The King Bee is buzzing slowly this morning. Glass of water in hand, size 15s padding ever so softly over the carpet in his canal-front Fort Lauderdale home, a hung-over Bob Baumhower, the All-AFC nose tackle for the playoff-bound Miami Dolphins, looks at his parrot, Ralph, for consolation.
"Hi, Bob," says Ralph.
"Hi, Ralph," says Bob.
The phone rings.
"I'll get it," says Ralph.
Baumhower answers it himself, slugging water for his dry mouth as he reaches for the receiver.
It had been one of those nights. First there were a couple of beers after practice. Then there was an autograph-signing session at a Miami sporting-goods store. Quarterback Dan Marino was there representing the Dolphin offense and Baumhower was there representing the defense—the Killer Bees.
Four hundred people showed up early—kids, teen-age girls, adults. And the crowd continued to grow. When there were a thousand people, the store owners got worried and locked the doors. More fans arrived. They roamed the parking lot and pressed against the shop windows. "The owners counted more than 1,400 people," said a worried Tom D'Amico, the promoter who had arranged the event. Marino, perhaps the first genuine heartthrob in Dolphin history, signed for more than an hour and then escaped in a flash. Baumhower, 6'5", 265 pounds, was left to fight his way alone to his car. Children clung to his arms and legs. People tried to climb in with him. "Amazing," Baumhower said as he stared through his windshield at the mob.
After that, there was a Jimmy Buffett concert in downtown Miami. Baumhower sat backstage with his buddy Bob Monica, one of the Dolphins' equipment men, and watched Buffett sing about tequila and sailing and paradise. After the show, Buffett and Baumhower sipped rum in Buffett's dressing room and chatted about boats and the good life on the waters off South Florida.
Then Baumhower went to Roland's, a swank Fort Lauderdale bar, for stone crabs. Owner Roland Breton set up "green shooters" and everyone toasted Baumhower and the Dolphins and anything else that came to mind. "My man here is the mayor of Fort Lauderdale," said Monica, gesturing at Baumhower's broad back. "The Minister of Tourism."