Regarding the U.S. Open tennis championships (Round Two to the Kid, Sept. 15), we may never again witness such classic matches as McEnroe-Connors and McEnroe-Borg. The greatness of the play came through despite McEnroe's unforgivable behavior. If he ever learns the meaning of the words humble, class and sportsmanship, he could very well be the best player in history. However, as long as the sport allows the indignities he inflicted on the umpire, especially in the Connors match, then tennis will continue to breed his type. That's sad.
John McEnroe said, "I figure I'm about 10 Wimbledon finals exactly like the last one away from getting those people on my side," in response to the boos and jeers he heard even in his "home" tournament. Even if Junior keeps playing McNificently, as he did at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, the crowds will continue reacting negatively to him, as long as his conduct on the court remains McNoxious. What other sport would allow a player to refer to an official as "Mr. Incompetent" without penalty?
LAWRENCE C. RUFFNER
Whenever John McEnroe gets the least bit excited, the crowd turns on him. Acts similar to his wouldn't even turn a head if they were committed by some other player. I'm glad John was able to withstand the jeers long enough to earn a much-deserved victory over Borg.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
"Kindergarten journalism credentials"? Those words were a cheap shot at the CBS tennis announcers (TV/RADIO, Sept. 15). Frank Deford charges CBS with putting no heart or soul into its coverage of any sport, let alone tennis. Deford obviously doesn't watch the NBA on CBS. Brent Musburger gets so worked up you can barely detect that both teams are shooting 15% and all the starters have fouled out. If it weren't for his enthusiasm, we would surely be at the "mercy of the action." as Deford puts it, or the lack thereof.
Concerning Tony Trabert, Pat Summerall, John Newcombe, Virginia Wade and Co., I think they do "know the language and the game and attend to both." They are definitely not chatterers.
Park Rapids, Minn.
Frank Deford severely criticizes producer Frank Chirkinian for having "cameras hopping all around." suggesting that the continuity of the match being televised was somehow upset by switching off to other matches also in progress. While Deford is entitled to his opinion, I found the approach taken by Chirkinian to be refreshing and innovative. The viewer was able to see the best of various matches that were being played simultaneously. In essence. I felt that I was receiving twice the coverage that I would've gotten had CBS stuck unrelentingly to the stadium matches.
RICHARD E. SALKIN
I often suspect that print journalists who take potshots at televison journalists and commentators are mainly motivated by jealousy. But Frank Deford's column concerning the CBS telecast of the U.S. Open was right on target. If we could have had about a third of the personnel and about twice the intelligence that was brought to the presentation, it would have been wonderful.
WILLIAM C. PARKER
Wouldn't it be great if CBS executives read your article and did something about it! I am so glad somebody has recognized that the U.S. Open coverage was spoiled by a "platoon of competing voices" and "chain introductions." Heaven forfend that we should get to know-any of the players. I can't stand the endless chatter.
New York City
Walter Iooss Jr. took the best photographs I've ever seen (Between the Acts, Sept. 8). His version of "One for all, all for one" in particular should be made into a poster. That picture tells what sports and life are all about. Superb!
John Matuszak—the face, the beard, the shoulders—is a gladiator if ever there was one.
Waller Iooss Jr.'s cover picture of John McEnroe (Sept. 15) is outstanding. However, his shot of McEnroe serving, on pages 16-17 of the same issue, is one of the most beautiful sports photographs Eve ever seen.
MISTER JEFFERSON'S UNIVERSITY
Thanks to Frank Deford for his well-researched story It's V-I-R-G-I-N-I-A-A-A-A! (Sept. 15). As a long-suffering Virginia alumnus, I agree with the new attitude sweeping Charlottesville: Hey, what's so bad about winning for a change?
As to Deford's allusions to the partying and road trips at The University, did anyone ever tell you about the "weekend" road trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in '64 when....
VICTOR S. PODELL
Class of' 66
Kudos for the tremendous and timely portrayal of U. Va. However, Frank Deford's presumption about the derivation of the name Hookville is incorrect. At The University, a "hook" is a slang expression for a grade of C. perhaps because of the letter's shape. Charlottesville is commmonly referred to as C'ville. Substitute hook for C, and you have Hookville.
As for losing, I and many other fervent Wahoos have spent many years deep in the valley. Deford ably illustrated the high plateau in sight. I can assure him that we not only could throw The Victory Party, but we would, and we will.
School of Medicine
University of Virginia
When you "hooked" a course at U. Va. and received The Gentleman's C, it was the same as saying that you didn't do much work and just got by. I know this all too well, because during my student years there, I too often drank from the wrong Jefferson Cup—a pewter vessel originally designed by T.J. himself—and hooked many a course.
As a student at The University, I agree that "sports are in." You neglected to mention, however, that the lacrosse team was ranked No. 1 in the nation through the better part of last season, before it lost the NCAA championship game in double overtime to Johns Hopkins. And when basketball season gets underway, look out for The Lamp—Jeff Lamp, that is. I believe another quotation of Mister Jefferson's might reveal his attitude toward athletics: "Exercise and recreation are as necessary as reading. I will say rather more necessary because health is worth more than learning."
