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I have just read Brad Rock's article on Mickey Mantle (Tuesday, Aug. 15). I find his demeaning comments of Mickey Mantle sadistic, boorish and cowardly.

Come on, Brad, don't be such a putz. What have you accomplished in this life that could give you the right to stand in The Mick's shadow? I am really weary of the hypocrisy you and others display when complaining of the Mantles out there that crush your naive perceptions of hero worship. Get a grip.Don't judge Mickey Mantle for his shortcomings, but rather praise him for his accomplishments, right to the end. Mantle was a hero to millions of adults and youth, like myself. He did prove that you can accomplish your dreams if you work hard.

His private shortcomings were not displayed like dirty underwear strung out for all to see.

What does disgust me are today's "wanna-be" heroes like Charles Barkley. No, Barkley certainly is not a role model. That he has decided for himself. What he and others like him have failed to accept is their responsibility to the public to be a role model. After all, how can you appreciate someone who complains that they don't earn enough millions, or after all the millions they do earn, still finds it conscionable to charge young idolizers for their autographs.

It is not Mantle who has destroyed the concept of role models and heroes. It is today's professional athletes that have nuked any concept of respectable sportsmanship and stripped the youth of a sense of responsibility for themselves or anyone else. The youth of today would rather worship role models the likes of MTV, Beavis and Butt-head, and drugged-out, long-haired, half-dead, hard-rock zombies.

Brad, if your only lasting impression of the Mick is a "sickly old man" who didn't quite live up to your self-righteous expectations, then you missed the point. I will always remember a great man who lived a great life and was a hero to me during my youth. His life, and others like him, encouraged me to strive to succeed and to accomplish my goals. I also see a great man at the twilight of his great life who stumbled a few times but in the end had the courage to stand back up, face the truth and humbly taught us that we can overcome our weaknesses.

Robert S. Head