Another of your recent articles, Xiphias the Swordfish (SI, July 28) also evokes a comment, if you will permit. My wife on this July Fourth within a 24-hour period caught a blue marlin, a white marlin and a sailfish off Bimini during the Blue Marlin Tournament. As far as we can determine, it is the first time anyone has caught three species of billfish in a 24-hour period. Only the broadbill among Atlantic billfish has so far escaped her.
JOHN W. STANTON
The Heaven Below was written intelligently, photographed with great sensitivity and presented with integrity. It is one of the most interesting accounts of scubaing ever published.
I thank you for having the good taste not to show the charming Mrs. Luce, grinning broadly, with one foot on a dead shark.
New York City
THE BEST (CONT.)
Your recent article on Rafer Johnson (Alltime Best All-round Man, SI, Aug. 11) was excellent, but that title covers a lot of ground and is open to further argument.
He probably is the greatest decathlon champion. And perhaps he is the greatest all-round track star. But when you say alltime best all-round man you are covering all sports—and when it comes to all-round athletes there still has to be one to equal Jim Thorpe, the old Carlisle Indian.
Take football. Jim is a unanimous choice for any alltime college or professional football team and is generally the first man picked as the best of them all.
Take baseball. Maybe Jim rode into the big leagues on his football and track reputation. But he was good enough to stay up there several years, and no big league team, then or now, keeps a player for his gate attraction alone.
Take track. Here Johnson, on the surface, has the edge—a great decathlon champion, one who has set a new world record. But let's look at Thorpe's performance in the 1912 Olympics. Thorpe's record stood until a few years ago, when it was broken by Bob Mathias. How many other 1912 records have stood in the books as long? Since then everything has improved—training methods, equipment and the tracks themselves.
Both Johnson and Mathias put in years of grueling training for the decathlon, which is a grueling event. Thorpe just ran on the track team, played on the football and baseball teams and really never concentrated on the decathlon until just before the 1912 Olympics.
Your article and a previous one on Mathias stressed the exhausting, strenuous grind of the decathlon. Yet generally overlooked is the fact that Thorpe entered and won not only the decathlon but also the pentathlon—a five-event contest since dropped from the Olympics—so he participated in 15 events in three days of competition. And in the pentathlon he won the broad jump (23 feet 2 7/10 inches), placed third in the javelin (153 feet 2 19/20 inches), took first in the discus with a throw of 116 feet 8 4/10 inches, took first in the 200-meter at 22.9 and first in the 1,500-meter at 4:44.8. Four out of five firsts—and in two of these he did better than he did later in the decathlon. Perhaps he was getting tired.