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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)

TITLE: Frank's Epistle to the Legend
By Joanne Sher


4341 State Street
Detroit, Michigan, 48226
Friday, October 8, 1965

Mr. Sandy Koufax
Dodger Stadium
1000 Elysian Park Avenue
Los Angeles, California, 90012

Dear Mr. Koufax,

My name is Frank, and I am 12 years old and in the eighth grade. My English teacher said I need to write a letter to someone I admire, but I probably would have written to you eventually anyway.

Iíve been playing baseball (little league and stuff) since I was in first grade, and I love it. You are one of my favorite baseball players of all time. I try to pitch just like you do, and I even have your rookie card. I was listening on the radio when you pitched that perfect game against the Cubs last month. It was amazing. I would love to see you pitch in person some day, but since I live in Detroit and the Tigers donít play the Dodgers, I doubt it will happen. I sure hope so, though.

One of these days, Iím going to be a major league pitcher, just like you. I practice my pitching, fielding and batting all the time, and Iím playing every chance I get. Iím not as good as you are, but I may be some day! Do you have any advice for me? Iíd love to be able to pitch a curveball like you can.

My dad told me how you were supposed to start the first game of the World Series against the Twins Wednesday, and you didnít because it was a big Jewish holiday. Drysdale really did a lousy job for you, and I hate to say you didnít do much better in game two yesterday. I hope you arenít taking offense Ė I know we all have bad days. I just wonder if you wish you hadnít celebrated that holiday. I think my dad told me you werenít supposed to eat at all on that holiday. Maybe thatís why you werenít pitching so well for game two.

I donít think Iíd ever let a holiday Ė even a big one Ė stop me from playing in the World Series. Of course, Iím not really religious. I guess Iím a Christian. I believe in God and all, and we go to church sometimes. Iím also gonna be going to Detroit Catholic Central High School next year. They have a great baseball program.

I wanted to say that it surprised me when I heard you werenít going to play because of that holiday. Iím not sure I care about anything as much as I care about baseball. I guess itís neat that being Jewish is so important to you. Believing in God sure isnít for me.

Anyhow, I guess you guys are on your way to Dodger Stadium for game three right now, as Iím writing this! I sure hope the Dodgers win the World Series. Like I said, Iím a huge fan, and the Dodgers are my favorite national league team. Iíll be watching on TV, especially since game three is on Saturday and I wonít have to worry about school or anything.

I hope you donít get too much grief for missing that game.

Frank Tanana, age 12

Authorís note: The interaction between these two men is fictional, but the men, and many of the details, are real.

Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers ended up winning the 1965 World Series. Koufax won two of the three games he pitched in the seven game series and was named MVP. He is still applauded by the Jewish community to this day for not playing in that World Series game, which fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Frank Tanana was drafted by the California Angels in 1971 and pitched in the majors for 20 years (1973-1993), mostly for the Angels and the Detroit Tigers. His ďclaims to fameĒ were striking out 17 batters in one game in 1975 and becoming a Christian halfway through his major league career and ministering to the players. He and his wife live in the Detroit area and are involved in several Christian ministries to professional athletes.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 1408 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn02/22/07
This was interesting to learn about. It's a unique take on the topic, and I like the fact that you wrote a letter.
Betty Castleberry02/24/07
I love the brash tone of the boy who wrote the letter. It's a fun read, and you wrote it very well. Kudos!
Joanney Uthe02/24/07
I really like the letter format. Great job. This was interesting reading, and great info in the author's notes.
Allison Egley 02/24/07
I liked the unique take on this topic. I'm pretty sure I've heard of this "incident" before. I'd love to see this expanded to include a possible response letter. At first, I thought it would be a response, but a "form letter" that dashed the little boy's hopes. I'm glad that wasn't the case! Great job.
Jacquelyn Horne02/24/07
Yes, I enjoyed this too. Love the notation at the end that the little boy had become a Christian. I also loved his brashness in the letter denouncing any part of taking religious holidays seriously. Good writing. Boy, I'll bet the judges had a hard time with all these good challenges!
Helen Paynter02/24/07
This is super - I loved it before I discovered the true story behind it, but that made it even more special.
I'm glad you didn't succumb to the temptation to add a reply, or to have the little boy change his mind, or something. An open ending is (in my opinion) a million times stronger (unless it actually happened differently).
Patty Wysong02/24/07
I like this! You caught how a 12 year old thinks and I liked that you tied it up at the end by letting us know he went on to become a ball player and a christian. Good job!! :-)
Sharlyn Guthrie02/25/07
I like your letter idea, and the notes at the end really made this a full circle story. Terrific writing!
Jen Davis02/25/07
I really liked the letter format and your intro. I think you did a great job of capturing the voice of a twelve year old boy. The letter took an interesting and unexpected twist toward the middle. ďI guess Iím a ChristianÖĒ--sad, but sometimes true.

