COVERING PETE ROSE
I enjoyed your superb March 14 cover showing the reunion of three terrific ballplayers—Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez—and the accompanying article In Philadelphia, They're the Wheeze Kids. However, that was a misguided jibe that Rose made to Perez, when Rose said, "You caddied for Yastrzemski. How does it feel to be caddying for a real ballplayer now?" Yaz has been a great player for years. And this comment comes from a player who in 1978 whined when Atlanta's Gene Garber threw him nothing but junk during the time at bat that ended his National League-record hitting streak at 44. Tsk, tsk, Pete.
Upper Montclair, N.J.
I would like to know who Pete Rose thinks he is. His remark about Perez now being a caddie to a real ballplayer was a rotten, slanderous and unsportsmanlike thing to say about Carl Yastrzemski, a class player and a tremendous individual. I never cared for Rose and his hot-dog style. He could use a lesson or two in humility.
I commend you on your fine article on the Wheeze Kids, three of the best players who ever played. The story also showed how inept Dick Wagner, president of the Cincinnati Reds, has been. Mr. Wagner can go on defending the reasons why Perez was traded. Rose became a free agent and Morgan left, but Cincinnati fans were not fooled then and they're not fooled today. There is only one reason why there are only four players remaining on the Reds from the 1976 world champions. Mr. Wagner and the rest of the Cincinnati management are cheap!
SPINKS THE CHAMPION
I was touched by Calvin Fussman's article on Michael Spinks (A Yawning Gap in His Life, March 14). It was written with a rare sensitivity toward blacks. I understand the hurt and pain that Michael is going through. On New Year's Eve, five of my friends were killed on that same Schuylkill Expressway. I was in total shock. One always hears about these things happening to others, but never really cares, because he never knew the victims. This article really unlocked feelings of grief and sorrow to be shared with Michael. God bless you, Michael, and keep on striving.
ALONZO E. DELAINE
Your recent article on Michael Spinks showed him to be a sensitive and caring individual, and we here in St. Augustine, Fla. can heartily agree. The Sertoma Club of St. Augustine has been trying to raise $85,000 for medical expenses for Garry Flanary, Jr., an 11-month-old who needs a liver transplant. Michael, who was training in St. Augustine, took out many hours from his training schedule to help out and head up our fund-raising efforts. Michael has dedicated his fight with Braxton to Garry and has promised to stay with this "fight for life" until the necessary funds are raised, a liver donor is found and little Garry is healthy once again. We here in St. Augustine who have had the opportunity to work with Michael in this effort have gained a great respect and love for this man who also happens to be a super boxer.
Anyone wishing to help Spinks and Sertoma in our battle can send a check payable to "Michael Fights For Garry" to the Sertoma Club, St. Augustine, Fla., 32084.
St. Augustine, Fla.
It was with satisfaction that I read Brian Lynch's letter in the March 14 19TH HOLE, especially the part about soccer representing Communism. How did he find out?
For years we have kept it a secret. Remember Soviet leaders saying they would take over the U.S. without firing a shot? Well, soccer is the plan they are using. What better way to conquer a country than through youth. Soon we will bring in all of the Commie, soccer-playing kids in America to surround the Pentagon, at which time the players will drill instep drives until the capitalist warmongers surrender.
I truly believe that Lynch and those like him have been playing football without their helmets too long!
COMRADE LARRY LANTZ
Little Rock, Ark.
After reading Val Wilson's article (VIEWPOINT, March 14), I was incensed. Her feelings are a perfect example of the reversal of priorities in America today. She appears to be rejecting her school psychometrist's diagnosis that severe dyslexia is the cause of her son's academic difficulties. Instead, she bemoans the fact that her son was removed from the wrestling team because of his English grade. It is absolutely appalling that Ms. Wilson should place the boy's proficiency at pounding someone's head into a wrestling mat above his academic problems. Also, her question "Would it be just to tell a child he couldn't qualify for computer class because he couldn't punt a football?" is a most blatant example of convoluted logic.
We must begin to reassess sports and their influence in America, from Pee Wee Baseball to the Super Bowl. Athletics are fine—to a point. But when they begin to dominate the truly important facets of a person's life, something has gone amiss.
Although I respect Ms. Wilson's feelings, I beg to differ with her logic and reasoning.
The primary reason we have schools and colleges is to educate. Sports is extracurricular. Special education is offered for those students who suffer from learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
I understand Ms. Wilson's concern for her son's future, but by letting him have a free ticket through the educational system to play sports is only going to hurt him in the long run. Suppose Randy does rise to professional athletic stardom. When his career is over and he's pushing 35, what's he going to do?
