EARL & CO.
I have been a consistent follower of Earl Monroe since he entered the NBA in 1967 with the Baltimore Bullets. I must say that SI has been one of the few magazines to recognize that The Pearl is back (Add One-on-One to All for One, April 16). When Earl played for Baltimore he received recognition from fans all over the country. When he joined the Knicks, however, he began an uphill fight to retain that acclaim while suffering bone spurs in his foot, having to adjust to a different style of play, sitting on the bench for much of last year and learning to work with another backcourt superstar, Walt Frazier, something Baltimore did not have. The fact that Earl has worked hard at adjusting to these factors makes him a better player than he was at Baltimore. He deserves respect.
I thoroughly enjoyed your article concerning the New York Knickerbockers' first-round playoff win over the Baltimore Bullets, but there was one fact I believe you failed to mention. It was the Knick bench, or Baltimore's lack of one, that gave New York the decisive edge. Phil (Action) Jackson, Dean (The Dream) Meminger and Jerry Lucas have—during the season and the playoffs—sparked the Knicks to great heights.
Earl Monroe was the star of the Baltimore playoff series, but the victories belong to all the New York players—a team that plays as a team.
I must congratulate Mark Mulvoy for not only recognizing the Rangers as powerhouses, but for recognizing the man who has built and rebuilt the team, Emile Francis (War for the Inscrutable East, April 16). Players have faded away and been traded away with The Cat at the helm, and Emile has been criticized at times. But he has done one fine job as coach of the Broadway Blues. Ranger fans should be satisfied with beating the ex-champ Bruins. If the Rangers don't win the Stanley Cup this year, I, for one, will still be proud to say that at least we caged the animals in Boston.
Morgantown, W. Va.
A lot has been said about the Ranger-Bruin confrontation. I'd like to add a little. I am a devout Boston fan even though I live in New York. New Yorkers have gone crazy over the Ranger victory. All I can say is, it's about time. The Rangers haven't beaten the Bruins in Stanley Cup play since 1940—the last time the cup came to New York. Is this a sign of things to come? I doubt it. I would like to thank you for mentioning the "marvelous Boston rookie, Greg Sheppard." In his own quiet way he has made a place for himself on the Bruin team and stands a very good chance of winning Rookie of the Year honors for 1973.
And why not have the Hambletonian at the Saratoga thoroughbred track (SCORECARD, April 16)? To hold the trotting classic for 3-year-olds at the "fortress of the thoroughbred Establishment" would not be so strange as you think. After all, it was the "jugheads" who started racing in Saratoga—on Aug. 14, 1847, to be exact. The very first race in Saratoga history was won on that date by Lady Suffolk, The Old Gray Mare, who was called America's "first great athletic hero."
The 1850s saw a veritable parade of fine trotting horses compete at Saratoga, including Flora Temple, Sontag, O'Blennis, Lancet and Jack Rossiter, the latter setting a world record for two heats.
Only when the sport of trotting fell on hard times, I suppose because of the Civil War, did thoroughbred racing make its start at the spa (1863). The meeting, needless to say, was held at the old trotting track. The success of this meeting encouraged its backers to build a new track in 1864 and Saratoga thoroughbred racing was on its way.
Not quite. In July of 1865 a "trotting festival" was held at the new thoroughbred track. It was a dismal failure, but only because the entry of the great Dexter appears to have scared off most of the opposition.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
SKINS VS. SHIRTS
Congratulations to Jerry Kirshenbaum on his article concerning the nudist Olympics (For Each a Place in the Sun, April 16). I found it un(bare)ably funny.
Los Alamos, N. Mex.