Frank Deford mentioned that Virginia nearly had its only perfect football season in 1941 when Bullet Bill Dudley played. In 1915, the year in which my grandfather, Eugene (Buck) Mayer, played—he was one of the South's first All-Americas—Virginia also came close to a perfect season, winning eight and losing only to Harvard. The 1915 team is still considered by many to be the greatest Cavalier squad of all time. I believe you will find that the 1913 and 1914 Virginia teams had almost perfect seasons, too, losing only to Georgetown and Yale, respectively.
MICHAEL T. DEVAN
Charleston, W. Va.
I am one of the many who have had the honor of attending The University and spending delightful Saturday afternoons at picturesque Scott Stadium. Upon moving to Texas in 1977, my wife and I traveled to Austin to see the University of Texas football team play U. Va. Alas, it was a classic Virginia game—U. Va. lost 68-0. However, after viewing Texas' high-rise dorms and some of its 40,000 students, we left for home feeling somewhat victorious in the knowledge that maybe, after all, winning isn't everything.
In your article about the America's Cup (Aussome Task for the U.S., Sept. 15), Freedom was referred to as the "San Diego" boat and the "West Coast" boat. Freedom's home port is New York's Fort Schuyler, which is also the site of the State University of New York Maritime College and of its Foundation, the sponsor of the Enterprise/Freedom campaign. It is true that winter trials were held off the West Coast, and Freedom Skipper Dennis Conner is from San Diego, but crew members hail from various states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Fort Schuyler and Minneford's Yacht Yard, where Freedom and other Olin Stephens-designed 12-meters were built, are within the New York City limits. To be precise, Freedom is a Bronx boat.
MICHAEL F. HAINES
Maritime College at Fort
Schuyler Foundation, Inc.
E.M. Swift's article on the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Pines, the "worst team in organized ball" (It's Been Some Rocky Year, Sept. 1), brought back memories of the summer of 1958, when I played for one of the losingest teams (39-86-1) in professional baseball—the Aberdeen (S. Dak.) Pheasants of the Class C Northern League. The Pheasants played in snow, tornadoes and stifling heat. They nearly went 0 for May—losing 27 of 28 in one stretch.
In spite of our failures, the fans supported us, and one evening after a particularly valiant loss they took up a collection in the stands and sent us two cases of Grain Belt beer to soothe our ruffled feathers. A local cartoonist acknowledged our plight by creating a character called Philbert the Pheasant for the local daily. We would fight over the paper each night to see what new ways he had found to show the wounds on Philbert's battered body.
The manager, Barney Lutz, who was a real old pro, left us at about the 20-loss mark. The new manager, Billy DeMars, who's the Phillies' third-base coach now, was able to break the streak. Other alumni of that team were Bo Belinsky and Steve Barber; when Bo threw his no-hitter in happier times, it was against Steve.
Before reading your article I had always felt that being fired as a pitcher for the Dublin (Ga.) Orioles by Earl Weaver was the highlight of my baseball career. Now I can proudly say that it was being a member of the '58 Aberdeen Pheasants.
ALLIE L. MALAVASE
Congratulations to Bill Colson for a heck of an article on slo-pitch softball (Teams That Go Bump in the Night, Sept. 1). He perfectly described the greatest play in the sport—the home run or bump—as it is performed by the greatest bumping team, Jerry's Caterers.
I'd like to toot my own horn by saying I batted .843 with an Edina, Minn. Classic League slo-pitch team representing Archie's Bunker, a Minneapolis bar. My teammates include ex-NHLer Bill Nyrop, Rick Chartraw of the Canadiens, Ron Zanussi of the North Stars, pro wrestler Steve Olsonoski, former National Leaguer Paul Siebert and Minnesota Gopher stars P.W., Ho, Huffy and John Holme.
Our team has been to the state tournament four out of the last five years. Hats off to Jerry's, but Archie's can bump with the best.
Bill Colson's article unfortunately gives national attention to the worst aspects of "amateur" slo-pitch softball. He glosses over the obvious point, namely that there are two types of softball teams in any community: those composed of friends who get together to compete, using whatever skills they have, and those that recruit all-stars, who have nothing in common with their teammates other than their .600 batting averages and their 40-inch waistlines. The former combine modest athletic ability and considerable camaraderie; the latter provide four home runs per inning (that's "action and drama"?) and friendships that fade when "bump" production slumps.
I'll take true amateur softball any day—no contracts, no free rents, no big-dollar sponsors. I wouldn't go across town to see a bunch of meats play, especially knowing they're getting money for it!
I fail to see the action or drama in watching a procession of 250-pound fatsos lumber around the bases after clobbering a pitch any Little Leaguer could have hit. As to Bill Colson's contention that fast-pitch softball is practically extinct, the thousands of fast-pitch teams across the nation refute that remark. I played 112 games this year, and I know that as long as the better young athletes in our area continue to accept the more challenging game of fast-pitch, we won't become an endangered species.
Fast-pitch is anything but extinct here in the Hudson Valley.
Hyde Park, N.Y.
Sure, Eric Heiden was great, the Olympic hockey team was exciting, and Bjorn Borg is the best in the business. But after reading about George Brett, I have no doubts. Whether he hits .420 or .300, he's got my nomination for Sportsman of the Year.
My definition of Sportsman of the Year would be very simple: the man who most influenced his sport over the past year. Accordingly, Billy Martin should be chosen. No one else has influenced the Oakland A's or baseball the way Martin has.
Bill Veeck's impact on baseball during the past 30 years is legendary. It would be a fitting tribute to award him this honor.
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