As a devotee of Olympic weight lifting I was pleasantly surprised to find Vasili Alexeyev's massive bulk planted firmly on the April 14 cover of SI. William O. Johnson is to be commended for his insightful impressions (The Best at Everything) of a man whose personality has been expressed, via television, only in terms of glowering might. The general notion in this country that weight lifters are musclebound dullards, incapable of appreciating anything more subtle than an iron barbell, will, I hope, become less prevalent as prominent men in this highly individualized sport are recognized. Political contentions notwithstanding, Alexeyev is an outstanding athlete. SI and Johnson have done much to give full dimension to the "Strongest Man in the World."
DAVID L. NUNLEY
Thanks for the excellent article on Vasili Alexeyev. In a sport where an individual competes more against himself than against an opponent, Alexeyev shows the character that makes him the best of his time.
Although I wouldn't want to argue the point with him, Alexeyev may not be the world's strongest man. As pointed out in a recent article in Strength & Health magazine, that title rightly belongs to Paul Anderson, an American. The 1956 Olympic gold medalist, Mr. Anderson has since gone on as a professional to achieve lifts unequaled by any other man.
I am sure glad to hear that Vasili Alexeyev has the best Bulgarian peppers in all of Shakhty, not to mention his being the best on his team at marksmanship, singing, carpentry, tennis, draughts, dominoes, billiards, volleyball and, of course, lifting the weights. Congratulations to William O. Johnson for a fine article.
In regard to your article on the Texas Relays (At Any Rate, They Had Fan, April 14), here is some humorous information everyone will be interested in. OTIS, the winning " University of Texas" intramural 440-yard relay team, really was composed of Jamie Tout, Joe Sheffy, Scott Emerson and Mike Clifton, all of Southwest Texas State University, not Andy Wingert, Bucky Payne, Chip Guesman and Lee Line of UT as reported.
Southwest Texas State is a small university located in San Marcos, 30 miles southwest of the UT campus. A rivalry exists between the two schools only because UT is thought to be superior as a result of its size. This foursome, named OTIS, won the UT intramural event by more than 15 yards, with UT students frantically cheering their supposed fellow schoolmates on. All four no doubt would be great UT athletes, except that they are students at SWTSU. They used fake names and a lot of talent to overwhelm their competitors, the fans and SI's Tex Maule.
You ended your article by saying, "Too bad the OTIS relay team won't be running in the Olympics." Well, maybe it will, but under different names.
ED (Rusty) LANDRY
Your recognition of Larry Shipp's victory in the Texas Relays 120-yard high hurdles was well deserved. Shipp and LSU teammate Allen Misher are two of the top hurdlers in the nation. However, in the same issue you have done an injustice to the LSU gymnastics program. Larry Keith dwells on the Japanese influence on this year's NCAA champions, the University of California and BYU's Wayne Young (He Who Keeps Cool Will Collect). In three years LSU Coach Armando Vega has brought his team from ninth to second best in the nation. This year two of the six All-America all-around honors go to Tigers Mike Carter and Mike Godawa. Two other LSU gymnasts earned All-America honors in their specialties, indicating that they were ready for their more difficult routines.
IVAN W. PACKER
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the article on the Gas House Gang (That Old Gang of Mine, April 7). It's what baseball was all about. I also agree with Leo Durocher's analysis regarding the philosophy of the game and ballplayers today versus those of yesteryear. Baseball will never be the same.
RICHARD J. CASER
Leo Durocher twice says there were 23 players on the 1934 Cardinals. Through all the crucial days of that season, and through the World Series, the Cardinals had 21 men.