My hearty congratulations to William Leggett for that masterpiece, The Rise and Fall of the Fabulous Phillies (March 1). I would like to take this opportunity to remind Phillies fans to get their World Series tickets early, because the same thing won't happen twice.
ANDREW C. CRAIG
Fabulous they were and fabulous they are.
When are you going to stop worrying about how the Phillies lost the pennant and start writing about how the Cardinals won it? After all, they only came from 11 games back on August 21 to reach the top in a thrilling finish on the last day of the season. They only won the World Series. They only had the best infield in the league, the best manager, the best general manager and fans who loyally waited 18 years for the pennant.
I think you tended to underemphasize the role of Gene Mauch in both the rise and the complete collapse of the team in 1964. Mauch, with his controversial moves, led the team to many exciting victories for most of the year. However, as Joe Nuxhall suggested in your article, the Little General pushed the panic button after the second loss to Cincinnati. He promptly began to use Bunning and Short with just two days rest, and they lost their effectiveness. If Mauch had left his pitching staff alone those last two weeks, I am quite sure the pennant would be flying from Connie Mack Stadium instead of in St. Louis.
This point was proved the last two days of the season, when Bunning and Short, with their normal rest, both pitched well and won.
Congratulations for the well-deserved article on Lennie Wirtz, the basketball official (Little Pal on the Dead Run, March 1). It is a fine tribute to refs everywhere.
In the article on Lennie Wirtz, Bil Gilbert made several unfavorable remarks about U. of Virginia students that need to be refuted. True, we are considered to offer the most ardent student support in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and we're proud of it. But to say we would spit on an opposing player to rattle him is absurd.
It is true that in the past unpopular and/or questionable decisions by referees at University of Virginia home basketball games have been met with an unsportsmanlike shower of refuse. This, however, is no longer the case. When Bill Gibson was acquired as coach, a new attitude toward basketball was acquired as well. U. Va.'s Memorial Gymnasium may still be considered a snake pit, but the only fangs opponents need worry about are emotional ones. U. Va. crowds may still be boisterous, but they are no longer obnoxious.
My thanks to Frank Deford for a fine article on the New Mexico Lobos and the Western Athletic Conference as a whole (The Five Immovable Objects Stood Fast, Feb. 22). I've been wondering when someone would finally realize that basketball is played out here!
It is enlightening to learn of the great improvement of the Western Athletic Conference. New Mexico certainly deserves to be rated as one of the finer teams in the nation. But the statement that "the entire Western Athletic Conference...is playing basketball that is at least the equal of any in the country" is a gross exaggeration. Their interconference edge does not prove much, for they have not played the best from other conferences. The Missouri Valley Conference holds an edge over the WAC, and still has one of its weakest groups of teams in many years.