They're Up in Arms over Beanballs (July 14) brought out the shameful fact that baseball is turning into "Friday night at the fights."
The other day I missed a two-foot putt on the 17th green and a three-footer on 18. Those two shots cost me $5. So, I immediately went home and beat my wife, feeling altogether justified because I had earlier read these words of wisdom from Mets Pitcher Pat Zachry: "After two home runs, a guy should expect something inside."
The pitchers are obviously right on the beanball issue. The logic of "lefthanded philosopher" Bill Lee, for example, is peremptory. Lee embraces Robert Ardrey's premise that man is basically an aggressive animal, and if a hitter gets so aggressive as to bite into a pitcher's territory by getting close to the plate, then, by God, he ought to be nailed. And tough luck if he has no retaliation against a pitcher who bites into his territory except by getting a base hit. Few base hits break pitchers' jaws or wrists or fingers.
The finest statement of the pitchers' case comes from Ross Grimsley: injuries caused by pitched balls are the fault of the batter. As Grimsley so sagaciously puts it: "If they had reacted better, they probably wouldn't have been seriously hurt. Veterans know what to do when a pitch is going to hit them...."
To be sure, Ray Chapman should have reacted better, but then he had only played nine seasons in the majors—make that eight seasons and 111 games.
K. PATRICK LOLLAR
A gold star to Dan Baliotti for his excellent photograph of the Mets' Elliott Maddox getting hit by a pitch. The expression on Maddox' face at the crushing impact of the baseball was truly priceless. However, do not fear, bruised batters. Not one active player is within 125 HBPs of the record set by Ron Hunt, who was hit by pitches a record 243 times.
A simple solution to the problem of bean-balls would be to award second base to a hit batsman instead of first.
One of the most alluring things about baseball is its nostalgic past. I am fascinated by stories of Ty Cobb "sliding into second with his spikes flying" and Sal Maglie "shaving the hitters' heads." But I never got the feeling that such acts were sadistic or unsportsmanlike. Baseball is an aggressive game. A few scratches or other minor "war injuries" are relatively painless and sometimes even a source of pride. But when it comes to throwing at a guy's head with intent to maim him, something's gone dreadfully wrong. Past a certain limit competitive aggression goes beyond human decency. I hope the players will realize this before anything happens to alter and, perhaps, ruin the national pastime.
OLD PARKS (CONT.)
Oscar Wilde once wrote, "In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." E.M. Swift's adept analysis of the typical Wrigley Field inhabitant (One Place That Hasn't Seen the Light, July 7) illustrates this point perfectly.
In every Cub fan is a deep-rooted fear of winning. Defeat provides nothing but the first step to something better. There is a manic enthusiasm that sprouts out of a string of Chicago lean years, an enthusiasm that grows as years pass. Where would a Cub fan be without knowing there is nowhere to go but up?
Palm Desert, Calif.