I thoroughly enjoyed your feature on sports in Appleton, Wis. (Hooray, Appleton, U.S.A.!, Aug. 11). I'm a transplanted Appletonian, and reading your series of articles about my hometown was almost as good as going home. I always knew it was a great place to grow up. Riverdale Drive had the perfect setup for kickball games and kick the can. Does anybody play those games anymore? Thinking back now, I realize it really was a great time in my life. I think I'll call Mom and Dad and have them send me some bratwurst and an Old Style beer. Then I'll really feel at home.
ANN (VAN STRALEN) JOHNSON
Moses Lake, Wash.
The articles brought back many wonderful memories of my first year (1972) of professional baseball with the Chicago White Sox organization. I was one of the fortunate ballplayers who had the pleasure of starting their careers in Appleton. It's heartwarming to see that nothing has changed. There may be a few new faces, a few old faces and a few missing faces, but the friendliness of a community that opens its homes and hearts to complete strangers is still evident 14 years later.
You have made a retired minor league ballplayer feel young again. I may never have made The Show, but not every professional baseball player can say he played for the Appleton Foxes. Congratulations, Appleton! Keep on doing what you're doing. America, start taking notes!
PAUL W. PATTERSON
The stories about Appleton were a golden delicious surprise. They gave this big-city boy a real appreciation for Main Street, U.S.A. Thank you for making my day.
You touched on almost all my memories of growing up in the Fox Cities. I do, though, want to mention that the NFL 1,000 Yard Club and the Red Smith Sports Award dinners have been held there. As a child I attended both with my grandfather. These benefit dinners have contributed thousands of dollars to Wisconsin area athletics. Without them, many kids would not have had a chance to learn and compete.
Only one very brief line was written about the dean of Wisconsin sportscasters, Bob Lloyd. He epitomizes small-town broadcasters with his classic play-by-play of local events. He has done more for Fox River Valley sports than any other single person in the area, and he should be applauded.
Thanks for letting America in on my wonderful hometown. You made me remember this old high school cheer: A-P-P again, L-E-T-O-N. Appleton, Appleton, Yay!
In the article on Appleton native Rocky Bleier, Rick Telander mentioned that Bleier gets $5,000 for a speaking engagement. Four years ago I was able to enlist Rocky's services for an assembly at our school. I was told by his secretary that he would speak to the students for a nominal fee of $150 because we couldn't afford the regular price.
He talked to our sixth-graders for one hour about doing your best, doing well in school, setting your goals and going after them. When it was time for me to pay him he said, "Forget it—no charge." I have always remembered that, especially in this age of money-hungry athletes, some of whom wouldn't even sign an autograph for free, let alone take an hour from a busy schedule.
As a teacher, I know how impressionable our young people can be. I am pleased to see an article of this type for a change. Bleier may not have been the greatest football player in the world, but I will always remember him for what he did, and for being one of the few "good guys" left.