I also agree with Helenís comment about the open ending being much stronger. It is more realistic. And this one was great!
Jan Ackerson 02/25/07
Great job! This is a great way to tell one story, and to suggest the other. Extremely effective, and great writing.
Brenda Craig02/25/07
I loved this the first time I read it and it only gets better with each read. You did such a wonderful job with this format. I agree with all the other comments about capturing the mind and words of a 12 year old.

Children haven't learned tact and speak what is in there heart so many times. This expresses that well. I am so glad he became a Christian. Wonderful job!!
Tabiatha Tallent02/26/07
I enjoyed this piece, especially the notes at the end. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
Marilee Alvey02/26/07
FRANKly, I smell a winner here! You were right on topic. It was very creative in the format. The 12 year old's voice was authentic and genuine. You gave us an insight over some historical information that we didn't know. This is a standout in my opinion. Fresh and innovative. I agree with Helen, it is much better to leave it open ended than to slap on a "sweet, resolved ending." Joanne, seriously, this is one of my favorites this week. Congratulations! It's an excellent piece!
william price02/26/07
I am totally 100 percent sincerely impressed!
I really liked this. I loved Sandy Koufax too. And the Frank Tanana curve was awesome. I knew him too, at least from a fans perspective. Super writing. Great story. Creative approach and delivery. Maybe the key to victory this week will be having a character named "Frank" in the story:)
Great job, Joanne! One of my favorites in my short time here at FWs. God bless.
william price02/26/07
Oh yes. I'm a big fan of research. Your research was spot on, even down to the careers of the two players so the story fits the timeline if it would have indeed happened. This is great even down to the smallest detail a reader on first read might miss or fail to appreciate. Did I tell you yet, I really liked this:) God bless.
Suzanne R02/27/07
Although I know nothing about the sport discussed, even I was sucked into the admiration of this school boy for his hero, but his confusion over his hero's stand of faith. To then discover that it was based on truth was a mega bonus. Well done!!!
TJ Nickel02/27/07
Refreshing, original, and professional writing. Thanks.
T. F. Chezum02/27/07
An original concept and an excellent read. You did a very good job with this piece. I like it a lot.
Loren T. Lowery02/27/07
I could just picture everthing - a wonderful, informative read. Good, descent role models are so important to bring out he best in all of us.
James Clem 02/28/07
Joanne - a fantastic slice of baseball history. Good blend of historic fact and fiction. The Note was especially enjoyable and particularly pleased that you included the holiday.
Sara Harricharan 02/28/07
This was different! I'm not a big baseball fan, but this sure held my interest and made me want to know more! I like the form of using a letter, it was right on target with the age mentioned. Good job ^_^
Crista Darr02/28/07
I love the example Koufax makes placing his priorities in the right place. And God honored that! The greatest part about this piece (imho) is the hint of placing baseball or anything in a place of idolatry. Hmmmm. Something to think about. Blessings!
Elizabeth Bussey03/01/07
Neat title and a nice approach to sharing a little history. One paragraph distracted me a little. The boy's language "lousy job...taking offense" made him seem a touch older than the rest of the letter, but overall I enjoyed reading this piece.
Betty Castleberry06/24/08
Love the letter format. It's one of my favorites. Love your MC, too. What he wrote is very believable. This is a winner in my book!
Seema Bagai 06/24/08
I liked the letter format of this piece. Some of the boy's sentences made him seem older than 12, probably because it was written by an expert writer. ;) Thanks for the notes at the end.
Sherry Castelluccio 06/24/08
Joanne, this was just awesome. I had no idea so much of it was taken from real life! Fun stuff! Thanks for posting this.
Deborah Engle 06/24/08
This was so creative.
You got my attention when you mentioned Frank Tanana. He used to attend the same church as my brother-in-law, Tim. Frank had a special fondness for Tim's toddler Doug, and would carry him around after services. Doug didn't end up much of an athlete, but he is an excellant musician. Maybe some of that talent rubbed off after all, just went in a different direction.
Loren T. Lowery06/25/08
This is as strong today as when I read it...such a great message. My oh my, do we ever need more role models like this. Great job and your research simply makes it believable that our acts can and do affect the lives of others.
Gerald Shuler 06/25/08
This shows the child's heart so clearly. Very enjoyable read... even though sports is a foreign lanquage to me.
Well done.
Catrina Bradley 06/25/08
I missed this one the first time! I'm so glad you linked to it - it's very original and, tho fictional, sounds like it could have been a real letter. I appreciate the note at the end too - makes the article all the better. :)
Pat Guy 06/25/08
What a typical 12 yr. old! You captured the period and voice as it carried us all the way through. Loved the POV -- creative and flowing.
Cassie Memmer06/25/08
I am not a baseball fan, but you sure held my interest. You gave us facts without it being boring at all! I'm glad you told us of Koufax missing that game because of the Jewish holiday, what an example he set! Very nice writing, great p.o.v., I enjoyed this very much.