"I thought I told you to get a haircut," Art said.
"I got one," Steve said.
"No, you didn't," Art said. "You're going back there."
"No, I'm not," Steve said, trying to brush past him.
Art caught Steve by his shirt and started to haul him out the door. Steve pulled free and ran out of the house. He was gone for hours. At first Art didn't say anything to his wife, Susan, who is a school nurse. When Steve still wasn't home at about 10 p.m., Art confessed that they had argued.
After a series of calls, Susan found Steve at a friend's house. Susan went over and got him. Steve went to bed wordlessly. The next day Art paid an angry visit to the barber. "You had him in the chair," Art said. "Why didn't you cut it?" Caracciolo said something that ended the hair problem in the Taneyhill household: "Is a little bit of hair really worth ruining your relationship with your son over?"
From then on Art and Susan let Steve go unpruned. "One thing about great athletes," Art says, "is that they're a little different. You have to let them be themselves."
Steve's flamboyance grew in other ways, too. Every evening the door of the Taneyhill home would burst open and Steve would bound into the kitchen, announcing, "Couldn't be stopped today." Back then, he acknowledges, "I'd tie my shoes, and my mouth would start running."
But Taneyhill was not exactly a braggart. He simply had a sure sense of himself. And he practically never lost at anything. Steve was eight years old when he joined a hapless Little League team that went 3-27 his first year. He pitched and played shortstop, and the team won back-to-back local championships his last two years. In the fourth grade he joined a flag football team; they won three straight area titles. He led Altoona High's basketball team to its first state championship finals in 27 years. Steve blew kisses to fans and pointed his fingers like six-shooters after sinking jumpers. For that he was ripped in the local papers and targeted for cheap shots by opposing teams.
Art and Susan watched with a mixture of pride and alarm. Finally they suggested that Steve tone down his act. "No," he said. "That's me." Susan winced but let it go. "You just hope people see the truth in this kid," she says.