•Even in death W. C. Fields did not pay a grudging compliment to the city. The bronze plate above his ashes at Forest Lawn Park in Glendale, Calif. simply reads: "W. C. Fields—1880-1946." His alleged and oft-quoted epitaph—"On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia"—stems from a series of such inscriptions conjured up by Vanity Fair magazine in the 1920s.—ED.
Perhaps it is true that Philadelphia has had more than its share of poor trade deals, oversensitive superstars and undersensitive and unappreciative fans. And perhaps it is also true that Philadelphia "boasts" a tradition of apathy and failure.
I have gotten out of Philadelphia, but mine is not a permanent leave of absence. I look forward to my earliest return so that I can, once again, join the large contingent of Philadelphians who find pleasure, solace and pride in participating in the one pastime you overlooked—booing the booers.
HE WASN'T BOOED
How ironic that the amusing article by Herman Weiskopf appeared in the same issue as the four-line death notice of Francis X. Reagan, the University of Pennsylvania football star of 1938-40.
Nobody in Philadelphia ever booed Frank Reagan; his accomplishments verged on the incredible. As a sophomore in 1938 Reagan completed a long pass in the waning seconds of a 0-0 Cornell game, against a team that was ranked among the nation's 10 strongest that season. Only a fine tackle on the Cornell 25 prevented the Penn receiver from going all the way in the mud and rain. In the 1939 Penn-Michigan game at Franklin Field, won by Michigan 19-17, Reagan outgained the great Tom Harmon in total yardage, even though Harmon had one of his best games.
In 1940 Reagan led Penn to the most decisive routs in the gridiron histories of Army (48-0) and Yale (50-7). But he saved his greatest performance for the last, scoring all three Penn touchdowns in the Quakers' sensational 22-20 win over Cornell, a team that had given up only two touchdowns that year.
To me, the intercollegiate football Hall of Fame will be a meaningless institution until the name of Frank Reagan is admitted. But whether it ever is or not, he will forever be enshrined in the hearts of all who saw him.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
UNION MEN OR HEROES
I don't think the Alex Hawkins controversy should be extended indefinitely, but I do believe the dissident reader you quoted in SCORECARD ("Anti-Alex," Nov. 27) was wrong. He missed the point of Hawkins' statement dismissing the NFL Players' Association as having "outlived its usefulness."
I have worked on the sports staff of the New York Daily News and ABC over the past 10 years, so my interest in sport is substantial. It is also dwindling, for the very reason Hawkins cites: overkill. All young sports fans used to know all the major league managers and, possibly, the starting lineups of the American and National League teams. They knew the head coaches and most of the players in basketball, football and hockey. Now, even when you work at it for a living, as I do, I'd wager the same is no longer true. How can the average sports fan be expected to know the first line of the Houston Aeros or Atlanta Flames?
And how can a man work up enthusiasm for Archie Clark or Vida Blue? Clark has to struggle along on $130,000 for a year's work and Blue doesn't feel an $80,000 raise is adequate. Heroes? They are longshoremen, going on strike and complaining about lunch hours and wash-up time.