NO. 1 CATS
How about them Cats? Congratulations to coach Rollie Massimino and his upstart NCAA champions. Villanova truly is a team of destiny. Curry Kirkpatrick (Shooting The Lights Out, April 8) did such a masterful job of capturing the character of Villanova and its basketball program that we 'Nova fans might forgive you for the lack of respect afforded the Wildcats in your weekly polls during the regular season.
I don't watch much television. Did Villanova really win the NCAA title or is this another of your stupid April Fools' jokes?
GARY L. JAMES
In retrospect, it was significant that Villa-nova's Dwayne McClain seemed to soar above St. John's and Georgetown on your April 1 cover. This year's NCAA tournament proved what many had been saying all along—the Big East is the strongest conference in the land. All six NCAA bids were deserved. The league has balance. The talent and coaching are exceptional, and, as many an errant elbow has shown, the competition is fierce. Who says parity is boring?
JOHN M. JARNOT
Your April 1 cover failed to treat Memphis State as a member of the Final Four. Any squad that finishes 31-4 and was ranked by both wire services all year long deserves far better than to be compared to Seton Hall, the Big East cellar dweller.
I hope that Villanova's defeat of Georgetown, a clearly superior team, stimulates renewed appreciation for what UCLA accomplished during the late 1960s and early '70s. For years everyone gunned for the Bruins, hoping for an upset like Villanova's over Georgetown, and for years UCLA defeated all comers. UCLA beat its NCAA tournament opponents 38 consecutive times.
My late friend and client Harry Chapin would have been thrilled to see the use of his lyrics from Cat's in the Cradle in Curry Kirkpatrick's story on Villanova's NCAA victory. Harry was a true basketball fan, and we often played pickup games. He played the same way he lived: flat-out, with every ounce of energy he had. As his brothers, Tom, Steve and Jeb, will tell you, Harry's only drawback was that he loved to shoot and rarely passed the ball. Tom, by the way, was the leading rebounder on his State University of New York, Pittsburgh team.
ANOTHER EASTERN POWER
Hats off to Jack Falla for his excellent article (Textbook Engineering, April 8) on RPI's NCAA hockey championship. It almost makes up for SI's virtually ignoring the Engineers all season. I hope RPI's playoff wins over the CCHA's Lake Superior, the WCHA's Minnesota-Duluth and Hockey East's Providence will silence critics of ECAC hockey.
Jaime Diaz's story about the Cavs (Moving Up In The World, April 8) was a long time coming. I've been a loyal fan, even through the rough years, and it was a tremendous pleasure to see the Cavs recognized as something other than the joke of the NBA. Yes, the Cavs are for real!
Pepper Pike, Ohio
The Cavs are having a good season and your piece was fine, except that you slipped up in crediting them with "...a blowout of the Bucks in Milwaukee." When the teams last met in Milwaukee, the Bucks won by 35 points, their biggest margin of this "rebuilding" season. Earlier the Cavs beat the Bucks 128-106, but that game was played in Cleveland. The Cavs won that one without World B. Free and Lonnie Shelton, proving how far they've come since their 2-19 start.
THE SAGA OF SIDD FINCH (CONT.)
One hundred and sixty-eight thanks to George Plimpton for his delightfully absurd exposé of the phantom phenom, Sidd Finch (The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch, April 1). When I found out the story wasn't true, I was enraged. I'd been such a fool. I didn't feel any smarter when, in reviewing the story, I realized that the most amazing thing about it was that anyone believed it. For example, I'd wager that most French horn virtuosos who sleep on yak fur and speak fluent Sanskrit would rather be in the American League.
But I did believe it. And I'm grateful. The author starts with a character far too ridiculous even for fiction and makes him completely real. Thank Plimpton for enticing me into his dreamland. I wish I could have stayed.
New Haven, Conn.
Because I live overseas, I have not seen major league baseball for a few years. I had been reading about it in newspapers and in SI, though, and what I'd read hadn't made me too anxious to get back to the old ball park. Arbitration, coke rehab, threatened strikes, etc. seemed to dominate the headlines. Then I read about Sidd Finch. My dreams that night had Finch pitching every game—each with only 81 pitches being thrown. I also envisioned SRO crowds, a new, faster pitching machine made so players could adjust and, finally, Reggie Jackson connecting on a 700-foot home run. I woke up with Finch still on the mound. Then I saw the issue date. No, please, the story has to be true!
Kadena Air Base, Okinawa
I'm not sure which was more fun: reading Plimpton's tale in amazement or rereading it after the truth was known.
Now come on! How can you do this to your loyal and serious sports fans, making fools of us who quote your periodical like the Bible?
KEVIN W. KAUFFMAN
Columbia City, Ind.
I have concluded that April Fools' Day will come again, but not your magazine. Cancel my subscription immediately.
NICHOLAS V. LONGO
Although Sidd Finch turned out to be fictional, the story underlined the freshness, excitement, innocence and eccentricity that are missing from baseball today.
George Steinbrenner had probably already taken out his checkbook after reading about Sidd Finch. A great piece of writing by George Plimpton.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
While my wife insisted that Sidd Finch was a product of George Plimpton's rich imagination, I had no problem visualizing a multilingual Buddhist recluse with a French horn and a 168 mph fastball pitching for the Mets. What I couldn't quite picture was New York City with more than one Yogi.
MARTIN R. MOEN
THE SARAZEN COLLECTION
My eye was caught by the handsome trophies displayed in the photograph of Gene Sarazen on the opening page of Sarah Ballard's April 8 feature on him (The Golden Double Eagle). I can guess what the sculpture of the two eagles commemorates, but what do the crystal bowl and the silver trophy represent?
New York City
•The eagles, honoring, of course, Sarazen's famed double eagle on the 15th hole of the 1935 Masters, were a gift from the city of Albany, N.Y., where Sarazen plays in a charity event each year. The bowl was awarded to him for winning that Masters. The silver prize is a scaled-down replica of the British Open trophy he won in 1932.—ED.
THE CASE OF VICTORY FAUST
The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch reminded me of another baseball phenom, Charles (Victory) Faust (above). Charlie preceded Sidd by 74 years, but he is not the figment of anyone's imagination.
Charlie came from Marion, Kans., and on July 28, 1911 he walked out of the stands at old League Park in St. Louis in his Sunday best to "try out" for John McGraw and the New York Giants, who were in town playing the Cardinals. He had come to St. Louis because a fortuneteller had told him he'd become the greatest pitcher ever if he would help the Giants win the pennant.
Charlie was as slow as Sidd was fast. But he endeared himself to McGraw and became a good-luck mascot to the team by sitting on the bench. He brought such good luck, in fact, that the Giants won the pennant. And in the last week of the season McGraw made Charlie a bona fide major-leaguer by pitching him in two games. Throwing an inning apiece in two losing causes, Faust gave up two hits for a 4.50 career ERA.
THOMAS S. BUSCH
Mission Woods, Kans.
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