- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Once among the world's fastest women, the sprint champion now cuts to the chase as a hairstylist
AFTER THEY walk through the glass doors of the Nubiance Salon in Stone Mountain, Ga., new customers might not recognize the woman whom Jamaican sprinter Juliet Cuthbert once called "the biggest bitch in track." They take a seat at the third station on the right and start chatting and laughing with the pleasant stylist. It's often not until the clients have been handed a bill with the full name of their coiffeuse that shrieks of recognition commingle with the roaring of blow-dryers. "I thought one lady was going to faint," says the stylist-- Gwen Torrence, one of the fastest women in the world for a decade before retiring in the late '90s.
In some ways, all that the 41-year-old Torrence accomplished on the track--including winning five Olympic medals, three of them gold--constitutes a detour on her journey from Atlanta, where she spent her childhood, to Nubiance, just seven miles southwest. By the fourth grade Torrence was pressing and curling her own hair, and she recalls that "everyone thought I was going to be a big-time celebrity hairstylist."
Her speed, however, took her to three Olympics (1988, '92 and '96) and a lifetime of financial security. She also became one of the most outspoken women in sports. After finishing fourth in the 100 meters at the '92 Games, Torrence implied that three of the eight finalists--including Cuthbert--were using banned substances, which elicited Cuthbert's remark about Torrence's character. ( Torrence's comments were denied.)
Last month someone who knew quite well the identity of the stylist at the third station walked through Nubiance's doors. The customer was Cuthbert. Torrence embraced her onetime bitter rival, whom she hadn't seen in 10 years. Cuthbert left the salon with a sense of reconciliation but without one of Torrence's 'dos: Torrence was fully booked, and what would her clients have thought if they had been bumped? -- Ben Reiter
The slugger is happy to recite his stats--or trash the competition--in making his case for Cooperstown
CONVERSATIONS ABOUT baseball with former outfielder Dave Parker usually begin like this: "Gary f---ing Carter? Ryne Sandberg?! Are you kidding me?" As in, Why are those players (to name just two) in the Hall of Fame while Parker's not? "Don't get me wrong, Carter and Sandberg are great guys and great players," says Parker before rattling off his own achievements with six teams from 1973 to '91: the 1978 National League MVP award, two World Series rings (with the Pittsburgh Pirates in '79 and the Oakland A's in '89), three Gold Gloves, seven All-Star appearances, 339 home runs, 1,493 RBIs and a .290 batting average. Neither of the aforementioned inductees can match most of those numbers--but then, the standards are different for an outfielder than they are for a catcher (Carter) or a second baseman ( Sandberg). Parker doesn't believe that his admitted cocaine use in the early '80s explains why he has never come close to being voted into Cooperstown in his 11 years on the ballot. "Every Hall of Famer has a past," Parker says, citing white inductees such as Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley, who also overcame drug or alcohol problems. "It's just a good ol' boys network. But I don't want to be inducted when I'm dead and gone. I want to reap the fruits of my labor."
While awaiting a call from the Hall, Parker, 55, has kept busy. He spent one season as a batting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998, when Mark McGwire smashed 70 home runs. The 6'5" Parker is now a guest instructor at the Pirates' spring training camps. "They had a regular hitting instructor," he says, "but all these young guys would pull me aside and say, 'What do you think, Dave?'" Parker also coached son David's Little League team in Cincinnati for six seasons before David, now 21, lost interest in his dad's sport. ("He decided AAU basketball was more his thing," says Parker p�re.) In 1997 Parker opened a Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits franchise in Cincinnati. He is a very hands-on owner--often slinging fries, frying chicken and manning the register, to the delight of his customers--because, he says, "I wouldn't ask my employees to do anything I wouldn't want to do." (His least favorite detail: "Working behind those damn fryers for eight hours.") Two years ago he opened his second store, and now he plans to launch four more franchises. To help make things run "the Parker way," he employed his wife, Kellye, to manage the business and Danielle, 24, the eldest of their three children, to oversee one of his stores. All the extra help has allowed Parker, who now lives with his wife in Loveland, Ohio, to spend more time stumping for Hall of Fame induction--which, he says, "has become a full-time job."