Aug. 25, 1997
Aug. 25, 1997

Table of Contents
Aug. 25, 1997

Faces In The Crowd
College Football 97



This is an article from the Aug. 25, 1997 issue

Gwynn is one of a handful of millionaire athletes who seem
underpaid for what they bring to a city and a sport.

San Diego's Tony Gwynn is indeed "the best hitter since Ted
Williams" (Bat Man, July 28). Maybe one day Little Leaguers will
pattern their game after his line-drive, spray-hitting style in
place of the low-average, frequent-strikeout style of power
hitters. Gwynn's off-the-field activities and clean image make
him the West Coast's ambassador of baseball.
JOSH SMITH, Westminster, Md.

I think we can agree that Tony Gwynn is the best hitter since
Ted Williams if we can also agree that hitting a single is as
good as hitting a homer.
JACK SELZER, University Park, Pa.

It is not necessary to have the highest batting average to
produce the most runs, and baseball's currency is runs, not
hits. On-base percentage and slugging percentage measure the
"how often" and "how much" far better than batting average.
Entering this season, Gwynn was not among the top 10 active
players in either category. A more persuasive case for "the best
hitter since Ted Williams" can be made for Frank Thomas of the
White Sox, who leads all active players in both on-base and
slugging percentages.

Your article loses all credibility when the method you use to
determine great hitters puts Willie Keeler way ahead of Babe
Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
TED JACKSON, Terre Haute, Ind.

Somewhere in a discussion about home-runs-to-strikeout ratio
there should be a mention of Joe DiMaggio, who had more home
runs than strikeouts seven times in his career. Had he not
played his final year with injuries, he would have ended his
career with more homers than strikeouts. As it was, he was only
eight over. During his famous 56-game hitting steak, he struck
out only seven times.
JOHN O. HERBOLD II Baseball Coach
Cal State-Los Angeles

Your "bat control freaks" box listed only Gwynn and the four
most recent hitters to have more home runs than strikeouts in a
season, but I wish you could have gone farther back in time to
include Tommy Holmes of the Boston Braves. In 1945, Holmes led
the major leagues with 28 home runs while striking out only nine
times in 636 at bats. Incredible!
JERRY H. GREGORY, Annandale, Va.


The proposed league realignment, eliminating 121 years of
baseball history and tradition (SCORECARD, July 21), would be
the last straw in a long line of crushing blows to baseball
fans. My father and I are both Yankees fans. His is the Gehrig
and DiMaggio era, and mine is the Munson and Mattingly era. We
talk about sharing our appreciation of baseball with my kids,
but baseball seems determined to kill my love of the game.
HENRY PIERZ JR., Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Here's one fan who is wholeheartedly in favor of the plan to
realign baseball into geographical divisions (SCORECARD, July
21). The logic is so obvious it's a wonder baseball owners are
even considering it. True, rivalries are not automatically
created by realignment, but they would grow. Why not have the
fans vote on this idea? Imagine doing something because the fans
wanted it.
STEVEN CHAPPELL, North Syracuse, N.Y.

The old system has served baseball well for more than 100 years.
A new, more geographically logical system could serve baseball
well for the next 100 years.


As a longtime East Coast surfer, I can tell Jack McCallum that
jet skis are reviled by watermen everywhere (POINT AFTER, July
21), not only because this motorized flotsam is typically
piloted by yahoos who are a hazard to boaters and swimmers
alike, but also because the high-pitched whine of their engines
and the acrid smoke they emit are exactly the sorts of things we
had hoped to escape at the shore. McCallum's right to "push my
start button and feel the wind in my face" shouldn't impinge on
everybody else's freedom to enjoy a day at the beach.

B/W PHOTO: CORBIS-BETTMANN The overlooked Holmes was a master with the bat. [Tommy Holmes]