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Original Issue


It seems that John Rocker and Mets fans have met their match in
each other.
--TIM WILLIAMS, Sterling, Va.


Congratulations on saving the worst for last--ending the century
by introducing us to John Rocker (At Full Blast, Dec. 27-Jan.
3). A suggestion to Braves management: Take Rocker up on his
threat, trade him to the Mets and remind him of his promise that
he'd retire before playing in New York.
AL CHECHIK, Bayfield, Wis.

It's been said that without the existence of ugliness we could
never appreciate beauty. If that's true, Rocker is a gift to
professional sports. After reading three pages full of Rocker
rant, the rest of America's pro athletes don't seem that bad.
ROBERT A. MARSHALL, Corvallis, Ore.

The most frightening thing about the article was learning that
the state of Georgia lets this guy skulk around in the woods
with a gun.

I just discovered a valid reason why we should continue to fund
NASA's attempts to land on Mars: to send John Rocker there. One
DAVE W. DIAL, San Diego

I believe it was Mark Twain who said, "It is better to keep your
mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all
GEORGE F. LOSS, Elmhurst, Ill.

Hats off to Rocker for speaking his mind in a politically
correct society. I don't like him, but he's right about traffic
in Atlanta, the New York subway system and Mets fans at Shea
JOHN WILSON, Bradenton, Fla.

To those politically correct individuals who object to Mr.
Rocker's remarks: I wish you the good fortune of having one of
the fine, upstanding passengers on the number 7 train marry your
DAN GLARZ, Delray Beach, Fla.

I would rather hear what an athlete actually feels than listen
to someone giving canned, media-friendly quotes, then have him
turn around and say and act the opposite way with his friends.

Sure he's a jerk for his really stupid comments, but whatever
happened to freedom of speech?

Why are people so concerned about Rocker's comments? Sounds to
me like he's a Republican without a suit and tie and could have
a great future as a televangelist. Shucks, when he turns 35, he
can even become a presidential candidate for a fringe party.
Ain't America grand?
PATRICK J. MCCOOL, Lino Lakes, Minn.


I agree with your choice of Roger Bannister's four-minute mile
and Edmund Hillary's successful ascent of Mount Everest as the
two greatest sporting feats of the 20th century (Our Favorite
Feats, Dec. 27.-Jan. 3). While Sir Edmund might not wish to be
defined as such, he and Sir Roger are heroes for the glory of
their deeds and for the selfless and gentlemanly way in which
they have lived their lives.
NATHANIEL P. DEAN, Washington, D.C.

Grantland Rice would have been impressed by Frank Deford's
interweaving of the feats of Bannister and Hillary into one
poignant story. Deford's ability to paint a word picture was
matched by the lead photos by Bob Martin and Jeffrey Lowe. The
black-and-white shots of the era added the perfect touch.
BARRY BERTRAM, Campbellsville, Ky.

Although I was not born when those two events took place, I
consider myself lucky to be old enough to remember when athletes
and politicians presented an image, at least, of role-model
AARON SHROGIN, Santa Maria, Calif.

You did a disservice to Tenzing Norgay when you focused
primarily on Hillary in your favorite feats. An ascent of
Everest is one of those accomplishments in which the first is
impossible to name without insulting those who are also directly
involved. You could have used the climbing term on the rope,
which would have signaled that there was no first or second,
just one dedicated team.

There is an omission from your list, one that belongs in the top
five. One of the greatest feats in baseball history occurred on
May 26, 1959, when Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates threw
12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves, one of
baseball's best hitting clubs, only to lose 1-0 in the 13th
inning. Thirty-six up, 36 down! No one else has even come close.
JOHN OGLIORE, Kenmore, Wash.

Favorite feats of the century without Jesse Owens's dominating
the 1936 Olympics in Berlin?
LEE CARYER, Columbus, Ohio

To put Wayne Gretzky's 2,857 career points in perspective: One
would have to average 100 points for almost 29 seasons to break
Gretzky's record. If you think this is attainable, the NHL
record for most seasons played is 26 by Gordie Howe, and he
finished with 1,850 career points.

Here's one more feat for your list: Jim Thorpe's double gold
medal performance in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912
KARL GINTER, Carlisle, Pa.

In your favorite feat No. 14, Mark Spitz not only won seven gold
medals, but all seven were also world records. That makes his
feat all the more outstanding.
JON CHESLER, Cleveland

Thank you for putting at least one list together that does not
include Michael Jordan.
MIKE WISNER, Sugar Hill, Ga.


