroom brawls he has gotten himself into. It's obvious he doesn't go with baseball and baseball doesn't go with him. Why did you even bother to write an article about such a person?
Thank you for the excellent article on Villanova's legendary track mentor, James Francis (Jumbo) Elliott (Nobody's Bigger than Jumbo, March 10). The student body of Villanova greatly admires this first-class gentleman for the worthy recognition he has gained for this proud university.
Jumbo Elliott has to be the biggest bargain in sports, and Villanova will suffer a great loss when he does retire. The story pointed out that Jumbo's heavy-equipment sales business runs largely on its own momentum. It appears to me that his track team operates on the same level of efficiency.
Great article on Jumbo Elliott of Villanova. However, you made one mistake. Marty Liquori is among the most famous of Elliott's milers, but he never held the mile record. Although Liquori beat him several times in the mile, the record holder was always the great Jim Ryun of Kansas.
What's really remarkable is that Jumbo Elliott has never coached our Olympic track team. He has my vote for 1984.
CHRIS R. ACETO
With all due respect, I feel that you left out Villanova's finest sprinter and nicest gentleman, Frank Budd of Asbury Park, N.J. Frank finished fifth in the 100 at Rome in 1960 and was the "World's Fastest Human" in 1961.
Jumbo Jim Elliott "the most successful collegiate track coach in U.S. history"? Dean Cromwell's bow tie is still spinning. Jess Mortensen's bifocals have suddenly become quadrifocals, and don't bother to ask about Jess Hill, Vern Wolfe, Dink Templeton, Bill Bowerman, Jim Bush et al. Jumbo Elliott doesn't rank in the first five, maybe the first 10.
Dean Cromwell of USC won 12 outdoor NCAA titles—nine in a row between 1935 and 1943. That's not counting his IC4A titles. Jess Hill stepped in for two years at USC and won back-to-back titles in 1949 and '50.
When Hill became head football coach, Jess Mortensen succeeded him. All Mortensen did was win five NCAA outdoor titles in a row—1951-55—before UCLA's Ducky Drake won in 1956. Mortensen then won two more titles, in 1958 and 1961.
Elliott's only NCAA outdoor championship came in 1957, a year in which USC was on NCAA probation and ineligible because of football infractions.
As for others, Dink Templeton of Stanford won in 1928 and 1934. Leo Johnson of Illinois won in 1944, '46 and '47. Bill Easton of Kansas won back-to-back titles in 1959 and '60. Bill Bowerman of Oregon won in 1962 and 1964 and tied for the championship in 1965 and 1970. Vern Wolfe, USC's current coach, has won six NCAA titles—1963, 1965 (tie), 1967, 1968, 1976 and 1978. UCLA's Jim Bush won in 1966, 1971, '72 and '73. And that's not even counting NCAA individual champions. USC's outnumber Villanova's by far.
Jumbo Jim is a nice man. A nice track coach. But he's miles and miles behind as the most successful collegiate track coach in U.S. history. Forty lashes with a soggy noodle for all concerned.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.