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What Were We Thinking?

Legendary New York sports columnist Dick Young in his first crack at a Baseball America column after being let go by The Sporting News: "The WBA threatened to strip Marvelous Hagler of their recognition if he goes ahead with his middleweight defense against Beast Mugabi on Nov. 14 instead of meeting their No. 1 contender, John Shuler. The threat is meaningless. Promoter Bob Arum got an injunction, will charm the WBA into capitulating as he did before (See Hagler vs. Roberto Duran), and Marvelous will remian the middleweight champion of all self-appointed boxing authorities, which of course he should be."

. . . Yes, one of the conditions of Young writing a column for BA was that he be permitted to also write about b-o-x-i-n-g. Needless to say, it was one of the controversial topics inside the walls of Baseball America and Young’s stay at BA, predictably, was short-lived. Not surprisingly, it resulted in a backlash from readers, with the following letter from Tom Weber of Rochester, Minn., typical of reader sentiments . . .

"Hey guys, now just wait a minute . . . picking up Dick Young as a columnist is one thing, but not editing out his comments about boxing, football and basketball is a cardinal sin for a publication called Baseball America. What’s even more disheartening about Young’s ramblings is they rarely carry him outside of the New York City area. The best thing about Baseball America has been its refusal to pander to the masses. Small towns, small names and small leagues are what make baseball, and Baseball America, great. From now on, please remove Dick Young’s non-baseball comments and devote that space to what you do better than any other publication in the country–covering baseball."

‘The Baseball Junkies’ Newspaper’

Boston Globe baseball columnist Peter Gammons coined the phrase in the mid-80s; after appearing on the cover of Baseball America for several issues, it stirred a lot of debate–at a time when drugs were at the forefront in both society and baseball. The dissenters eventually won out, and the slogan was removed.

. . . "I found it very disturbing to see that you’ve incorporated the slogan ‘The Baseball Junkies Newspaper’ right on the front cover. Is this an attempt to be cute, or are you not aware that baseball is undergoing a severe drug crisis."–David Champion, Albany, N.Y.

. . . "Please don’t drop your slogan (The Baseball Junkies’ Newspaper). Reader Champion is way off base and probably doesn’t allow his son to see the underwear pages in the Sears catalog, either. I’m a baseball junkie, and Baseball America is my paper."–Thomas Murphy, San Jose.

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