Your candidates, and your selection of Ripken, made me realize that perhaps all is not lost.
RAYMOND A. MCCLOAT, EAST MEADOW, N.Y.
Sportsman of the Year
I commend you for picking Cal Ripken Jr. as the Sportsman of the Year (Hand It to Cal, Dec. 18). This was a no contest. His 2,153 consecutive games prove that he earns his multimillion dollar paycheck for playing with slight injuries and major pains, and for the love of his sport. I would have been disappointed if the award had gone to anyone else.
DAN CHAMBERLAIN, Great Falls, Mont.
I was elated when I saw Cal Ripken Jr. on the cover of your Dec. 18 issue. This legendary man has single-handedly reaffirmed many Americans' love of our national pastime. He is a much needed breath of fresh air in a sport currently on a respirator.
CHRIS MORRIS, Colonial Heights, Va.
Congratulations on your selection of Cal Ripken Jr., a choice difficult to argue with. However, there was one worthy sportsman missing from your list of candidates: Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins. His record-breaking accomplishments this season—he broke four major career passing marks—were arguably the football equivalent of Hank Aaron's surpassing Babe Ruth (particularly his breaking of Fran Tarkenton's touchdown record of 342).
HOWARD GROSSINGER, Thornhill, Ont.
Although many of your readers do not consider auto racing a true sport, which I think is wrong, 1995 Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon should also have made the list.
BOBBY L. MILLER, Greenville, S.C.
I am disgusted that Mario Lemieux, who had 71 points in 26 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was left out while a horse was put in. Lemieux's comeback after battling cancer and chronic back problems deserves to be acknowledged.
PHIL CURTIS, Woburn, Mass.
This year Steffi Graf won every Grand Slam match she played, including her sixth Wimbledon. She not only overcame a biased crowd but also foot and back injuries to win her fourth U.S. Open. If you want to talk about longevity, then consider the fact that Graf has been ranked in the top 2 of her sport for the last nine years. She has won each Grand Slam singles event at least four times, an accomplishment unparalleled in her sport. She deserves more than a paragraph's mention in your article.
SCOTT MAURER, Niles, Mich.
I was disappointed in your failure to nominate Albert Belle of the Cleveland Indians as a candidate for Sportsman of the Year. He accomplished something that no other player has done in a single season: He hit 50 home runs and 52 doubles, and he did it over a strike-shortened schedule.
JENNIFER SHIRILLA, Hubbard, Ohio
You forgot to recognize one of Boston's finest, Mo Vaughn of the Red Sox. Vaughn is an MVP on the field and in the community. He too should have been mentioned.
DAVID KEEFE, Mansfield, Mass.
After one of the most amazing and thoroughly sportsmanlike accomplishments of the year/decade/half century, Northwestern football coach Gary Barnett doesn't even rate a top-11 mention? C'mon!
JIM REINERS, Golden, Colo.