Like a broken recordBack in the 1960s, I remember taking...

LETTERS

September 20, 1992

Like a broken record

Back in the 1960s, I remember taking three buses with my younger brother, Paul, to attend Orioles games. We sat out at 1 a.m. at the ages of 9 and 11, grasping our MTA transfer slips in hand, to wait for another bus that would further extend our 90-minute trip home.

Back then, being an Orioles fan meant rooting your team on to win the American League pennant. And win pennants they did; the entire organization was dedicated to winning.

Today it appears that winning the pennant is just one thing, that Johnny Oates' hands are tied to keep Cal Ripken's consecutive-game streak intact, that the organization, or somebody, has bought off on Ron Shapiro's rationalization that Cal's streak sells tickets.

Some would argue that teams win and lose pennants and that one man's performance doesn't make much difference, but look at the Orioles and tell me that someone with Oates' genius couldn't milk another 25 points and eight or nine home runs out of shortstop (and a few key hits). We would be thinking about Oakland, and not Toronto, right now.

The dog days are gone, and I've stopped groaning when Cal pops up in foul territory with the bases loaded or see another 0-for-4 night in the box score, or when radio talk show hosts like Jeff Rimer or Rex Barney talk about Cal's work ethic, durability and dedication to the game, instead of what all that has become: a man's obsession with a record. Instead, I think back to those days with brother Paul, riding the buses, when records didn't mean as much, but winning pennants did.

Ross Burton

Enola, Pa. Here we go again: greedy ballplayers; he's not worth it; how can they pay this guy that much?

These are a few of the comments I've heard since Cal Ripken signed his multimillion-dollar contract. I listen to people tell me "he's no superstar, just an average player." They state that other than last year, he really hasn't done much. They just can't believe the amount of money he has been given.

Well, I tell them they're wrong. Ripken is worth every penny the Orioles are willing to pay him.

Sure, he's not as fast as Rickey Henderson or as strong as Jose Canseco. He's not flashy like Barry Bonds or Bobby Bonilla. He's not cocky like Darryl Strawberry or even arrogant like Roger Clemens. He doesn't chase the "almighty dollar" from city to city like Jack Morris and Reggie Jackson. Maybe these are what "those people" consider to be qualities of a superstar.

I tend to think Cal's qualities of being reliable, consistent, hard-working and a team leader and model citizen to be more definitive of a true superstar.

I don't think there is a player in baseball or even professional sports who means as much to a city as Cal does to Baltimore. He fills the stands at the new park. He belongs there.

Paul Billingsley

Bowie

Home, sweet home?

I wish the Baltimore TV sportscasters would read the baseball standings. After each road trip, all the sportscasters drool about the Orioles returning to the "friendly" confines of Camden Yards. Through Labor Day, the Orioles' road record (41-30) was much better than at home (36-30). If they played as well at home as on the road, they would now be in first place. Maybe sportscasters cannot read, do math, or both?

Joseph Miko

Severna Park

A lesson for Lansdowne

Lem Satterfield's article in The Sun on Sept. 2 about the demise of the Landsdowne High School football program struck home. As a first-year principal nine years ago, I had to make the final decision to cancel Hereford High School's varsity football program. Not everyone was pleased with me, I can tell you. Concern for player safety was also my major concern, as was the situation in the Lansdowne decision.

Today, Hereford High School's football program has gradually returned from the dead. We have 70 players on the varsity and junior varsity teams. The parents, students and community in two years have raised $70,000 to purchase and install lights and bleachers. They plan to add a concession stand, press box, team rooms and additional bleachers next year.

The Lansdowne High School community should take heart. All is not lost. They can learn from this experience and use it to help students understand that the extracurricular program is not a God-given right. It requires student commitment, interest and sacrifice. School pride and spirit are important, but a far greater benefit to students are the skills they gain that are invaluable in the work force.

I have seen how wonderful it can be when all aspects of a school's community rededicate themselves to an idea. Knowing some members of the Lansdowne faculty and community, I believe they have the potential to turn their dilemma into a positive experience.

Ray E. Gross II

Principal, Hereford High

Charlotte is better market

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