Ted Kissell's article "Blackboard Bungle" (April 8), about Norland High School principal Carroll E. Williams, makes me even prouder to have been associated with Mr. J.J. Norton, principal at Coral Gables Senior High School during the Sixties. Mr. Norton's expertise and uncanny administrative abilities were superlative, credits to him and his remarkable staff.
I don't know where he is now, but I would like to thank him for being a part of my life and a part of my growth as a human being. He stands very tall as a builder of young men and women.
Virginia Key: Keep It Colorblind
I am writing in response to Jim Mullin's column about the concept of commercially developing Virginia Key ("Saviors of Virginia Key," April 1), our only public beach in the City of Miami. I was disappointed that Mr. Mullin focused on the race and income levels of two members of the environmental community [who proposed a civil rights park for the island].
A good idea is a good idea, regardless of the race, ethnicity, or income level of the person who generates it. Saving Virginia Key from development is quite simply a good idea, one that will require the integrated efforts of diverse organizations and individuals in the Miami community.
Bring in 'Da Praise - for Judy
Kudos! Accolades! And big ups to Judy Cantor for her insightful description of Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk ("Here Comes the Funk," April 1), and also for recognizing that Al B. Sylk's "roll call" on WEDR-FM (99.1) is, as she states, "one local manifestation of the premise behind" that acclaimed Broadway show.
The entire review was brilliant, and indicates that she gets it. How refreshing and enjoyable to find that in a reviewer! She deserves recognition for such a great piece. It was knowledgeable, introspective, and a joy to read. Thank you, Ms. Cantor.
Lynda Joy Folmar
North Bay Village
Lou's Big Pitch: Free Baseball Lessons for Any Kid with the Desire to Excel
This past fall Robert Andrew Powell wrote an interesting article titled "Lou's Last Pitch" (October 22). The article was about me, my baseball background, and was an attempt to show how stupid the Florida Marlins were in not giving Raul Hernandez an opportunity to pitch and coach for our major league team.
I want to expand further on Robert's story and dwell on the greedy big-leaguers looking for more millions while the lay public is working hard to accumulate an average salary of $20,000 to $25,000 for one whole year.
I am a former college player and baseball coach at City College of New York, a former pro player, manager, general manager, and owner of seven professional minor-league baseball clubs, and was in three major-league organizations: Braves, Giants, and Washington Senators.
I made my living from operating baseball schools and camps for more than 50 years (and also from wise real estate investments). I never made any money from pro ball itself. My biggest salary was $200 per month with Albany, New York, in the Eastern League. I used my money from the baseball camps and investments to purchase seven pro clubs, including the Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, club of the strong Class-A league and Leesburg, Florida, of the equally strong Florida State League.
The main goal of this letter is to let the public know I want to give something back to the community in Miami. I operated these baseball camps in the summer in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and in the winter in Florida (Tampa, West Palm Beach, Avon Park, Ocala, Williston, Auburndale, and Miami (Biscayne College, now St. Thomas University)).
I am willing to do something that I dare the new owner of the Marlins, John Henry, to duplicate. I want to invite every youngster in Miami who loves baseball, has physical coordination, and is willing to work hard and sacrifice in order to reach the big leagues, to attend free lessons in Kendale Lakes Park, where I play racquetball every day.
I will not accept everybody. I will first ascertain that the child loves baseball. He (or she) has to love the game. I want to demonstrate to the public that it is not impossible to become a big-leaguer. The easiest and quickest way to get to the big show is as a pitcher. (The reason I state the latter is because a pitcher doesn't have to be a good hitter or a good fielder or runner -- the player just has to have a good strong arm.) Of course I will also help those who aspire to be a position player. In that case, I will teach a kid how to hit properly, something that is rarely done, as witness most of the big-league players, who look sick swinging at a curve or changeup pitch.
Most of the current big-leaguers are making a million or more and still can't hit the curve or changeup. The New York Yankees signed Bernie Williams out of Puerto Rico when he was seventeen years old and sent him to my camp in Connecticut for me to teach him. My chief instructor, Vince Pica, and I worked with Bernie for seven weeks, day and night. The result: American League batting champion in 1998 and an $87.5 million contract extension.
It makes me mad to hear that there are six branches of Miami-Dade Community College in the county, and because of financial difficulties, only one branch is still operating a baseball team: the north campus with Steve Hertz as coach. It's a disgrace to baseball for permitting such a humiliating situation, especially when a capable coach such as Charlie Greene at the Kendall campus no longer can help kids emerge in the baseball world as he has done successfully for 30 years.
Why don't the big-leaguers who got their opportunity at MDCC and are now making millions, people like Marlins pitcher Alex Fernandez, contribute some money to get baseball back in the other branches, especially the Kendall campus? It might take $100,000 to $200,000, a drop in the bucket for any of these players. There must be at least 25 players from MDCC who have made it to the big leagues and the big salaries.
If John Henry is smart and wishes to have baseball be the number-one sport in Miami, he can insist that players from the Marlins who live in this area (and elsewhere) contribute their time by giving free baseball lessons, as I intend to do via New Times.
I am willing to teach any youngster who is determined to make it in pro ball. I will demonstrate that it isn't all that difficult and it will not cost you a cent. I will give you the same instruction and advice I gave to Todd Stottlemyre, Bernie Williams, and others who attended my camps and became big-leaguers. Many of the greatest players of all time worked for me at my camps: Hall of Famers Hoyt Wilhelm, Willie Mays, Bob Feller, Max Carey; MVPs Elston Howard, Spud Chandler; all-stars Ken Boyer, Dick Houser; managers Zack Taylor, Bill Virdon, and many others. I helped more than 1000 players get into pro ball or college scholarships.
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's article about Raul Hernandez and me: Raul is a Cuban-born 58-year-old pitcher who has not lost a game in five years in the over-30 baseball league, pitching two no-hitters in a row, one a perfect game against former college and pro players. Raul once pitched in the Dodgers organization, going as high as AAA ball. If John Henry had any sense at all, he would sign Raul to be the Marlins' pitching coach. One sad note: Raul recently had a double-bypass operation and is recuperating. He owns the Mobil service station at SW 137th Avenue and 56th Street.
So if there are any kids out there who want to get to the big leagues, give me a call at 305-382-2205 or write me at 7611 SW 145th Avenue, Miami, FL 33183 and I will make an appointment to give you individual instruction and advice (which no one ever gave me). Gratis! Free! Incidentally I am from the period of the Thirties and Forties and am now 82 years old.