DOC AND DARRYL
Any baseball fan, whether he likes or dislikes the Mets, has to respect the tremendous talents and abilities of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden (Doc and Darryl, July 11). I was impressed by Ralph Wiley's portrayal of the two men and their successful efforts to overcome hard times and turn them into positive experiences. As a result, they have become not only better ballplayers, but better people as well.
New City, N.Y.
In your story you clearly showed how much Dwight Gooden has grown as a player and as a human being. However, while Darryl Strawberry is finally playing up to his potential, he is surely the most self-centered man you have ever had on your cover. In the article, he used the words "I," "I'm," "I've" and "me" more than 30 times, including 15 times in the second paragraph of the third column on page 76.
I was deeply touched by Jill Lieber's article (A Life on the Line, July 11) about New York Giants tackle Karl Nelson's comeback from Hodgkin's disease. In March my father was diagnosed as having cancer of the lymph nodes in his chest and stomach. I can relate only too vividly to the fears, tears and pain that Nelson and his family have endured. Fortunately, my father was recently pronounced to be in the early stages of remission. Like Nelson, he is a fighter who will win the battle. Nelson's victory serves as an inspiration. Lieber deserves a gold medal for her sensitive writing about a nightmare.
As an avid fan of the Chicago Bears, I was at last year's opening game against the Giants. I had heard TV announcers talking about Karl Nelson's illness. Now I know the rest of the story. I am touched by the concern shown by Nelson's teammates and coaches. Too often all we hear and read about are megaegos and megabucks. Thank God for some real camaraderie. Here's hoping that Nelson has a fantastic season and that his recovery is complete.
ROBERT L. NICHOLSON
Every football coach in America, from the Pop Warner League to the NFL, will tell you that the fundamental principle in avoiding a serious neck injury while tackling is to keep the head up (Was Justice Paralyzed? July 25). The unorthodox strap designed for Marc Buoniconti's face mask not only forced his neck down into a vulnerable position but also restricted vital movement that is necessary to absorb a blow. I have never seen this kind of strap used by another football player.
I broke my leg on a skiing trip last year. During my six weeks in the hospital and another six weeks in a cast, all I could think about was my eighth-grade football season coming up in August. Then, two weeks before football practice started, my doctor told me I couldn't play. I was devastated, but my doctor knew what he was doing. I sat out football but made the baseball team, and now I can play football again. I send my sympathy to the Buoniconti family.
I play middle linebacker for a small college and have a habit of tackling headfirst, though not with the intention of spearing; that's just the way I play. This article will encourage me to change my tackling technique.
As a member of the University of Rhode Island water polo team from 1976 to '80, I found that your article about the 1988 U.S. Olympic water polo team (Dunking a Tough Foe, July 18) brought back fond memories of the hours I spent practicing and playing this wonderful sport. At Rhode Island, water polo was not a popular spectator sport, and it was not unusual to play before fewer than 30 people. But we performed with the same wild abandon that this year's Olympic team has displayed in quest of the gold medal.
DAVID S. SHANKER
CHEERS FOR CASEY
I enjoyed Frank Deford's fictional elaboration on the events associated with Casey at the Bat (July 18). Some readers may not be aware of how much research went into Deford's story. The Police Gazette was the most popular periodical of Casey's era. It not only contained noteworthy news and interesting fiction, but also it was one of the only places that published photographs then. It was the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED of its day, and the editor of the Gazette was indeed Richard K. Fox.
Fox was very involved in the promotion of Irish Jake Kilrain as a challenger for John L. Sullivan's heavyweight title. Because of a ban on boxing in New Orleans, Kilrain and Sullivan met in a 75-rounder in a ring just outside Gulf-port, Miss.
In those days, high rollers would spread a betting silk out in front of them and take bets on a fight. The silk from that famous bout, which Sullivan won, is one of only four known to exist. One of the other silks is on display in the Smithsonian Institution.
JOHN A. DOUGLAS
Timothy F.X. Casey couldn't have put it any better when he said, "In baseball, even the best ballists only get a hit one out of every three times up." Fortunately, Frank Deford isn't a ballist. We cranks see him get a hit every time he steps up to the plate. This time, just as the mighty Casey did, Deford circled the bases.
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.