Once again your baseball issue was sensational, but the photograph of the old Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., was extra special (The Anywhere Game, April 15). I lived in Pulaski from 1972 to '80. I played Little League at Calfee, caught my first foul ball during a Pulaski Phillies game and even had a ball signed by the legendary Bob Feller when he visited this piece of Americana.
This is an article from the May 20, 1991 issue
I guess my fondest memory of Calfee involved football: As an eighth-grade defensive lineman for the Pulaski Middle School Orioles, I snatched a handoff from the opposing 5'3" quarterback and lumbered 50 yards for a touchdown—on my 12th birthday.
Joe McNally's picture brought back some great moments and reminded me that baseball is still just a game. Thanks for the memories.
DANIEL C. GLOSTER
When I was a 10-year-old tomboy, my dad and I used to go to Calfee to see the Pulaski Phillies play. I don't recall much about the games, but I remember that we kids chased after foul balls that went over the backstop and into the bushes and trees on the hill behind home plate. If you were lucky enough to find one of these foul balls and grab it, you then had to avoid the teenager who had been hired by the team to retrieve them. I don't remember ever coming up with one of these prize baseballs, but the thrill was in the chase.
Today, Calfee Park is home to the Pulaski Braves, who have helped launch the careers of such major league players as Steve Avery, Jeff Blauser, Dave Justice and Mike Stanton.
JANE E. MCMILLAN
The Star Quality
I read with interest William F. Reed's article Fading Fast (April 22), about the waning of American thoroughbred racing. However, I believe he failed to account for a key factor in horse racing's malaise, the loss of the nongambling or casual fan, the person who merely wants to see great animal athletes compete against each other. That fan has been lost because of the scarcity of top-flight racing matchups.
Which was the last horse we could put in a class with War Admiral, Citation, Count Fleet, Native Dancer, Swaps, Ruffian and Secretariat? Probably Spectacular Bid, who hasn't run for 10 years. In the sport's halcyon days, there were more good horses who competed for more seasons. Today most of the best horses race only through their third or fourth year. This is like a human athlete retiring at 20 or 22. Anytime a great horse is prematurely retired to stud or to become a broodmare, horse racing suffers because it loses more of those fans who primarily want to see star horses.
Another sad development is the virtual disappearance of the 1½-mile race in this country. In my book, a horse can't be considered great unless he or she has won at that distance.
PAUL R. RATLIFF
Your SCORECARD about baseball in Romania (April 22) made me think of a conversation I had recently with Mike Bogdan, a friend who lives in Cluj-Napoca in the heart of Transylvania in Romania. Mike was born in West Virginia to Romanian immigrant parents and played catcher on a local baseball team. When he was 15, his parents sent him to Romania to attend high school. He remained in Romania and went on to become one of the country's leading professors of English language and literature. Bogdan last saw a major league baseball game in 1928, when Babe Ruth led the New York Yankees against his favorite team, the Cleveland Indians.
When I visited Mike in Cluj-Napoca in March, I spent a delightful evening trying to catch him up on some of the recent developments in his favorite sport. He had trouble believing that the Dodgers now play in Los Angeles and the Giants in San Francisco and that two recent World Series-winning teams were from Minnesota and Oakland. He was more than bewildered when I told him about the designated-hitter rule in the American League. And his reaction to my description of the current prominence of the relief pitcher was "It isn't fair!"
ROY K. BIRD
A Memorable Start
When I came across the picture of Calfee Park in The Anywhere Game (April 15), I was surprised to recognize it as the place where I made my first professional start. It was July 24, 1982, and this 20-year-old southpaw from rural Ebson, Kans., was about to begin living his dream. My team, the Elizabethton (Tenn.) Twins, were in Pulaski, Va., for a twin bill against the hometown Braves, and I was to pitch the opener. I was practically overflowing with anxiety.
That muggy, overcast day turned out to be a splendid one for me. After struggling through the first inning, giving up a walk but no runs, I went on to beat the Braves 7-0. My first start—and a shutout to boot. (As it it turned out, it would be our only shutout of the season.) By the way, I got the final out on a pop fly to our centerfielder, who was a fair player by the name of Kirby Puckett.
MARTIN J. HESTING
•Hesting had a pro career that lasted two years, both of which were spent with the Elizabethton Twins, in whose uniform he is pictured below. He now teaches physical education and health and coaches baseball at Newton High.—ED.
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.