To the editor: Tom Hayden was also a real baseball guy. For 10 years, he was the starting first baseman for my team. ("'The radical inside the system': Tom Hayden, protester-turned-politician, dies at 76," Oct. 23)
On his 70th birthday, we met at Clover Park in Santa Monica, and I pitched him 70 fastballs to hit. Then he fielded 70 grounders, and we played catch for 70 throws. He played five more seasons after that.
Hayden grew up a Tigers fan, but he wore Dodger blue after moving to Los Angeles in the 1970s. As his body was giving out this last week, he wanted to fight to stay alive so he could witness three things: to see the Dodgers in the World Series again (but the night before he died, we watched his beloved team get eliminated by the Cubs), the black community politically mobilized and unified and Hillary Clinton win the election.
The last time I saw him alive, Hayden could no longer speak, but we gave each other the crossed-fingers sign. Rest in peace, brother.
Larry George, Santa Monica
To the editor: Mentioning Hayden usually brought on two very different reactions. To liberals, he was a hero for many of their causes. To conservatives, he was an anti-American agitator and troublemaker.
According to The Times' obituary, Hayden had some regrets, including unintentionally demonizing Vietnam veterans. Whatever one's opinion of the man, he is now past the point of listening to criticism. It will be up to historians to debate whether his impact was a positive one for our society or a negative one.
As with most public figures, the truth will probably be found somewhere in the middle.
Charles Reilly, Manhattan Beach