SI Vault
Edited by Gay Flood
June 20, 1988
SINKING SHIP?Thanks for Franz Lidz's great article on the Seattle Mariners (Versed in Adversity, May 23). Local baseball fans have agonized over the team's problems for years. However, I think Alvin Davis's comment that the Mariners are only a couple of players away from success has more merit than Lidz gives it.
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June 20, 1988


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Thanks for Franz Lidz's great article on the Seattle Mariners (Versed in Adversity, May 23). Local baseball fans have agonized over the team's problems for years. However, I think Alvin Davis's comment that the Mariners are only a couple of players away from success has more merit than Lidz gives it.

Dick Williams's drill-instructor attitude may teach fundamental baseball to his young players, but it also causes the self-doubt that was evident in the story. Rather than firing the manager and going after the top players they need, after the honest comments that appeared in your story I'm afraid the Mariners will trade what stars they have left in yet another "youth movement." (Sigh.)
Kent, Wash.

The Mariners' problems are not the Seattle fans, the community's treatment of its sports stars, the Kingdome or the manager. Fan support for the Sonics and the Seahawks remains strong; Freddie Brown and Steve Largent have prospered in the Emerald City; indoor stadiums have been used to the home team's advantage by the Twins; and pennants won by three different teams that he has managed are evidence of Dick Williams's skill. The problem with the Mariners is George Argyros's perception of success. Profit and loss statements are one way to determine it, but major league baseball is a game as well as a business, and how the game is played is what will determine his success or failure as helmsman of the Mariners.

Your article says little about the camaraderie and spirit of the Mariners this year. Dick Williams is right when he says that people should look elsewhere for sad-sack teams—the history of the Mariners goes back only 11 years.
Sumner, Wash.

Hats off to Ron Fimrite for an exceptional article (The Valley Boys, May 23). In the 20 years since I left the Upper Ohio Valley, I have, on numerous occasions, attempted to describe why the area is unique. Few people believed that such an extraordinary number of outstanding athletes could have been products of this area. Now it is confirmed.

Fimrite's clear and positive description of the people of Martins Ferry and its sister villages, their work ethic and their ability to pull together in good times and bad, is journalism at its best. I also commend the athletes—Lou and Alex Groza, Phil and Joe Niekro, Bill Mazeroski and John Havlicek. They exemplify the American dream.

I've lived in the small town of Hellertown, Pa., so I can identify with the kids of Martins Ferry, Ohio, and their love for sport. While I never made it to the NFL or the NBA, or even to the high school baseball team, I remain competitive in most things I do. One thing I've noticed: The kids don't seem to have sandlot games anymore. Everything I see is organized, which means there's not much spontaneity. The sheer number of athletes our town once had is way down, too. I often wonder if it's because we're missing the type of man who once was commonplace, the father like Phil Niekro Sr., who came home tired from the mines or mills but still spent the rest of his children's waking day with them, teaching them the skills of games and life, getting them ready for the sandlots and beyond.
Hellertown, Pa.

The Martins Ferry tradition lives on. A case in point: Chuck Mamula was Ohio Lineman of the Year at Martins Ferry High in 1959. He went on to letter under Woody Hayes at Ohio State and eventually settled in Illinois. His son, Nick, starred at Hoffman Estates High and will enter Purdue as a 6'5", 260-pound lineman this fall. Mamula's younger brother, Dan, was an outstanding football guard at New Philadelphia ( Ohio) High, and his son, Dan Jr., is a three-sport standout as a freshman at the same school. One might conclude that the values instilled by the Valley haven't disappeared, but continue wherever its sons have gone.
New Philadelphia, Ohio

The sidebar on David Clyde that accompanied the article on high school pitching phenom Jon Peters (Boy Wonder, May 9) really caught my attention. However, there's more to him than Clyde the youngster, whom baseball people used for their own gain. Clyde the man gives a lot of himself to the game. Besides coaching Little League, he spends one evening a week at our school as a volunteer coach working with our pitchers. His knowledge and patience are exceptional. I respect him not only as a teacher of pitching but also as a human being.
Baseball Coach
Concordia Lutheran High
Tomball, Texas

Zola Budd (A Runner Runs Home, May 23) may be a pawn in the political arena. However, one must not forget the reason for the banning of South African athletes from international competition—apartheid. Budd is the victim of South Africa and of herself. She has not denounced South Africa's racist policy nor has she broken her ties with that country. It is sad that Budd's ability is being wasted, but look at the entire picture. Think of Nelson Mandela's life wasting away in prison. Think of the waste of Steve Biko's life. Think of the waste of thousands of black South African lives. Think of the waste of all the minds that receive little or no education. Think of the poor working conditions South African blacks must endure. Think of the censorship of the black and white press. In comparison, Budd has sacrificed only a little.
Thornton, Colo.

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