I am one of Papa Carl Leone's "boys" who keep watch over the rightfield bleachers at Wrigley Field and who read E.M. Swift's article on the "friendly confines" (One Place That Hasn't Seen the Light, July 7) with great interest. A few comments:
?Ticket prices for the bleachers were raised for the 1980 season to $2—still cheap but twice as high as in 1974. I guess someone has got to pay Bruce Sutter's salary.
?I do not subscribe to the theory that night baseball should be forever absent from Wrigley Field. Former Cub trainer Gary Nicholson recently was quoted as saying that day games do kill the Cubs late in the summer. I believe that the day games themselves aren't harmful, but that the constant schedule-shifting (from day games at home to mostly night games on the road) is. A limited twice-a-week night home schedule (which has been rumored for 1982) would certainly be beneficial to the players, not to mention profitable for the team.
?During an early June road trip. Cub management painted our rightfield benches, obliterating the names of those who sit there. We have replaced them, but it's occasionally been difficult for us to sit in our accustomed places this season. Papa Carl has been missing from the bleachers since May 6, owing to the death of his wife and to several illnesses that have kept him hospitalized until recently. None of these illnesses were caused—though they may have been exacerbated—by the recent play of the Cubs. Happily, Carl came home from the hospital last week and is back in good health and fine form. We expect to have him back in his customary seat in the bleachers during the next home stand.
Cub management has been curiously negligent in recognizing Papa Carl for his 65 years of support. Last September, on Fan Appreciation Day, we (his "boys"—and the "girls" too) had our own Appreciation Day for him, presenting the Golden Splinter Award to Carl as the Cubs' No. 1 fan. Many thanks to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for recognizing one of the finest men it has been my privilege to know.
Until I read One Place That Hasn't Seen the Light, I never realized that the late Phil K. Wrigley was too cheap to improve his park or his team. Poor Cub fans! They go to the best ball park in the U.S. for watching games, and what do they get to see? A talentless team kept talentless by conservative owners, one that is hopelessly locked in the second division with little to look forward to.
Forest Hills, N.Y.
My hat is off to Bernie Fuchs for his simply beautiful painting of Tiger Stadium. It portrays the true beauty of the stadium and shows the rest of America that there is something in Detroit that isn't run down.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Concerning your article on Phil Weld's record-breaking singlehanded Atlantic crossing (Prime of the Ancient Mariner, July 7), close all nominations for Sportsman of the Year now. Weld is the man.
HENRY T. WIGGIN
SAY IT AIN'T SO, FRANK
Never in my years of following sports and reading your magazine have I seen a more foolish piece of writing than Frank Deford's A Karate Flick Delivers Few Kicks (July 7). Everyone has the right to like or dislike any sport or movie or anything else. But to blame America's current problems on soccer, martial arts or any other sport is one of the most absurd things I've ever heard.
I certainly hope that Frank Deford was not serious in his evaluation of soccer. "Soccer propagandists making Americans feel guilty"? Players "kicking and butting balls and/or one another"? Soccer "browbeating our youth"? "Our embassies and the dollar" affected by soccer? Soccer a "get-America conspiracy"? Where has he been the last decade? Soccer is the fastest-growing spectator sport in America.