Ask any softball player around here what it's like sliding into a base on an infield that is as hard as rock because of volcanic ash. When the ash first fell, it had the texture and consistency of cement powder. Then a lot of it was worked into the ground, and the result was a cement infield. Not only do we have bruises to mark every time we have hit the dirt, but routine ground balls are a thing of the past.
DESCRIBING THE WOMEN
Curry Kirkpatrick has long delighted SI readers with his wit and style in tennis reportage, but his story on Wimbledon (His Earth, His Realm, His England, July 13) reveals some pretty disturbing aspects of his point of view on men's vs. women's tennis. After waxing lyrical in describing the "brilliant" John McEnroe, who "artfully slashed" his way into history—the verbiage literally reeks of reverence—Kirkpatrick descended to heavy-handed ridicule in his coverage of the women's championship. References to Hana Mandlikova as the "Czech flamethrower," Kathy Rinaldi and Claudia Pasquale as " Evert Lloyd clones," Pam Shriver as Tracy Austin's "personal pigeon" who "dies like a dog" in their matches, Mima Jausovec as a "veteran chubette" and Chris Evert Lloyd as having been in "near torment" after her semifinal loss to Mandlikova in the French Open and then winning her Wimbledon semifinal match against Shriver "without smearing her eye shadow" are not only personally demeaning, but in such obvious contrast to the treatment of the men's championship as to be outright chauvinistic.
If Kirkpatrick is going to be catty, let him not confine his cattiness to women; if the women's matches were boring, then some of the men's behavior was certainly boorish. Borg and Vilas have vied for "headband championships" for years; Gerulaitis is Borg's personal pigeon as well as Bobbsey-twin look-alike; Connors and McEnroe would tie in a legs competition, although Arthur Ashe would win hands down; and Roscoe Tanner has gone through so many hairdos he must have his own personal hairdresser.
I'm not criticizing Kirkpatrick's bombast. I love it. But let him distribute it equally between the sexes in the same article! I also did not feel that McEnroe's win was so momentous. In fact, the match was rather pedestrian. As Borg said, "The tennis was better last year."
THE STRIKE (CONT.)
Greg Pryor, Chicago White Sox infielder, asks us (19TH HOLE, July 20) if he's "overpriced." Let's examine the situation. Greg is 31, I'm 30; Greg has a B.S. degree from Florida Southern, I have a B.A. from TCU and an M.S. from Oklahoma State; he has averaged $25,000 a year for seven months' work, if you count roughing it in Florida for spring training, I don't make $25,000 a year yet, and I work 12 months a year.
I know Pryor isn't one of the players making $250,000 a year, but it's hard to feel sorry for him. Maybe we ought to do to baseball what the public has done to another sorry American product, the automobile. We ought to consider junking our big, union-controlled, expensive, inefficient ballplayers for more efficient and inexpensive Japanese models—at least until U.S. baseball decides to retool and get its act together, as the auto industry is trying to do. Who knows, Greg may soon be using his B.S. in business administration in the real world. I wish him luck. It's a real jungle out there.
I have an observation to make regarding the baseball strike. Your writers, your letter writers and the ballplayers who have commented have all missed the point, which is that a baseball game is fun to watch, fun to listen to, fun to read about and fun to talk about. Entertainment is what baseball provides.
A labor-management dispute is not fun to read about or talk about. Salary negotiations are not enjoyable to read about. I really don't care who is right and who is wrong. I only want this to be the last strike in pro sports that I ever have to read about.
Virginia Beach, Va.
ANOTHER PLAYER'S VIEW
I was elated to read the article Time Worth Remembering (July 6). Seeing Ted Page and me pictured together in your publication was an honor. Negro League players of the earlier decades unfortunately were not recipients of enormous commercial residuals and bonuses. We played for something greater that could not be measured in dollars and cents. The secrets of our game were to enjoy and endure.
WILLIAM (JUDY) JOHNSON
Member, Baseball Hall of Fame
LATIN RECRUITS (CONT.)
I cannot let the Bill Brubaker article (Hey, Kid, Wanna Be a Star? July 13) pass without comment.