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January 15, 1980 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-15

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qge 4--Tuesday, January 15, 1980-The Michigan Daily
4.
Ninety Years of Editorial F
Vol. XC, No.85
Edited and managed by students at the U
Keep politic,;
the Olympic
N HERECENT clamor among sweepin
national politicians and the public unrest,
pressing for the U.S. to pull out of the who mi
1980 Olympics is an understandable tion witi
reaction to the Soviet Union's invasion televisio
of Afghanistan. Such a move on the propaga
part of the U.S., however, would be ex- tune wi
tremely ill-advised. Games.
It is terribly unfortunate that the But th
Games have been used in recent years stoop t
for political ends; surely the Olympics athletes
are one international institution that represe
should remain immune to geopolitical while fa
conflicts. At one time, the arts were through
able to transcend politics by and large, decision
but recent events have been conflict
disillusioning, what with defections Kremlin
and Soviet cancellations of arts events Afghani
.thrusting them into the political,
spotlight. International scientific The
cooperation has yielded somewhat bet- ching d
ter results, as on two occasions over ts legiti
the past year, the two major world best to
powers offered medical treatment to Americ
each other's citizens. Germai
But the cooperative effort that at- Hitler
tracts the most attention, not from the tability
" intelligentsia, but from the common Brezhn(
men and women of the world, are the rights,i
quadrennial games. Once upon a time, fected 1
the Olympics really were a chance to have t
Ssuspend political quarreling in favor of diploma
honest, simple, clean competition bet- the Sov
A ween nations of all ideologies. The tra gesture
gic slaughter of Israeli athletes by While
Palestinian terrorists at Munich more th
severely wounded the apolitical nature peace,1
Zof the Olympics. The haggling over the returnii
two Chinas then marred the Montreal left tha
games in 1976. As a result, the call for reason;
withdrawal from the Moscow games seemed
may look like just another part of an powers,
inevitable and reasonable pattern. find our
7Indeed, the Soviets are already busy ch is stil
y
x4

Welcome to the Hall of Fame,

reedom
News Phone: 764-0552
iiversity of Michigan
S out of
games
g away signs of dissident
imprisoning and exiling any
ght rise to express dissatisfac-
h the regime in front of NBC's
n camera in August. Moscow's
ndistic cosmetics are hardly in
th the spirit of the Olympic
e U.S. need not and should not
o the Soviet's tactics. Our
will be visiting Moscow as
ntatives of a country that,
ar from perfect, has learned
painful experience to tolerate
s made abroad, even ones that
with the national interest. The
i, for its part, doesn't care what
stan wants.
argument is made that mar-
ocilely off to the U.S.S.R. gran-
macy of a sort that it would be
withhold. Analogy is made to
a's participation in the 1936
n games, which helped Adolph
secure a position of respec-
y in Europe. But while
ev is no champion of human
no change could possibly be ef-
by boycotting the Games. We
been engaging in normal
atic relations and trading with
nets for decades, and such a
would be hypocritical.
detente has not bred much
ian hope in the quest for world
its failures are no excuse for
ng to a Cold War mentality. We
t dismal era behind for good
however wide the canyon
I to be letween the super
the time had come to try to
mutual way across. That sear-
11 imperative.

Al:

You deserve the honors

It remains down through the
years one of my most tenacious
childhood memories. The time
was June, 1956. The setting was
Detroit's Briggs stadium (as they
called it in those days), then as
now a kid's paradise of good guys
-vs.-bad guys innocence. The
main event was the Yankees
against the Tigers, or, more ac-
curately, Mantle vs. Kaline: The
ideal matchup of two young
athletes who were just coming in-
to their prime, whose talents
were just then blossoming inton
full superstardom.
Those gifts would eventually
ebb and slide away over the years
as the two players grew up, then
grew old together; yet on this
suntorched Saturday afternoon,
time and age had no meaning.
This was to be a duel of youn~g
titans, a fierce, priceless sports
icon captured forever in
memory.
FIRST INNING, Yankees at
,bat-Casey Stengal's despised,
feared, invincible Bronx
Colosseuses. With one man on,;
Mantle blisters a drive into the
rightfield upper deck-two to zip.
Comes the bottom of the first, and
Kaine-our guy, our own
hero-answers by parking his
own shot into the left-field seats.
Thirty-odd thousand fans explode
alongwith myself-Tigers 2,
Yankees 2.
A couple of innings later, Man-'
tle singles,home a third run.
Kaline immediately responds by
doubling home the Tigers' third.
Sixth inning : with a man on,
Mantle delivers a missile shot off
the third-deck roof-even in our
disappointment, we kids gape in
awe over how a mortal human
being could hit a baseball that
hard and that far. Our Al can't
match his rival this time-a long
fly ball in the best he can
manage.
BOTTOM OF THE eighth: still
5 to 3, Yanks. A pall has settled
over the crowd, yet the kidsecon-
tinue to- yell their lungs out,
hoping for a miracle. Things turn
for the better-suddenly there

