BOBBY BROWN'S BALL
As I glanced at the photograph of Phil Niekro demonstrating the grip of his famous knuckleball (Knucksie Hasn't Lost His Grip, June 4), I noticed that the ball bore the signature of the former American League president, Lee MacPhail. Who should be charged with this error? The American League, for dragging its feet in recognizing its new president, Dr. Bobby Brown? Or the Yankees' George Steinbrenner, for being too cheap to buy new baseballs?
ERIC J. OSMUNDSON
•No error here. As Niekro demonstrates in the pictures above, the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company has already produced—and shipped to some teams—an official American League baseball bearing Bobby Brown's signature. However, league officials say the Lee MacPhail version of the ball will remain in use as long as supplies last, and the Yankees still have a few.—ED.
In 1970 my father took me to my first professional baseball game, the Cincinnati Reds vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at Riverfront Stadium, and it was there that I first gazed upon the man with the snow-white hair standing in the corner of the dugout. Fourteen years later, at age 26, my enthusiasm for baseball is greater than ever, and so is my admiration for Sparky Anderson. Ron Fimrite's portrayal of Sparky (Sparky & George, June 11) truly captured Anderson's personality.
In the article Sparky said, "I need baseball. It don't need me." In my opinion, baseball does need Sparky. Sparky and his whole team of Detroit Tigers exude a spirit of freshness and politeness that many of today's professional teams sorely lack. It seems obvious that this can only be a result of having Sparky at the helm.
As a Reds follower, I look back to November 1978 (the time of Sparky's firing) with contempt and disdain for the Cincinnati management. Not surprisingly, since that time the Tigers and Reds have gone in opposite directions in the standings. This October, like many others in Reds country, I'll be rooting for the Tigers and, especially, for Sparky—a manager for all seasons.
MARK W. BROWNING
A friend of mine played for George (Sparky) Anderson in the minor leagues in the late '60s and has always praised him. Ron Fimrite's story is a beautiful example of a real man who obviously loves his family and appreciates his roots. Sparky is what makes baseball a vital part of Americana.
What a delightful article on Sparky Anderson! Even in this fast-paced world, some things never change. Sparky's success stems in part from that strong family of his. Sparky's statement, "It's funny, but a child don't know he's poor if he's loved," speaks for itself. My entire family enjoyed this upbeat story.
JORGE L. DIAZ
Our family's experience with Sparky Anderson confirms everything that was said in the article. Anyone who'd take the time to send a handwritten thank-you note to a 6-year-old boy (our son, Ben) and say Hi! to him every time he sees him at the ball park is a real gentleman.
After our son saw Sparky in Cleveland a few weeks ago, he went to bed that night and, in his prayers, asked God to bless Sparky "and let him live a long life because he's a good man." We couldn't agree more.
MR. AND MRS. DAVID SCHULTZ
Sparky & George was must reading for my two teenage boys. It should be read by every girl and boy, because it tells us about life as it should be lived.
ELIZABETH A. OSTRANDER
After reading SI's fourth article about the Detroit Tigers within the space of a few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that there is no point in continuing the 1984 season. Since the Tigers seem to have already clinched the World Series, the Cy Young Award, the Manager of the Year and any other award you can name, it would certainly be a waste of time to go on playing through the hot summer months. SI should publish its World Series article next week, and then we could have an early start on the football season. Jack Morris wouldn't even have to cancel his October hunting trip.
GARY M. STOKES
WAYNE D. CAROUGE
P.S. Should you decide to publish an article on the Tigers' bat boy, or Sparky Anderson's dog, or Tiger Stadium vendors, etc., please cancel our subscriptions.
BULGARIA'S BOY WONDER
The article Behold Bulgaria's Vest-Pocket Hercules (June 11) by Terry Todd is one of the finest lay articles that I've ever read. He's done his research and presented scientific data in a way that is so easy to accept that the average reader may not even know he's being handed highly technical information.
I believe, however, that the training schedule outlined in the article could not be attempted by even the best athletes more than a few times a year. Trying to do it more often would only tear the muscles down.
GABE MIRKIN, M.D.
Silver Spring, Md.
I am so pleased to be reading article on boy of wonder named Naim Suleimanov. Is a greatness in such a one of immense youth to be containing strength in proportions so manly. Only, is to me perplexing that all in that land speak like American Indian in old B Western film of my childhood. Or perhaps Boris and Natasha from Bullwinkle Show. Is pretty downright embarrassing dropping always articles and putting at end of sentence subject even if that is way is constructed this language of the Bulgars. Otherwise article attacks interest and I devour at once. Like wolf.
