We knew Arnold Palmer would come back (Win or Lose, Arnie Draws, July 20), and how sweet it is! The long dry spell is over, and the familiar sight of Arnie hitching up his trousers and making that big charge is just what we needed during this year of silence at the old ball parks. Arnie gives new hope to us former long hitters who have agonized as our game has deteriorated. Keep charging, Arnie. It keeps us going!
Myra Gelband should be congratulated on her fine article about the U.S. Senior Open in general and about Arnold Palmer in particular. Those of us who have been following Arnie since he came on the scene in the late '50s have felt the same things for the past quarter century that Gelband pinpoints so accurately in her story. In her concluding paragraph she says, "There's no word or phrase that quite describes what it is that Palmer transmits to the galleries." Having followed Arnie through a practice round at Merion in June, two days before the start of the U.S. Open, I can only say that he is easily the most charismatic and electrifying sports personality that his followers are ever going to see, and they know it.
Forest Hills, N.Y.
Arnold Palmer's victory in the U.S. Senior Open was a breath of fresh air. It was an escape from all the talk of money in sports. Yet Myra Gelband found a way to taint even this occasion by devoting so much of her article to a discussion of money lists, draws, advance ticket sales, etc.
Arnie's charisma is no mystery to this fan. It's apparent from the first moments of play that Palmer is an athlete apart from mere money. He plays for himself and for us, but not always in that order. Somehow, I doubt that many Canadian Football League fans wept as Vince Ferragamo walked to the shower (Giving His All for the Als, July 20), but when Arnie strode up the 18th at Oakland Hills, I know of 10,000 witnesses who did.
BRIAN L. CONKLIN
Rapid City, Mich.
As I skimmed the July 20 issue of SI, I noticed articles on the Davis Cup, the CFL and James (Quick) Tillis, all subjects that we at ESPN [Entertainment and Sports Programming Network] have covered on the air. I was amazed. Then, when I got to the article (Lady with a Past) on my father's yacht Santana, I almost fell on the floor. After all these years I had lost track of "the boat." You have brought back memories that are only the best. You are the "wide world of sports."
After reading your fine article on Santana, I came to the 19TH HOLE and read a letter from a man in Connecticut who apparently canceled his subscription because you had run a story on bullfighting. This, of course, is his privilege. However, this "cancel my subscription" response, which I see at least once a year, usually after your swimsuit issue, is a curious phenomenon. I am reasonably sure this gentleman would not cancel his newspaper subscription if the same bullfighting story appeared in his evening paper. He would probably not quit watching the news if it were reported on TV. Why does he react to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED this way?
For the 20 years or more that I have been reading it, I have been generally pleased and well entertained by your publication. I have read stories on sports I knew nothing about but for which, thereafter, I frequently developed an understanding. I, for one, appreciate your approach to journalism. Please continue my subscription.
TY M. SPARKS
In a letter concerning your coverage of bullfighting, reader Mark Newman writes that the article "should not have appeared in your otherwise fine magazine." I couldn't agree more. What I do object to is his logic. Saying he is an avid hunter, Newman claims, "Hunting promotes a clean and sporting kill." Somehow, gunning down defenseless wildlife seems no more sporting to me than torturing bulls. At least, from time to time the bull gets his revenge.
Salem, W. Va.
We subscribed to SI for sports coverage. For the most part, we've gotten what we expected—until your July 20 issue. What in the world does Mount St. Helens (Season of Hope) have to do with sports? Please spare us sports fans and put this kind of article in some sort of nature magazine.
North Canton, Ohio
I was pleasantly surprised to see an article on Mount St. Helens in your magazine. I'm sure you'll receive many letters asking what an article like that was doing in a sports publication. I'd like to point out one side effect of the volcano's eruption that is still affecting sports in Spokane.
Ask any softball player around here what it's like sliding into a base on an infield that is as hard as rock because of volcanic ash. When the ash first fell, it had the texture and consistency of cement powder. Then a lot of it was worked into the ground, and the result was a cement infield. Not only do we have bruises to mark every time we have hit the dirt, but routine ground balls are a thing of the past.
DESCRIBING THE WOMEN
Curry Kirkpatrick has long delighted SI readers with his wit and style in tennis reportage, but his story on Wimbledon (His Earth, His Realm, His England, July 13) reveals some pretty disturbing aspects of his point of view on men's vs. women's tennis. After waxing lyrical in describing the "brilliant" John McEnroe, who "artfully slashed" his way into history—the verbiage literally reeks of reverence—Kirkpatrick descended to heavy-handed ridicule in his coverage of the women's championship. References to Hana Mandlikova as the "Czech flamethrower," Kathy Rinaldi and Claudia Pasquale as "Evert Lloyd clones," Pam Shriver as Tracy Austin's "personal pigeon" who "dies like a dog" in their matches, Mima Jausovec as a "veteran chubette" and Chris Evert Lloyd as having been in "near torment" after her semifinal loss to Mandlikova in the French Open and then winning her Wimbledon semifinal match against Shriver "without smearing her eye shadow" are not only personally demeaning, but in such obvious contrast to the treatment of the men's championship as to be outright chauvinistic.
