As a member of a nowhere team settling for mediocrity, was Gretzky wrong to want to play for a contender?
CHRIS LAUGHMAN, SHIPPENSBURG, PA.
The Gretzky Trade
It is ridiculous to characterize Wayne Gretzky as disloyal, selfish and childish (King No More, March 11). Had the Los Angeles Kings done anything of any consequence before Wayne Gretzky arrived? No. With him, they went to the Stanley Cup finals. With Gretzky in California, the NHL's sunshine campaign began to succeed. After what he did for the Kings and the NHL, is it selfish of him to want to win another Stanley Cup before he retires? I don't think so.
GEORGE ELIOU, Whitestone, N.Y.
Gretzky did the Kings a favor. He could have remained silent and left Los Angeles as an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Instead, the Kings were able to trade him and gain a potential star in Roman Vopat, two other solid players and two draft choices, as well as the savings on Gretzky's salary. As for Gretzky, he now has the opportunity to win another Stanley Cup before retiring as the greatest player ever to wear skates.
TOM JUERGENS, Glencoe, Mo.
Your compilation of megadeals in the story about Wayne Gretzky left out what is, in terms of numbers, the most one-sided trade of all, the swap of 11 players by the Los Angeles Rams in 1952 to the Dallas Texans, for the rights to Les Richter, an All-America out of Cal who was about to go into the Army. Richter played for the Rams for nine years, from 1954 to '62, eight of them as an All-Pro. Primarily a linebacker, he served as a captain and, early in his career, as a placekicker and offensive lineman.
An imponderable: Why have the football writers of America ignored Richter all these years in balloting for the Hall of Fame? Richter is now a senior vice president of NASCAR and has the additional assignment of building the California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for auto racing mogul Roger Penske.
The Texans became the Baltimore (and subsequently Indianapolis) Colts, and a trivia question that almost nobody can answer is, Who were the 11 players?
DEKE HOULGATE, Torrance, Calif.
?The 11 included six NFL veterans, defensive tackle Jack Halliday, running back Dick Hoerner, defensive backs Tom Keane and George Sims, and linebackers Joe Reid and Vick Vasicek, plus five draftees, David Anderson, Billy Baggett, Dick McKissack, Aubrey Phillips and Dick Wilkins.—ED.
You left out the greatest three-for-one trade of the 1990s: Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers to the New York Rangers for Louis DeBrusk, Bernie Nicholls and Steven Rice on Oct. 4, 1991. Messier went on to become the only player in NHL history to captain two franchises to the Stanley Cup. Since Messier's departure, the Oilers have been nothing more than a mediocre team.
JEFFREY SPENCER, Harrison, N.Y.
In covering the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials (Making a Splash, March 18), you understandably could not devote attention to all of the interesting dramas that unfolded there. Still, you ran a photograph of the excellent butterflyer Sabir Muhammad and mentioned his attempt to become the first African-American swimmer to represent the U.S. in the Olympics. Muhammad did not qualify for the final in the 100-meter fly, while Byron Davis, another African-American swimmer in the same event, qualified first and was leading the final with just a few meters to go before fading to fourth. Davis, one of the best Ohio high school swimmers of the 1980s and a multiple All-America at UCLA in the early '90s, missed by just 0.33 of a second in his quest to be the first African-American Olympic swimmer.
CARY SEIDMAN, Cleveland Heights, Ohio