In your article about the disappearing wooden bat (End of an Era, July 24), an engineer for the Hillerich & Bradsby company said that aluminum bats can have the same basic characteristics as wooden bats except for their handles. If this is so, what's the big deal? Players won't complain about the quality of the bats as much, and teams won't have to order dozens of bats. "Ping" may not be such a bad sound after all.
As a high school and American Legion pitcher, I have always pitched to batters who used aluminum bats. Many times I've had line drives hit at me. Unless I were given a protective screen on the mound, I cannot imagine facing a Jose Canseco, a Jack Clark or a Kevin Mitchell swinging aluminum.
Camp Hill, Pa.
Real men use wood.
Although I will not be happy when the big leagues finally go to metal, I have a suggestion concerning the timing of the switch. Baseball uses the year 1900 to denote the beginning of the modern era, ignoring statistics from 1899 and earlier when comparing players' accomplishments. If the switch from wood to metal must happen, I suggest it be made effective as of the 2000 season, thus closing the books on 100 years of what will have to be renamed the wood era.
My husband and I have enjoyed Jack McCallum's series An American Summer (July 10 et seq.). However, in his account of his adventures in Spearfish, S.Dak. (A Vacation from a Vacation, July 31), he wonders if other schools make fun of Spearfish High's name. Is he kidding? Spearfish's rivals live in places like Deadwood and Lead!
NANCY L. REMINGTON
I enjoyed Jack McCallum's description of the Casper (Wyo.) Classic Bicycle Race (Joy Ride, July 17). However, he talked about Casper's not being known for anything. The Casper Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps has performed throughout the country and is among the best-loved drum corps in America.
When Greg LeMond (Vive LeMond! July 31) won the Tour de France three years ago, he was brash and cocky, the wonderboy of cycling. He was barely willing to acknowledge even a stage victory by defending champion Bernard Hinault, who finished second. Hinault's successes during that race were followed by LeMond's excuses and complaints. It seemed that LeMond's talent would be overshadowed by his infantilism.
Since then he has overcome physical and emotional setbacks, and his 1989 Tour performance speaks for itself. His interviews were gracious, warm and—most noticeably—humble. He championed the efforts of his chief rivals, Laurent Fignon and Pedro Delgado, while sprinkling bits of hope that his best was yet to come. In a world in which athletes stalk playing fields with egos larger than France itself, it is refreshing to see someone of LeMond's physical ability flex his newly found emotional strength.
LeMond should be wearing the yellow leader's jersey in the race for SI's 1989 Sportsman of the Year.
I had a Texas-sized lump in my throat after finishing Nicholas Dawidoff's article on Kokernot Field, The Best Little Ballpark in Texas (or Anywhere Else), in your July 31 issue. The story and the beautiful illustrations by C.F. Payne brought back what summertime baseball on the local level should be.
The hopes of Herbert Kokernot Jr. (Mr. Herbert) must surely be fulfilled now that his field is back in shape and in almost constant use. This is a real "Field of Dreams."
JAMES CLAY HEITKOTTER
So many times I've thought, This is the best article SI has ever had, and then you top that story a while later with a better one. But you are going to have to bring out the big guns to beat The Best Little Ballpark. I hurried to an atlas to see where Alpine, Texas, is located.
Arnolds Park, Iowa
ART AND THE BAT
After reading Peter Gammons's article on the phasing out of the wooden bat in favor of aluminum, I couldn't help but think of a painting I made for my father, an avid Oakland A's fan, as a present for Father's Day last year. In my eyes, the painting (right) exemplifies the exact moment when a slugger gets hold of the ball. An aluminum "ping" just doesn't cut it.
MIKE (MOE) MERELL
COURTESY MIKE MERELL
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