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LOST IN THE MIST Before the Mets made their pass at Clemens, the Minnesota Twins became the first big league team to draft him, in 1980, choosing him as a high school senior in the 22nd round and offering him a $1,000 bonus. Clemens says the Twins' scout told him that if he didn't sign, no other team would ever draft him.
ROAD NOT TAKEN At the outset of the Rangers' training camp in Winnipeg during the summer of 1943, general manager Lester Patrick pinned on the back of every rookie's jersey a piece of paper bearing the player's name. Howe made three head-turning plays over his four days in camp, only to have Patrick summon him after each shift to ask him his name. The third time, the 15year-old from Saskatchewan snapped, "It's on the back of my shirt, sir." Miserable and homesick, Howe left camp before it ended and went back to Saskatoon.
ROAD TAKEN The Detroit Red Wings spotted Howe that winter, invited him to camp the following summer and signed him at the conclusion of the two-week session. He went on to win six scoring titles and a half-dozen MVP trophies, and led Detroit to four Stanley Cup titles. Mr. Hockey was still playing in 1980, at age 52, while the Rangers were mired in their record 54-year stretch without winning the Cup--a drought that didn't end until 1994.
NOW IT CAN BE TOLD The first time he saw Howe skate, Jack Adams, the Red Wings' gruff general manager, was impressed enough with the big teenager's ease on the ice that he called him over to ask, "What's your name, kid?" For Howe, there'd be no more risking his future on the chance that anyone might forget who he was. He locked onto Adams's eyes and said, "My name's Howe."
LOST IN THE MIST Patrick would eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player and lend his name to the division in which his old club would compete so fecklessly. But in 1947 he resigned as New York's general manager following five straight losing seasons.
Grand Slam singles king
ROAD NOT TAKEN The International Tennis Federation, curator of the four Grand Slam tournaments, barred professionals from the game's gemstone events until 1968. Given that Laver completed a Grand Slam in 1962 as an amateur and another in 1969 as a pro, it's not unreasonable to assume that the Australian serve-and-volleyer would have won many of the 20 Slam events contested between 1963 and the dawn of the Open Era had he chosen to remain an amateur. By doing so he would have augmented his final total of 11, thus surpassing countryman Roy Emerson, who took advantage of Laver's absence by winning 10 of his 12 Slam singles titles in that span, and Pete Sampras, who retired last year with 14 crowns.