BASEBALL: THE FACTS AND MR. WEBB
What's good for the Yankees is most certainly not necessarily good for baseball. The league switch so casually proposed by Del Webb (SI, March 31), Yankee co-owner and virtual dictator of the American League, is more self-aggrandizement by the man responsible for the original removal of American League ball from Philadelphia.
Let's look at the details of Mr. Webb's Philadelphia- Kansas City league switch. The American League would be able to substitute trips from New York to Philadelphia or Baltimore (approx. 100 miles) for the trip from Kansas City to Chicago (500 miles), a gain of 400 miles. The National League would not gain in convenience of travel, but would trade a future pennant contender with a productive farm system for what appears to be a Yankee subsidiary with nowhere to go. Do you think for one moment that Philadelphia fans raised on the heady wine of National League competition will break their leg to see Baltimore play Washington? But Mr. Webb's Athletics will certainly draw for the Braves and the Reds.
This year Mr. Webb's Yankees will have to buck 78 televised games from Philadelphia, only 90 miles away. Mr. Webb's scheme to return this city to the American League would of course eliminate this unwelcome competition, the financial loss to be borne by the unfortunate Philadelphia club.
If Mr. Webb's unabashedly selfish proposal were ever to become reality this country might as well turn to Japan for intensely competitive baseball.
CHARLES G. BLUMSTEIN
ANTIQUITIES: GOOD SPORT IN YORKSHIRE
Having noted the fine digging you did in this column on the use and origin of the cleek in golf, I am turning to you for a small historical problem in horse racing. What is the oldest endowed horse race in the world? Is it the English Derby?
JOHN G. F. BROOKS
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
?Not so. The world's oldest endowed horse race is the Kiplingcotes Derby run over the harsh, open country of Yorkshire's East Riding. The race is held each year on March 20, and following receipt of Mr. Brooks's letter SPORTS ILLUSTRATED dispatched its antiquities reporter to Market Weigh-ton, the Louisville of the Kiplingcotes Derby. Here is his report: "The Kiplingcotes Derby stretches back into the 16th century and, as far as anyone here knows, has been held every year. During World War I the race officials once walked a cart horse over the course to preserve the tradition. The course runs for four grueling miles through five parishes along the site of an old, flinty, pitted Roman road. The race is a happy remnant of Yorkshire's ancient and glorious horse racing history, of which more some other time.
"March 20 dawned cold with snow showers, and the old course was beset with deep snowdrifts, ruts and foot-deep mud. Slow track you might say. Two men and two girls showed to face some of the worst racing conditions in living memory. They were weighed in on coal merchant's scales at the winning post (terribly cold spot), and the clerk of the course (a railway guard from Hull) read them the ancient rules: 'Every rider...that layeth hold of any other riders or striketh any of them shall win no prize.' Off they went, started as usual by a local publican. Yvonne Rob-son, the 24-year-old daughter of a farmer near Scarborough, took the lead and held it for most of the course. Miss Robson, who won the race last year, was mounted on her father's powerful 8-year-old gelding, Fishy Phoenix, and the race seemed all hers. But about 500 yards from the winning post where we were watching (cold spot, that), Fishy Phoenix fell into a mud hole, and up came Derek Stephenson, a member of a notable local farming family, mounted on Wold Ranger, his uncle's 9-year-old bay gelding. Wold Ranger floundered home the winner. Stephenson collected �5 18s., and Miss Robson, who came in second, collected the lion's share of �16 following the mysterious dictates of the race's trust deed. All in all, a fine day's sport."—ED.
BASEBALL: "CAVE CUBS"
Soon the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Special Baseball Issue will be on the newsstand again. This issue is always a treasure for baseball fans.
Looking over the 1957 baseball issue, we note that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED picked the Cubs for last place in the NL. However, the Cubs won 29 and lost 27 in the last third to tie for seventh place.
In 1958 we expect that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will once again pick the Cubs for last. If so, you are in for a surprise, for the Cub team with Banks, Speake, Long and Moryn has power. These boys hit 99 homers in 1957. With the help of Chuck Tanner the Cubs could easily sock more homers than any major league team in 1958.
Mt. Vernon, N.Y.