Thanks for Franz Lidz's great article on the Seattle Mariners (Versed in Adversity, May 23). Local baseball fans have agonized over the team's problems for years. However, I think Alvin Davis's comment that the Mariners are only a couple of players away from success has more merit than Lidz gives it.
Dick Williams's drill-instructor attitude may teach fundamental baseball to his young players, but it also causes the self-doubt that was evident in the story. Rather than firing the manager and going after the top players they need, after the honest comments that appeared in your story I'm afraid the Mariners will trade what stars they have left in yet another "youth movement." (Sigh.)
The Mariners' problems are not the Seattle fans, the community's treatment of its sports stars, the Kingdome or the manager. Fan support for the Sonics and the Seahawks remains strong; Freddie Brown and Steve Largent have prospered in the Emerald City; indoor stadiums have been used to the home team's advantage by the Twins; and pennants won by three different teams that he has managed are evidence of Dick Williams's skill. The problem with the Mariners is George Argyros's perception of success. Profit and loss statements are one way to determine it, but major league baseball is a game as well as a business, and how the game is played is what will determine his success or failure as helmsman of the Mariners.
FREDERICK P. CORBIT
Your article says little about the camaraderie and spirit of the Mariners this year. Dick Williams is right when he says that people should look elsewhere for sad-sack teams—the history of the Mariners goes back only 11 years.
KAREN A. JOHNSON
June 19, 1988
Hats off to Ron Fimrite for an exceptional article (The Valley Boys, May 23). In the 20 years since I left the Upper Ohio Valley, I have, on numerous occasions, attempted to describe why the area is unique. Few people believed that such an extraordinary number of outstanding athletes could have been products of this area. Now it is confirmed.
Fimrite's clear and positive description of the people of Martins Ferry and its sister villages, their work ethic and their ability to pull together in good times and bad, is journalism at its best. I also commend the athletes—Lou and Alex Groza, Phil and Joe Niekro, Bill Mazeroski and John Havlicek. They exemplify the American dream.
I've lived in the small town of Hellertown, Pa., so I can identify with the kids of Martins Ferry, Ohio, and their love for sport. While I never made it to the NFL or the NBA, or even to the high school baseball team, I remain competitive in most things I do. One thing I've noticed: The kids don't seem to have sandlot games anymore. Everything I see is organized, which means there's not much spontaneity. The sheer number of athletes our town once had is way down, too. I often wonder if it's because we're missing the type of man who once was commonplace, the father like Phil Niekro Sr., who came home tired from the mines or mills but still spent the rest of his children's waking day with them, teaching them the skills of games and life, getting them ready for the sandlots and beyond.
DENNIS J. SCHOLL
The Martins Ferry tradition lives on. A case in point: Chuck Mamula was Ohio Lineman of the Year at Martins Ferry High in 1959. He went on to letter under Woody Hayes at Ohio State and eventually settled in Illinois. His son, Nick, starred at Hoffman Estates High and will enter Purdue as a 6'5", 260-pound lineman this fall. Mamula's younger brother, Dan, was an outstanding football guard at New Philadelphia (Ohio) High, and his son, Dan Jr., is a three-sport standout as a freshman at the same school. One might conclude that the values instilled by the Valley haven't disappeared, but continue wherever its sons have gone.
New Philadelphia, Ohio
DAVID CLYDE'S EXAMPLE
The sidebar on David Clyde that accompanied the article on high school pitching phenom Jon Peters (Boy Wonder, May 9) really caught my attention. However, there's more to him than Clyde the youngster, whom baseball people used for their own gain. Clyde the man gives a lot of himself to the game. Besides coaching Little League, he spends one evening a week at our school as a volunteer coach working with our pitchers. His knowledge and patience are exceptional. I respect him not only as a teacher of pitching but also as a human being.
Concordia Lutheran High
NIPPED IN THE BUD
Zola Budd (A Runner Runs Home, May 23) may be a pawn in the political arena. However, one must not forget the reason for the banning of South African athletes from international competition—apartheid. Budd is the victim of South Africa and of herself. She has not denounced South Africa's racist policy nor has she broken her ties with that country. It is sad that Budd's ability is being wasted, but look at the entire picture. Think of Nelson Mandela's life wasting away in prison. Think of the waste of Steve Biko's life. Think of the waste of thousands of black South African lives. Think of the waste of all the minds that receive little or no education. Think of the poor working conditions South African blacks must endure. Think of the censorship of the black and white press. In comparison, Budd has sacrificed only a little.
LAWRENCE J. LUCERO
What are we trying to prove? Are we of the international athletic community attempting to demonstrate that we can be major league jerks like the South African government by beating up on a young girl? If we must persecute Zola Budd in symbolic retribution against South Africa, perhaps we ought to look inside ourselves for the real enemy. Treating Budd as a symbol of South African repression of blacks is missing the point, which is, of course, that we should treat each other as individuals—living, feeling, equal human beings. Regarding people as bloodless symbols can only hinder our progress toward that ideal.
After being confronted—as a teenager—with obscenities, obstructions and assault, with her avenues of escape being either to quit her sport or to cut off her main source of emotional support (i.e., her family in South Africa), is it any wonder that Budd went home?
STEVEN CHARLES WARREN
KNIGHT VS. BUSH
In your May 23 SCORECARD item headlined "Hoosier and Who?" you noted that we sent five reporters and a photographer to cover the Bob Knight story and one reporter and a photographer to cover Vice-President George Bush. I can only say that in allocating our staff's manpower we were guided by the immortal words of Babe Ruth, who, when asked to justify a salary that was bigger than President Herbert Hoover's, replied, "Why not? I had a better year than he did."
The Albuquerque Tribune
SHOES FOR SHOEBOTTOM
In his article Devilish Feat by the Bruins (May 23), Austin Murphy stated: "Two dozen or so Bruins fans, for reasons known only to themselves, threw their shoes onto the ice, obliging them to go home in their stocking feet."
Shoe-throwing by Boston fans began during Game 2 of the Bruins' opening-round playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres. A rookie defenseman, Bruce Shoebottom, had been called up from the Maine Mariners, Boston's farm team, to fill in because of injuries. In that game he scored his first NHL goal, which proved to be the game-winner in Boston's 4-1 victory over the Sabres. Delirious Bruins fans began chanting "Shoe...Shoe...Shoe," and a few threw their shoes onto the ice. It appears as though shoe-throwing may become something of a playoff tradition.
•Here's a look at Shoebottom in action against the Sabres (top left). That's linesman Ron Finn (bottom left) picking up shoes tossed onto the ice during the Bruins-Devils game that Murphy was referring to.—ED.
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