If Kirkpatrick is going to be catty, let him not confine his cattiness to women; if the women's matches were boring, then some of the men's behavior was certainly boorish. Borg and Vilas have vied for "headband championships" for years; Gerulaitis is Borg's personal pigeon as well as Bobbsey-twin look-alike; Connors and McEnroe would tie in a legs competition, although Arthur Ashe would win hands down; and Roscoe Tanner has gone through so many hairdos he must have his own personal hairdresser.
I'm not criticizing Kirkpatrick's bombast. I love it. But let him distribute it equally between the sexes in the same article! I also did not feel that McEnroe's win was so momentous. In fact, the match was rather pedestrian. As Borg said, "The tennis was better last year."
THE STRIKE (CONT.)
Greg Pryor, Chicago White Sox infielder, asks us (19TH HOLE, July 20) if he's "overpriced." Let's examine the situation. Greg is 31, I'm 30; Greg has a B.S. degree from Florida Southern, I have a B.A. from TCU and an M.S. from Oklahoma State; he has averaged $25,000 a year for seven months' work, if you count roughing it in Florida for spring training, I don't make $25,000 a year yet, and I work 12 months a year.
I know Pryor isn't one of the players making $250,000 a year, but it's hard to feel sorry for him. Maybe we ought to do to baseball what the public has done to another sorry American product, the automobile. We ought to consider junking our big, union-controlled, expensive, inefficient ballplayers for more efficient and inexpensive Japanese models—at least until U.S. baseball decides to retool and get its act together, as the auto industry is trying to do. Who knows, Greg may soon be using his B.S. in business administration in the real world. I wish him luck. It's a real jungle out there.
I have an observation to make regarding the baseball strike. Your writers, your letter writers and the ballplayers who have commented have all missed the point, which is that a baseball game is fun to watch, fun to listen to, fun to read about and fun to talk about. Entertainment is what baseball provides.
A labor-management dispute is not fun to read about or talk about. Salary negotiations are not enjoyable to read about. I really don't care who is right and who is wrong. I only want this to be the last strike in pro sports that I ever have to read about.
Virginia Beach, Va.
ANOTHER PLAYER'S VIEW
I was elated to read the article Time Worth Remembering (July 6). Seeing Ted Page and me pictured together in your publication was an honor. Negro League players of the earlier decades unfortunately were not recipients of enormous commercial residuals and bonuses. We played for something greater that could not be measured in dollars and cents. The secrets of our game were to enjoy and endure.
WILLIAM (JUDY) JOHNSON
Member, Baseball Hall of Fame
LATIN RECRUITS (CONT.)
I cannot let the Bill Brubaker article (Hey, Kid, Wanna Be a Star? July 13) pass without comment.
The Canadian rule that prohibits major league clubs from signing players until they either turn 17 or finish the 11th grade, which has now been extended to Puerto Rico, could, in time, also be extended to other Latin American countries. Baseball took the initiative on this matter, but not, as you characterized it, to make "only a token change." We recognized that there were some problems associated with the signing of young Puerto Ricans, and we moved to remedy that situation. However, because of the great variance between the educational levels of Puerto Rican youths and those of other Latin American countries, we saw no basis for extending the rule beyond Puerto Rico at this time. We will follow the educational data as it develops.
Obviously, we disagree with Brubaker and SI over the interpretation of the UNESCO educational information that indicates only 53% to 62% of the boys in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Mexico between the ages of 12 and 17 attend school. When between one-third and one-half of a nation's junior high and high school age population does not attend school, I would call it significant. It may well be that 95% of the 12-year-olds are in school, while perhaps as few as 15% of the 17-year-olds are in attendance. If such is the case, most of the older boys signed to contracts will have dropped out of school before executing them. To these boys, baseball may well represent a better opportunity than other alternatives in their homeland. It would be interesting to know how many of the 55 young Latins, whom SI's survey shows as having signed, since 1978, a contract before their 17th birthday, actually were in school at the time of the signing.
There is increased recognition on the part of the U.S. clubs that lack of education and the language barrier are problems. Many clubs are working at improving the language skills of their foreign-born players and encouraging them to continue their education.
One area of professional baseball in the Caribbean was completely ignored in the article: The winter leagues, with the exception of the Puerto Rican League, themselves have no minimum-age rules. Puerto Rico has become the first to adopt a minimum signing age, and that came at our urging.
WILLIAM A. MURRAY
Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
New York City
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