Stephen Jay Gould

``Mantle also taught me something very special: the universality of excellence. We intellectuals, in our crass parochialism, often imagine that scholars succeed only by a struggle of long years devoted to study but that athletes triumph by untutored skill - the pain of brain versus the gift of brawn. But if I have learned anything from studying the the lives of great ballplayers, Mantle's in particular, I have come to understand the common denominator of human excellence. The potential must be present (and we do not all possess it), but the universal agents of realization are passion to the point of obsession combined with hard, unrelenting work. All achievers are kinsmen in a tough and crowded world.

I do not seek moral lessons from my sports heros. The thrill of witnessing rare excellence will suffice.''

__ Stephen Jay Gould, in ``Mickey Mantle", Sport magazine, December 1986.