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Truth is stranger than fiction. Thank you and Gary Smith for
bringing to light the touching and amazing story of John
PAUL AMIN, Staten Island, N.Y.


Gary Smith's Damned Yankee (Oct. 13) is the best magazine
writing I have ever read. I have made a career of writing books,
more than 100, including as-told-to autobiographies of Hank
Aaron, Brett Butler, Orel Hershiser, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan
and many others. SI has always been a source of great writing,
but the story of John Malangone is a cut above. I read it with a
lump in my throat that's still there.

It's wonderful that Malangone is coming to terms with his
childhood tragedy, but it's sad that he suffered needlessly for
so many years.

In the late 1960s John was a member of the legendary Bronx
Yankees, a sandlot baseball team. As an opponent (although I
later also played for the Bronx Yankees), I can recall marveling
at John's physical skills while I puzzled over some of his weird
antics on the diamond. How revealing to learn of the terrible
demon that was the source of his actions.

Had John Malangone been a player today, he would have had access
to a team psychologist or psychiatrist. Unfortunately, he played
in the 1950s.
H.H. SCHNEPPER, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Gary Smith's story may revolve around a photo of youth and
promise (John Malangone with Mickey Cochrane and Bill Dickey). I
believe, however, that the picture that is worth more than a
thousand words is the recent one, taken by Gregory Heisler, of
an older Malangone, whose face reveals broken dreams and
unrealized expectations.
SCOTT L. GOLDEN, West Orange, N.J.


How appropriate that your preview of the Philadelphia Flyers
shows Eric Lindros high-sticking Bob Rouse of the Detroit Red
Wings (NHL SCOUTING REPORTS, Oct. 6). Lindros may be one of the
most gifted players in the NHL, but he is also one of its
leading cheap-shot artists. It's a shame we see the thug on the
ice nearly as often as the superstar.
MARK MANSFIELD, Olympia, Wash.

In selecting the top three bodycheckers, you overlooked Bryan
(Mush) Marchment of the Edmonton Oilers. Every forward keeps at
least one eye on Mush whenever he's on the ice. And among the
three picks for top shot blocker, you should have mentioned
Kevin Lowe of the Oilers, who has played in more than 1,250
games. No player sacrifices his body more than Lowe does.
JASON GABERT, Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta


Your article on Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys' rushing woes
(Bottomed Out? Oct. 13) inadvertently brought out the truth.
Smith is the most overrated running back in football. Dashing
through truck-sized holes is easy. The true test of a back is
running behind an average line; that's when a back's strength,
elusiveness and determination separate the great ones from the
rest. Obviously Smith falls short. Ask Walter Payton.

So Smith has lost a step? Well, he was never that fast. The
reason he was the 17th pick in the 1990 draft was that slow 40
time (4.55). No, the big problem with the Cowboys' running game
is offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese's predictable
play-calling. Zampese, the line and quarterback Troy Aikman have
failed to make defenses pay for their constant blitzing.
KREN GASPARIAN, Glendale, Calif.

The main reason for the decline of the rushing of the Cowboys
and Emmitt Smith is the new rule that says a player may not
remove his helmet after a play. Smith figures that if he can't
be seen on TV without his helmet as soon as he crosses the goal
line, running for the end zone just isn't worth the effort.
ANTHONY GRAVES, Gilbert, Ariz.

COLOR PHOTO: MARK BUCKNER [Tony Twist in fight]


Leaving Tony Twist of the St. Louis Blues (above) off your list
of top NHL fighters is absurd. His great balance, vicious right
hand and relentless brutality make him the league's most feared