ALEX IN WONDERLAND
Your article (For Failure to Give His Best, July 5) has altered my opinion of Alex Johnson even more. Being a professional baseball player, I have on many occasions talked to Alex. In 1970 I was a member of the Boston Red Sox, and on that final day of the season when he beat out Carl Yastrzemski for the batting title, the manner in which he did it tore me up. This year, in the games in which I've competed against him, I've spoken to him and feel that something has torn the man up completely. I feel that something terrible happened to Alex that affects his play on the field. In my opinion it was of racial origin, and to this day, unfortunately, racial problems still exist in pro ball. I find it regrettable to say that I don't think Alex can continue in baseball, but if he does or if he chooses another vocation, I wish Johnson all the luck in the world. Wherever he goes, I hope everyone will treat him a little more humanely.
Chicago White Sox
Alex Johnson proved his ability by winning the American League batting title in 1970. He is a man with great talent, if he would only use it. If the controversial superstar is not interested in baseball anymore, then he should enter some other profession. I agree with the suspension, because it will help relieve the tension on the ball-club and give Alex time to think it over.
Should Johnson be condemned because he is not utilizing his ample baseball talents and is therefore making a mockery of those players in the majors and minors who are working as hard as they can? Or should he be sympathized with as an individual with problems in and out of the context of baseball? There is no quick and mutually satisfying answer, but I do believe that the only solution is communication. Alex Johnson should realize that he must speak his mind, and the Angel management should listen with an open mind and with an intent to help the man.
It seems to me that Alex Johnson has taken on that great American institution, baseball, and like anyone who takes on an American institution, he is being crucified for it. Johnson has not only criticized baseball but had the nerve to do it from behind a black skin. So now everyone is trying to make him look like a fanatic.
Why pick on Alex Johnson? Don't you think he has enough troubles as it is? The Angels, supposedly pennant contenders, just need something to gripe about, so they pick on one of baseball's best because he is not showing hot-doggin' hustle. Johnson does not smoke or drink nor does he violate curfew. And yet he is bad for baseball. At an Angel game Johnson went out of his way to sign autographs for kids while some of his teammates almost beat up the little kids for asking for them. As far as I'm concerned, Alex Johnson is a hero.
I originally thought Johnson was just another troublemaker, but after reading your article I can easily imagine his troubles and why they would cause him to care less about his team. I think his suspension will give him time to cope with his troubles and come back ready to perform like the Johnson of 1970.
If a player such as Johnson has problems, I feel they should be settled off the field only. A man who brings his troubles on the playing field, no matter how great they may be, is not a true ballplayer in my book.
Lower Burrell, Va.
I suspect Chris Schenkel knows Joyce Kilmer is a he (THEY SAID IT, July 5). However, you may have an overzealous editor who changed the actual quotation from he to she. I sure would like to know the facts. Did Chris say "she"?
?It was Mr. Schenkel's tongue that slipped, not the editor's pencil.—ED.
We feel called upon to vindicate the NCAA in the handling of the 1971 NCAA Golf Championships (Gentle Ben Roughs Up the College Crowd, July 5). Our coach, Vic Kelley, was chairman of the tournament, and we believe we gained some insight into the enormous amount of work that went into it. If Lanny Wadkins has some better ideas on how to run the tournament in a more efficient manner, we're sure Mr. Kelley and the NCAA would be anxious to hear them. With a field of 226 players, it is commendable the tournament was finished at all. The normal professional field is 144-150, and even then there are problems concerning slow play, caddies, practice facilities, etc. As participants in the tournament, we have no major complaints. Rather, we commend the exceptional play by most of the field.
UCLA Golf Team