Judy Kay-Wolff


In every sport and hobby, distinguished performers are honored by their peers (present and past).  Sadly some earn the right because of longevity or undue influence although they may not be qualified to make a knowledgeable and impartial judgment.    In bridge, players are inducted into the Hall of Fame and in baseball, in addition to HOFs, baseball players (in the subject case) have their numbers retired by their teams based on both accomplishments and tributes from the fans.

Today, I took offense at an article written in USA Today by Paul White.   There is no doubt New York Yankee legend Derek Jeter has aged and is not the Jeter of old.   White, in his opinion, adds:

Jeter’s apparent decline as a fielder – and when it might be time to move him from shortstop to a less-demanding position – is another of several potentially delicate issues that will shadow the negotiations between the Yankees and Jeter.   The talks will involve balancing the player Jeter is now with what he represents:   the face of baseball’s most storied franchise, a player whose No. 2 jersey will someday be honored among the retired jersey numbers of Yankees legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.

Perhaps I am being overly sensitive because of my bridge background.  However, I consider it sad that Grant Baze did not make the HOF during his lifetime – as he certainly was at least as accomplished as many others who have been inducted.  I think Mr. White made a humongous omission naming his three idols (Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio).   No one is contesting their accomplishments, but I am offended by his overlooking Mickey Mantle. 

There is not a doubt that Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio were among the Yankee Supremes, but a slightly later day player, MICKEY MANTLE, deserved to be judged on the same overall talent level   In some respects, I am being picky, but when great players are singled out, the absence of someone who has every right to be included among them, is very hard for me to stomach.   If the omission was accidental and careless, it is one thing – but if deliberate, the writer should be ashamed of himself as it appears to me that he is displaying a total bias – not something uncommon in the media.


John Howard GibsonOctober 7th, 2010 at 7:50 am

Dear Judy, Allow me to develop the problem further. Here in Britain, pundits attempt to dream up an invincible team, picking the best 11 footballers taken over a 50 year period. Such nonsense. Many of the old professsionals would never have been able to display their silky skills in the modern, super fit, hard tacking, tactically more aware, game of today. The modern great has a completely different set of attributes from the greats of old. The predatory instinct has replaced dribbling skills. Tireless energetic non-stop running has replaced showmanship….and so on. Perhaps in bridge the qualities found in today’s professionals are not so markedly different from those revered in those triumphed before them? But the nature of the game has certain changed.

Anyway, just wishing to thank you and Bobby for your ongoing supportive comments. Yours JHG ( aks HBJ )

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 7th, 2010 at 6:57 pm


What bothers me so much about the omission of Mantle from the icon status is that he was playing great baseball long before anyone could spell steroids or these commonplace multi-million dollar contracts were like a walk in the park. How quickly we forget!

Every sport has manifested major changes (not all for the best). Examine our own hobby and the heroes of the fifties and sixties who got lots of publicity but little money incentives until professionalism swooped down and took over the game. It is hard to find a truly amateur top team who play for the love of the game where the bottom line is not the almighty dollar.

As Bobby always said — it would be nolo contendere if given a choice play on a professional team and lose *but get paid” or play on a winning team with no money at the end of the rainbow — just the glory and honor.

Another way of looking at it, it will be a sad day when winning Wimbledon in tennis and the Masters at golf where the money prize will be more important than the thrill of the distinguished victory. While going in that direction, how long can it be for bridge to not

be worth playing at all. It may sound sadistic, but I think of it more in terms of being realistic.