When he was 13, the McInallys moved to a lushly landscaped house in nearby Villa Park. The area was once covered with orange groves but is now covered with affluence. Peggy McInally, Pat's mother, remembers her son playing in the front yard as a youngster, kicking his football over the high wires and telephone poles.
"When he first kicked, I was so mad at him," Jack says, " 'cause he couldn't kick the ball off the ground. But, of course, the more you practice the better you get, and Pat was an unusual student. He could never get enough." Not just enough kicking...enough passing, enough running, enough basketball, enough baseball. As Pat grew older, his dad hired other youngsters to pitch batting practice for him. Dick Milledge, a former junior-college quarterback, was brought in to develop his passing skills. "I was hard on Pat," Jack says. "I'm very demanding."
"He loved it, though," Peggy breaks in. "If he hadn't loved it, you wouldn't have done it. You were his biggest booster and his worst critic. I don't think Pat ever got angry at you in his whole life."
To hear Pat tell it, there are still few experiences in his life to match punting with his dad...except, perhaps, for his punting sessions with his wife of seven months, Leslie. In the manner of a patriarch sharing the ancestral code, Jack taught Leslie the essentials of Pat's old punting style before their April 15 wedding—the steps, the drop, the way the toe should point in the follow-through. "When his dad said, 'You have to learn these things,' I thought there's no way" Leslie recalls with a laugh. But she listened, anyway. With four footballs in their luggage, the McInallys honeymooned on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Pat taught his wife his improved punting style and almost every day they went out to practice, Leslie tossing balls back to her husband and critiquing his form. "I told her she'd like punting," McInally says, " 'cause it's very dancelike."
"It is," says Leslie, a former ballerina who now models. "It's very graceful. We bring the practice tapes home and run Pat's punting in slow motion. The other day it was really gorgeous. It was art."
Here is how McInally explains his interest in another art—music. "I'd written a lot of poems since Harvard, and I just decided, 'Hey, I'm gonna write songs.' That tells you something, right? Ego!"
So McInally bought a guitar four years ago and taught himself to play. After a few weeks of practice he met Cincinnati singer-songwriter Cliff Adams, and together they penned a tune called Endlessly, which they released as a single on their own High Spiral Music label. Endlessly spent 11 weeks on the regional charts, topping out at No. 9.
Earlier this year, CBS Songs, a major song publisher, asked McInally to work with veteran songwriter Peter McCann, composer of the Jennifer Warnes hit, Right Time of the Night. So far, nothing has come of the collaboration, but Rohan, who has represented the rock groups Journey, Boston, The Cars and Santana, likes McInally's chances. "I don't deal with sleaze bags," Rohan says. "I think Pat's a viable product. He's got that demented genius sparkle in his eyes, and he has a great, inquisitive mind."
McInally writes his songs and his newspaper column in a three-level condominium on a wooded Ohio bluff overlooking Kentucky and the Ohio River, only minutes from Riverfront Stadium. It once belonged to Johnny Bench. "This was the ultimate bachelor pad for one month," McInally says with a laugh. "I didn't know I was getting married." Some of the rooms are still being decorated. McInally's study will be equipped with mirrors and a ballet barre for Leslie.
Like most songwriters, McInally spends a lot of time snapping demo tapes in and out of cassette players. "I'm putting together a totally awesome stereo system," he says, carrying a boxed amplifier upstairs to a carpeted sleeping loft. "Uh, let's try this." He puts a cassette in a tape machine. Snap! The room fills with a slickly produced, up-tempo pop tune called At the Movies.