THE WINTER GAMES
My thanks to Bob Ottum for an outstanding story on Scott Hamilton (Wow! Power, Feb. 6). Win or lose, Hamilton is one of the biggest men in sports today, by far.
I enjoyed your Winter Olympic preview (Feb. 6). The introductory photograph by Enrico Ferorelli was superb. You were remiss, however, in not identifying the luger.
FRASER H. THOMAS
•Ferorelli's shot was of Walter (Ty) Danco of Brooklyn Heights, NY., the 11th-place finisher in the doubles in the 1980 Games and a member of this year's team, despite the fact that he broke his left heel in five places in his last Trials race at Lake Placid, shortly after the picture was taken. Danco went to Sarajevo, foot in cast, as the team's "seventh man." However, his heel became infected, and he was sent back to the U.S., where he's now recovering at his parents' Pepper Pike, Ohio home.—ED.
Thanks to Bill Koch for sharing his definition of the Olympics with me and others who were fortunate enough to read Kenny Moore's article (A Fire Burns Fiercely Within Him, Feb. 6). The story about Finland's Juha Mieto reaching out a hand and helping Koch up the hill in the 50-km race in Innsbruck told, in a beautifully symbolic way, what the Games are all about. They are a time for nations to drop their weapons and join hands while watching their fantastic athletes do what they do best.
HEIDI REGINA SIEGMUND
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Congratulations to Bill Koch and Kenny Moore for fusing the hard facts of a sport with its spirit and substance. They have helped us to realize that it's the joyous discipline of defining and expanding one's own limits—not the domination of opponents—that keeps fire in the athlete's eyes. Moore and Koch have fleshed out the meaning of excellence—and Moore has given us a three-dimensional picture of Koch in the process.
ROBERT R. JOHNSON
Long Beach, Calif.
In the course of discussing Yugoslavia's Elan skis (ON THE SCENE, Feb. 6), William Oscar Johnson identifies Vinko Bogataj as the "longtime head of Elan's ski department." Is this the same Vinko Bogataj who's seen tumbling at the end of a ski jump during the "agony of defeat" segment of the introduction to ABC's Wide World of Sports? If so, it's apparent Bogataj's life hasn't gone downhill since his spectacular spill.
TIMOTHY P. BROWN
•According to ABC, Wide World of Sports' Bogataj, who no longer jumps competitively but is currently contributing to the Yugoslavian Olympic effort by working at the ski-jump starting gate in Sarajevo, is a 36-year-old factory worker and accomplished painter from Lese, in Slovenia, and "no relation whatsoever" to Elan's 52-year-old ski-department director of the same name.—ED.
I admired Ron Fimrite's article Dr. J Gets His Ring and Other Nice Things That Happened in 1983 in your special issue The Year in Sports (Feb. 8). I'm involved with the instruction of young athletes, and it's a pleasure to be able to show them that a true champion is measured not in grams of cocaine and injections of steroids, but by the human factors of goodwill and sportsmanship.
The unselfish deeds of such champions are a breath of fresh air and make their victories all the more gratifying.
Forest Hill, Md.
What a pleasant change to see the good guys (and gals) sharing the limelight in your special issue! In fact, I felt so good after reading Ron Fimrite's article that I was actually thinking more about sportsmanship and worrying less about brinkmanship. Now that's what I call really nice.
Chevy Chase, Md.
How could you omit Jay Sigel from both the Nice Things and Golf sections of your Year in Sports issue? The playing captain of our winning Walker Cup team, Sigel won both the Amateur and the Mid-Amateur tournaments in 1983, becoming the first golfer since Bobby Jones to win two USGA national championships in one year. To quote Chris Perry, his final opponent in the Amateur: "You can't help but think about him, about what he's done in amateur golf and done for amateur golf."
