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Don't Lower the Bar

Malcolm Berko on

Dear Mr. Berko: California wants to lower the minimum score needed to pass the bar exam. Passing scores on the ACT and the SAT have been lowered. Dayton, Ohio, lowered its requirements for the police exam. Colleges give courses online. States let applicants take physician licensing exams in Spanish. Banks make auto and home loans to people with 550 credit scores. States have lowered requirements to become teachers. I could go on for pages. What do you think? -- JS, Charlotte, N.C.

Dear JS: Thanks for your very long letter. The following is a summary of a recent article by Chris Sperry, a prominent baseball consultant.

In 1996, one of the most storied high school and college baseball coaches, John Scolinos, spoke to a convention of more than 4,000 baseball coaches in Nashville, Tennessee. Scolinos, who had retired from coaching in 1991, shuffled to the stage and received a standing ovation. He wore a string around his neck, from which hung a full-size home plate.

Scolinos spoke for 25 minutes before referring to his home plate necklace. He was mindful of the snickering among some of the coaches and then reproachfully said, "You're probably all wondering why I'm wearing home plate on my neck." He continued, "I may be old, but I'm not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people ... what I've learned about home plate in my 78 years." Then he asked: "Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?"

After a pause, someone said, "17 inches." Scolinos then asked, "How about in Babe Ruth's day?" There was a long pause, and another reluctant coach said, "17 inches."

"Right," said Scolinos. "Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?" Hundreds of hands went up. "How wide is home plate in high school baseball?"

"Seventeen inches," they exclaimed in unison.

"And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?"

"Seventeen inches!"

"Any minor league coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?"

...continued

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