When SI picture researcher Laurel Frankel does the inviting, the invitees always show up. Take the five far-flung baseball players on page 57. Frankel staged a reunion of the Oakland A's starting pitchers, Class of '81, for the Lane Stewart photograph that accompanies senior writer Ron Fimrite's story, and attendance was 100%. "This one was a snap," Frankel says. " Mike Norris showed up an hour late, but the other pitchers had warned us that he's always an hour late for everything."
Arranging such shots has become a Frankel specialty. In 1979 she posed Sportsmen of the Year Willie Stargell and Terry Bradshaw in—where else?—a working steel mill in Pittsburgh. In 1982 she got the members of the New York Jets' Sack Exchange dressed in their football uniforms and posed them—you guessed it—on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
That same year Frankel, who handles the baseball and pro football beats, had to use all the tools of her trade—chartered jets and limousines, buffets and champagne—for a cover shot of Carl Yastrzemski and Pete Rose at the All-Star Game in Montreal. "We needed six different Learjets to get Rose, Yaz, their families and our crew to and from Montreal," Frankel says. "Then, just when I thought everything was in place, Pete stopped our limo halfway to the ballpark and said, "You're going to kill me, but we've got to go back to the hotel. I promised Mike Schmidt I'd give him a ride."
Last year Frankel had no trouble getting Montreal's Andre Dawson and Toronto's Dave Stieb together for a cover picture during the All-Star Game in Chicago. But when a promised 10-by-12-foot Canadian flag never appeared, Frankel couldn't find one anywhere in Chicago; she had to have one hand delivered from Toronto. And Dawson had the wrong uniform, which meant a frantic call to Montreal for the right one, which, of course, had to be hand delivered.
At times Frankel must do a serious amount of sweet-talking, too. Early one morning last December she woke up Jim Brown with a phone call and asked him if he'd pose for our cover wearing a Los Angeles Raiders uniform with his familiar No. 32. Brown said he didn't need the publicity. Frankel said that publicity never hurts. "O.K.," Brown said. "If you get the uniform, I'll do it." She did, and he did.
This summer Frankel brought together Miami's two quarterbacks (seen here flanking Frankel) for the cover of our 1984 College and Pro Football Spectacular. Dolphin Dan Marino was in Miami but his aqua jersey was in New York City and he needed a pair of white tennis shorts; Frankel had the jersey shipped south and bought the shorts ($36) in a hotel men's shop. Then Hurricane Bernie Kosar asked for a day's delay because his mouth was still swollen from dental surgery.
"This job gets pretty strange at times," Frankel says.
Maybe so, but Frankel always gets her men.