Letters to the Editor


Major League Writers

Please add to your list of accomplished Vanderbilt sports writers [Summer 2010, “Shooting from the Lip”] the name of my good friend and Alpha Epsilon Pi brother Henry Hecht, BA’69. Henry was the major league baseball beat writer for The New York Post during the tumultuous George Steinbrenner-Billy Martin-Reggie Jackson years and later covered baseball for Sports Illustrated. His game stories and behind-the-scenes reporting were the first drafts of some very significant baseball history.

Darrell Berger, BA’70, MDiv’73
Jersey City, N.J.


Who would ever have known that such a glittering cluster of sports writers hatched at Vanderbilt? Or that Vanderbilt produced the Hollywood movers and shakers Cindy Thomsen wrote about in her other recent story [Spring 2010, “Vandy in Hollywood”]? Articles like this can inspire students as well as alumni.

Doug Fisher, BA’50, LLB’52
Franklin, Tenn.


Thank you for your excellent article on the sports journalists who have Vanderbilt roots. I really enjoyed the piece, especially the discussion format you used. It is interesting that so many have chosen baseball as a focus (my favorite, too) since, as I recall, our baseball team during the college days of the featured writers had not reached the level of excellence currently enjoyed.

I have one suggestion for a follow-up: a complete list of living Vanderbilt alums who have made careers in sports journal-ism/broadcasting. In the article you also mentioned Skip Bayless, BA’74, but I believe there are a significant number of others. Off the top of my head, I can name two: Bill Livingston, BA’70, of The Plain Dealer [in Cleveland] and Henry Hecht, BA’69, now retired but longtime beat reporter for The New York Post covering the Yankees. I am sure if you canvas your forum participants and these two, you will find some more.

This legacy is impressive and important. We need to honor all of them. Thanks for giving it the attention it deserves.

Gene Shanks, BA’69
Greenwich, Conn.

[Editor’s Note: Besides the nine alumni (living and deceased) we mentioned in the article, and the two referenced above, we know about Bill Trocchi, BA’93, who writes for SI.com; Willie Geist, BA’97, formerly a writer and producer of sports programs for Fox Sports Net and CNN Sports and now host of MSNBC’s Way Too Early with Willie Geist; Mitch Light, BA’93, editor for Nashville-based Athlon Sports Communications; Dan Wolken, BA’01, sports columnist for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn.; and Zack McMillin, BA’94, former sports reporter (and now news reporter) for The Commercial Appeal. Readers, did we miss anyone?]


Balance of Educational Access and Quality

The study on the relationship between performance incentives and student achievement [Summer 2010, “Leader of the Pack”] raises very critical issues, especially for a country like Kenya that has to grapple with balancing access and quality. I am keen to read more about the findings and recommendations. Great article.

David Kabita, senior assistant director
Kenya Institute of Education
Nairobi, Kenya


What About the Animals?

I was shocked when I read “The Weight of Water” [VJournal, Summer 2010]. Cynthia Cyrus states that she and her family took 11 hours to move their household belongings upstairs to protect the items from the flood waters. However, in those 11 hours, apparently no one cared enough to save the family pets? I was appalled to read that two budgies and an elderly cat were left to die, along with 24 chickens and a duckling (three of the cats managed to survive on their own, and 28 chickens had been moved to safety). When a person makes the choice to own an animal, he or she is then responsible for that animal’s well-being. That Cynthia and her family thought it more important to save material belongings than living creatures breaks my heart.

Lauren LaPlant, BS’07
Festus, Mo.

[Cynthia Cyrus responds: Our very first concern during that 11 hours was—of course!—moving all the pets, first to above the 100-year floodplain, then later above the 500-year floodplain (except the 3-year-old cat, who bolted). It was a tragedy, and heartbreaking, to lose so many of our animal companions. I agree with the author: I’d give up the rest of my material goods to have our pets back. The loss of the pets is simply a sign of the unimaginable scope of the disaster.]


Greekdom Isn’t for Everyone

I was not entirely surprised to read Sam Nackman’s reply to “Good to Be Greek” [Spring 2010]. Clearly, being “Greek” is not for everyone and generates a negative response from some. No one would argue that cheating and excessive consumption are ethical and healthy. However, for most students, these are not what being Greek is about. What Mr. Nackman dislikes is, in moderation, about collaborative efforts at success (test banks) and mature socialization (having fun).

Wes Edwards, BA’86
Louisville, Ky.


Eating Well on a Shoestring

I took the SNAP challenge [Spring 2010, The Campus, “Medical Students Get Taste of Budget Dining”] last fall. The SNAP amount for Illinois is $4.50 per person per day. I was able to have some variety in my diet and get 20 grams of fiber. It required planning, cooking, creativity, and shopping at the “stock-up” stores in the area. I bought frozen vegetables and canned fruit. Portion control was critical. I applaud Vandy medical students for this project. It is important to know what you are expecting your clients—your patients—to do.

Jocelyn Mallard
University of Illinois Medical Center