The superb article by Rick Reilly on boxer Billy Miske (THE LIFE
OF REILLY, Dec. 27-Jan. 3) showed that Miske had the compassion,
willpower and guts to help his family, and he fought bravely
although he had nothing left. I hope today's sports stars will
read the article and put their lives into perspective.

While your magazine did a fine job of reviewing this century's
greatest teams, athletes and moments, Reilly's piece on Miske
captured the essence of sport.
TIM SCHULER, Los Angeles


L. Jon Wertheim noted, with apparent disappointment, that the
Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki (Fast Developing, Jan. 10) "still
doesn't fit the mold of the modern pro athlete." Here's hoping
he never does! Nowitzki's "night on the town," at museums and
the symphony, will put him in better company than that kept by
most pro athletes. I hope Nowitzki influences his teammates,
rather than the other way around.


I am one of the 10,621 charter subscribers of SI still receiving
the magazine, as mentioned in your Dec. 27-Jan. 3 issue
(LETTERS). I have saved and preserved every issue, including the
premier issue of Aug. 16, 1954. The 2,400 magazines, including
special issues, are stored in 46 boxes in my basement. The 1954
box, of course, is only about one-third full. Collectors need
not contact me; the magazines are not for sale.
REVEREND FRANK J. MACK, Keithsburgh, Ill.

I remember your premier issue very well, as I am one of the
remaining charter subscribers. Those who make it to 50 years
should at least get a free year's worth of SI.


I enjoyed Leigh Montville's article about Tony Gonzalez of the
Chiefs (Chief Weapon, Dec. 27-Jan. 3). I, too, find Gonzalez to
be an incredible athlete and the prototype for the tight end of
the future. However, I take exception to the omission of Wesley
Walls from your shortlist of the NFL's top tight ends. Including
the game on Feb. 6, Walls will have played in four consecutive
Pro Bowls since joining the Panthers in 1996. He will have
started in three of them. This season he tied the league's
single-season record for the most touchdowns by a tight end,
with 12.
BRAD BUTER, Boulder, Colo.


Your article on Rae Carruth (First-Degree Tragedy, Dec. 27-Jan.
3) was fairly presented until it said that Rae's mom knew that
fugitives "often end up dead." Often means frequently, generally
or usually. Can't anyone resist cheap shots at the cops?
Thousands of fugitives are arrested annually without
incident--as was the case with Carruth. Rarely do they end up
Crossville, Tenn.


I applaud Danny Ainge's decision to retire from coaching (Inside
the NBA, Dec. 27-Jan. 3). He clearly has the desire to nurture,
teach, be a role model and instill respect and values, which
children need. Now he can focus on his own children rather than
the ones who play in the NBA.
TIM MCCAIN, Chesterfield, Mo.

I never liked Ainge as a player. As he put it, some people think
he was "the whiny guy who complained to the refs." But when I
read your story, I learned to respect him. He didn't quit; he
merely went back to the job he had before he became a coach.
JOSEPH P. GARYANTES, Fort Lewis, Wash.


Your Dec. 27-Jan. 3 issue was a sad study in contrasts. On
several well-written pages were the stories of two extraordinary
gentlemen, Roger Bannister and Edmund Hillary, who conducted
themselves in sport and life in exemplary fashion. In two other
articles were stories of shame and hatred, which displayed what
has happened in sports over the last few decades. Rae Carruth
and John Rocker should not have had the privilege of appearing
in the same issue as Bannister and Hillary.
PATTI ZINGALE, Cascade, Colo.

B/W PHOTO: MARK KAUFFMAN Marathon Man I think that Emil Zatopek's performance in the 1952 Olympics belongs among your feats. He entered three of the most grueling events in sports (the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon) and won them all. MICHAEL GOODWIN Sioux City, Iowa



Big East SEC

Clifford Robinson (UConn) SF Jamal Mashburn (Kentucky)
Jayson Williams (St. John's) PF Antonio McDyess (Alabama)
Alonzo Mourning (Georgetown) C Shaquille O'Neal (LSU, above)
Ray Allen (UConn) SG Allan Houston (Tennessee)
Allen Iverson (Georgetown, above) PG Jason Williams (Florida)
Dikembe Mutombo (Georgetown) 6th Antoine Walker (Kentucky)

Pick Six More

In your INSIDE THE NBA section (Jan. 10) you proposed an ACC-Big
10 challenge featuring current NBA players who played in those
conferences. I think a more entertaining game to watch would be
a Big East-SEC matchup. Which would prevail: the hot scorers
from the Big East's backcourt or the SEC's immovable frontcourt?
FELIPE J. ALCORTA, Coral Gables, Fla.