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January 05, 1970
SPORTSMAN Sirs:Your choice of Tom Seaver as Sportsman of the Year (Dec. 22) is an excellent one. The dictionary defines sportsman as "One who plays fair and can take defeat without complaint and victory without boasting." Tom Seaver certainly fits this definition to the letter. After an infrequent loss, he would not complain, but go out and work harder in preparation for his next effort. After a victory he would give the credit to a teammate who contributed to the win.
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January 05, 1970

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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You have convinced me of the error of my ways (Desecrate with Howls So Jolly, Dec. 15).

For months I have been fighting a rearguard action in trying to convince my local police department to nab some of the more avid members of the National Defilement Association who have been littering my yard with no-return bottles and expertly emptied beer cans.

This morning, as I was removing the remnants of an eight-inch snowfall from in front of my mailbox, I discovered how effectively one buried beer can can ruin an otherwise perfectly functioning snowblower.

I have given up my fight and am now collecting other samples of the litter from my yard as I prepare to recruit new members for the NDA. From the cooperation I've gotten in the past, I feel certain that when I leave my samples with our local police they will be more than willing to sign up for membership.
Glastonbury, Conn.

I have just finished reading Desecrate with Howls So Jolly, and I must say that it is one of the best satires ever written. I'll have to rate it with Swift's Gulliver's Travels as one of the most amusing, cynical stories ever. If only every American could read this story and think about it. Frank Deford is a genius.

It is well known that television did kill the minor leagues. However, William Johnson (TV Made It All a New Game, Dec. 22) has voiced the popular opinion that it also has ruined the great national game. This may not be true.

The minor leagues had two functions: to train potential major league players and to entertain the fans outside of the Northeast part of this country. The major leagues have obviously taken over in the second respect. Fans throughout the land can follow a major league team in their general area.

The main purpose of the minors—producing major league players—is being carried out elsewhere. Minor leagues have died amid great publicity, while other leagues have been born in deafening silence. A boy entering pro ball plays in special rookie leagues, fall instructional leagues and winter leagues in Latin America, besides regular minor leagues. These teams are not interested in winning above all; they are designed to develop future big-league stars. Teams in the rookie and instructional leagues are run by special instructors hired by each major league team. These men are specialists in developing young players. Latin American winter leagues give local boys and young Americans a chance to play competitive baseball. Any athletes who have played four years in the majors aren't allowed to play in the leagues.

The greatest development, however, has been in the development of college baseball. Many colleges in warm areas play baseball almost all year. The best college teams, Arizona State and Southern California, play as many games as some minor league teams. After four years of college baseball many young men can go almost directly into the major leagues.

In 1969 the New York Mets obtained fair work from two former college pitchers, Gary Gentry and Tom Seaver. Each came into the National League with less than two years of professional experience. Gentry had played in the Florida Instructional League and for Arizona State University. He won 17 games in one season for ASU and five games in Florida. He also pitched in the minor leagues in 1967. Seaver, besides pitching in the minors, pitched at one time for USC. His lack of minor league pitching experience did not prevent him from becoming a fairly good major league baseball player.

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