As a sports fan, I found it very hard to accept the fact that so much space in your April 16 issue was devoted to the opening of the nudist season while none was devoted to baseball. The naked truth is that, you should concern yourselves with the millions of baseball fans, not some 100,000 nudists.
Frank Deford's article on Joe Garagiola (It's Not the Game, April 9) possesses one of the rarest qualities I have ever seen in a piece of writing. The author has made himself so unobtrusive that the words come across not so much written or even spoken, but rather lived.
As a young baseball-crazed boy, I became acquainted with Joe Garagiola through his book Baseball Is a Funny Game and his appearances on television. He combined, for me, two of the greatest experiences in life—baseball and humor. But as I grew older things changed. Joe turned to more serious topics. Unreasonably, I objected to Joe's having opinions and feelings. What I wanted was the funny stories. This article may not change my attitude entirely, but I now know Joe Garagiola the man, and thus have more on which to base my judgment. For this, I thank Frank Deford and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
I went into the article on Joe Garagiola with a negative mind on the garrulous one (a lousy fifth-string catcher with an early-Dangerfield approach to humor, is the way I looked at him) and came out with a revised impression and respect for the man as an athlete and as a person. I also came away with the feeling that hairlessness can't be all bad.
Cheers and toasts to Mr. Deford for his unveiling of Garagiola. Play Joe or keep him. For a long time.
While it is no crime to succeed in a competitive business, as Joe Garagiola has done, I must question Frank Deford's characterization of Garagiola's success as a triumph of the American system and culture.
Perhaps Garagiola represents to Madison Avenue the archetype of the average man, but for everyone to accept him as such would also mean accepting the advertising media's equation that insipidness equals wholesomeness, and loud hilarity equals warmth. It is that reasoning that allows Deford to dare describe Sale of the Century as in any way cerebral or dignified, even in relation to an even dumber program.
I view Garagiola's ties to baseball as extremely thin, and in fact they may exist only inasmuch as baseball (supposedly) is for everyone, regardless of ethnic origin. Television allows a poor Italian to become as slick a huckster, in his way, as any fair-haired, blue-eyed Mayflower descendant.
It is hard to picture Giovanni Garagiola smiling down from heaven merely because his son became the country's greatest babysitter for housewives until the soap operas come on.
Oak Park, Mich.
Bravo! Let me add my plaudits to Frank Deford's lyrical piece, a veritable encomium on Joe Garagiola. At a time when self-imposed identity crises are quite fashionable, it's good to have Joe around. If you will permit me to use a baseball analogy, I'd say Joe is a cinch for this year's MVP (Most Venerated Paesano).
THE REV. ROBERT A. UZZILIO