NEVER ENOUGH OF A GOOD THING
I really don't understand you guys. You will write four pages on a quick start for the Dodgers, another seven pages on the Masters tournament and even six pages on a horse's diary, yet you dedicate only two pages to the NBA championship (Swish and They're In, May 15). As a typical unsatisfied, embarrassed L.A. fan, I have seen both the Rams and the Lakers come close but always choke in the big one. Well, the Lakers did not choke this time, and I could hardly wait to see your write-up; it had to be a fitting epitaph. But what a disappointment! You could at least have mentioned that they are unsung heroes, or given a rundown of their newly established records and the players' feelings about their big season, something that we could have saved as a collector's item. Come on, SI, paper costs aren't that high!
Garden Grove, Calif.
Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain are two of the alltime great basketball players. They deserve the recent NBA championship and many plaudits. But for crying out loud, during this entire basketball season SI and the news media in general have failed to give credit where a lot of credit was due. The Lakers would not have had the phenomenal season they had without the steady, aggressive play of Gail Goodrich, whose name was not mentioned once in your May 15 article.
ARLINGTON G. KUKLINCA
After going over your article on the Lakers' brilliant win, I was amazed. Finally someone has recognized and publicly praised this great team, which for years has been ridiculed and harassed for not winning the big ones. The fantastic ball handling and outside shooting of two of the best guards in the league, coupled with the tremendous rebounding of Happy Hairston, Jim McMillian and one of the greatest centers of all time, Wilt Chamberlain, have earned this team the many honors bestowed upon it this year. I have only one complaint about your fine article: it wasn't long enough. But then nobody's perfect.
I am writing to correct a lapse in Pete Reiser's memory in regard to Burt Hooton's pitch, "the thang" (Hooton Is Doing His Thang, May 15). Reiser states, "I imagine somebody must have had a pitch like this sometime, somewhere, but I can't think of anybody." Well, back in the summer of 1941, my father, Dr. Walt Jusczyk, was given a six-week tryout with the Dodgers. During that time he pitched batting practice and threw a pitch which he called "the drop." He threw the drop to Reiser several times with good success. Finally, Reiser asked him to keep throwing it. After seeing the drop 12 times in a row, Reiser connected with one, but only after he adjusted his swing by taking uppercuts at the ball.
My father's drop is exactly the same pitch that Burt Hooton throws. In fact, during his brief tenure with the Dodgers, several of the pitchers became interested in the pitch. One of them, Kirby Higbe, asked to be shown how to throw it, but my father is not sure if Higbe ever used it in a game.
More recently, Dave Stenhouse, with the Washington Senators in the early '60s, threw a variation of this same pitch.
One of the biggest assets of the drop is that it puts very little strain on the arm. My father pitches in the annual alumni games at Brown, and even after 30 years he can still make the ball drop a foot.
PETER W. JUSCZYK
Ron Fimrite's story on Burt Hooton's knuckle curve brought back a 40-year memory for me. Tom Hughes, a pitcher in the Michigan State League, demonstrated this pitch many times to the kids at the P.S. 45 playground. It was an easy pitch to throw, and a number of youngsters mastered it and used it in high school and sandlot ball.
Nor is it unheard of in professional ball. Max Surkont used it to prolong his career for a few years when he came down to Buffalo in the International League. And, if I am not mistaken, Frank Lary used it on occasion.
JOSEPH M. OVERFIELD
Just to keep the record straight, Burt Hooton is not the first pitcher to throw a "knuckle curve"—though he certainly is the most successful.