Letters

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Compassion by O's is greatly appreciated

We all know that major league baseball is big business. It's impersonal, mercenary and political. However, I recently experienced a warm, fuzzy side to the Orioles' organization.

My mother, a longtime devoted Orioles fan, fell and broke her hip in April. She suffered further injuries in the hospital, coming close to death. Only months before, she had lost her husband of 70 years and had been hospitalized numerous times since. In rehab, things progressed slowly, and her spirits plummeted.

I wrote a letter to the Orioles telling of my mother's unbelievable, steadfast devotion, hoping to receive a letter or some token of appreciation. I was shocked when I got a call from Kristen Schultz, the team's special events manager, inviting my mother to throw out the first pitch at a game. It sparked her determination to get her through a difficult rehab.

"I've got to be able to walk out to that mound," she said more than once.

There was a letter from Joe Foss, vice chairman and chief operating officer, and an autographed ball from vice president Mike Flanagan, as well as an invitation from owner Peter Angelos to watch the game from his private suite.

The club worked around my mother's rehab schedule, and on July 3, Thelma Knobel, with her family watching from behind home plate, did indeed throw out the first pitch at the Orioles-Blue Jays game.

Without exception, players, coaches, television and radio personalities, guards and ticket takers were kind and welcoming. My mother left Camden Yards with an autographed baseball, a video, pictures and enough warm, fuzzy memories of the Orioles to last a lifetime.

Peggy Rowe Perry Hall

Boorish behavior sometimes ignored

How many times have baseball fans written about players snubbing kids, aghast that some players refuse to sign autographs?

Fans ask, "What message does this send to our kids?" How amusing.

Aren't we the same fans who ignore surly behavior as long as a player can help our team win? Aren't we the same fans who expressed outrage at being deprived of seeing Sammy Sosa play, forgetting Sosa was suspended for breaking the rules?

Who cares if a player levels a sausage mascot with a bat as long as that same player can drive one out of the park? Would we not be cheering Albert Belle if he could still play?

We live in a time when we are more concerned with the length of a player's suspension rather than his drug problem. Run him back out on the field soon so we can bring our kids to a game and cheer for a drug user who needs help, not a helmet or a glove.

The days of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn are nearing an end. They have been replaced by a majority of egotistical mercenaries who are available to the highest bidder.

We've assisted in creating today's generation of players. We as fans looked the other way. We accept spoiled behavior when it suits us. We should not embarrass ourselves by acting shocked over boorish player conduct.

John A. Pozniak Jr. Severn

Bonds' feats make him an all-time great

Regarding Michael Gibbons' response to Barry Bonds in a recent letter to the editor ["Even Bonds can't erase Ruth's legend." July 20], it seems that Mr. Gibbons may be concerned that Bonds' success is going to somehow hurt the Babe Ruth Museum.

Don't worry, Mr. Gibbons, Babe Ruth will always be the game's greatest legend.

But Mr. Gibbons speaks as though Bonds' 73 home-run season in 2001 is the only thing he's done worth noting. The reality is, if Bonds was pitched to, he would have hit 90 homers in 2001, and 70 last year - while playing in the most difficult park to hit home runs.

I have been a baseball fan since the late 1950s. I've seen Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, etc. However, Bonds is the most impressive of them all. No one has ever been treated with the respect he gets from opposing managers and pitchers.

In a world where the media puts everyone under a microscope, Bonds' reputation has suffered because of what Mr. Gibbons call his "aloofness."

However, I would ask Mr. Gibbons, were Ruth and Mantle perfect role models? Wasn't Ted Williams aloof? Was Ty Cobb Mr. Nice Guy? Was Steve Carlton a media favorite?

No individual is flawless, but sometimes we have to put our personal feelings aside and look at the facts. Bonds could well be the greatest player to ever put on a pair of spikes.

Robert J. Mellendick Baltimore

Bryant, not the fans, is who will be on trial

I do not know where Laura Vecsey came up with the thesis for her column of July 21 ["Bryant's presumed innocence doesn't overshadow our guilt"], but I would like to state for the record that I am not on trial in the case pending against Kobe Bryant.

Despite the fact I purchased a Sprite within the last month, am addicted to McGriddles, and wore sneakers in a basketball game last Sunday, I do not feel like a perpetrator involved in the alleged assault of the alleged victim.

To loop the American public into the ever-growing circus surrounding the misfortunes of a phenomenal athlete and an ill-fated young woman is reminiscent of Rev. Jerry Falwell blaming Sept. 11 on those he considered immoral.

A public figure, even one with a "clean" image, falling to the overwhelming appeal of the flesh should not be a total surprise to anyone. Is it disappointing - yes. Is it tragic for all involved - yes. But who are the "all" involved?

Ms. Vecsey wants to bring in society as a whole and make a bigger circus out of what, in a better world, would be a private matter between those immediately involved and their families.

Ms. Vecsey comes across as a sensationalist when taking the stance that "everyone's on trial."

Now is an opportunity in society to teach, not to broaden the guilt. Ms. Vecsey might have done more for the situation had she decided to write on another subject matter.

Basil W. Tydings Oxford

Vecsey's column gives insight on O's offer

Laura Vecsey's column of July 22 ["O's careful in pitching to Ponson"] provides a careful insight into what might be going on inside the minds of Orioles vice presidents Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan.

It's a great column that makes some emotionally charged individuals stop and think in a rational manner as to the inner workings of a deal to keep Ponson or let him go.

Every deal in baseball is a gamble. Even the dollar-laden Yankees couldn't guarantee a World Series title the past two years. The same went for the 1996 and 1997 Orioles.

I was one of those emotionally charged individuals who was infuriated by the Orioles' offer, but I am now on the fence after reading this column that provided solid facts.

Paul Day Severna Park

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