Ridlon locks the back door of the house and climbs into his car for the drive to the university and his office in the Greek Revival building that is Crouse College, the art school. He slips a cassette into his tape deck. "It's strange, or maybe it isn't, but all four of my sons were also dyslexic and all of them went to college and are doing well today." The tape is not playing music. "It's Kafka." he says. "I listen to books on my way to and from school and while I'm working on a painting or a sculpture. I love Kafka's The Castle. You know, to me, with all of the problems I had as a kid, there is nothing quite so beautiful as the spoken word, and I can't believe how beautifully this man writes. Listen."
Craig swan's 12-year major league pitching career, all but two games of it with the New York Mets, was more significant for what it might have been than for what it was. After setting school records at Arizona State for wins (47) and strikeouts (459), he was drafted by New York in 1972 and was pitching in the big leagues, if only briefly, a year later. But from the beginning, his brilliant prospects were dimmed by a bewildering succession of physical problems. In 1973, he had an appendectomy that was followed by peritonitis. In '74, he suffered a stress fracture of his pitching elbow. In '78, he had a stomach disorder the Mets called gastroenteritis, but which Swan now says was a duodenal ulcer. In 1980 and '81, he was plagued by a tear in his rotator cuff, as well as, in '81, by a fractured rib. And in 1982, he was treated for a boil under his right armpit that eventually resulted in torn tissue there. This last injury ended his career in 1985. He had won only 59 games, but his medical history had opened his eyes to unforeseen possibilities. The year he quit playing he enrolled in the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Rolfing, as defined in the Rolf Institute literature, "is a technique for reordering the body to bring its major segments—head, shoulders, thorax, pelvis, legs—toward a vertical alignment. Generally speaking, the Rolfing technique lengthens the body, approaching an ideal in which the left and right sides of the body are more nearly balanced."
All this is achieved by manipulation of the connective tissue—or fascia—between the muscles, as well as by educating the Rolfee to the importance of carrying himself properly. It is a system developed by the late Dr. Ida P. Rolf, who had been an organic chemist at the Rockefeller Institute. There are only 641 Rolfers practicing throughout the world. Craig Swan of Greenwich, Conn., is one of them.
His office is on the top floor of a modest, white three-story building in downtown Greenwich. Swan's clients vary in age from 10 to 80. Most come to him because they are suffering, as he once did, from specific pain. In the end, says Swan, the suffering will be alleviated because the subject will be healthier, more energetic and walking taller. "We can't take a person's arthritis away, but we can stop it from getting worse," he says. Swan was first Rolfed when he tore his rotator cuff. The treatment, he claims, allowed him to pitch for another two years, and he became so fascinated with the procedure that he decided to make it his career.
At 38, he looks young and fit enough to go nine, even leaner than when he was cranking it up for the Mets. He is dressed this day in khaki pants and an orange polo shirt. He will go through several of these shirts in a working day, because Rolfing can be as strenuous as pitching. Each session of manipulating muscle-connecting tissue lasts from an hour to 90 minutes.
"One of our jobs is to make people take responsibility for their own body structure," he says. "I will tune you up, but you are responsible. People become more aware of their bodies after they've been Rolfed. It's an advantage to have this knowledge, because you know how to relax your muscles. It may involve nothing more complicated than changing the way you hold the steering wheel or the way you sit in a chair, but you can make yourself feel better. There's no doubt in my mind now that my injuries could've been avoided if I'd been more aware of my body. I'm not quite ready yet to take Rolfing into sports, but I can envision a time when every team in all sports will have a Rolfer."
Swan sits down on his own Rolfing table. "To be able to help people this way is something I've always wanted in life," he says, smiling brightly. "It's just fortunate I found Rolfing. I didn't even have time to dwell on the fact, as some do, that, God, I'm no longer a baseball player. I guess I started thinking about the end the first time I hurt my arm. I don't have to wonder anymore what I'm going to do. I've really found my niche in life."
Madeline Manning Mims was on four U.S. Olympic track teams, the gold medalist in 1968 at 800 meters and a silver medalist in '72 on the 4 X 400-meter relay team. In 1976, she became the first American woman to break two minutes in the 800 (1:59.8), and later that year, in the U.S. Olympic Trials, she lowered the American record to 1:57.9. In 1980, at age 32, she again made the Olympic team but did not compete because of the U.S. boycott. She raced one more year, and then retired. Almost as well known by then for her gospel singing, she gave concerts, made recordings and sang the national anthem at various sporting events. She had been singing and sharing her faith in prisons since 1975, and in 1982 she was ordained a minister of the Faith Christian Fellowship International. That same year she founded Friends Fellowship, Inc., a religious organization that counsels women who are incarcerated in the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in Oklahoma City and the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis.
She is a tall, graceful woman, so regal in bearing that she looks chic in blue jeans and red sweater and with her hair swathed in a bright kerchief. She, her husband (and business manager), Roderick, and their 13-month-old daughter, Lana Cherelle, live in a pleasant home on busy 51st Street, about 10 minutes from downtown Tulsa. She also has a son, John Jackson, 18, from an earlier marriage; he is a student at Ohio Dominican College. Mims herself was born in a Cleveland housing project.