She set her first world record at age 21 and kept jumping as a sergeant in the Army. She has made more than 16,000 jumps, the most by a woman. Now a pilot for U.S. Airways based in Raeford, N.C., Stearns, 49, holds 30 world records and is working toward a 31st--a 110,000-foot jump. --J.L.
THE ANNOUNCERLESS GAME
For one NFL broadcast, fans tuned in to the sound of silence
LATE IN the NFL season NBC Sports executive producer Don Ohlmeyer decided to try some avant-garde programming: The network aired the Dec. 20, 1980, New York Jets-- Miami Dolphins game with no broadcasters in the booth at the Orange Bowl. Though the experiment was regarded as a flop, the game still drew a respectable 13.5 rating. (The network's average rating for the '80 regular season was 14.9.)
He never tried another announcerless game, but Ohlmeyer, who went on to become president of NBC's West Coast division before retiring from the network in 2000, maintains that his idea served a purpose. "I think people appreciated announcers a little more," he says, "and announcers learned that they didn't have to speak quite as much." --J.L.
Despite a Hall of Fame career, the Royals slugger laments coming up 10 points shy of .400
GEORGE BRETT doesn't want you to misunderstand. "I am not Ted Williams," the former Kansas City Royal says at his home in Mission Hills, Kans. But in 1980 Brett did a splendid impersonation of the Splinter, finishing the season with a .390 average. Brett was hitting .400 as late as Sept. 19. His .390 that year remains the high-water mark for any player since Williams's storied .406 in 1941. "My biggest regret is that I didn't hit .400," he says. "I really thought I was going to do it."