SI Vault
William G. Tapply
October 12, 1981
My left foot is aching again. It always does when the barometer is falling. For 26 years I've been able to predict the weather with my left foot, a very palpable memento of my brush with the legend.
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October 12, 1981

A Collision At Third Base Tests The Stuff Of Which Legends Are Made

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He stood beside me. I picked at the tape. He spoke loudly enough for my teammates in the locker room to hear. "I couldn't believe you held on to the ball. I gave you my best shot. You had me cold. I was out. No question. The ump blew the call." He paused for a moment. "You're a tough kid."

I looked up at him. He grinned and held out his hand. We shook solemnly.

"Accept my apology?" he asked.

"No sweat," I replied.

My teammates seemed to look at me a little differently after that, though perhaps it was only my way of looking at myself. I do know that my attitude toward legends—or at least to that particular legend—changed. I watched Joe Bellino win the Heisman Trophy, a first for the Naval Academy, and later run back punts for the Patriots. I saw him hit people who were considerably better padded than a bony freshman third baseman whose foot he had broken.

Now, when a low-pressure front moves in and that foot begins to throb, it still pleases me to remember one tough kid who hung on to the ball.

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