Truth is stranger than fiction. Thank you and Gary Smith for bringing to light the touching and amazing story of John Malangone.
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.
JERRY B. JENKINS, Zion, Ill.
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.
GERARD COSTANTIAN, Las Vegas
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.
DENNIS FELLER, Bronx, N.Y.
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.
HAL PRISTOVNIK, Chicago
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.