Talk to any hammer and weight thrower and it's 5 to 1 he can't go more than a minute without mentioning Harold Connolly's name at least three times. Connolly is a father image, and a very powerful one. Frenn used to drive Burke crazy by whispering, "Father's here," or "Father's coming," or "Father's going to beat you." They all want to beat him; yet, after beating him, it's just as important that he come up, pat them on the head and say well done. Which he seldom does. Of course, sometimes he doesn't have a chance. In 1966, after a certain hammer thrower beat Connolly for the first time, he raced over and screamed, "I finally beat you, you old man." Then he spat in Connolly's face. Connolly considered patting him on the head with a 16-pound hammer, but didn't.
"I was there when the guy did it," said Frenn. "I was stunned. Right then I decided that when I beat Harold I would never act like that. God, it was terrible."
Last Friday morning Connolly spotted Frenn in their New York hotel lobby. As Connolly walked past Frenn he patted him on the back and offered a pleasant good morning. Frenn stared back. "I got Harold," he said when Connolly had left. "If he was ready, really feeling vicious for this meet, he would have just glared at me. He's not feeling ornery enough to win."
Connolly drew the first throw. He works quickly, taking about 30 seconds from the time he enters the ring until he releases the weight. His first attempt was 65'4". Not very good. Out in the area just beyond where the weights fall, Frenn was pacing rapidly back and forth. He was the third to throw. He works very slowly, taking a full two minutes.
Even in practice, during the lonely hours at Cal State in Long Beach, the 28-year-old junior high physical education teacher follows the same routine. "My therapist told me to do that," Frenn says. "Most athletes keep changing. Then they do a 17-foot vault or a 27-foot long jump and they don't know how they did it. I break a world record, I know exactly how I did it."
First he bounces the weight off the ground, knocking away any dirt. Then he walks into the ring, setting the weight in the rear. Always at the same spot. He leaves the ring, removing his sweat shirt. After a quick spray of his glove with Firm Grip, he takes off his sweat pants. Then, knocking the dirt from his shoes, he re-enters the ring for a brief exercise before checking the throwing area. Friday it was dark inside the bubble at Baker Field so he asked an official to stand on the 70-foot line. "I need a target," he said. No one asked the official how he felt being the target for a 35-pound ball of lead. Finally Frenn picks up the weight, swinging it twice between his legs and once around his head. Three spins and away it goes. His first throw was 66'9".
"I want to start slowly," he said. "I don't want to foul. When I start off badly I go all the way. It's like falling off a cliff."
By the time Frenn was ready for his third throw, Connolly was leading with 67'7�". Frenn went through his routine, then bent over to pick up the weight. "And right there, when you pick up that weight, your life expands," he said later. "Your whole life passes before you. When I picked it up that time I was thinking about Burke and how he once psyched me out. I had an extra piece of leather on my throwing glove. It was perfectly legal, but Burke complained and some fool official made me take it off. Well, now I use it all the time, and I was thinking, well, now I can throw like I want for the first time in the nationals." Frenn turned the weight loose, let go with a low Tarzanian yell and watched it sail 69'10�". Then he stalked back to his post in center field and watched the others shoot for that mark and fail. To make sure, on his fourth throw Frenn hit 70'5�".
Connolly came over and shook his hand. "You did well," said Father. Then, grinning, he added, "But we both should have done better."
"Harold, I beat you and I don't want you to think I am apologizing for doing it," said Frenn. "But I want to say that to me you're still a champion. And I want to thank you for all the help you gave me in the past. But remember, I'm not apologizing."