DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, my two sons each sent a number of their best baseball cards to big-name professional players, asking for their autographs. They spent hours creating personal letters and precious, individual drawings. They enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelopes and a note asking the player to return the card if, for any reason, he was unable to sign it.
Only one athlete, Orel Hershiser, responded by autographing and returning the children's cards. Mr. Hershiser was in the midst of pitching the World Series for the Indians when the cards were mailed.
There was a time when athletes felt a certain responsibility to be role models for their young fans and were appreciative of their adoring public. Many of today's sports stars have done a 180-degree turn. One other player did return his card, although it was unsigned. However, none of the others responded at all. Surely, major league players can afford to hire someone to handle their mail!
So, to Orel Hershiser I say, "Thank you" -- for setting a good example in both your personal and professional life. You'll always hold a special place in our hearts as the one big-leaguer who cared enough to take a moment of his time to make a kid's day. -- LITTLE LEAGUE MOM, FRUITLAND PARK, FLA.
DEAR MOM: I'm pleased to pass along your message of thanks to Orel Hershiser. In a time when professional athletes regard themselves as products to be marketed, Orel Hershiser seems to regard himself as a traditional sportsman and gentleman.
There's an old saying, "Don't give away what you're selling." Perhaps in some cases it should be amended to, "Don't sell what you should be giving away."