For the love of the game

When I was a 9-year-old kid in 1963, we would often walk to Connie Mack Stadium from our home on North 13th Street to see a Phillies game. My older brothers, friends, and I took the 40-minute walk on Sunday afternoon to get a seat in the bleachers for 25 cents. As we neared 21st and Lehigh, the sounds and sights of baseball were everywhere ("Oh, for that sweet silence," Sunday). Outside vendors selling pretzels and peanuts cheaper than inside the park, the push of the crowd from the small side streets and narrow corridors, the cigar smoke, and spilled beer, all vivid memories.

What sticks in my mind most is the silence of the crowd between pitches, the conversations strangers would strike up between innings, and certainly the crowd's reaction. I can't remember the organ music - I'm sure there was some - but I do remember the attentiveness of the crowd. Maybe it was because there no website-like distractions that today's sporting events have, where every moment has to be filled with something other than your own thoughts. I agree with the commentary; there should be at least two silent games per season.

|Fran Wynne, Lansdale

Oh, what a wonderful idea. Commentary writer Mark Bowden's suggestion that the Phillies eliminate the cacophony that now accompanies every baseball game, at least for one or two games, was music to my ears. Let's concentrate on the sport itself. I think there are plenty of fans who would agree with us.

|Mary Beth Miller, Upper Darby

Putting young fans in the seats

We oldsters tend to like things as they ever were. I'm another guy who little appreciates unnecessary noise and hype at the old ball game or elsewhere. But baseball, like newspapers and much else, isn't trying to appeal more to oldsters, the already captured and somewhat taken-for-granted market segment. Baseball wants to appeal to the younger folks, for whom moderation is a wimpy notion, for whom noisy hype to the max is the more-welcome default level of sound, sight, smell, and taste - something that might distract them for a quick-bit from the jones that their handheld devices have over them.

We oldsters tend to get ringing in our ears and floaters in our eyes, and we mostly can come to ignore them. That's what we must do with the noisy hype at the ballpark, where the young will continue to be the much-desired market. As young folks seem to be showing up at the park, it makes dollars-and-cents sense.

|Don DeMarco, Philadephia, donald.demarco@verizon.net

Do city tax abatements pay?

The Building Industry Association of Philadelphia's claim that the city has gained $48 million from properties whose tax abatement has expired is among the most dubious arguments by proponents of the program ("Incentive helps city and neighborhoods," Tuesday).

Would 10 years' worth of rolling taxes on each of those properties have collectively equaled or exceeded that amount? Are we also to believe that none of the houses in question would have been built without these abatements?

Proponents also claim that that the quality of life has improved since the program encouraged development. They conveniently ignore the additional demands on city services, including trash, parking, and congestion, which also cost money that cuts into funds for schools, paving projects, and the clearing of abandoned structures.

No one has shown that the net benefits have exceeded the liabilities of the tax-abatement program or that its continuance is warranted.

|Tom Goodman, Philadelphia

How about a cap?

Since the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia asserts that the typical abated property is assessed at between $200,000 and $300,000, why not cap the abatement at a value of $250,000? With city taxes among the highest in the country, does it make sense to give 10-year abatements to buyers of homes costing millions? It's time we end this welfare for the rich.

|Andrew Terhune, Philadelphia, asterhune@gmail.com

Help strangers beat cancer

I am no stranger to cancer. Not only am I an urologic oncology surgeon; nearly 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, and in July I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia.

My doctors told me that my best chance of survival would be a marrow transplant. Unfortunately, like 70 percent of patients, I didn't have a fully matched donor in my family. My doctors began searching for an unrelated-donor match on the Be The Match Registry, the world's largest and most-diverse listing of potential donors. After six months, and thanks to the selfless act of a stranger, I will be receiving my lifesaving transplant this spring.

I am sharing my story to encourage Philadelphia-area residents to participate in Saturday's Be The Match Walk+Run at the Navy Yard. Every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, and for many patients - like me - a marrow transplant is their only hope for a cure.

The 5K, 1K, and Tot Trot raise funds to support marrow transplant research, help patients with uninsured treatment costs, and add potential marrow donors to the registry, giving more patients hope for a cure. Visit BeTheMatchWalkRun.org to register and learn more.

I hope to see you there.

|Manoj Patel, M.D., Lumberton

U.S. should be a ray of hope

Christine Flowers' column, "A mother's dignity and grace" (Monday) touched and frustrated me. Since female circumcision is an issue we explore in several of my college classes, I read the mother's story with increased determination to find ways to convince those who practice it that there are better ways to prepare young girls for marriage.

The frustration came from the praise heaped on my Catholic Church for its seemingly endless openness to and good care of Muslims. While I am grateful when this is true, I am also deeply mindful of times in our history that showed the opposite. I bring this up because, like my church, my nation often describes itself as the greatest in the world. These days, however, Lady Liberty's torch has a cover over it.

|Marie Conn, Hatboro, mconn56@yahoo.com