On the subject of insect life in major league ballparks (How Bugs Drive Baseball Batty, Aug. 18): On Sunday, Aug. 17, a praying mantis was observed in the fifth deck of Shea Stadium during a doubleheader between the Mets and the Cardinals. The entomological significance of the mantis's presence is not known (the Mets lost the first game 2-1 and won the second 9-2).
Your article on bugs and baseball reminded me of a night game many years ago during which a fire was built on the mound at Shea Stadium to disperse a swarm of gnats. Because John Garrity didn't mention this incident, it makes me wonder if my memory is bad or my imagination hyperactive. Does anyone in the Mets office or on your staff recall this happening?
?The Mets were unable to turn up any record of such an event at Shea, but a similar incident did occur at Chicago's Comiskey Park during a game between the White Sox and the Orioles, on June 2, 1959. According to White Sox chronicler Richard Lindberg and a UPI report of the day, Baltimore pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm called time in the first inning because a swarm of gnats was bothering him. When towel waving (by Orioles coach Al Vincent) and bug sprays proved ineffective, the umps took over, marching to the mound with torches made of rolled-up newspapers. After they, too, failed to disperse the bugs, Chicago owner Bill Veeck's fireworks experts were called in. They set off a smoke bomb on the mound. That defeated the gnats, and Wilhelm went on to beat the White Sox 3-2.—ED.
I have just finished the Aug. 11 SI, and I have never enjoyed an issue more. I especially liked the article on the Angels (One Last, Mad Dash) and the special section on Apple-ton, Wis. (Hooray, Appleton, U.S.A.!). It is a pleasure to read about sports enjoyed for sports' sake by the average man and woman. I look forward to more.
Thanks for the great tour of my hometown. It proves that our local boy, Harry Houdini, could not have said, as some locals claim, that his greatest escape was from Appleton.
If I wanted to read about a town that is actually proud of producing the likes of Joe McCarthy, I would subscribe to Soldier of Fortune magazine.
Pleasant Hill, Calif.
THOUGHTS OF ELYSIUM
According to the subhead of your article (So Long, USFL—Now What? Aug. 18), former USFL stars are looking forward to playing on "Rozellian fields."
I suppose this means that henceforth American League baseball players will be performing in BobbyBrownian pastures, and National Leaguers will be switching from Feenian fields to Giamattian diamonds. Or do all big leaguers play under one aegis, in what once could have been termed Kuhnian parks but are now stadiums Ueberrothian? The latter has a helluva ring.
West Palm Beach, Fla.
As a 1968 graduate of Lawrence University, I read with interest and nostalgia your series of articles on Appleton, Wis. No discussion of Appleton sports could be complete, however, without a mention of my Lawrence classmate Chuck McKee.
Chuck grew up just down the street from Lawrence and graduated from the public high school in Appleton the same year that Rocky Bleier graduated from Appleton Xavier. Chuck was an all-state quarterback but turned down scholarship offers from Big Ten schools to attend Lawrence. His athletic achievements at Lawrence included scoring 38 points in the 1967 Midwest Conference championship track meet (he won the high hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump, and he took second in the high jump). In our senior year Chuck led the Lawrence Vikings football team to the conference championship and a national small-college ranking. He was first team Little All-America, beating out Bob Toledo of San Francisco State ( Toledo still holds several NCAA Division II passing records). He also was Phi Beta Kappa.