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August 23, 1999
Tony Martin on Trial Miami Bleach
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August 23, 1999


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Nineteen-year-old Sergio Garcia looked like golf's next immortal at last week's PGA Championship, but not every teenage sports sensation lives up to his promise. Here are half a dozen whiz kids and their varied career trajectories.






Dan Fortmann Chicago Bears

Joined Monsters of the Midway as 19-year-old out of Colgate in 1936

Hitchhiked to Chicago, played guard and linebacker for George Halas at $150 a game

All-Pro guard from '38 through '43 helped Bears edge Redskins 73-0 for 1940 NFL title

Midway Monstering interfered with his medical training, so he retired after '43 season at age 26

A prominent Burbank, Calif., surgeon, Dr. Dan made Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965 and died in '95

Joe Nuxhall Cincinnati Reds

Lefty hurler, 15, gave up 5 runs in ⅔ of an inning vs. Cards on June 10, '44

Instantly dumped, he went back to high school and didn't return to the majors until '52

Never a Cy Youngster but went 17-12 in '55, his best year

Finished 135-117 with 3.90 ERA before moving to Reds radio booth

Still signs off, "This is the old lefthander, rounding third and heading for home"

Moses Malone Utah Stars

First pro basketballer to skip college ball joined ABA's Stars at 19 in 74

Elbowed by teammate for putting hand over heart for pregame Pledge of Allegiance

Jumped to NBA in 76; won three league MVP awards, with Rockets and Sixers

Sixers re-signed him in '93 for mission impossible: mentoring Shawn Bradley

Retired since '94, he'll watch Moses Jr., 19, play guard for Texas Tech this season

Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers

At 17, youngest Oiler had 46 goals as WHA's 79 Rookie of the Year

Hip-, body-and skull-checked by goons dying to intimidate the golden boy

An alltime Great One at 21 as he racked up 212 points in'81-82

Postseason scoring king missed playoffs in his final two years with rotten Rangers

With the usual waiting period waived, he'll skate into NHL Hall of Fame in November

Tracy Austin WTA

Only 16 when she beat Chris Evert to win 79 U.S. Open

None—in '77 the human backboard won the first pro event she entered

Named AP's female athlete of 79, the year she got her driver's license

Back and shoulder woes forced retirement when she was only 20

Mom of two makes big cake as TV talking head and won't turn 40 until 2002

Sergio Garcia PGA

At last week's PGA he became the youngest golfer to lead a major

Withdrew from '99 St. Jude Classic with a really horrible zit

Already the European tour's fifth-ranked player in his rookie year

Tournament schedule leaves him less time to watch Saturday morning cartoons

Most likely to succeed David Duval as golf's fearless Tiger tamer

Tony Martin on Trial
Miami Bleach

The money laundering trial of Dolphins wideout Tony Martin—he's charged with writing checks and leasing cars for alleged cocaine dealer Rickey Brownlee, who repaid him in cash—has provided one of the striking sights of the preseason: coach Jimmy Johnson and eight Dolphins players lumbering into a Miami courtroom on Aug. 2. The Dolphins said they were there to show support for their teammate during jury selection. "I consider Tony a friend, and this is what friends do," said defensive back Terrell Buckley. But federal prosecutors shook their heads at what could also be seen as a ploy to pressure jurors into linking Martin's case to the Dolphins' Super Bowl hopes. "Maybe we ought to just have a scrimmage right here in the courtroom," one lawyer said.

During his trial the former Pro Bowler, who says he never accepted drug money and thought Brownlee was a legitimate businessman, continues to practice with the Dolphins. He started in the team's 26-14 exhibition loss to the Saints last Friday at Pro Player Stadium. A special clause in the four-year, $14.2 million contract he signed on April 9—two months after he was indicted—could allow him to play ball while appealing his conviction if he is found guilty.

In Miami, where NFL fever is running hot this summer, keeping Martin in uniform can seem more important than proving his guilt or innocence. As one of Brownlee's former lawyers told The Miami Herald, "Money laundering happens every day in Miami. But the Super Bowl—how many times do you get the chance to go to the Super Bowl?"

Salt Lake City Tornado
The Day the Sky Fell

The twister that struck Salt Lake City on Aug. 11 left many Utah Jazz employees thinking, There but for the grace of God.... Eighty people were hurt in the storm, and a conventioneer across the street from the Delta Center was killed when the freak funnel cloud slammed into the arena just before 1 p.m., punching holes in the roof, smashing more than 400 glass panels, flooding a dozen luxury boxes and leaving the basketball court damaged by water and tumbling concrete. Had the Jazz or the WNBA Starzz been playing, says Jazz media relations director Evan Silverman, "the fatalities would have been unbelievable."

Jazz general manager Tim Howells stood in a sixth-floor reception area watching the storm develop, then ducked behind a door when he saw it was headed his way. The twister hit the arena's southwest corner. If it had hit the south side, Howells says, "I might not be talking to you."

Security guards Patty Earl, Ray Gunn and Al Higham were unaware of the tornado until it blew out the windows of their Delta Center office, knocked Gunn off his chair and sent Earl flying down the corridor. Higham was cut by a flying brick, but all three escaped serious injury.

Kim Turner, senior media relations director for the Jazz, was on a lunchtime jog when the storm hit. "I saw explosions," he says of the detonation of a Utah Power & Light substation. "Then it was all coming right at me, and that's when I really started running." As Turner hid under a cement archway fronting an apartment just below sidewalk level, the door opened. "What are you doing out here?" asked the woman inside.

"It's a f—-ing tornado!" said Turner, and the apartment dweller ducked back inside, leaving him to face his fate alone.

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