By Christopher Potter

are two on, two out and Kaline at
bat. Call it karma, predestination
or whatever psychic nametag
you prefer, but each and every
one of us suddenly knows, with
the assuredness of prophets we
know Al is going to do it for us.
Al does-a high, long glorious
drive into the deep recesses of
upper left field. Tigers
lead ... Tigers lead. The old
canoe-green stadium rocks and
shakes with ecstacy as our
warrior circles the bases in
triumph. For a brief moment,
all's right with an otherwise im-
perfect world-as he vindicates
his team, young Al Kaline vin-
dicates our own selves.
It's memories like these that
are lent a distinctly sour taste by
the officialized reaction of
Detroit's press and media to Al
Kaline's induction last week into
baseball's Hall of Fame. Though
waxing dutifully ecstatic over
their man's selection, most of the
local wordsmiths seem obsessed
with portraying our new inductee
as a shy, diminutive counter-
balance to the flamboyant,
grasping superstars around him.
Here, they proclaim, is a
modest, humble man who deter-

minedly parlayed his quiet
abilities into a ni'che alongside
the more talented-always more
talented-but more selfish prime
donnas he played opposite to. Al
never entertained false self-
expectations; he was merely a
decent, class guy who never
mouthed off, who quietly did his
job without greed or complaint.
Of course he never stirred up the
adrenalin like a Mickey Mantle, a
Willie Mays or other such
charismatic types-rather,
steadiness and endurance were
his primary legacies.
THUS HAS LIMPED the of-
ficial lexicon of apologetic,
almost mournful accolades: "He
never truly attained the fame, or
the fortune, that was bestowed
upon other ballplayers of his era
and his efficiency," intones the
Free Press's Jim Hawkins;
"They never hung out any ban-
ners for him ... Nobody even
seemed to notice he was around.
He was-well, just there,"
laments the New's Joe Falls. In
an absurdly condescending
editorial, the Free Press asserts
"Al Kaline was just a good all-
around baseball player ... His*
fielding and batting never

created much excitement... By
all the commonly accepted
popular wisdom, he was the sort of
person who should have been an
also-ran ... When people such as
Al Kaline earn distinctions, it has
a meaning that transcends
baseball." In other words, if a
schlemiel like Al Kaline could get
this far, then drones like you or I
could do the same.
To all of which I say balder-
dash. Not exciting? Were there
journalistic turkeys actually
living in Detroit, watching the
man all those years? Al Kaline
was one of the most exciting ball
players I ever saw in my life. My
memory is emblazoned forever
by all those countless cat-
ches-wall-climbing, grass-
sprawling spectaculars in th9
right field he owned like a god,
from which he routinely cut down
enemy base runners with throws
that bore the precision of a lazer
beam. How many recollections
beyond that-memories of hits,
hundreds of crucial hits delivered
time and again by one of the
greatest clutch hitters who ever
lived?
Taken for granted, this man?
Don't feed me such tripe. For m
and for thousands of other young
would-be jocks growing up in
that era, Al Kaline was the Detroit
Tigers. His innate decency and
his mercurial abilities combined
to makehimra hero almost too
good to be true in a time which
then as today suffered from a
lack of champions to emulate.
To claim that Kaline's election
to the Hall symbolizes the trium -.
ph of the common man cheape4
both the honor and the"
achievement which brought it.
In both character and abil-
ity, Al Kaline was a most
uncommon man, an athlete
whose distinctive combination of
energy and grace will be remem-
bered as long as the game is
played. Assuredly, no man ever
needed condescention less.

