Robert Creamer's article (Hey Mister, Can We Have Your Autograph?, April 12) was the best I've read on the subject of autograph collecting, but he, like others before him, emphasized the profit motive and bad manners of autograph seekers.
I'm an autograph collector. I've always loved the game of baseball, but I never really knew much about the players, especially the old-timers, until I got involved in researching, writing letters and collecting autographs. Now a bit of baseball history unfolds every time I look through my albums, and for every autograph I have received in person, I have a story to tell.
So, to the hundreds of baseball players who have said yes to the question, "May I have your autograph, please?", I'd like to say, "Thanks for sharing the memories!"
East Brunswick, N.J.
I thoroughly enjoyed the article on autograph collecting. One of my treasured possessions is a baseball Babe Ruth autographed in 1928. Just before Henry Aaron broke Ruth's home-run record, I drove to Wrigley Field, where the Atlanta Braves were playing the Cubs, and with the cooperation of an enthusiastic field guard who brought Aaron over, I got Aaron's signature on the same baseball. Wow! Aaron was most gracious about signing. When he saw the Babe's autograph on the ball, he grinned and said, "Gee! How about that?"
JEAN W. FRIEDLANDER
I really enjoyed your article about autographs, but am both confused and amused at the statement that Bill Russell doesn't sign autographs. Right on the opposite page is an ad for the Olympic team. The ad offers paintings, numbered and signed by Bill Russell. Does this count as an autograph?
MICHAEL E. MARTIN
?Not in the strict sense of the term.—ED.
I was deeply moved by William Nack's piece on Steve Garvey (As Always, a Man of Principle, April 12), which was one of the best stories I've seen in my 20 years of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reading. In this sensitive account of a tragically flawed marriage and a less than clubby relationship with several of his teammates, Garvey emerged as a man of warmth and caring who is dedicated to principle not out of obstinance, but because his values are so much a part of his character that for him to be otherwise is literally impossible.
The criticism of Steve Garvey is an indication of what's wrong in America. Athletes in the past few years have been convicted of point shaving, drug smuggling and a lot of the other transgressions that are committed by members of the general population. But here we have a genuine superstar who happens to be clean-cut, vibrant and very sincere, with the courage to be himself, not a two-faced representation of what the world wants him to be.
Some observers wonder if Garvey is for real, and Don Sutton says Garvey's public personality is a Madison Avenue facade. Oscar Wilde once said a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing. He must have been thinking ahead to Garvey's critics.
It is certainly unfortunate that Steve Garvey is an only child, because the world could use a few more like him.