Has your magazine been so paralyzed by the baseball strike that you must stoop to covering bullfighting (El Texano Comes of Age, July 6)? If in the future you can find no better topic than this, please leave the pages blank. It would be a vast improvement over the glorification of the torturing of bulls, pictures of blood-soaked animals and the praising of a young matador brainwashed into believing that the killing of a bull is in any way associated with becoming a man.
GEORGE R. CORMIER
Sport connotes a contest between equals, with equal opportunity to display skills and equal freedom and motivation to compete. Your article is about the humiliation, torture and ritualized slaughter of an animal by a human masquerading as a "macho" athlete. Let the matadors start competing against other people with equal ability and like motive. I'd like to see one of these brave men climb into the ring with a Thomas Hearns or a Ray Leonard. The myth of courage would give way to the reality of cowardice and cruelty that is the bullfighter's true measure.
I've been a subscriber for close to 10 years. As far as I'm now concerned, you can consider that subscription canceled.
The article on David Renk should not have appeared in your otherwise fine magazine. I am an avid hunter, but hunting promotes a clean and sporting kill, not the cruel and grotesque methods by which matadors dispatch the bulls.
July 19, 1981
íQuè repugnante! Bullfighting and boxing (Clearing the Way for he Big Payday) in the same issue! At least you could have spared us one of these bloody pastimes.
As an aficionado and collector of bullfight literature, I was delighted with Barnaby Conrad Ill's article about David Renk. No summary of American bullfighters can be complete, however, without at least some reference to the most successful matador born in this country. Jesus (Chucho) Cordoba was born of Mexican parents in Winfield, Kans. in 1927. He enjoyed success in Spain and Mexico and survived several serious gorings. On one particularly memorable day in San Luis Potosi, Mexico he was so successful with a Santo Domingo bull that he was awarded not only two ears but also the tail and a hoof.
ROSS A. PHELPS
Taurine Bibliophiles of America
La Crescent, Minn.
THE STRIKE (CONT.)
I'd like to respond to the letter from William T. Ocel (19TH HOLE, July 6), who referred to today's baseball players as "overpriced, egotistical and self-indulgent." I'm 31 years old, a college graduate (Florida Southern, class of 1972) with a B.S. in business management. I have worked at the same job for 11 years: pro baseball player. My average salary for my first seven seasons in the minor leagues was $6,600 per year. Overpriced? After Marvin Miller, our union leader, bargained for a new Basic Agreement in the summer of 1976, an agreement the owners accepted, I became an "Attachment 11" player—that is, a player covered by the 11th addendum to the agreement—which enabled me to leave the Yankee minor league system, where I had landed after being traded by the Texas Ranger organization in January 1977, and become a free agent in November 1977. I now have played nearly 3½ seasons in the majors with the White Sox, and my average salary from 1971 to 1981 is way up to $25,000 per year. Overpriced?
Unions run our country, and we ballplayers have a very strong one. We don't want to return to the dark ages of baseball that existed from 1900 to 1970. If Mr. Ocel or anyone else wants robots in the field, let him invent them. If he can't, then let him accept the players as free enterprise Americans pursuing a living in our capitalistic society.
This strike is not designed to benefit players who have signed multi-million-dollar, multi-year contracts. They have already received the benefits of their free agency, and if a secret ballot were taken, I believe many of them might vote not to strike. Instead, the strike is for the benefit of all those present and future players who may become free agents.
Chicago White Sox
THE SPLENDID SPLINTER
What a joy it was to read something on Ted Williams once again (Ted Williams at Midstream, June 29). Shivers went up my spine when I saw that magic name. Thanks to John Underwood for a masterpiece.
DUANE F. NORBURG
You made quite a catch with your story on the greatest hitter of all time. You snared a wide-eyed, openmouthed baseball sap who is starved by the strike for baseball stories. You got me hook, line and sinker. But of the 987 lines on 11 pages of text, only 109 had anything to do with baseball. May your wading boots develop a major leak.
Anyone who believes that great sportswriting is a lost art has not read Ted Williams at Midstream. John Underwood did a superb job. I'll bet he even made Williams happy.
New York City
The man with the eye patch of whom Ted Williams spoke was probably Lewis W. Douglas. An eminent businessman and diplomat, Douglas was Ambassador to Great Britain, not Ireland, when he lost his eye.
WALTER GUZZARDI JR.
Shelter Island, N.Y.
GUTHRIE SPEAKS UP
In his article on Shirley Muldowney (The Best Man For the Job Is a Woman, June 22), Sam Moses has inserted an attack on my abilities and accomplishments as a driver. He says:
That I have made three starts in the Indianapolis 500. Correct. Three starts in what many people believe to be the most prestigious race in the world, a race for which there are usually more than 90 entrants, of which some 60 make qualifying attempts and of which only the fastest 33 start the race.
That I came in 29th in 1977. Correct. Somewhere around the 10th lap a valve seat broke. In what way does the author justify the implication that this failure should be ascribed to the driver?
That I finished ninth in 1978. Correct. I came in ninth in a car that George Bignotti, the master Indy-car constructor who sold it to me, said should qualify at 190 mph. I qualified at 190.325. The front-row times that year were all more than 200 mph. What one does with an inherently slower car is drive the hell out of it, hoping that a good finish will get one a better car next time. In fact, we lost two laps—and two positions—in the pits because of a blocked fuel-supply vent, and I drove with a fractured right wrist.
That I failed to finish in 1979. Correct. Four melted pistons.
That I failed to qualify in 1976. Correct. In a car that even Tom Bigelow, currently the alltime leader in number of sprint-car victories, had not been able to run fast enough to qualify the previous year. Bigelow went on to qualify in another car.
That I failed to qualify in 1980 "despite having a strong car." The qualifying attempt I made, with a three-lap average fast enough to sit in the fifth row, was waved off by my crew. Those three laps were the fastest officially timed laps ever recorded for the car, faster than the times attained later in the year by the other team driver on a faster track (Ontario) in a second car of the same design.
The author also implies cronyism in my induction into the Women's Sports Hall of Fame by pointing out that I serve on the advisory board of the Women's Sports Foundation, whose director was a member of the Hall's 10-member nominating committee. The selection committee, however, consisted of more than 70 representatives of the sports media, and a majority vote by these print, radio and television reporters was required for induction. Yet Moses says, "Guthrie has more respect from the [Hall of Fame] committee than from her fellow drivers." Anonymous drivers, of course. Here are published quotes from non-anonymous drivers:
"I think she has done a hell of a job."—Mario Andretti in 1977.
"There is no question about her ability to race with us."—Cale Yarborough in 1977.
"Asked to name competitors against whom he did not mind battling inches apart at 200 miles per hour, Sneva said, 'Foyt—and Janet Guthrie. They know their equipment, and they know how to drive.' "—Tom Sneva, as quoted in the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, Dec. 5,1980 by Bill Millsaps.
Moses says, "[They] recognize her for what she is on the track: a stroker, the antithesis of a racer." That's the author's opinion. I find it contemptible.
New York City
Thank you for the very interesting and informative story on Shirley Muldowney. Thanks also to Shirley for admitting she has "that kick-ass attitude" that a lot of guys don't have and that no other women will admit to having. My husband, an amateur drag racer, hates her for it, and I love her for it.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.