Best supporting actress
A star is reborn: Williams' wife relishes role as cheerleader
Updated: Monday October 29, 2001 4:43 AM
By Jeff Pearlman, Sports Illustrated
PHOENIX -- Of late, her credits have not been especially, umm ... well ... uh, good.
Last year, Michelle Johnson played "Fumiko's Girl" in The Replacements, the dreadful Keanu Reeves football flick (If you're curious -- and those with cranial lobes shouldn't be -- Fumiko was offensive lineman Jumbo Fumiko).
Before that, she was "Vicky Mayerson" in Revenge. Which also was released as Eternal Revenge. Which also was released as Fallen Angel. Which probably shouldn't have been released at all.
Dallas: War of The Ewings and When the Bullet Hits the Bone. Incident at Deception Ridge and Menedez: A Killing in Beverly Hills. Her Finy Fury: Betty Broderick, the Last Chapter and Birds of Prey.
All are movies that (we swear) exist, and all include the work of Johnson, who found fame 17 years ago as the saucy "Jennifer Lyons" in Blame It On Rio. Cinematic classics? Nope. But a gal's gotta work.
During Game 2 of the World Series, Johnson finally got her vintage starring opportunity.
With one out in the seventh inning, two runners on and Arizona leading 1-0, Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Williams approached the plate. A Fox TV camera flashed to Johnson, who not only starred as "Tamara" in Dr. Giggles, but is Williams' wife of two years.
She looked nervous. Scared, even. Then, with one strike, Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte threw Williams a cut fastball that didn't exactly cut. BOOM! The ball traveled 412 feet into the left-field stands.
Williams took two steps, then the camera turned back to Johnson. The star of Trabbi Goes to Hollywood could not contain herself. She burst from her chair, smile wide, arms raised, excited as one could be. She screamed. It was dazzling stuff -- the kind of emotion and realism Hollywood can only dream of.
"Oh, I heard about her, but I didn't see it," Williams said shortly after the game, a 4-0 Arizona win. "I'll have to watch the tape at home."
Minutes earlier, Johnson greeted her husband outside the Diamondbacks' clubhouse. She rubbed his bald forehead with her right hand, then kissed him passionately on the lips. It wasn't just a congratulatory peck, but the embrace of two people who, of late, have been through much.
Williams, an original Diamondback from waaaaay back in 1998, is the city of Phoenix's new official whipping boy, courtesy of a second consecutive injury-plagued season and a terrible Division Series against St. Louis, during which he accumulated just one hit.
The negativity, of course, was unfair and unjustified. Williams has been the unofficial Mr. Diamondback since his arrival four years ago. Need a D'back to pose for pics? Here's Matty. Need a D'back to film a public service spot? Here's Matty again. Public speaker? Infield tips? Electric slide? Matty. Matty. Matty.
"There were a lot of times during the course of this season that a lot of people were ready to give up on Matty," said D'backs manager Bob Brenly. "I never was. I know what he's capable of doing. I know what a warrior he is. I will stick by him as long as he wants to play."
Williams has played. And played. And played. Fifteen seasons. Three World Series.
As he fielded questions by his locker, Williams wiped away the dust from his uniform pants. The man Arizonans gave up on was, once again, the star.
Williams, and his wife, too.