"Llamas are low-impact animals, docile by nature and tolerant of weird-shaped packs and strange noises," says Angel. They also won't mock your slice, and they look forward to forays into the rough.
Because llamas are related to camels and are usually found in the mountains of Peru or Bolivia, it's easy to conclude that they don't belong on the links. But Payne discovered otherwise. He knew they were sturdy pack animals, and one day in 1988, on a whim he and Angel took one of his llamas to Eagle Crest golf course in Redmond, Ore., where he was teaching at the time. During the day the llama got away once and dashed across a practice green. Angel and Payne were surprised to find that the surface was left unscathed. But then a llama's foot is about the size of a man's hand and as soft as a dog's padded paw. If its toenails are trimmed, a llama's feet are kinder to a course than golf shoes.
Besides walking softly, llamas can carry a lot of clubs—as much as 100 pounds' worth. About their only disadvantage as caddies is that golfers who hire them are asked kindly to use the pooper scoopers they are obliged to carry in their bags. So far only a few golfers have used the llamas, which Angel and Payne believe is too bad.
"The llamas watch the ball intently," Angel says. "They enjoy following small things and they see much farther than humans do. In fact, you could probably even teach a llama to take you to where your ball has landed."
While his teammates savored their stunning World Series sweep of the Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds leftfielder Eric Davis was in agony. In the first inning of Game 4, the 28-year-old Davis dived for a sinking liner off the bat of Willie McGee. The ball fell for a double, and Davis landed violently on his right side and elbowed himself below the ribs. At first the injury was not considered serious, but after Davis lost several units of blood to internal bleeding, a CAT scan revealed that he had suffered a laceration of his right kidney. "It's a very, very, very painful injury," says Robert Smith, a urologist at Oakland's Merritt-Peralta Hospital, who treated Davis. "He was in critical shape for a while."
After Davis had spent five days in intensive care, his condition improved dramatically. Smith told him he could resume exercising in a month or two, and that by spring training he should be "as good as new." He gave Davis permission to return to Cincinnati, provided that Davis took a private jet to avoid undue jostling. So Davis hired a plane at a cost of $15,000.
By this time Davis was bruised in other ways. Before leaving Oakland, he tried several times to phone Reds owner Marge Schott to discuss who should pay for the flight, but she didn't return his calls.
Upon returning to Cincinnati, Davis complained, "If I were a dog, I would have gotten more care, and that's the truth." "I have stuck by this guy for five years," Schott said on Monday. "You would think this guy would have been rejoicing.... It has ruined [winning a World Series] for me." She has yet to pick up the tab.
TELL THEM, TASHA
Ten-year-old goalkeeper Natasha Dennis is one of the stars of a 12-and-under girls' soccer league in Lewisville, Texas, having given up only seven goals in as many games this season. In fact, the 4'5" fourth-grader is so skilled that some fathers of rival players began grumbling that she must be a boy. Natasha's coach produced her birth certificate, but this failed to satisfy the doubting dads, who requested that Natasha be required to go to a changing room and undress before a witness. To which Natasha, a tomboy who freely admits she hates skirts, replied, "I think they should go somewhere and check and see if they have anything between their ears."