Ron Fimrite's portrait of former Dodger catcher Roy Campanella (Triumph of the Spirit, Sept. 24) is a magnificent story, a model for anyone who hopes to become a journalist. Without recourse to sentiment, Fimrite gives us an inspiring account of a man whose courage, determination and dignity are worthy of universal admiration.
About 30 years ago, when I was working at WCCO Radio in Minneapolis, a local teenager was injured in a football game and it appeared that he might never walk again. With the help of colleagues at the station, I got in touch with Campanella and arranged for a phone conversation between him and the youth. Campanella spoke to him with deep understanding, and the young man was thrilled to hear from a living legend. This story has a happy ending. A few months later the young man was able to walk out of the hospital. I firmly believe Campanella's call played a big part in his recovery.
After I finished reading Fimrite's Campanella piece, I read his POINT AFTER, in the same issue, about the best-selling memoirs of former football coaches Barry Switzer and Tom Landry. It was an excellent editorial choice to have that bright bit of Fimritian whimsy follow his majestic portrait of one of the greatest figures in the history of professional sport.
As a teenager, I read Campanella's autobiography, It's Good To Be Alive. I was so moved by the determination and dignity of this exceptional man that, just before entering college, I spent a summer as a volunteer working with physically challenged children at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine in New York City. My interest in medicine continues, and I am currently a resident training in radiation oncology, the treatment of cancer patients.
Although I did not choose to enter the field of rehabilitative medicine, the lessons I learned from Campanella's story and from my summer at the Rusk Insitute continue to inspire me.
MARC S. RUDOLTZ, M.D.
Haddon Heights, N.J.
Fimrite's excellent and moving piece holds a special significance for me because my father, Emmett Ashford Sr., was a paraplegic for the last 25 years of his life due to an accident. He died in 1985. As I read the article, I could not help but think of my father, who, by some accounts, had been a pretty decent ballplayer in his day.
Thanks for a wonderful story. Campanella is a Hall of Famer, both on and off the field.
GEORGE R. ASHFORD
THE ART OF STEALING
V.J. Lovero's photos of Oakland left-fielder Rickey Henderson stealing were outstanding (Man of Steal, Oct. 1). I flipped through them, front to back, a full five times before reading the accompanying article. Peter Gammons's story settles the "arrogance" issue outright. When asked about fear, Henderson fell into a discussion of his continuous study of the techniques involved in stealing bases, including simple and unpretentious tributes to the tutelage of his minor league coach, Tom Trebelhorn, and the inspiration of Ty Cobb. Of Cobb he said, "That man did it right." Thanks for a fantastic photo essay. And thanks for settling the "hot dog" question, at least for this fan.
THE LADIES OF COMISKEY
Thank you for William Nack's wonderful article about Comiskey Park (Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye, Aug. 20) and all of the famous people and memories that will live on forever.
I am a bit saddened that SI, like many others, jumped over a crucial period of the park's history. From March 1941 to December '58, Grace Comiskey, Lou's widow, and their daughter Dorothy Comiskey Rigney ran the White Sox. They were really the First Ladies of Baseball, spirited businesswomen, a generation ahead of their time. Their love of the sport and dedication to maintaining a family legacy is something rarely found in baseball today.