BATS AND BUMBERSHOOTS
In your December 5 19TH HOLE you published a letter from a man in Geneva who criticized your article Down with Mary Pop-pins (SCORECARD, Oct. 24), downgraded Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and referred to your magazine as junk. He stated that baseball players just "come and go," achieve undeserved fame and fortune and don't influence the lives of children. To me and thousands of other kids, Mantle and Mays are genuine heroes. They battle injuries, the fury of the baseball season and opposing players and fans. They give 100% of themselves to their fans. They inspire many with demonstrations of "raw guts." Mary Poppins is only the figment of a writer's mind. You can't go anywhere in the world and find a real live Mary Poppins. She just doesn't exist. I can think of nothing more fitting than a statue of Mantle or Mays in Central Park. What they have given the kids of New York and San Francisco could never be replaced by a book.
And SPORTS ILLUSTRATED doesn't publish junk, except when it prints letters like that one.
New Rochelle, N.Y.
The things that Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays have contributed to the happiness of the people of America, both young and old, will have a lastingly beneficial effect—far more so, I submit, than that of a contrived character whose most memorable feature is a parachute umbrella.
I greatly appreciated SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S commemoration, on the 10th anniversary of the XVI Olympic Games, of those Hungarian athletes who chose to come to the U.S. to live in freedom (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, Nov. 28). With your generous assistance, the Hungarian athletes have indeed found freedom, a new home and job and sports opportunities here. However, the successful journey down that "road called Liberty" could not have been effected without the additional assistance of the Hungarian National Sports Federation in exile, which, during the past 10 years, has supported the Hungarian athletes. The credit for this must go to Dr. George Telegdy, who organized the Melbourne team and whose unselfish, patriotic, relentless work since has made this celebration of our 10th anniversary possible. Dr. Telegdy was a well-known amateur athlete and sports leader back in Hungary, and in Melbourne it was to him that the Hungarian sportsmen turned. We asked him to "do something for us." And he did.
As SI pointed out, the Hungarian Olympic athletes have indeed done what was expected of them. In the past 10 years they have won two world championships, one Olympic gold medal, 21 U.S. national championships and 11 international championships—all to the glory of the U.S. and to themselves. At the same time, Hungary, where sport is now based on a professional system, has not been able to make up for the loss of its top athletes.
SI was also right in saying that not one of the athletes has regretted having chosen the road to liberty. On the other hand, all those who left this road to return behind the Iron Curtain have sent word that they are sorry they did.
COUNT ANTHONY SZAPARY
President, Hungarian National Sports Federation, Inc.
New York City
As a caddie, I was very amused by James Van Alen's article, Untroubled Sport Called VAAGG (Nov. 28). I was amused by the way Mr. Van Alen twisted the facts to fit his story. He says, "You need no caddie. You make your own decisions, instead of taking as gospel an opinion on distance from a downy-faced juvenile who quite possibly has severe myopia." It seems from this that Mr. Van Alen is holding a grudge against all caddies of the world, just because he once employed a caddie who could not retrieve the ball that he shanked into a swiftly moving stream with his five-iron.
Hackers are hackers because they don't practice. Hitting practice balls before a round would give the average golfer the exercise that a round of golf lacks, and it would also improve his game. With practice—and the advice that his caddie gives him—a golfer can play more consistently.
MARTIN E. BENJAMIN
That "downy-faced juvenile who quite possibly has severe myopia" knows every inch of his course, can probably beat James Van Alen by 10 strokes, and his word deserves to be heeded.
ART CLEMENS JR.
Mr. Van Alen's idea of taking multiple shots in golf and then selecting the best could set all organized sports back to the Dark Ages. Imagine a quarterback throwing an intercepted pass and then requesting another attempt to hit his receiver.