Thanks for the editorial on "The Foul, Hot Summer" (SCORECARD, July 25). As a sports fanatic and an environmentalist, I'm glad to see you warning those who are unaware. If something isn't done, we might see only sandlot (literally) baseball and AstroTurf golf courses. Also, muddy, snow-covered football fields might become as extinct as dodoes.
Redington Beach, Fla.
Kenny Moore's story about the exclusive fraternity of gracefully aging discus throwers (The Old Men and the Discus, July 25) was yet another in a long line of poignant and illuminating stories by one of your finest writers. The friendship between Wolfgang Schmidt and Mac Wilkins, which has survived political harassment, geographical separation and even Schmidt's imprisonment, is a reminder of the real goals and benefits of Olympic competition.
LANDY ANDERTON Raleigh, N.C.
SOAP BOX DERBY
Frank Deford captured the heart and essence of Akron and its relationship with the Soap Box Derby (Real Boys, Aug. 1). Everyone here knows when it's Derby week (especially those of us who work downtown; all day Monday the champs arrive with sirened police escorts), and it's a source of pride for Akronites. Thanks, Frank. We all need to be reminded what "sport" was meant to be.
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Oh, nostalgia! I grew up in the nearby town of Tallmadge and was on Tallmadge Hill with my father for those early All-American Derbies. A big thrill in my youth was racing at Derby Downs in 1940 in the local contest. After World War II, I volunteered as an usher at the Derby for several years, and one of my old snapshots shows Jimmy Stewart racing in the "jet equipped" car you pictured. Thanks for the memories.
WILLIAM B. SHREVE
August 28, 1988
Frank Deford gave us an insightful look at a wonderful tradition. Having grown up in Akron, I can attest that the Midwest remains not only a wonderful place to live and to build a future for a family but also "the one true place for boys"...including Tom Sawyer.
U.S. House of Representatives
Steve Wulf's article on American beizbol in the Soviet Union (The Russians Are Humming, July 25) brought back memories. In the summer of 1967, while I was serving as an assistant Air Force attachè in Moscow, the American embassy rented a large soccer field in Lenin Stadium for two hours each Saturday morning for eight weeks. There we laid out a regulation Little League baseball diamond. The bases, as well as about a dozen bats, two dozen baseballs, a dozen gloves and other equipment, were all donated by several Little League baseball teams in Fairfax, Va., where I had lived and coached in 1965 and '66.
My wife, my son and I, plus a few embassy Marine guards, were the coaches, trainers and umpires. We invited the children of American, Canadian, British, Australian, Indian, French and Swedish diplomats, businessmen and TV and newspaper correspondents to participate. Boys and girls from six through 12 played. We had a rule that no one could strike out or walk. Every batter hit the ball somewhere. Little by little, curious Russian children and adults came to watch, and finally we coaxed a few Russian youngsters to play. They could hit and catch the ball fairly well, but had difficulty fielding and throwing the ball. In our next to last game, one team completed a double play. It wasn't anything like Tinker to Evers to Chance, but it was Clarke (Great Britain) to Smith (U.S.) to Nickoliaev (U.S.S.R.), and it resulted in a five-minute celebration.
Unfortunately, our attempt at Little League baseball in Moscow lasted only one year because we could not afford to pay $125 a week for the use of the field for only two hours. I hope one of those Russian children who played beizbol with us 21 years ago now has a son playing on one of the Soviet teams.
COL. LEON G. MARK, USAF (RET.)
Last January I was in Moscow on a musical tour through the U.S.S.R. and Poland. One evening, after I had made a late-night visit to Red Square, my bus back to the hotel swung through the Dynamo sports complex, past the hockey arena, gymnastics center and the indoor, glass-walled soccer field, where the lights were on. A beizbol game was in full swing. Midnight baseball on a winter's night in Moscow—my homesickness was cured.
Steve Wulf indicates that "designated hitter" is in the Russian vocabulary but does not mention whether the Soviets have actually adopted the DH. If not, their game is un-American—American League, that is.
•The Soviets do use the naznachenniy byuschiy.—ED.
As a 14-year-old aspiring bicycle racer, I was deeply dismayed to read of Pedro Delgado's drug use in the sport's most prestigious race (On the Tour de Farce, Aug. 1). I feel that if the man wearing le maillot jaune tests positive for a steroid-masking substance, he should not be riding in the race at all, much less as the leader. Yet that does not make it right for you to call the most demanding event in all athletics the "Tour de Farce." Give credit where credit is due. One hundred fifty other riders also finished the Tour.
I read the article in total disbelief. Not disbelief of the Pedro Delgado drug controversy, but disbelief that a publication of your caliber would consider three mediocre columns of "biker-bashing" to be coverage of a 21-day, world-class event. There are approximately 200 banned substances on the Tour. For instance, a dose of the over-the-counter medication NyQuil contains enough pseudoepinephrine for disqualification. Alexander Wolff's leading line portrays a drug-driven cyclist weaving past a finish line. That simply wasn't so. I am glad that professional cycling takes itself seriously enough to constantly test for drugs.
Yorba Linda, Calif.
I am saddened and angered that SI could find nothing better to report about the world's greatest bicycle race than that the eventual winner was accused of violating the International Cycling Union's banned substance list. Delgado tested positive for traces of probenecid, a substance not yet banned by the UCI. As opposed to what your subtitle says, he did not fail a drug test, he passed it. I don't condone drug use, but the fact is, Delgado played by the rules and won.
You stated that Delgado "wouldn't be taking probenecid for any reason other than to hide steroid use, unless he had gout...." While this drug is used to treat gout, and can mask the use of anabolic steroids, it is also used to enhance the effects of penicillin and other antibiotics. The only way to be sure why Delgado would be taking probenecid would be to ask his doctor.
Your photo caption on page 69 of the July 25 issue (The Old Men and the Discus) did a disservice to some of the greatest throwers in U.S. track and field history by referring to them as "among others." Please identify those greats.
Citrus Heights, Calif.
•They are, from left to right, discus thrower Mike Buncic, hammer throwers Ken Flax and Ed Burke, shot-putter Al Feuerbach, discus throwers Wolfgang Schmidt and Paul Blissard, shot-putter Brian Oldfield, Paraguayan junior discus thrower Ramon Jimenez, shot-putter August Wolf, shot-putter-discus thrower Mike Weeks, and discus throwers Mac Wilkins and John Powell.—ED.
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