To Henry Romney, Assistant to the Managing Editor and head of our Letters Department, one clear fact about SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is that our reading audience is a vital part, both as spectator and participant, of the scenes and events we report. For it is Romney who first reads all letters. These frequently mention roles readers played in a story or where they stood when a picture was taken and usually ask for additional copies.
Just as they become actors in our pieces, our readers also become our writers. This happens, of course, in THE 19TH HOLE, which has established itself as a lively meeting place for the vocal and varied fraternity which enjoys sports. About this time each year Romney looks forward to hearing from some highly dedicated members of the fraternity. Leading off last week it was Mr. Burton Saperstein of Brooklyn, who placed a hot stove firmly in the middle of THE 19TH HOLE, lit the fire and outlined to Dodger Bosses O'Malley and Bavasi a vast program for winter trades.
The hot-stove season was officially open. (And SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will be following it till Opening Day with columns, features and major articles.)
It's altogether conceivable that Brooklyn brass will continue to honor its own counsel. But whatever the fate of Mr. Saperstein's proposals, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's writing readers have already proved that they take a back seat to no one in their eye for detail, flair for style, familiarity with their subject, responsiveness to new ideas and exploration of old ones. Some letters, in their way, lead on to sports history, as did the one from Mr. Jimmy McMahan (SI, June 25), which inspired the trip our Mr. Caper makes this week to the Olympics (see page 122). And many help to straighten it out, as happened last week, when Mrs. Bernice Goad, a qualified hot-stover, questioned a timeworn account of how Jim Thorpe hit homers into three states in one game.
Meanwhile, in this issue, a cheering football crowd takes over THE 19TH HOLE while the hot-stovers are out gathering more fuel. But they'll be back. It's a warming experience that both Henry Romney and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED have learned to expect from now until the stove goes cold for another summer of baseball.