Track and Field Trials
Dan O'Brien's status and fitness were demonstrated in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials by his world-record pace on the first day, which included a personal best in the shot put, and by his pole vault of more than 16 feet during warmups (Dan & Dave: NOT!, July 6). His presence in Barcelona promised a challenge to the world record. Without him the Olympic decathlon loses much of its luster.
A trial shortly before the Olympics is a good way to help determine which athletes are ready, but the nondiscretionary use of the results to exclude a champion who had demonstrated his readiness is ridiculous. To reduce so drastically the stature of a key Olympic event for tens of thousands of track followers seems incredible.
DASCOMB R. FORBUSH
For those who think there are no longer any heroes in the world of sport, your July 6 cover article (Pain and Progress) offers a convincing contradiction. Umpire Steve Palermo's story is heroic and inspirational. I consider booing the umpire to be a god-given right, but here is one ump for whom I am wholeheartedly cheering.
Salt Lake City
I was fully expecting to see a shot of Dan O'Brien's anquishing defeat on the cover, but instead I was greeted with an inspiring picture of Steve Palermo. If more publications highlighted the positive side of life rather than the negative, maybe we would be a more optimistic public and think about the remarkable achievements of the Palermos, Dave Draveckys and Mike Utleys.
MAY ANN LEE
Sierra Madre, Calif.
I have read terrific articles in SI over the years, but Rick Reilly's story about Toronto outfielder Dave Winfield ('I Feel a Whole Lot Better Now,' June 29) is a masterpiece. It was surprising, touching and inspiring. Thanks for the experience.
SI never met a rich, pampered athlete whose life it couldn't imbue with sentiment. The image of Winfield's 5'2" mother (what does her height have to do with anything?) fending off packs of wild dogs in the arctic cold of St. Paul sounds like a plot out of Soap Opera Digest. I'm sure if there had been more room, we would have learned how millionaire Winfield overcame the threat of drugs, guns, police oppression, Lyme disease, global warming, racism and unfair scholastic requirements—not to mention those vicious dogs—en route to his lavish life-style.
Rick Reilly's article about the deaths of Jerome Brown of the Eagles and Eric Andolsek of the Lions (Too Alive to Die, July 6) was a fitting tribute to two outstanding football players. Instead of concentrating on the shortcomings and excessive behavior of Brown, Reilly showed the man behind the image. Being from Louisiana, I remember watching Andolsek play at LSU. Both men will be sorely missed by fans as well as teammates.
SEAN ERIC MCGILL
I have long felt that something should be done about fighting in pro sports, and I agree wholeheartedly with Tim Kurkjian in INSIDE BASEBALL (July 6). Perhaps one way to decrease participation in these brawls would be to suspend, effective immediately at the end of the fight, anyone who leaves the dugout to join the fray—including coaches. I would also suspend any player who leaves his position on the field lo take part in a brawl.
Levying a $5,000 fine on a player who makes $1 million a year is silly. Why not increase the minimum fine to $25,000 or use a percentage system, say 1% to 3% of a player's salary? Such penalties might prove better deterrents than a $5,000 fine.
KEN W. COAN
Gibson and the Grays
In reading your article about the old Negro baseball leagues, Remembering Their Game (July 6), I was interested to learn that almost every player spoke about the feared Homestead Grays. Please tell us more about the team and the Gray who scared everyone with his great play, Josh Gibson. A picture would be nice, too.
•Gibson, a catcher, performed for the Homestead Grays (who played home games in Forbes Field and were named for an industrial area outside of Pittsburgh) from 1930 to '33, '37 to '40, and '42 to '46. Between '37 and '45 the Grays won nine straight Negro National League pennants. Since the leagues didn't keep complete records and Gibson played in semipro as well as Negro league games, there are few stats that accurately reflect his formidable career, though by one accounting he had a lifetime batting average of .354. Whatever his numbers may have been, Gibson, who was known as the Brown Bambino, is considered to have been the leagues' best hitter.—ED.
PERRY CRAGG/LIFE MAGAZINE
Gibson, named to the Hall of Fame in 1972, spent a total of 13 years with the Grays.
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