MICHAEL P. O'BRIEN
As a mother, sports fan and former teacher, my heart goes out to Val Wilson and her son, Randy. I hope that Randy can find a sports program outside the school in which he can participate. Self-esteem is so important at his age. I was reminded by Ms. Wilson's article of how fortunate I am that my own son maintained "good grades" that kept him on his football team. That doesn't mean, however, that I can't see the educational flaw Ms. Wilson writes of. By preventing poor students from playing sports, boards of education are creating another of the "cracks" that students fall through en route to dropping out of school.
LINDA C. MEREDITH
AN OFF-COURT ALL-STAR
I feel that you have done an injustice to LaRue Martin (The View from Section 16, Row EE, Feb. 21). Over the last decade, LaRue has faced criticism and hardship in his chosen profession and withstood tremendous pressures placed upon him by the public and the media. He has managed to go on living, having grown from his experiences and shared his knowledge with others. I would like to share with you a "hidden" side of this man, who is not only an exemplary citizen but, more important, an extremely warmhearted human being.
Along with other retired and active professional athletes living in the Portland metropolitan area, LaRue has volunteered his time to serve as a leader in Project PASS (Pro Athletes for Student Success), which was established in 1982 under the direction of my Council on Health, Fitness and Sports. Project PASS has been designed to caution elementary-through-high-school-level students about the hazards of drug and alcohol abuse. This has been accomplished through class visitations from individuals like LaRue who have proven that success in the classroom is at least as valuable as success on the playing field.
The number of hours LaRue and the others spend counseling the young people of our state has gone largely unrecorded, but the benefit to our society is pronounced. These professionals serve as role models to a generation that is faced with greater social pressures at an earlier age than any before it. These fine individuals are sacrificing their time to demonstrate by example that today's true heroes do not need foreign substances to gain an advantage, but need only the proper frame of mind, desire and preparation.
I commend LaRue and the countless others for their efforts. LaRue may not have reached All-Star status in the NBA, but he has in his community. It may be easier to recount his failures as a professional athlete, but I would urge you to judge LaRue Martin on more than his performance on the basketball court. His record in life, helping others, deserves recognition.
Governor Salem, Ore.
DR. J (CONT.)
Reading your article on the Philadelphia 76ers and Julius Erving (This May Be One for the Books, Feb. 28) brought back memories. In the eighth grade I was 6'6" and towering over students and teachers. Our freshman team, composed of eighth-and ninth-graders, was superb. I started at center and scored 20 points a game. But I was not the star. I had the privilege of playing with Julius, as fantastic a human being as he is a basketball player. If memory serves me correctly, our team did not lose a game.
Even so, Julius and I stayed after each practice and went one-on-one. I had almost a foot on Julius, but he was a fierce competitor. I beat him most of the time, but he would never complain that I was too tall. He would just keep trying and trying harder. When he won he was a gracious winner, and when he lost he took it well, his sportsmanship showing even then.
My career, however, did not blossom like Erving's. An unfortunate accident ruined both my knees that year. I was never to play with Julius again, but he kept in contact with me during the long months in the hospital. Even if the 76ers do not win the championship this year, I want Philadelphians to realize what a true winner Erving is.
Basking Ridge, N.J.
The swimsuit feature (Falling for Jamaica, Feb. 14) struck a nerve with me. As a certified interior horticulturist I applaud photographer Walter Iooss's use of the Pandanus utilis as a perch for the nerve-striking Cheryl Tiegs. However, a few pages later, there's Carol Alt, also a horticulturist's delight, posing at Port Antonio not amid philodendrons, as you say, but amid Epipremnum aureum, commercially known as pothos or devil's ivy.
As the national chairperson for the Interior Plantscape Association's Technical Advisory Council I felt a need to write this letter of correction. The thrust of my chairpersonship is to create consumer awareness of tropical foliage plants. I can't think of a better way than SI's pairing of beautiful women with beautiful plants.
MICHAEL J. MCCOMBE
Van Nuys, Calif.
MINNESOTA HOCKEY (CONT.)
I disagree with E.M. Swift's contention (The Thrill of a Lifetime, March 7) that Minnesota's high school hockey tourney is "perhaps" the premier schoolboy tournament in the country. Anyone who has ever lived in Indiana knows that the boys basketball tournament here is No. 1. Since 1911, any school in the state can participate and the small-school large-school confrontation makes the tourney second to none in drama and excitement.
There were 400 schools already entered by 1921 and the number of entries swelled to a high of 787 by 1938. Because of a number of consolidations, closings and the like, the schools entered is down to fewer than 400 today. Still, the final round last year drew two 17,000-plus crowds in one day, and more than a million other fans watched on a seven-channel statewide network.
If you want to do an article on the oldest, largest, most prestigious and coveted schoolboy championship in the country, experience Hoosier hysteria sometime.
MARK A. ANDLER
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.