My congratulations to Notre Dame. Once again they have overcome a vicious one-game schedule.
DON'T KNOCK WORST
I am glad to see a rating for the kind of college football I'm familiar with, namely the Worst of the Worst (When You Stand on Your Head, Syracuse Is No. 1, Oct. 29). However, if justice is to be served, then Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute deserves a choice place on the list. Here are some examples: J) The Engineers have produced one of football's longest winless streaks that ended in 1965 after 43 games and included 34 straight losses; 2) Even when RPI scored its greatest number of points in recent memory, 43, it still couldn't win; 3) Two years ago, boasting the leading small-college passer and receiver, Bob Baron and Kalle Kontson, they soared to a stunning 4-5 season; 4) That year, utilizing one of their favorite strategies, the fourth-quarter fold, the Engineers coasted into the final period leading 27-0. They pulled themselves together, though, and staged a brilliant come-from-ahead defeat, 27-28.
Not content to rest on past glory, however, the team started this year with a new coach, high hopes and a five-game losing streak. It was not until their third game that they scored their first point. A month ago, facing a team that had not scored a point all season, the Engineers graciously let the opposition score first but still went into the fourth quarter leading 14-3. Quickly going into the now-famous final-period flop, they lost 14-18. Two weeks ago against St. Lawrence they again snatched defeat from the yawn of victory. Leading 17-6 with seven minutes to go, they managed to lose 17-19.
Steve Harvey is a favorite of all my contemporaries. We in the class of '71 are saddened to see Brown's failure to hit the Worst Ten this season. But we have faith that we will return to Harvey's fold, though it doesn't look as if we will make much of a run at the top (or bottom, as you wish).
Seriously, the games were always fun, and winning a sporting event, or losing, is not one's whole life. The humility of losing is, in many ways, a more valuable lesson to learn.
DAVID T. MORGAN
OUT OF THE CHAIR
I was just set to relax after a hard day at the office when you upset the whole thing. You printed that misty-eyed look at softball (It's Workmen's Compensation, Nov. 5). Thirty-five years ago there were no Little Leagues, Babe Ruth or Pony leagues because every small-town kid played softball and managed to play it with any old bat and ball he could get his hands on and in any vacant lot he didn't get run off of. You could do that with a softball but not the hardball—that was for Chicago and the Cubs. But today every one of my old softball buddies must be stirring uneasily somewhere, a copy of SI in one hand and an urge to get out of that comfortable chair and onto the sandlot once again. My thanks to Keith Mano.
A great thing about softball is the many-faceted personalities of its players and fans. The loyal troops of players' wives, girl friends, children and just plain old fans generate almost as much excitement as do the individuals who play the game. The greatest thing about softball is that it truly is a game that can be played and witnessed by all kinds of people.
Fast-pitch softball is major league entertainment only if you're thrilled by strikeouts. The complete domination of the game by the pitchers is the main reason why it has faded in popularity. Five years ago 70% of the soft-ball players in the U.S. played fast-pitch; now, more than 70% play slow-pitch because it is a fast, action-packed, high-scoring game that involves all 10 men on each team, not just the pitcher and the catcher.
Regarding your article Adieu, Adieu, Kind Friends...(Nov. 5), your writer, Frank Deford, states the case that Riva Ridge's 1972 Preakness defeat was brought about by a "State Fair speedball."
I take exception to this and feel it demeans Bee Bee Bee, the horse in question, his trainer, Del Carroll, and owner William Farish. Bee Bee Bee had won races at major tracks, and Del Carroll had predicted to the Daily Racing Form a year before the race that Bee Bee Bee lit the Preakness like a glove and would probably win it. I think you owe all concerned an apology.
St. Petersburg, Fla.