IN THE PINK
Chalk up another for Steve Cauthen: not only did he win the Kentucky Derby but he also withstood SI's supposed cover jinx. Your 1977 Sportsman of the Year cover (Dec. 19-26) showed him posing in the flamingo, black and white silks of Louis and Patrice Wolfson, owners of Affirmed. Who won the Derby? The Wolfsons. Affirmed and Cauthen.
San Clemente, Calif.
I am disappointed that the cover of your May 15 issue featured young Steve Cauthen and a horse rather than Pete Rose, whose 3,000th hit, in my opinion, was the week's most significant accomplishment in sport. Whether one likes or dislikes Rose, it is hard to name anyone who has more consistently contributed to baseball in the last 15 years. Affirmed may be prettier, but Pete was the more deserving.
THOMAS B. TALBOT JR.
It is rewarding to be able to watch a man like Pete Rose perform (Past 3,000 and Still Counting, May 15). In this day of huge salaries and extensive commercial endorsements, it is unusual for an athlete to have as his highest priority the full development of his athletic potential. Rose is such a man. May he find the strength to pass Ty Cobb's career total of 4,191 hits.
Lake Zurich, Ill.
I found one aspect of Ron Fimrite's article on Pete Rose's 3,000th hit puzzling. My idol, Mickey Mantle, was classified among "numerous other superb hitters who enjoyed full and relatively injury-free careers who have not gotten 3,000 hits." As one who has followed Mantle's career, I always have been of the opinion that injuries took a severe toll on him, despite his achievements. Maybe his injuries were not of the magnitude of Lou Gehrig's, Ducky Medwick's or Mickey Cochrane's, but their effect upon his career is obvious. Mantle played his last game in 1968, before he turned 37, the age at which Rose, Stan Musial and Tris Speaker each got his 3,000th hit. After he had won his last MVP award in 1962 (despite missing 39 games). Mantle enjoyed only one season in which, statistically, he approached his former standards. During those last six years, injuries significantly cut down his playing time (he missed a total of 242 games) and hampered him when he did play. As most Mantle fans—and many of his critics—will attest, part of the mystique of Mickey Mantle is contemplating what he would have achieved and how long he would have played had he not suffered the numerous injuries that he did.
To call Mickey Mantle "relatively injury-free" is akin to calling Joe Namath Jack-Be-Quick. Mantle's career was full because he had the courage to play with pain and diminished physical ability.
JOANNE SCHILLER OHLSON
Ron Fimrite errs in including George Sisler among the "relatively injury-free...who have not gotten 3,000 hits." Sisler, who fell only 188 hits short of 3,000, had 246 hits in 1922 and 194 in 1924, so it stands to reason he would have gotten the necessary hits if he hadn't been sidelined the entire 1923 season with sinus and eye troubles.
In fact, the missing year divides Sisler's career into almost equal halves. From 1915 through 1922 he had 1,498 hits in 4.155 at bats for a .361 average, including .420 in 1922. From 1924 through 1930 he had 1,314 hits in 4,112 at bats for a .320 average, including .305 in 1924. The eye problem obviously had its effect, as Sisler's lifetime average dropped from .361 before 1923 to .340 overall. Given a full and trouble-free career, Sisler would still be one of Rose's targets.
I saw a Notre Dame fencing team win a national title. I saw John Wooden coach for the last time at Notre Dame when his UCLA team, which included David Meyers. Richard Washington and Marques Johnson, lost to the Irish. And I thrilled to Dan Devine's team as it crushed Texas in the Cotton Bowl. So one might think that I have seen the best of Notre Dame sporting events. However, the very best was captured by Rick Telander in his article Look Out for the Manhole Cover (May 15). It is events like the bookstore basketball tournament that make Notre Dame such a great place, and I wouldn't have traded my seat on the concrete for all the 50-yard-line tickets in the world.
MICHAEL T. BIERMAN
Notre Dame Law School, 1977
What makes Notre Dame God's gift to intramural sports?
1978 Purdue Intramural
As a former Michigan Stater and dedicated sports freak, I had to chuckle at my first thought after reading Rick Telander's article: If I didn't hate Notre Dame so much, it might have been a fun place to go to school.
North Muskegon, Mich.