BOOT AND SADDLE
First prize for the best Thoroughbred racing story of 1967 should go to Whitney Tower of SI for his three-part article with Bill Hartack (A Hard Ride All the Way, March 27 et seq.). Never before in the history of the sport has a more serious and honest story been presented. Hartack has been the stormy petrel of racing in modern times. Trainers hate his guts, and sportswriters do belligerent stories about him. Why? Because he speaks the truth!
Some years back, I attended a dinner in New York City and heard Hartack asking for some mounts from a well-known trainer. The man brushed Hartack aside by saying, "Don't bother me. You're too rich for my blood," and he walked away. If being honest is a fault, then Hartack is guilty. But the fact that a jockey is condemned because he is honest and rides only to win stands out as one of the biggest black marks on Thoroughbred racing. Bill Hartack's story in SI should keep some trainers and sportswriters awake nights. That is, if they have a conscience. Then again, in a sport where money is the devil, who has a conscience?
J. J. RANDY
Some of what Hartack had to say he has said before (SI, June 24, 1963), but it is refreshing to see that the man is consistent. His frankness and sincerity are admirable, and it is unfortunate that those owners and trainers who shun him now do not measure the man by what he has proven he does best: ride and win horse races.
JOSEPH J. PUMILIA
King of Prussia, Pa.
NOT BY BREAD ALONE
John D. MacDonald's letter (19TH HOLE, April 3) makes a lot of sense. Golf is becoming more and more of a spectator sport, probably because of the good TV coverage and the ever-increasing size of the purses. We oldtimers may nostalgically bemoan the ascendancy of the touring pro over the teaching pro, but we also realize that we are witnessing the maturity of a new spectator sport that is drawing nongolfers as well as golfers into its fold. Therefore, the touring pro's proficiency should not be measured solely by the amount of money he earns, but rather by his performance vs. the performances of his competitors, both present and past. A percentage analysis, as Mr. MacDonald points out, would create even more interest in golf as a spectator sport. And the viewing public has already been conditioned to such comparisons by the percentage methods used in other sports.
Steps have been taken in this direction. Witness George Archer's win at Greensboro, which, according to the Masters point system, qualified him for that event. It should not take too much doing to get such a system enlarged to the point where all golfers can be compared on a competitive basis.
My congratulations to Mr. MacDonald on his idea.
RALPH G. BATES
As a wrestling fan I was happy to see that you covered the NCAA University Division wrestling championships (Delicious Dessert for a Hungry Spartan Crew, April 3). But while you gave fine coverage to the first-, second-, third-, fourth-, sixth-and seventh-place teams, you seem to have forgotten the fifth-place finisher, Portland State College. Portland State had previously swept through the NCAA College Division championships with a record team score of 86 points. But the final insult was that you did not even mention that PSC's Rick Sanders was selected as the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
It took two years for the NCAA to notice us. I hope SI catches on a bit sooner.
DONALD J. CIOETA
Congratulations. I had searched many magazines and the sports sections of two supposedly good papers in Los Angeles and found no mention of wrestling. With all the yelling and screaming devoted to collegiate basketball and swimming, it was refreshing to find someone who remembered some of the guys who have to train and work the hardest to be winners. In fact, SI covered all three sports that week. Three cheers to you and to Michigan State for winning the title.
L. B. STETSON
It seems to be traditional for newspapers and magazines to view with alarm what you have termed television's "moving in" on sports. So there is ample precedent (if no logic) for your editorial question, "Should Arnold Go Show Biz?" (SCORECARD, March 13).