A World Series ring is always an attention-getter, though. "This is the opportunity I've been looking for ever since I was with the Dodgers," Sutcliffe says. "In 1981, I got a World Series ring; I got the check; I got the trophy. But my pride won't let me wear that ring." He holds up his naked ring finger. "Now I want one I can wear."
His grandmother, surprisingly, thinks Sutcliffe should stick with the Cubs and put aside thoughts of going to the Royals, whose park is but a short drive from Rick and Robin's six-acre spread in Lee's Summit, Mo. "I'd love to have him back home," Alice Yearout says, "but I think his friends would pester him to death and he wouldn't get any rest." Bob Coates, star outfielder for the Sutcliffe Sluggers, also says nix to the Royals: "We want Rick to stay with the Cubs. We get all their games on TV."
Last July, knowing that he would probably encounter Lasorda at the All-Star Game, Sutcliffe went to teammate Andre Thornton for advice. "I didn't know what I was going to do, but Andre said, 'If you feel bad about what happened, apologize and tell him so.' And that's exactly what I did."
Lasorda's reaction? Sutcliffe grins. "He reached up and gave me a big hug."
Only fair, then, to give Lasorda the last word on Sutcliffe: "He is," Lasorda says, "an outstanding pitcher."
Obviously, the curse has been lifted.