Your recent article, Leo's Bums Rap for the Cubs (June 30), truly presents a group of bums. These people aren't sports enthusiasts, but attention-getters. Intimidating and abusing members of the opposing teams certainly do not constitute good sportsmanship. You should cheer for your team, not against the opposing team, as these people do. Just the other day in Chicago Mudcat Grant was obliging the fans in left field by signing autographs. He was hit in the face by a rubber ball. He was not injured seriously, but he could have been. This is just one example of how these fans could jeopardize the livelihood of the athletes in order to have a good laugh. A lot of people have been saying that athletes have been ignoring their fans. With these kinds of fans, who can blame them?
The personalities of Cub bleacherites vary, depending on which section of the bleachers they sit in. The so-called left-field Bleacher Bums are fair-weather fans. The true loyalist who suffered while receiving his suntan lying amidst the cozy and sparsely populated surroundings in the pre-Durocher days never saw the uncouth elements now frequenting the noisy left-field stands. They would have spoiled the peacefulness, tranquillity and hopelessness of it all. They definitely are from the wrong side of the tracks, bleacherwise.
The rightfielders are too infiltrated with tourists or apathetic salesmen, in shirts and ties yet, who are closest to the Addison-Sheffield exit and who are primed to run for the next El half a block away following the final out.
Contrasted to these groups are those in center field, especially in the last three or four rows of the bottom section, near the men's room. These have the true class and are the most astute fans. Here one can observe the pitches and is literally in a position to take issue with ball and strike decisions. This center-field group suffered through the Bertells, Hobbies, Wills, Wallses, Drotts, Koonces and the like until Durocher came along.
As one who became a paying Cub fan as a very small boy and who suffered through 20 straight second-division finishes, I would like to inquire of the Bleacher Bums and the other new breed Cub fans as to where they were just a few years ago. They certainly weren't in the bleachers or any other part of Wrigley Field.
But a few of us, tortured with defeat and frustration as we were, kept the faith. We knew that someday we would overcome. Finally 1967 dawned, and the years of darkness ended. It is doubtful whether anything—even a world championship for our Cubbies this year—will ever surpass the ecstasy experienced by the faithful that wonderful summer when our boys returned to the first division and respectability.
And then, presto gumbo. An obnoxious, raunchy, baseball-uniformed group of boorish wagon climbers and exhibitionists, the self-proclaimed Bleacher Bums, became the darlings of the press and the Cubs' "loyalest fans." This group, who until a couple of years ago probably thought a bleacher was something one put in an automatic washer, is now the exalted ruler of Clark and Addison Streets.
Do you really want to know who are the best baseball fans in Chicago? They're the handful of loyalists who, without promise of status, still venture out to Comiskey Park to watch the forgotten, forlorn Sox. They're like us of the real Cub faithful.
WILLIAM E. CARSLEY
After reading Quitting Is the Name of Any Game (June 30), by Frank Deford, I was tempted to cancel my subscription to SI and hold a tearful press conference. However, on second thought I would then be forced to give up my favorite autumn sport—becoming irritated at college football articles by Dan Jenkins
I wouldn't blame Frank Deford's wife if she really quit on him. It may be all right to pick on Ken Harrelson, Donn Clendenon or even Joe Azcue, but picking on Mickey Mantle is the worst thing he could do. He's accusing Mickey of timing his retirement just so the Yankees could sell a few season tickets. Don't you think that after 18 years of broken bones, chips and other serious injuries he should retire? Or should he play until, like Lou Gehrig, he dies?