Speaking of streaks, this one's even longer

THANK HEAVENS for Warren Schwartz.

He's the former football coach at Forest Park High School and recently retired assistant coach at my beloved alma mater, City College. Way back in what almost seems another world -- the early 1960s -- he was assistant to one Augie Waibel at Edmondson High School. Schwartz wrote to correct an error in my column in tribute to Waibel, who coached football at City's arch rival, Polytechnic Institute, for 30 years before retiring in 1997. Waibel died early last month.

Among his coaching achievements -- besides winning 16 straight City-Poly games and causing sheer anguish to City alumni -- was a 27-game winning streak when he coached Edmondson.

Waibel's streak, I wrote in the Jan. 28 column, was one "the record might show is unequaled among high school football coaches in Baltimore."

Might show, but doesn't, as Schwartz indicated:

"Just a quick note to commend you on your fine article on Augie," Schwartz wrote. "I was on Augie's staff at Edmondson from 1963-65 and am well aware of the streak. I should point out that City's own [football coach] George Petrides had a 29-game streak from 1991 until the 10th game of 1993. ... It was an honor, for me, to be part of both streaks. P.S. Gilman had a 29-game streak snapped this past fall."

I apologize to Petrides, who is still City's football coach. His squad had back-to-back 10-0 seasons in 1991 and 1992, winning consecutive Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championships. In their seventh game of the 1993 season -- after Baltimore's public schools voted to bolt from the MSA -- Petrides tied Waibel's record. He broke it the next game and won one more before the streak was stopped by -- guess who? -- Waibel.

"[A] questionable call ... cost us a ... loss," Schwartz wrote. I vaguely remember the call. I was upset for a while until the game's end. With Poly trailing 20-15 and 25 seconds left in the game, Greg Kyler made a diving, one-handed catch at the back of the end zone for the final 21-20 score. Even though my alma mater had lost, I realized I had just watched one of the most exquisite football games ever played in this town. Neither the Colts nor the Ravens ever participated in a game nearly as good.

Other readers object There have been other letters, and not about sports, either. Grant Rumble of Baltimore wrote:

"[Y]our article in Sunday's paper regarding what you refer to as the 'Shell Game' surprised me. You see, you followed the wrong shell. The question should not be about how [city State's Attorney Patricia C.] Jessamy's office would drop the case of Officer [Brian] Sewell, but how they could have bumbled the case in which a teen-ager kills, no, murders a police officer and walks out of the courtroom laughing. No, I think the diversion by Mayor O'Malley was welcomed by Jessamy's office."

Jeepers, Grant, I'd sure like to know how you know Eric Stennett walked "out of the courtroom laughing." And, according to attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who defended Stennett, there were two different police reports written about the vehicle collision that killed Officer Kevon Gavin. One said the accident was unavoidable, the other said it was intentional. Both were submitted.

Pettit said one officer's testimony on the witness stand varied from what was in the report. There have been unconfirmed reports that the jurors in the case felt it was cops, not prosecutors, who bungled it.

And finally, Grant, do you have any idea how many people Jessamy's office convicts per year? Listening to you and the media, we'd have to believe it was none. But the numbers run into the hundreds.

This letter came from a writer who identified himself -- or herself -- only by the label of "Balti- moron."

"Your 'shell game' applies to Ms. Jessamy. She is the con person. Under her nut shells are three peas: judge, jury, lawmaker. As administrator, she will manipulate and handle all three peas by herself. Messrs. O'Malley and [Police Commissioner Edward T.] Norris may surely be using an entirely new 'shell game.' The game: they are not playing a game but are both gamily [sic] trying to achieve an almost insurmountable anti-crime goal in Baltimore City. ... Under their nut shells are three peas: jurisprudence, resources and heart. This is no con game. It is a life-and-death serious 'shell game.' P.S. Talk to your counterpart, Mr. Mfume, he can enlighten you."

It'll come as a shock to Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, that he and I are "counterparts." Irate Balti-moron also suggested that if I don't like what O'Malley and Norris are doing, I should leave Baltimore.

Sorry, bub. I was born here, which is more than I can say for either O'Malley or Norris, both of whom will leave this burg long before I do. O'Malley will probably be governor soon. He's destined for higher office. Any politician who can convince folks that there's a problem with the state's attorney's office after his cops have crucial evidence stolen deserves to move on to bigger and better things.

O'Malley still hasn't answered serious questions about that "burglary" at the police integrity unit: Who in the department was responsible for the unit's security, and has that person been fired, demoted or even reprimanded for failing to do his or her job?