As I read Rick Reilly's article on Reggie Jackson (That's Not All, Folks, March 31), I thought about the fact that big-name baseball players often seem to overstay their welcome. I know that they can't stand leaving the game after all their terrific years, but it mars their legendary careers and destroys our images of them for them to hang on too long.
Rod Carew stayed too long and Tommy John is trying to do the same thing. I live near Baltimore, and I saw Brooks Robinson play until he could barely bend at the waist. He finally bowed out in '77. Jim Palmer waited until '84 before quitting, while his last decent year was '82.
Wouldn't it be neat if our heroes would retire when they were still at the top? Then no one would remember them as anything but legends.
Owings Mills, Md.
I have long been a Reggie fan, so I hope Gene Mauch will wake up and put Reggie back in rightfield where he belongs. What he contributes on offense while playing that position more than makes up for anything he lacks defensively. My hat's off to you, Reggie; baseball needs a lot more people like you.
If there is a drink to be stirred in Anaheim this baseball season, you can bet the farm that Reggie Jackson will be the straw that does it. He may be pushing 40, but there is not a more exciting player in the major leagues.
I can't speak for Jackson, but I know that I'd rather be the DH for any team than have a mongoose in my sleeping bag! Reilly never fails to make me laugh. Thanks for a fine article on a great player.
THE BIRD'S BIG YEAR
I just finished Gary Smith's article on Mark Fidrych (The Bird Fell To Earth, April 7) and I can't tell you how much it affected me. What Mark did for the city of Detroit in the summer of '76 is something I can't fully put into words. As much fun as we Detroiters had in 1984, it didn't equal the fun we had watching Mark play ball that magical year.
I feel that there should be some kind of niche created for Mark in the Hall of Fame, telling the world about that very special person and season. It would be a great gesture on the part of baseball to give back to Mark some of the magic that he gave all of us. I wish him the best of luck in everything he takes on for the rest of his life.
KEVIN R. CRAVEN
Thank you for the bittersweet story about the Bird. I still remember the excitement of seeing Fidrych in action at Tiger Stadium. Although Mark's fame was fleeting, he made the mediocre Tigers worth watching, and a then 13-year-old boy a baseball fan for life. Thanks, Bird!
West Bloomfield, Mich.
There aren't many sports articles that suggest a movie script, but Smith's story is definitely movie material. Now if only Fidrych's dream of making it back to the majors would come true. Wow, what an ending!
DENNIS M. TERRONE
THE FINAL FOUR
Congratulations to Curry Kirkpatrick on a most enjoyable article (Memories, March 31) about past Final Fours. His recollections support my contention that the NCAA basketball tournament is the best sporting event of all. Now that this year's college season is over, I will enjoy the NBA championship series, the World Series and the Super Bowl. But deep down I will be waiting for March 1987, when the truly greatest show on earth starts up again, in New Orleans, and another chapter of memories can be written.
Basketball has contributed so much enjoyment to my life. And the writers who tell of the game have added immeasurably to the impact. Of the many scribes who come to my mind, your Curry Kirkpatrick stands out as the unquestioned dean. What a trip down memory lane!
In reading Kirkpatrick's fine article about Final Four memories, I had to suppress a scream of dismay at the drawing of Wilt Chamberlain. Heaven forbid, you had the great University of Kansas star wearing (gasp!) purple! Horrors!
As any KU fan will tell you, that ghastly color is worn by another team in our fine state—archrival Kansas State (Silo Tech). Chamberlain wore the regal colors, crimson and blue.
SARAH A. DUCKERS
WOMAN OF ACTION
As a female judo player who has been in the sport for 22 years—and who remembers only too well having to dress in a broom closet—I applaud Gary Smith for his article on Rusty Kanokogi (Rumbling With Rusty, March 24). At last Rusty has been given the recognition she deserves for getting women's judo out of the closet and into the 1988 Olympics, even if only as a demonstration sport.
