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Diamond Dust

July 31, 1994

What an ugly display of locker-room banter, or as I refer to it, verbal abuse ("Playing Hardball," by Pat Jordan, June 26).

" 'Women have some disadvantages when competing against men . . . which are inherent in physiology.' 'The girls in Thunder Bay are the easiest lay.' 'It's like they used us . . . now they don't need us.' 'We gotta kill these bitches.' "

What blatantly sexist hate-mongering against female players! Noting that sort of mentality, I can better understand the likes of Mike Tyson--and, dare I say, perhaps O. J. Simpson.

Will someone train these animals to respect women and to give women the dignity they deserve as human beings--and do it before we say, "Play ball!"

CECILE WOLFE

Los Angeles

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Pat Jordan is mistaken that before Phil Niekro there had never been a starting pitcher who was successful solely with the knuckleball. Less than 50 years ago, the majors' first winning knuckleballer, Emil (Dutch) Leonard, pitched well into his 40s for the old Washington Senators, a team that never had much success.

MORT ALAN

Canyon Country

Jordan replies: Leonard threw knuckleballs but also got batters out with his fastball and curve. It wasn't uncommon during the '20s, '30s and '40s for pitchers to use the knuckleball as an off-speed pitch. Niekro, however, was the first successful starting pitcher to rely almost solely on the knuckleball, which he threw about 99% of the time.

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