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Opinion | Goodbye, Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid”
Opinion | Goodbye, Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid”

On George F. Will’s opinion article “The Unnatural” of June 20:

A part of me died when I learned that Willie Mays had died. Yes, he was gifted with the ability to hit, bat, catch, run and throw.

But this combination of physical assets was not Mays’ most valuable or endearing asset. Rather, he rarely complained about anything and took the time to play stickball with his adoring fans and sign autographs. Most importantly, he almost always had a big smile on his face. He was such a cheerful presence that you could imagine him playing baseball without getting paid. That made this athlete a role model for people like me growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.

But hope is not lost. Other great athletes with physical advantages have become role models by doing exactly what Mays did. For years I called Earvin “Magic” Johnson the Willie Mays of basketball. For once there was joy in Mudville, because although Mays occasionally missed the plate, he always hit grand slams in the game of life.

Bruce N. Shulman, Silver Spring

Willie Mays brought his all-around brilliance from the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues to the historic Giants franchise. From coast to coast in New York and San Francisco, Mays inspired generations of players and fans as the game grew and earned its place as our national sport.

Immediately after his career took off, Mays served his country in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1953. As the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1954, he led the Giants to victory in the World Series, making one of the most memorable plays of all time, “The Catch” in deep center field at the Polo Grounds. In addition to the accolades Mays received during his playing career, Major League Baseball named him one of the greatest living players in 2015, and he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom that same year.

Yet his incredible accomplishments and statistics cannot begin to describe the awe that comes with watching Mays dominate the game in every way imaginable. We will never forget this true Giant on and off the field. I extend my deepest condolences to Mays’ family, his friends in baseball, Giants fans everywhere, and his countless admirers around the world.

Paul Bacon, Miami Beach, FL.

George F. Will was absolutely right when he called Mickey Mantle of the Yankees a worthy rival to the late Willie Mays of the Giants. But he neglected to mention the third great guarding center field in New York at the time: Duke Snider of the Dodgers. Those of us who grew up near Ebbets Field knew that the Duke could hold his own right up there with the two M’s.

C. Fred Bergsten, Norfolk

Regarding Sally Jenkins’ June 18 sports column: “DeChambeau is a big phony. And not at all like Stewart.”

Sally Jenkins’ column on the recent US Open winner was certainly an interesting read. But her decision to label Bryson DeChambeau a “phony” in her scathing rebuke of Saudi sportswashing has, in my opinion, done little more than deepen a societal divide that has already engulfed golf and most other sports. Although fair play and sportsmanship are still taught in the schoolyard, money, not morality, has become the lodestar of professional sport.

Trying to shame a professional athlete for taking money from the highest-paid player is, as long as the rules of the game are followed, misguided at best. It’s like batting ineffectually at a dog’s tail while its fangs sink deep into its already mangled leg.

Mr. DeChambeau was deservedly rewarded and celebrated for his second US Open victory. He triumphed over more than 150 other top golfers who all played on the same course, for the same prize and under the same rules. Of course, he idolizes fellow Southern Methodist University student Payne Stewart, who decorated the course with his clothes. Mr. DeChambeau has loved golf since his youth and has played it with passion. The fact that Mr. DeChambeau enthusiastically embraces the enthusiasm of the fans is refreshing and much less narcissistic than the legendary tennis player John McEnroe’s tendency to shout at umpires for line decisions.

Now that he’s under the media microscope, it’s obvious his maturity hasn’t matched his grit. At 30, he’s an admirable player – one who’s finished in the top six in all three major tournaments he’s played in this year – but as an admirable human being, he’s not finished yet.

But that is regardless of the fact that a tyrannical monarch was never held to account for the brutal and inhumane murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a colleague of Ms. Jenkins at the Washington Post, an ugly fact that is likely to continue to make headlines.

Saudi Arabia’s attempt to whitewash its reputation by investing huge sums in the sport is just one aspect of today’s sporting world that is difficult to understand, whether it’s Rory McIlroy’s tendency to come up painfully short; the rude guys yelling “USA, USA” after the Northern Irish golfer’s 3-putt; or the sight of golf commentators urging fans to place bets on FanDuel. Unfortunately, calling Bryson DeChambeau a world-class cheat doesn’t make any of this any better or more understandable.

Bob Rupert, Georgia

I applaud Sally Jenkins for her thorough deconstruction of Bryan DeChambeau’s character. It is obvious that Mr. DeChambeau values ​​wealth over basic moral principles. As I watched the final round of the US Open on television, it was disturbing to hear the crowd cheering on this unethical money-grabber with chants of “USA, USA.” All Mr. DeChambeau had to do was treat the audience to a showmanship routine and any concerns about his defense of a government that funds terrorism and violates basic human rights were seemingly forgotten. The behavior of these buffoons has tarnished the reputation of the US Open, a venerable tournament that will celebrate its 125th anniversary next year.

Jerry Bradley, Springfield, Virginia.

Regarding Jerry Brewer’s June 9 sports column, “The Fiercest Fight in Sports,” and the Post’s June 13 letters to the editor:

As a father, doctor, and athlete myself, I really appreciated Mr. Brewer’s article. In addition to providing a respectful and nuanced discussion, the article focused on the experiences of the transgender athlete and told Sadie Schreiner’s story. Too often, public figures use people who are different as a topic of conversation, neglecting their uniqueness and their struggles.

The current avalanche of some 600 anti-transgender bills in our country is the deliberate culmination of a decades-long, coordinated effort to oppress and exclude. It was wrong when it was done to gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans, and it is wrong today.

The most common conditions I treat as a GP are all related to a lack of exercise, a lack of a good social support network, or both. Sport and exercise are some of the best treatments I can prescribe. Being active and having a supportive environment is literally medicine for humans. To deliberately target and exclude a very small group of people who already face extremely disproportionate health and safety problems is obviously unhealthy for them, but such cruelty is also poison for the soul of our nation.

These concerns aside, these decisions should be made by local communities who actually know the children involved, not by state government officials who openly state their intentions to exclude. In many places, commonsense policies are already in place to ensure there is no undeserved hormonal advantage, supported by medical and policy experts, as well as the parents who see their children every day. What child (or even adult) would alter their body and subject themselves to scrutiny and even outright hatred to win a sporting trophy? This is far more about freedom and authenticity than it ever was about sport.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my career writing more and more prescriptions for insulin, Ozempic, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants. If I had the choice, I would always prefer to prescribe exercise. Whether on the playing field, in the doctor’s office, or in the public spaces we share with our fellow Americans, everyone is belittled when distrust and anger prevail.

Alex Dworak, Ralston, Nebraska.

Sally Jenkins, in her June 16 sports column titled “Athletes, You Don’t Want to Be College Employees,” made a thoughtful and compelling argument that the National Labor Relations Board should stay out of the athlete-employee mess.

But Ms. Jenkins left out perhaps the most problematic legal point: The NLRB does not have jurisdiction to rule on labor issues affecting public universities. Its jurisdiction is limited to the private sector. So Arch Manning and the University of Texas are outside the NLRB’s reach, while the Amherst College quarterback is at the mercy of this short-sighted agency. The Longhorns, Buckeyes, Badgers and Nittany Lions are safe. Not so the programs at Duke University, Northwestern University and the Ivies, which could be drawn into the quagmire of collective bargaining for a “workforce” that could experience significant turnover every year. How do you think this discrepancy in jurisdiction and experience will affect college sports and college athletes?

By Everly