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Original Issue


Josh Jr. says he doesn't like people calling his father "the
black Babe Ruth." Perhaps Ruth should be called "the white
Josh Gibson."
--ERIC MARK, Paramus, N.J.

A Legend Resuscitated

Kudos to John Schulian on the wonderful article about Josh
Gibson (Laughing on the Outside, June 26). Most players in the
Negro leagues have been forgotten. Players such as Josh and
Satchel Paige paved the way for Jackie Robinson. They had to
play great to attract attention, and because they did Jackie
broke through.
CHAD HUBER, Birch Run, Mich.

It's a shame that Gibson is so often dismissed because people
can't fathom a player with Mark McGwire's power, Ivan
Rodriguez's arm and Rickey Henderson's speed. As for the
argument that Gibson's home run stats were inflated because they
came against inferior pitchers, could the pitching in the Negro
leagues have been any worse than it is in the majors today?
JON SWARD, Glorieta, N.Mex.

Your article brought back pleasant memories. I grew up in the
Bronx in the '40s and worked part-time in Yankee Stadium and the
Polo Grounds. In the mornings we sat around filling bags with
peanuts and talking. Talk sometimes got around to teams in the
Negro leagues playing that day and if anyone wanted to go there
and work the stands. The question always arose, "Is Josh
playing?" Uninformed, I asked, "Who's Josh?" I was told that he's
the guy who hit one out of the Stadium, that he hit one into the
bleachers in the Polo Grounds--the stories mentioned in your
article and then some. Myth? Legend? Hey, those stories were
being told while Josh was alive!
ED ROMAINE, Massapequa, N.Y.

By George!

I enjoyed CATCHING UP WITH...George McGinnis (June 26). A
couple of years ago McGinnis was visiting relatives in my
hometown of Childersburg (pop. 4,600), Ala. I called the hotel
and asked him to speak to our youth basketball team. He
apologized and said that he was too tired and that he'd fly out
to Baltimore early the next morning. Fifteen minutes into
practice, McGinnis walked into the community center. He was
generous with his time, spoke to the team and a week later sent
an ABA replica basketball for the kids to use in practice. I knew
he was 6'8", but that day I found out why he is known as Big
ROYCE WARREN, Childersburg, Ala.

Security Deposit?

No, Sammy Sosa (Storm Center, June 26), your $42 million,
four-year deal doesn't top those of Ken Griffey Jr. ($116.5
million for nine years) or Kevin Brown ($105 million for seven
years). But $10.5 million a year doesn't give you "the kind of
long-term security" those guys get? How secure do you need to be?
DON FREEDMAN, Greensboro, N.C.

A Modest Proposal

The column Tear Down Wrigley! is a masterly satire because Mark
Mravic argues logically from the wrong premise (SCORECARD, July
3). The paradox in his argument is that one has to destroy to
rebuild. Winning does not guarantee a profit, as the Florida
Marlins have demonstrated. Mravic points out implicitly that
profit, not winning games, is the real business of professional
baseball in general and of the Chicago Cubs in particular.
JAMES E. HICKS, Belleville, Ill.

Are you insane? Tear down Wrigley? Why don't you suggest taking a
sledgehammer to the Statue of Liberty? Over the years I've taken
many people to Wrigley, and the looks on their faces when they
walked up the stairs and first saw the field have been priceless.
I've been to most major league stadiums, and not one is in the
same class as the Friendly Confines. Yes, Wrigley is old. Yes,
it's small. But it's all about baseball. All the contraptions and
distractions are absent. You go to a Cubs game and you've got no
choice but to watch baseball.

Mravic states that Wrigley should be torn down and a new ballpark
built to inspire the players to win and the fans to get tougher.
I've got one example for you: Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Arguably the best stadium in baseball, Camden is packed for
nearly every home game. The team is loaded with high-priced
talent, and it still can't put together a champion. Clearly the
problem is ownership. The Cubs can't put together a winner
because they don't have an owner dedicated to doing so.
JOHN PENCE, Washington, D.C.

It's not whether you win or lose, it's where you play the game.


Bigotry Is to Blame

It's sad that black players like Josh Gibson (above) were kept
out of the major leagues. This was due in large part to the
racist views imposed by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis,
who's a member of the Hall of Fame. In the perverse world of
baseball, gambling is considered a more despicable act than a
crime against humanity.