Great article on Fernando Valenzuela (Something Screwy Going On Here, July 8), but I take exception to Ray Gonzales's comment that Hispanic-Americans consider Valenzuela a role model for not learning English and having "succeeded while not selling out." This points out the problem America faces as many try to convert us to a bilingual society. When Hispanic-Americans assimilate into the mainstream by speaking and using English, they are far from "selling out" but are "buying in" to the values and system that make their success possible.
I don't care if Fernando speaks Spanish, English or Sanskrit. On the field he has a unique body language that features peeks upward while pitching, taking major league cuts when at bat, and exuding fun while shagging balls in batting practice or playing leftfield in an extra-inning game. As Tony Castro's article clearly points out, Fernando communicates by winning or losing with class, poise and skill, ingredients that—when present—are apparent in any language.
Bravo for Torito! Enjoyed every minute of your terrific article. Good job, Tony Castro.
I would like to compliment Jim Kaplan for his story about the exploits of Rickey Henderson (Hot Stroke, Hot Streak, July 8). I have been a New York Yankees fan for 30 years, and Henderson has brought a new dimension of excitement to Yankee baseball. There was only one thing wrong. My copy of that issue had a picture of Fernando Valenzuela on the cover.
July 21, 1985
I was delighted to read about the annual Gus Macker three-on-three basketball fest (The Only Came In Town, July 8). It was a breath of fresh air to know there are sporting events held regularly whose main purpose is fun instead of winning.
I was fascinated by the origins of this tournament and amazed at the rate at which its popularity has grown. My neighborhood has had a small tournament of its own for the past three years, so I know how much fun the small "driveway" tournaments can be. Ours is called the NBA—Neighborhood Basketball Association. It's a round-robin with seven teams. Every year we have a great time, and I can imagine how exciting it must be to take part in the Gus Macker.
Thanks, SI, for letting us see sports in its rarest form.
I violently disagree with the article on Bud Collins (TV/RADIO, July 8) written by William Taaffe.
I believe there are some basic criteria for being a good broadcaster—first, you must be very personable, and second, you must learn not to say incredibly inane things. Collins is, by far, the most biased tennis commentator on the screen today. Fans of Kevin Curren found the telecast of the Wimbledon final disgusting. The grace of Wimbledon was lost amid Collins's absurd comments.
ANNE WHITE'S WIMBLEDON
Thank God the lords of Wimbledon chased Anne White (Wow!, July 8) off the court before all tennis "tradition" crashed into the Thames.
Fascinating how the female gets the quick thumb for doing anything the least dashing. Had McEnroe and Connors appeared in bodysuits, they would have been applauded for style. Anne White is told to return in a ladylike skirt.
WILLIAM T. DUFFY JR.
How sexist can you get? You devote little enough space to women's sports—now you waste an entire spread on women's tennis outfits. "Men gasped"—you would think they had never seen a woman's body before.
A number of men's sports outfits are just as revealing. Are we women to assume that the men are dressed for sports just to titillate us?
TIGER BY THE TAIL
As a Massillon native and former player under Mike Currence, I am embarrassed by the comments of school board president Thomas Kimmins in your July 1 issue (A Mauling In Tiger Town). Particularly irritating is Kimmins's comment, "After five years a coach has outlived his usefulness."
Granted, Currence's sixth season, 1981, was a disappointment to Tiger fans; however, the Tigers' 7-3 record included losses to Canton McKinley and Cincinnati Moeller, the AP No. 1 and 3 teams in the state at season's end. Currence was so "useless" in 1982 the Tigers could only finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and win two playoff games before losing to Cincinnati Moeller in the state championship. In Currence's eighth season the Tigers finished 9-1 and were ranked fifth in the state by UPI.
This brings us to last fall, when the Tigers were actually fortunate to finish 6-4. Fortunate, because they played the first four games without their starting quarterback, who was injured. Mike Currence can hardly be blamed for that.
Also noticeably absent from discussions about Currence's dismissal are his accomplishments as athletic director. The past several years have seen Washington High evolve from strictly a one-sport school to one that possesses a consistently strong track and field program as well as a competitive wrestling unit. Not bad for a coach/athletic director who has lost his usefulness.
With such unsubstantiated comments coming from the school board president, it seems the board has lost its usefulness. Its mishandling of the situation has indeed, as local headlines read, "Blackened the Eye of the Tiger."
OPEN FOR DISCUSSION
Why did your coverage of the U.S. Open have to begin, "Luckily, there was one American who could play..."?
Luckily? The story (A Blast From The Past, June 24) would have made every bit as much sense if it had started with the second sentence. But as it stood, it can only be taken to mean, "Luckily, one American could play...otherwise, a foreigner might have won." Doubly strange, since I don't recall this sort of line being taken when Langer or Ballesteros won tournaments.
Auckland, New Zealand
In the June 10 issue a reader wrote: "Ugh. A football cover on Memorial Day weekend. Down with the USFL." In the June 24 issue, a reader wrote: "Ugh. A basketball cover in June. Down with the NBA." I say: "Ugh. A golf cover at any time of the year. Down with professional golf."
Your article on Kurt Bevacqua (A Great Role Player, July 1) was of particular interest to me. I was Kurt's American Legion coach when he played for North Miami Post 67.
One day Post 67 was playing in Miami Stadium and our relief pitching was a little lean. Kurt volunteered to help the team out by going to the mound. He threw a knuckleball to the first batter, and the batter responded by hitting it over the rightfield fence. That was the end of Kurt's pitching.
All of us who knew Kurt 20 years ago took special pride in his '84 Series play. I hope the funny stories associated with him don't detract from an appreciation of his determination and perseverance.
At a Hilton Head Island, S.C. hotel in 1974 I asked Andy North what his career goals were. He looked at me, grinned and said, "Win majors!" That was my first full year of caddying for Andy. I am pleased to say I shared his 1978 U.S. Open triumph at Cherry Hills in Denver, a tournament in which he displayed the same guts of which Barry McDermott wrote (A Blast From The Past, June 24). Andy's on-course toughness was what I admired most in him, and we all saw it surface again at Oakland Hills.
Congratulations to Andy for joining a select few in winning more than one U.S. Open title. And congratulations to Andy's family and supporters who have stuck with him over the years. It couldn't have happened to a better guy!
•Crandall, who caddied for North from 1974 to '79, is shown with him at the '78 Open.—ED.
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