The Yankees "destined for third" behind the Brewers and Orioles (Scouting Reports, April 13)? William Nack must be joking. How can a team that wins 103 regular-season games and adds Dave Winfield and Jerry Mumphrey to the lineup not be given a chance by SI to win the American League East? You can bet that once October rolls around and the Yanks are No. 1 again, you'll be hearing from me.
William Nack (who's he?) says, "New York's most pressing problem could develop at catcher." He's worried that Rick Cerone will tire early in 1981 after a long season last year. Sure, Rick caught 147 games last year, but Johnny Bench and others have done as much several times. Face it, Cerone was the most consistent catcher in the American League last summer.
The Yankees third? Never! And how can you question Ron Guidry, who won 17 games in 1980 and has had one of the best winning percentages in the majors the past three years, yet see promise in Milwaukee's Mike Caldwell, who won only 13 games in 1980 and is definitely on a steeper downslide than Louisiana Lightning?
A picture certainly can be worth a thousand words. The photographs accompanying the article on managers (He's Hired to Be Fired, April 13) spoke volumes. The forlorn gaze of Billy Martin told the story of his trials and tribulations as manager of the Twins, Tigers Rangers, Yankees, the Yanks again and now the A's. The shot of a clowning Tommy Lasorda typified the country club atmosphere of the L.A. (Hollywood) Dodgers. The topper, however, was the picture of the relaxed and confident skipper of the Baltimore Orioles. I imagine that a career winning percentage of .599, which Earl Weaver has for his 12½ seasons with the Orioles, can do that for a manager.
April 26, 1981
On the last page of his fine article about major league managers, Ron Fimrite made the statement that only six of the 26 current skippers might be called first-rate major league players—Frank Robinson, Frank Howard, Billy Martin, Joe Torre, Bill Virdon and Jim Fregosi. Error on Fimrite for trying to throw out Maury Wills.
Steve Wulf's article Tricks of the Trade (April 13) brought back a flood of memories of the days when, as youths, my friends and I sat at the knees of older ballplayers and listened with awe to similar tales of baseball shenanigans. We even dared to experiment with some of the tricks. While you recounted most of them, you overlooked one that can negate some of the hitting-power differences so apparent in the early teens. By heating or freezing a baseball one can adjust its elasticity and thus the distance it can be hit. Another trick learned from a former major-leaguer is to bake rosin on the bat to increase friction on the hitting surface.
Although these tricks have no ethical place in amateur or professional baseball, they certainly contribute to a more scientific approach to the game and to the already rich lore surrounding it.
North Mankato, Minn.
As Steve Wulf noted toward the end of the article, chicanery and baseball have gone hand in hand for a long time. In fact, in his book, The Americans: A Social History of the United States 1587-1914, J.C. Furnas suggests that baseball may have become widely popular in its infancy after the Civil War at least partly because its "moral aspects" approximated those of the developing Gilded Age. Furnas says, "Few other team sports so openly assume that any player in his right mind will consistently take all possible unfair advantage and break any rule when there is a chance of impunity.... The atmosphere of a baseball game accepts the stacking of all decks—pretty much the atmosphere of Wall Street c. 1870."
Baseball players are warned from early childhood of the dangers of the hidden ball, yet only two weeks ago Oakland successfully pulled it off against Minnesota. To me, this is one of the game's charms, though an embarrassing one to the victim. I still remember the agony of an incautious stroll off first in an American Legion game some 25 years ago.
ALAN R. MULNIX
Falls Church, Va.
It was with a smile that I read Ray Kennedy's article on Gerry Faust (The Irish Have Flipped Over Faust, April 13). As a trainer for Coach Faust for two years at Cincinnati's Moeller High School, I have long had Faust fever. Faust instilled in me a belief and a work ethic that have carried me through college and into my business career. Now the time has come for the whole country to watch him in action. Those of us who know him are certain he will succeed at Notre Dame. A new legend has begun.
STEPHEN J. BYRNES
Corona del Mar, Calif.
Lucky Notre Dame! Gerry Faust will bring a new honesty and freshness to the ranks of college football coaches. He's almost enough to make a Notre Dame fan out of me.
CARLOS H. RODR‚Äö√†√∂‚àö√üGUEZ, M.D.
So Notre Dame was the runaway winner in the 1981 recruiting wars? What else is new. Notre Dame annually attracts top high school talent from all over the country, but you can't tell that by its record. In my opinion, no other team, amateur or professional, does so little with so much. Until the Irish secure a coach and some players who can perform up to their ability, they will continue to be nothing but an overpublicized football team.
I very much enjoyed your article about Gerry Faust, but I take issue with your comment that he is "the only head coach Notre Dame has ever selected from the high school ranks." During the 1950s, Notre Dame selected Terry Brennan from Chicago's Mount Carmel High.
Notre Dame '52
•Brennan was hired as freshman coach the year before he succeeded Frank Leahy as head man.—ED.
It may not be "that big of an issue" for Sister Clarice Faltus of St. Frederick Catholic High in Monroe, La. that the school's golf team went on to play on a course from which its black members had been excluded. But for many of us Catholics it is a very big issue. I'm willing to wager more was said about Christianity by this incident than in many of the religion classes held at St. Frederick's this year. Sister, the coaches and the school missed a very "teachable" moment.
FATHER MICHAEL EWERT, O.F.M.
St. Francis Solanus Church
The item on former(?) Vanderbilt Basketball Coach Richard Schmidt in FOR THE RECORD (April 13) reminded me of the ambiguities of our language. It was headed RESIGNED. My first notion was that Vanderbilt had chosen to hire Schmidt again, had in fact re-signed him. Then I thought perhaps he had quit his post. Finally, I wondered if he had simply accepted his 28-27 record stoically; it is, after all, a winning record.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED appears to like playing with the language, and seldom falls unconsciously into the traps that await us all. Keep it up. It gives us pleasure as surely as the events you cover.
Congratulations to Sam Moses, Bob Shapiro and Geoff Tabin for climbing New Guinea's Carstensz Pyramid by a new route (Mountain of the Mists, March 2 and 9). Moses writes that in 1936 "an 11-man party led by A.H. Colijn of the Netherlands hacked a trail from the southern coast to the mountain in four weeks, but failed in three attempts to reach its summit."
Yes, foul weather forced my father and two climbing partners to give up on the Carstensz Pyramid. But the week before they had made a first ascent of Ngga Pulu. In his book Naar de Eeuwige Sneew van Tropisch Nederland (To the Eternal Snow of the Tropical Netherlands), Father gives Ngga Pulu an altitude of 5,040 meters (16,536 feet). He hoped it would be the highest summit of the Carstensz massif. The altitude of the Pyramid was not yet known.
Since 1936, other mountaineers have climbed the Carstensz and measured its peaks. Moses writes that Ngga Pulu is 15,947 feet and the Pyramid 16,203. So it appears that Father and his team climbed only No. 2. However, they were the first men to crampon their way up all that snow and ice of the Carstensz—previous expeditions turned back below the glacier—and they filled in the last white spots on the New Guinea map.
Menlo Park, Calif.
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