I am a recent Harvard graduate so it pains me to say it, but Yalie Bart Giamatti (A Gentleman and a Scholar, April 17) seems to be a gift from above to major league baseball. He is right on target in expressing dismay with spectator conduct.
Certainly, fans have the right to register their disapproval of what happens on the field, but as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., a Harvard man, said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Added another Harvard man, John F. Kennedy, "Civility is not a sign of weakness."
Being a gentleman and a scholar is commendable, but neither of these acquired traits should be prerequisites for a baseball commissioner. Giamatti's only qualification is that he is a fan—albeit one with a penchant for wordy romanticism and phony moralizing about a sport whose brightest stars have often been bums with talent. People love the game simply because it's hardball. It doesn't heed intellectuals explaining its cosmic relevance. To my mind, no wordsmith has ever been able to capture the perfect symmetry of a box score.
Kew Gardens Hills, N.Y.
Giamatti's position that society is best served by our grouping together like lemmings to watch other people exercise is patently absurd. The self-disciplined solitary jogger he fears actually represents society's brightest hope. While the rather rotund Giamatti will probably be good for baseball and certainly will be a hero to America's couch potatoes, I suggest that he stop worrying about independent individuals who would rather participate in sports than watch them.
La Jolla, Calif.
May 21, 1989
Giamatti needs to be educated about the average fan. You remember him. After spending $40 for tickets at Yankee Stadium for seats that aren't that good and paying $4 to park the car, a family of four proceeds to the concession stand, where it finds that hot dogs are $2.50 apiece (four, please), sodas $2 (two, please) and beer $3 (two, please). Twenty dollars later the family is in its seats. The son wants a yearbook ($5, please) and a score book ($1.50, please), and the daughter wants a cap ($8.50, please). Add another round of food and drinks and the afternoon has cost nearly $100. That would pay for five months of watching the Yankees on cable TV.
Your feature on baseball lives (Reflections on the Game, April 24) brings the game, which has lost much of its personality, back into human perspective. In particular, Andy Strasberg's tribute to Roger Maris moved me. Maris never won the hearts of fans the way Mantle did with his country boy charm, but we fans obviously didn't know Maris as his friends did. I'm grateful for the special memories Strasberg shared with us.
Strasberg's account of his relationship with Maris is a breath of fresh air. I plan to save the article for my kids, because Strasberg is the kind of fan I would like them to be. I just hope there will be plenty of players like Maris to return the friendship.
DAVID J. DWYER
Strasberg's recollections about Maris were special. That Maris has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame is one of the great injustices in sports. The tandem of Ruth and Gehrig cast a mystical aura over the game. The tandem of Maris and Mantle did the same.
This poignant piece took me back to a time of innocence when, instead of being part of investment portfolios, baseball cards were flipped, traded or used to make music in our bicycle spokes.
CLIFTON G. SCAGGS
I found your article on the Masters (Jolly Good Show, April 17) to be in bad taste. The comment "Scott Hoch (rhymes with choke)" shows little class. Hoch demonstrated a tremendous amount of courage and poise to make the four-foot putt that followed the 24-incher he missed.
I noticed that in the design that appeared at the top of each page of your story on Bart Giamatti, the purple rectangle encloses the symbol of a baseball and four letters of Giamatti's name: AMAT (left). As every Latin student knows, amat translates into "he loves." Thus, your design says, "He loves baseball." What could be more appropriate for this scholar and baseball commissioner?
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