I thoroughly enjoyed Ron Fimrite's story on Tom Lasorda and his off-the-field activities (He Goes Where the In Crowd Goes, Jan. 30). Fimrite captured the true Tom Lasorda that we, his friends, know. However, for accuracy's sake, I must point out that the Dodgers' policy of hiring managers "one year at a time" doesn't go back to the last century. It began with Walter O'Malley and his manager, Charlie Dressen, in 1951. Before that, Max Carey had a multiyear contract in 1933-34 and was paid "not to manage" in 1934. Casey Stengel similarly had a multiyear contract in 1936-37 and also was paid "not to manage" in 1937.
Baseball Writers' Association of America
New York City
•Reader Lang is correct: The Dodger policy of hiring managers one year at a time does not go back to the last century. However, some further research by SI reporter Bruce Anderson reveals that Carey never had a two-year contract with the Dodgers. In August 1932 the Dodgers renewed Carey's one-year contract, signing him to another one-year pact for 1933. Then, in August 1933, the club gave him still another one-year deal (for less money) for the 1934 season. When the Dodgers fired Carey in February 1934 and hired Stengel, they had to buy out Carey's 1934 contract. When Stengel signed in 1934, on the other hand, he was given a two-year contract, and at the end of the 1934 season he was given one for three years. The Dodgers had to buy out the third year of this pact when they fired Stengel and replaced him with Burleigh Grimes for the 1937 season. In earlier days Wilbert Robinson, Dodger manager from 1914 through 1931, was signed to at least five contracts of two or three years each.—ED.
Bud Grant's athletic accomplishments are matched by few. He played on teams in two professional sports (the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers, the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers), coached two pro football teams to a total of 283 victories (122 at Winnipeg and 161 at Minnesota), won 11 NFC Central Division titles, appeared in four Super Bowls and was successful in four Grey Cup championships. Grant also has the rare distinction of never having been fired from any position he held.
So what does SI do to honor the retirement of this extraordinary man? It prints a pitiful SCORECARD item (Feb. 6) by Paul Zimmerman insinuating that Grant may have retired for reasons other than he stated. Instead of praising Grant, Zimmerman chose to bury him.
Perhaps, though, the item is what the humble Grant would have wanted. Throughout his career he has always given the credit to his players and assistants. Grant's concern for his players' well-being superseded his desire for victories, and it is that which may be his greatest accomplishment. Bud Grant's name will always be held in high esteem, despite SI's degrading farewell to him.
JOHN J. DELATE
Bud Grant has been one of the game's premier coaches for 20 years. If Bud says the Vikes have no talent to work with. Dr. Z had better take heed. If Bud can't inspire a team to play up to its potential, then no one can. It's a shame that such a brilliant coach didn't get the send-off he deserved.
ANTHONY D. CRECCA JR.
Your SCORECARD item (Jan. 30) about the basketball record and national ranking of various high school teams around the country named after Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar was certainly informative. It also offered a bit of insight into the brief life of Mr. Dunbar. I'm sure, however, that some readers have wondered whether there is a Dunbar high school in Dayton and, if so, how its basketball team is doing. Please allow me to supply the answer: Dayton's Dunbar Wolverines are averaging 93 points per game, have a 15-3 record and are ranked eighth in the state.
LLOYD G. PHILLIPS JR., M.D.
While reading your article on the U.S. Olympic hockey team (Playing in a Dream World, Dec. 12), I was amused to learn that coach Lou Vairo had adopted the disciplinary policy of an unnamed college basketball coach "who made everyone on his team run laps when one player broke a team rule—except the culprit, who was forced to stand and watch."
As a former assistant in the sports information office at the University of Evansville, I recognized the tactic as being very similar to one employed a few years ago by Dick Walters, head basketball coach of the Purple Aces.
When an Evansville player was late for practice, his teammates had to run a lap for each minute he was tardy. And instead of just having the offender stand there and watch, Walters had him seated at midcourt in a reclining chair, with an ice-cold soft drink in his hand.
To my knowledge, Walters had to do this only once.
Sports Information Director
Morehead State University
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