FOR THE BIRDS
My congratulations on Jonathan Yardley's article (Gimme an O..., April 7). It was an outstanding piece of work. He put into writing what many of us Oriole fans experienced in 1979. I, like Yardley, was permanently bound to the Birds by that unforgettable Detroit series in June.
Also, I was happy to see that you pointed out in your scouting report that, despite the Orioles' great record last year, many of their players had off-seasons or had not yet reached their potential. I thought I was the only one who realized that!
I commend Jonathan Yardley for putting into words feelings I had thought could never be expressed. I missed only five Oriole home games in 1979, and I was one of those cheering from Section 34. I take offense only at the generalization that the "youthful exuberance" of Section 34 was "fueled by weed and brew." Our enthusiasm was fueled by the excitement generated on the field.
As a lifelong Tiger fan, I grew up hating the Orioles the way some people hate the Yankees, and yet I got goose bumps reading Jonathan Yardley's story about what happened in Baltimore last year. The article brought back memories of 1968, when Al Kaline led the Tigers to the world championship.
April 21, 1980
Now, however, I am a former Tiger fan—I disowned them when they traded Ron LeFlore last December—and I almost find myself rooting for those "damn Orioles" to go all the way.
ROBERT L. SCHUITEMA JR.
Heinz Kluetmeier's cover photograph of St. Louis' Keith Hernandez (April 7) was perfect. So were the inside photos and the descriptions of Hernandez and teammate Garry Templeton (Stars of the '80s, April 7).
In answer to your cover question "Who is Keith Hernandez?", everybody will know who all the Cardinals are by the end of the season.
Never mind who Keith Hernandez is and what he is doing hitting .344. What's he doing winning the MVP award? San Diego's Dave Winfield deserved it.
Your colorful picture of Keith Hernandez could more aptly have been titled, "Who Is Keith Hernandez and What Is He Doing Making $3.8 Million Over Five Years?"
You are aware that this is the second time that a strike, or the threat of one, has dampened fans' excitement on Opening Day, but do you know that on both occasions, in 1972 and 1980, you featured a St. Louis Cardinal on the cover of your Baseball Issue (Joe Torre and Keith Hernandez)? In each case the player was the reigning National League MVP and batting champion (Torre with .363 in 1971, and Hernandez with .344 last year). Moreover, both times Pittsburgh was the reigning champion, having defeated Baltimore in seven games in the World Series.
JONATHAN S. ETKIN
New London, Conn.
OUT OF THE CROWD
Your cover shot of NCAA champion Louisville's Darrell Griffith (March 31) was not only spectacular, but it also offered an interesting sidelight. In just a year Darren Daye, the UCLA freshman shown attempting to stop Griffith, has risen from FACES IN THE CROWD (March 12, 1979) to your cover.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I am angered and deeply disappointed by Reggie Jackson's apparent endorsement of selective breeding of athletes (SCORECARD, April 7). Jackson should realize that genetic-selection programs of this sort traditionally have been aimed at eliminating or reducing the population of various ethnic and racial groups, including blacks. He should also be aware that his attitude contributes to the unfortunate public perception of professional athletes as only so much meat on the hoof.
LOSER OR VICTIM? (CONT.)
The aspirations and frustrations of would-be football star Glenn Fletcher were rather pathetic as detailed in your March 31 issue (Sitting, Waiting and Hoping). However, the statement that Fletcher, who has used up his NCAA eligibility, "longs for one more year of college football at an NAIA school..." no doubt raised questions in some readers' minds regarding the NAIA's eligibility rules.
Only student-athletes in good academic standing are eligible for regular-season and postseason competition in the NAIA. Good academic standing includes: satisfying the requirement of at least one semester of residency; full-time student (enrolled for 12 credits); evidence of normal academic progress (successful completion of 24 credits during the two preceding terms); and the completion of four seasons of eligibility in no more than 10 semesters of attendance at any institution.
Assistant Executive Director
Kansas City, Mo.
I have attended two high schools and a junior college and now attend a university where I am enrolled on a full football scholarship. Take it from me, you've got to get that education, because pro football is a dream game in which only a few make it.
THE MOSCOW GAMES (CONT.)
In regard to your fine coverage of the U.S. Olympic boycott, I have one question: In a country founded on freedom, does a President, who is ostensibly a staunch supporter of human rights, have the right to deny athletes the right to pursue a lifelong dream?
ROSS C. BROWNSON
Grand Junction, Colo.
Only about 23% of the people living in the U.S. have personal recollections of the 1936 Berlin Games, in which athletes performed before a backdrop of swastikas, iron crosses and vast displays of military might. To see how young Americans were used for Nazi propaganda one had only to attend movie theaters where Paramount and Fox Movietone newsreels were weekly features.
The idea of unwary young Americans eagerly lending themselves to the production of television "commercials" filmed before similar trappings in Moscow is unthinkable to those of us who remember the films of the Berlin Games. It's not the way we want it, but history repeats itself because of the ignorance of those who haven't lived it.
ALBERT G. WILLING JR.
•See page 30.—ED.
SAD STORY (CONT.)
I was deeply touched by Robert H. Boyle's poignant story depicting the life and death of Willie Classen (No Man Was His Keeper, March 24). It is the best piece of sportswriting I have seen in a while. Perhaps Boyle can start on a movie script. It is important to remember Classen and the archaic system that sent him to a tragic death.
Old Bridge, N.J.
Your article on Willie Classen's death and the events leading up to it suggests that there may be some question as to who was ultimately responsible. But the facts indict all of those named—and probably others not mentioned. Any of those listed in the story could have acted with the kind of courage shown by most fighters in the ring, but they showed no inclination to do so.
Though the article leaves a bitter taste, continued coverage of this tragic match is in order. Without further reporting, it's probable that nothing will change. I hope we'll never have to read a similar article about another fighter.
DENNIS R. MARBLE
The subhead on Robert Boyle's article about the death of Willie Classen reads: "There is blame and censure all around for the death of middleweight Willie Classen: a classic case for reform." I cannot disagree. However, Boyle goes on to name all of those people responsible for Classen's death—except one. Classen was not a thoroughbred horse whose life was completely controlled by his manager/trainer. Classen was a man, and though he was not the master of his fate, he at least had the final say on whom he fought and when. The bottom line is that Classen chose to fight Wilford Scypion. That decision cost him his life.
I can't believe the disorganization among the people in charge of the fight that night. There wasn't even an ambulance available. But I feel that the largest share of the blame should fall on Marco Minuto, Classen's manager, for letting Willie get in the ring after the beatings Classen had taken. Minuto could have demanded a thorough physical examination of his fighter. A man's life is far more important than the sport.
JOHN M. BARYS
Central Connecticut Boxing Team
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