(Reader of long time)
I am much enjoying article on Bulgarian lifters. Ivan Abadjiev is wise coach. Like owl. Powerful youth is Suleimanov. Like ox. Is good. Maybe someday be lifting Iron Curtain. Who is knowing?
EDWARD J. GEARY
South Harpswell, Maine
STEFAN HUMPHRIES' REPORT CARD
We read with interest Douglas S. Looney's article on Stefan Humphries (He Came Out Picture Perfect, June 4) and his impressive scholastic and athletic achievements. The story drew our attention because of our own involvement in intercollegiate athletics.
More interesting, however, was the picture of Humphries' transcript. Without doubt, Stefan achieved a notable record of academic excellence, but close review of the transcript raised an interesting question. In the Southeastern Conference, student-athletes are required to pass at least 12 hours per quarter, or a total of at least 36 per school year. We noticed that although Stefan's grades were outstanding, he passed only 33 quarter hours during his freshman year.
Having verified that the rule is promulgated by the NCAA, we are led to believe that SI inadvertantly exposed a minor infraction. Please verify our findings or explain what rule variations we are overlooking.
University of Tennessee
•There was no infraction of the rules in Humphries' case. The rule cited by readers Davis and Katzman was adopted by the NCAA on Aug. 1, 1981 (and revised Jan. 12, 1982), after Humphries had completed his freshman year (1980-81). The rule in effect before August 1981 required only that a student-athlete be "in good academic standing as determined by the faculty of [his] institution" and that he be "enrolled in at least a minimum full-time program of studies and [maintain] satisfactory progress toward a baccalaureate or equivalent degree as determined by the regulations of [the] institution." Humphries more than met those requirements in his freshman year.—ED.
As one of the Michigan engineering students who took 4½ years to graduate (I received my BSE degree in '78), I know how demanding and competitive the College of Engineering is. There were football Saturdays when I felt guilty about taking time off just to watch the game.
I truly enjoyed reading Stefan Humphries' report card. To think that this big, bad football player whom I so avidly followed the last three years had been taking the same classes that I once struggled through, and getting aces! One occasionally reads about great achievers, but no such account ever sank home like this one. The article left me in total awe and disbelief.
Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.
The article on professional gambler Billy Baxter ("Look Up and He's Got Your Money," May 28) was inappropriate for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Gambling contributes to thousands of broken homes, and cases of embezzlement, suicide and psychologically damaged children. Your large photograph of Baxter and his family in opulent surroundings, I fear, may serve as a stimulus to compulsive gamblers to continue with their illness in hopes of obtaining the kind of wealth Baxter has been able to amass thanks to his very unusual talent.
LOVETT P. REDDICK, M.D.
Was there a mistake in the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers in women's gymnastics (FOR THE RECORD, June 11)? What happened to Dianne Durham, one of our best prospects?
•Durham, the 1983 national champion, was knocked out of the competition when she crash-landed in the vault, suffering a badly sprained left ankle.—ED.
As a longtime Cub fan, I appreciated the June 11 cover photograph of Leon (Bull) Durham and Jim Kaplan's story on the Cubs' battle with the Phillies for first place in the National League East (A Family Feud in Philadelphia). After reading it I went to my attic and found an issue of SI dated June 30, 1969, which I have saved to this day. It had Ron Santo on the cover (above) and a story of a Cub team that was apparently headed for a pennant. I don't believe in the "cover jinx," but I'm hoping 1984 doesn't end the way 1969 did.
Winthrop Harbor, Ill.
Well, I'll be Dawggone! Bull Durham graces your June 11 cover under the bold lettering HOW 'BOUT THEM CUBBIES! As I recall, that expression originated in Athens, Ga. during the 1976 football season. We Georgia fans give SI full credit for nationalizing the expression in a Nov. 17, 1980 issue featuring freshman sensation Herschel Walker on the cover and containing a lead article (How 'Bout Them Dawgs?) on the 1980 Georgia-Florida football game.
However, that article referred to the expression as "Georgia slang." And now we've got Georgia slang on SI's cover! One wonders: Have SI's cover billing writers gone to the Dawgs?
I noticed in the June 11 cover shot of Bull Durham that the Cubs logo on his uniform includes a small registered-trademark symbol, the familiar R inside a circle. I wonder: Up until this season, who could possibly have wanted to infringe on the Cubs' trademark anyway?
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.