V
_.. -
\ 'r
r
" 1...n...
f. Nl
k '
i J
a
__ LJ'!"t i l /

Christopher Potter is
dean of Daily arts critics.

the

Cancer-stricken POW tries
to pr ove he was, in the Navy"

nl

I

r

44

ROCK FALLS, Ill. (AP)-The
guns don't go off in Joe Hermes'
dreams anymore, but the
war-and his one brief,
breakneck moment of
heroism-still lives in his
memory.
Other POWs said he deserved a
medal for what he'd done, but
that was a long time ago. He's 70
now and dying of cancer spread
throughout his chest and he can't
even get a room at a Veterans
Administration hospital.
Hero or no hero, the gover-
nment says it has no record of
Joseph M. Hermes, U.S. Navy.
"THEY SAY THEY don't have
any'records showing he was in
the service," said his younger
brother, Francis. "They said for
us to go out and find three people
who saw him sworn in, but how
are we going to do that? I don't
know where they are or even if
they're still alive."
The VA says Hermes' story is
probably true, but somebody
forgot to do the paperwork. Of-
ficials at the Rock Falls VA office
say they haven't even notified
Washington of Hermes' request
for cancer treatment because
there's nothing in the files about
him.
The bureaucratic tangle began
in December 1941, a couple of
days after Pearl Harbor. Her-
mes-a broad-shouldered, 6-
footer with steady blue grey
eyes-was working on the island
of Guam as a blasting expert for
a private construction company.
WITH THE JAPANESE expec-
ted to st'orm ashore at any time,
the island governor, Capt.
George McMillin, ordered that
everything of military value be
destroyed.
"This Navy officer said he
didn't have anybody in his outfit

had the authority to do that."
Hermes said he was issues a
military jeep and told to pick up
six volunteers to set explosive
charges on equipment. weapons,
supplies, fuel tanks and power
houses.
In the final frantic hours as
Japanese ships appeared of-
fshore and enemy planes strafed

names-a civilian named H. H.
Sachers, an enlisted Navy man
maned Philip Sanders and an of-
ficer named Fisher, whom Her-
mes claims sworn him into ser-
vice.
But Bartels said it is not up to
the VA to try to find the men, put-
ting the onus on Hermes to find
them and prove he was sworn in._

'Other POWs said he deserved a medal
for what he'd done, but that was a long
time ago. He's 70 now and dying of can-
cer spread throughout his chest and he
can't even get a room at a Veterans Ad-
ministration hospital."

By Wayne Slater

camps, Hermes said, the last
thing he wanted to think about
was what happened on Guam.
"They treated us kinda rough,"
Hermes said of his last years in
captivity. "By the time I left
Guam, I couldn't stand on m
feet. I got up to 100 pounds fro i
156., had to eat grass, weeds,
anything with sprouts, to keep
alive. They used to beat me up for
tryingto escape."
After the war, Hermes did not
adjust well. "He wouldn't do
nothing," said Francis. "He'd
just sit and stare in a corner."
Gradually, Herme. .resolved
his problems and worked for 3Q,
years, mostly as a construction
worker. ,
He doesn't work anymore.
Weakened by cancer, he spends
most of his days watching TV at
home. He coughs when he talks:
Francis said doctors have given
his brother perhaps two years to
live if chemotherapy treatment
is continued.
The chemotherapy at a Rock-
ford hospital is covered b
Medicare and a private insura
ce policy, but Hermes fears that
coverage may not be enough and
that, without access to a VA
Hospital or some help, the future
of his medical treatment is un-
certain.
Wayne Slater is a writer for
the Associated.Press.

0

I

I

f

U.6

the island, hermes said he zig-
zagged from point to point, -set-
ting off explosives. He said he
was wounded but kept going.
"WHEN THE Japanese were
landing, we still had things
blowing up," he said. "We took
off and here they was coming,
strings of soldiers in trucks and
little short tanks. You' could see
the water was thick with ships."
Captured in the attack, Hermes
said he spent the next four years,
the remainder of World War II, in
a series of prisoner of war camps.
Don Bartels, service officer for
the Illinois Department of

' BARTELS BLAMES THE
Navy officer on Guam for failing
to do his paperwork. He also said
Hermes should have settled his
affairs immediately after the war
when verification would have
been easier.
But after four years in POW

Letters to the Daily

e tic town BMW

EDITORIAL STAFF
Sue Warner......... EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Richard Beke, ,.Julie Revner.. ......MANAGING EDITORS
Michael Arkush, Keith Richburg.....EDITORIAL DIRECTORS

BUSINESS STAFF
LISA CULBERsON..........................Business Manager
ARLENE SARYAN...........................Sales Manager
BETH WARREN.........................Dislay Manager

To the Editor:
Defenders of American
capitalist imperialism are shed-.
ding crocodile tears over the

gain domination over the rich
mineral resources and oil of
Southeast Asia, and is now
threatening to do the same thing

I

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