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It is always desirable, when dealing with a weighty story, to have a writer and photographer who are knowledgeable in the field and capable of establishing immediate rapport with the subjects to be interviewed. That goal was more than met this week with J. D. Reed's article Always Ready to Chew the Fat on page 64.
Reed, for certain soul-satisfying purposes of his own, became intrigued with the idea of dining with three of the—to be blunt—fattest celebrated athletes around: Boog Powell, Chris Taylor and Mickey Lolich. And one look at Reed broke down any resistance they might have had to discussing this touchy matter; J.D. weighs in at 300.
Next, it was the job of Photographer Tony Triolo to get Reed's subjects to pose, fork in hand. Happily, Triolo, too, is a man of convincing substance—sometimes as substantial as 245 pounds. He found Powell reluctant at first (i.e., Powell said, "No way!"), but one eater knows how to get to another's soft underbelly. When the Orioles were in Boston Triolo called Jimmy's Harbor Side Restaurant and told them to get the biggest lobster in New England. "They must have thought I was crazy," he said later, "and maybe I was. They produced a 19-pounder, and when they cooked it the shell was so hard you'd have had to crack it with a sledgehammer." They scaled things down to a 10-pounder, which Boog attacked cheerfully but could not finish. His wife and Oriole Trainer Ralph Salvon had to polish it off.
Lolich, on the other hand, was game from the start, as was the chef at the Hotel Pontchartrain in Detroit, who put together an excellent dinner of steak, asparagus tips, giant strawberries and wine. For nine o'clock in the morning. Everything was perfect except the wine, which Triolo sent back in a panic when he discovered it cost $40 a bottle. Lolich took his leftovers to the ball park in a doggy bag.
Chris Taylor proved equally cooperative, though again the spirit turned out to be willing but all that flesh weak; Triolo had ordered 35 double quarter-pounders at a McDonald's but Taylor only made it through three, plus one milk shake (also for breakfast).
Triolo claims to have taken no part in all this eating, but on other assignments he has been known—well known, we may say—to do justice to his share. The best meal he can recall was at a restaurant in Modena, Italy, where he was shooting famous Italian cars. "It was the Fini. We had a pasta misto," Triolo says, with a faraway look in his eye. "And turkey breast with truffles, salad and a very good bottle of Lambrusco." One of his colleagues remembers the trip well: "We had a terrible time getting any work done. We were always eating."
Triolo is in England now for Wimbledon and the British Open, armed with his Good Food Guide and Guide Michelin and accompanied by another pretty stout eater, Photographer Neil Leifer. Leifer took Tony's picture for us in an appropriate Wimbledon—and Triolo—setting (above), but failed to see the humor of Tubby Leifer photographing Tubby Triolo who had photographed Tubbies Powell, Taylor and Lolich for a story by Tubby Reed. Neil even refused to confess how much he weighs. "Just say I'm no lightweight," he suggested modestly.
None of them are.