Bravo for your article about the troubles baseball is facing (Sign of the Times, May 3). Although baseball's long-term future depends on owners and players sitting down together and doing what's best for the game, the boredom issue could be resolved tomorrow: no more batters stepping out of the batter's box after every pitch, and no more pitchers walking off the mound after every pitch. There is no reason why a pitcher couldn't average a pitch every 10 seconds (watch Melido Perez of the New York Yankees sometime).
You need only look at the commissioner's office to find the crux of baseball's problems. Fay Vincent was forced out, which precipitated a never-ending struggle to find his replacement. Success in any organization begins at the top, with competence, integrity, responsibility and optimism. I guess the ultimate sign of the times is Reggie Jackson's doing an NBA commercial during the playoffs in which he says, "I love this game."
THOMAS J. LOFARO
Villa Park, Calif.
You nicked around the edges of baseball's problem—greedy and tarnished players, the popularity of other sports, player strikes, long and boring games—but television, specifically cable TV, is the major culprit. TV helped to drive up salaries and to popularize more exciting sports and stars, and it made sure everyone knew when Jose Canseco and other ballplayers acted up.
Baseball needs a new commissioner. Has anyone called Joe DiMaggio to see if he would be interested?
After reading your article I was curious to know whom my five- and eight-year-old sons considered their favorite baseball players. I was pleased when they said Robin Yount and Ozzie Smith.
Your article made me think of Joe Jackson's line in the movie Field of Dreams: "Shoot, I'd a played for nothing." Can you imagine any player today saying that?
It's pretty sad when the children of today must look back to the 1940s for a hero.
NICK MCVICKER JR.
Apache Junction, Ariz.
Many fans are staying away from baseball because a growing number of major league players are not major league talent as we once knew it. For example, even with the warning tracks in the outfield and the peach-basket-sized gloves, many players fail to make routine plays.
You make it sound as if the future of baseball depends on how well it is marketed. Baseball will be around long after we're sick of the current Shaq commercials. And if members of the MTV generation find the game boring, then I can only pity them. Face it: To enjoy baseball, you have to have a concentration span longer than 90 seconds.
The story made baseball sound as if it's in a nosedive, when the Colorado Rockies are on pace to break the major league attendance record of 4,028,318 set last season by the Toronto Blue Jays, and when the San Francisco Giants hosted the expansion Florida Marlins in a season opener that attracted the biggest crowd (56,689) ever to see a regular-season game at Candlestick Park.
Career to Cover
Your cover photograph of Joe DiMaggio raises a question: What is the longest period of time to elapse between the end of an athlete's career and his appearance on your cover? DiMaggio appeared 42 years after he retired. Babe Ruth was on the March 18, 1974, cover, 39 years after he quit playing. Do you know of any larger gaps between retirements and cover appearances?
JOHN H. GILLETTE
Mountain View, Calif.
•The record for a regular issue does indeed belong to DiMaggio, but a close second is Jess Willard, who was on our Jan. 13, 1964, cover, 41 years after his last fight. The illustration depicts Jack Dempsey punching Willard during their controversial heavyweight title bout on July 4, 1919. (Dempsey, by the way, had not fought for 37 years when this cover appeared.) Red Grange was on the Fall 1991 cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED CLASSIC, 57 years after his final game.—ED.
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