Twenty-two years ago, women judo players were not taken seriously by anybody—and there were no official competitions for women because of that fact. But today, because of the tremendous efforts of this beautiful "classic maniac," women in judo can look forward to competing in national, international and world class competition.
Rusty had the tremendous energy, drive and narrow sense of purpose that it took to get us where we are now. Her achievements will endure, while those who opposed her will simply fade away.
Second-degree Black Belt
I have been one of those fortunate enough to take a self-defense/judo class from Rusty Kanokogi. I can testify to her importance as a role model for women's judo and women's sports in general. I can also testify to the qualities she instills in those of us in her classes: a sense of our own possibilities, strength, will and confidence.
With her wonderful sense of humor, her gift as a storyteller and her seemingly endless supply of encouragement, Rusty gave courage even to the timid among us. She is not only a fighter, and a woman ahead of her time, but also that rare person who can impart her gifts to others.
New York City
While attending the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, I had Ryohei Kanokogi as an instructor in a self-defense class. Some native New Yorkers shared that class, and they always said, "If you think Kanokogi is tough, you should see his wife!" Now I know what they were talking about.
MAUREEN A. MCKEEVER
This is an indignant reply to Bill Brooks's indignant, self-moralizing letter concerning the Seton Hall point-shaving scandal (19TH HOLE, April 7).
Did he read the entire article? The black players repeatedly refused the gamblers' point-shaving offers until the name-calling incident occurred. Obviously, the use of the word "nigger" strikes no sensitive nerve in Brooks.
Brooks's letter confirms my lifelong hypothesis that casual racial remarks are regarded as evil only by the victims—or perhaps the former Seton Hall tri-captain refuses to speak out against such remarks for fear of being considered a do-gooder.
Then again, maybe I'm being too hard on Brooks. In a society in which a team in our nation's capital is called the Redskins, I doubt if Brooks even stands a Chinaman's chance of realizing the amount of casual racial language that has found its way into the American vernacular.
I am replying to a letter (19TH HOLE, March 24) from my neighbor in Kansas City, Jack Meyers, who pointed out that Bret Saberhagen is about to receive $925,000 for the season, more than all the major league players combined received in 1911.
Such comparisons are amusing but fail to take into consideration two important points: inflation and productivity. Concerning the former, by using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (for which 1967 serves as the base year), we discover that $925,000 now was worth about $85,000 then.
Still, no one received $85,000 in those days; indeed it is probable that few received one-tenth of that amount. But we must also consider productivity. Baseball players are production workers in the entertainment business. How many people were entertained then as compared with now?
With the advent of larger playing facilities, radio, television, videotape machines, etc., it is clear that the number of persons Saberhagen can entertain is vastly higher than the number entertained by his counterpart of 75 years ago. My hunch is that, compared with the salaries of the old days, Saberhagen might be a bargain.
JAMES L. WARNER
Shawnee Mission, Kans.
ONE ARM DAILY
In capsulizing the plot of the ABC made-for-TV film A Winner Never Quits—The Pete Gray Story (FIRST PERSON, March 31), Armen Keteyian refers to Gray as "the only one-armed ballplayer to reach the majors." Taking nothing away from Gray's achievement, there has been at least one other one-armed player in the majors. Hugh Daily played in the National League for four years from 1882 until 1886. He was known as One Arm Daily; in fact, league statistics of his day list him as O. Daily rather than H. Daily. In 1884, while playing in the short-lived Union League, he pitched 500 innings and had 483 strikeouts—not a bad record for a one-armed man in any league.
•That's right. However, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Daily should have been called One Hand, instead of One Arm. His amputation—the result of a gun accident—occurred at the left wrist.—ED.
I find it hard to believe that there is anyone in figure skating more enchanting than Katarina Witt. Yet E.M. Swift says in your March 31 issue (Cashing In On The Collywobbles) that the mantle of "the most enchanting champion in skating" has been passed to 14-year-old Ekatarina Gordeeva, Soviet pairs skater. Would you please print a picture of her so that I may see for myself?
Winner, S. Dak.
•Gladly. Here she is with her partner, Sergei Grinkov.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.