Orel Hershiser was a great choice as Sportsman of the Year (Deep Roots. Dec. 19). Did you know that by scrambling the letters of his name you can spell out R (right) H (handed) SERIES HERO? The only letter not used is the L, for loss, something that Hershiser didn't experience much in 1988.
JAMES R. COONAN
The article states that after the Dodgers sent Hershiser back to Albuquerque at the start of the 1983 season, a frustrated and impatient Hershiser "didn't exactly blow the Pacific Coast League away.' " I was the pitching coach of the Albuquerque Dukes then, and I beg to differ.
That Hershiser, who's a sinkerball pitcher, put up the numbers he did pitching in Albuquerque's rarefied air (the city is 4,943 feet above sea level), which would tend to inhibit the sinking of his sinkerball; in a park with a hard infield, which would tend to allow more of the ground balls hit off his sinker to make it through to the outfield; and in a hitter's league was quite an accomplishment. Here are his 1983 statistics:
January 16, 1989
Orel's 4.09 ERA, which ranked him seventh in the league, his hits per inning pitched and his 16 saves are major league-caliber totals, albeit not portents of his 1988 performance. Note that he completed six of the 10 games he started. Late in the season. Dukes manager Del Crandall convinced the Dodgers that Orel would be better as a starter than as a reliever.
Albuquerque had other quality starters in 1983, and the Dodgers' starting rotation included Burt Hooten. Fernando Valenzuela, Jerry Reuss and Alejandro Pena. so it is little wonder that Hershiser did not make the big club at that time.
Orel, schmorel. Why not Steffi?
I know you can't please all of the people all of the time, but I think a lot of folks would have been more satisfied with Michael Jordan as Sportsman of the Year.
Calumet City, Ill.
Kirk Gibson a runner-up for Sportsman, but no recognition for Jose Canseco, the only member of the exclusive 40-40 club? Please!
ROGER PENSKE (CONT.)
I strongly disagree with the letter (Dec. 26-Jan. 2) maintaining that Roger Penske is so successful because he out-spends other racing teams. Penske does not beat his competitors by outspending them; he does it by outthinking them. He works hard and has the guts to make tough decisions, and then he spends the money necessary to back those decisions.
Penske has been involved in Indy racing for a long time, and he has always been superior. Once, in the 1960s, when Penske Racing was a fledgling team. Roger borrowed a radiator from a car in the parking lot so that his entry could finish. When Mark Donahue blew all the team's Cosworth engines at Indy in 1972 and things looked hopeless for the Penske team, Roger bought another team's spare engine so his car could compete. That was Indy win number 1 for Penske. In business and in racing. Penske's decades of excellence can't be faulted—or matched.
Short Hills, N.J.
Bil Gilbert's article about crows (Goodbye, Hello, Dec. 19) was hilarious, and the illustrations by Anita Kunz were classic whimsy.
Several years ago. while walking in Tennessee, I saw by the roadside a crow that was obviously tipsy, but not from crushing ants, as mentioned by Gilbert. This crow was quaffing from a broken but not completely empty whiskey bottle. The label, still intact, read old crow. Do you suppose...?
DEVILS ON ICE
In regard to your article on violence in the NHL (Blood and Ice, Dec. 5), I thought you and your readers would like to see (below) how the New Jersey Devils promoted themselves during the Christmas season.
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.