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Pat Jordan
January 06, 1975
Ahead of an athlete, especially one who knew euphoric days of fame, lie retirement and the pain of adapting to another world
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January 06, 1975

After The Sundown

Ahead of an athlete, especially one who knew euphoric days of fame, lie retirement and the pain of adapting to another world

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"I'm trying to show people that sports are fun, that the guy playing touch football in Central Park or the Dickinson team trying to break a losing streak is as important as the professionals. People should play sports more and watch less. I really loved to play baseball. When I wrote my book I wasn't trying to knock the game, just trying to show people how much fun the sport was. It upset me to go on a television talk show where they would sit me down with Dave Meggyesy. He would be wearing his New Left hippie costume and talking about the evils of football and society, and I'd wonder what the hell I was doing there. If I had my way right now I'd go back to the locker room. I might not fit in anymore, but I'd still like to do it."

Throughout the conversation the girls have been casting glances at Bouton. There is something about him that is strange, unreal. It is his face, waxy and orange. He has not removed his makeup and here in the restaurant, away from the distortions of the television camera, he looks unnatural.

"I live from month to month, doing whatever seems interesting at the moment," Bouton is saying. "Sometimes I wish I could do something anonymously. You know, like working with wood. I love the smell of freshly cut wood. I'd love to go off with my family someplace and just make things. But I don't think I could. Everyone would think I was crazy. If I really did go to the country, I might go crazy. Working with wood sounds nice, but maybe it would smell rotten after a while. Jeez, waking up every morning seeing that same wood. I'd have to enter something in a contest. I'd have to win a prize. And when I did, everything would change."

In the back seat of a taxi moving through New York traffic, Arthur Bruce Heyman, a balding, 32-year-old businessman, is silent. His face is blank. His mouth is open, long jaw dropping as if unhinged, eyes wincing as if with pain as he tries to focus on a half-remembered moment in his life, a moment once filled with intensity but grown hazy with the passage of time during a life now devoid of intensity. He leans forward and hugs himself. His knees are jacked up in a fetal position, and slowly, rhythmically, he begins to rock, back and forth, back and forth.

In 1963 Art Heyman, a 6'5" senior at Duke University, was voted the college basketball Player of the Year by the Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Atlantic Coast Conference. During his three varsity seasons he led his team to national rankings (10th in '61, 10th in '62, second in '63). Heyman was a three-time All-America and captain of the Duke team in his final year. "I put the school on the map. I was the first guy who ever went to Duke," he says, ignoring—or oblivious of—the athletic contributions of men like Ace Parker, Sonny Jurgensen and Dave Sime.

The product of affluent parents, Heyman grew up on Long Island in an area where everyone his age wanted to own a car, while he wanted only to play basketball. "I had to play by myself," he says, "so I would go to Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn where guys like Connie Hawkins and Tony Jackson hung around. There were about 10 of us, and I was one of those who didn't get caught in the fixing scandals a few years later. The fixers never approached me because I was too affluent. They figured I didn't need the money."

Heyman graduated from high school with superior grades and nearly 100 offers for college scholarships. One morning Adolph Rupp appeared on his doorstep. Rupp told Heyman's mother that her son should go to the best basketball school in the country, where he would be coached by the best basketball coach in the country. Mrs. Heyman, smiling, said, "Really, Mr. Rupp. And where's that?"

"He was speechless," says Heyman. "At the time I could have gone to any basketball school I wanted. But I was on an ego trip. I wanted to prove that even without basketball I could get into the toughest schools. I'd already had offers from Yale and Harvard, which knew about me, so I applied to one of the few schools that hadn't offered me a scholarship, Williams College in Massachusetts. I applied like any other student. I was going to pay my way if Williams would just take me as a student. But the school turned me down. When I told a friend what had happened he called the Williams coach and told him the university had just turned down the best high school basketball player in the country. The coach went out of his mind. The next day I got a call from Williams. They told me my application had been reevaluated and I had been accepted after all. I told them to go to hell."

As in many of the stories Heyman recounts about his career, the latter may be an exaggeration, if not a downright fabrication; these days officials at Williams College deny it. Recalling his more glorious past, Heyman remembers things as they should have been for a man of greatness.

He enrolled at Duke in the fall of 1959 because the basketball team was only fair and it appealed to his vanity to imagine that he could singlehandedly reverse its fortunes. He had a genuine affection for the new head coach, Vic Bubas, whom he describes as being "like a father." Heyman needed a father, for it soon became obvious that his talent for basketball was exceeded only by his talent for troublemaking. He was involved in numerous fights both on and off the court, one of which (a fraternity-house scuffle in which he allegedly struck a premed student causing him eye damage) resulting in Heyman unsuccessfully being sued for $85,000. On another occasion he was accused of assaulting a North Carolina University male cheerleader at halftime. The charges were dismissed.

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