It Wasn't An Easy Ryder
In 1989 a dozen American golfers set off for Sutton Coldfield, England, to regain the Ryder Cup. And well they might have, had not five of them lost to their European counterparts on the 474-yard, water-guarded final hole. In September a dozen more Yanks descended on the Belfry to defend the title they recaptured two years ago on Kiawah Island, S.C. Down by two points on the last day, the U.S. rallied for a dramatic 15-13 win with four straight match victories down the stretch. Come-from-behind efforts by Chip Beck and Fred Couples touched off the Eurocrash. Fatefully, the clinching match was won by Raymond Floyd, captain of the 1989 U.S. team.
Iron Mike's Iron Bars
Mike Tyson lost a couple of split decisions this year when two appeals of his March 1992 rape conviction were rejected by Indiana courts. The Indiana Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to keep the former heavyweight champ in prison. A month later the state supreme court divided 2-2 on whether to review the conviction. A majority vote is needed to hear a case. Tyson, who has served 21 months of a six-year prison sentence, meanwhile reaffirmed his desire to return to the ring. "I mean, what else am I going to do, man," he asked, "be a nuclear scientist?"
Help from Upstairs
Todd Hlushko, a leftwinger on Canada's national hockey team, also is a pitcher and outfielder for the Guelph Royals, an amateur baseball team in Ontario. When his father, Peter, died last summer, Todd's teammates skipped pregame infield practice and showed up at the funeral in uniform to pay their respects. Two hours later Hlushko dropped by the ballpark to see how the game was going. It was the sixth inning, and the Royals were down 10-0. Hlushko took his uniform out of the trunk of his car, put it on and sat on the bench. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, after Guelph had rallied to 10-9, he was sent in to pinch hit. He hit a home run to win the game. "Everyone was saying, I think that was a little help from your dad up above,' " said Hlushko. "His way of saying thanks to the guys."
The Kruk of The Matter
In the late 1970s a scruffy, beer-belching cabbie named Wild Bill Hagy reigned as the Baltimore Orioles' designated cheerleader. Hagy appears to have been the role model for the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, a scruffy, beer-belching band of miscreants who hung out in first place in the National League East for all but one day of last season. The Philthies beat the wholesome Atlanta Braves in a National League playoff series billed as America's Team vs. America's Most Wanted. Then, after mixing it up with the clean-cut Toronto Blue Jays in six World Series games, they were beaten on Joe Carter's historic clout. The wildest of the bunch from Philly was Hagy lookalike John Kruk. "I'm shocked!" a female fan once told the first baseman. "You're a professional athlete and you smoke?" Drawing deeply on his cigarette, Kruk snorted, "Lady, I'm not an athlete. I'm a baseball player."
Yet Another 48 Hours
There are good Samaritans, and then there is Daniel Johnson, a Citadel cadet who ran down a purse-snatcher a day after saving the life of a football teammate. On Jan. 31 the 22-year-old senior came to the aid of Layne Dellinger, whose throat had been slashed with a broken bottle during a scuffle in Charleston, S.C. Dellinger's carotid artery was cut, and Johnson stuck his fingers into the wound to stanch the bleeding until an ambulance arrived. The next day, as he was jogging back from a hospital visit with Dellinger, Johnson spied a young man running with a purse. He chased down the thief, turned him over to police and then comforted the victim. During the chase the onetime high school hurdling champ even gave fair warning: "I told the kid, as I was running behind him, 'I'm all-conference track, I'm going to catch you!' "
Better Great Than Never
After missing the first 39 games of the season with a herniated disc, center Wayne Gretzky silenced his critics by taking the Los Angeles Kings to their first Stanley Cup finals and leading all postseason scorers with 15 goals and 40 points. But after losing three straight overtime games, L.A. succumbed to the Montreal Canadiens in five games. Montreal goalie Patrick Roy, not Gretzky, was the playoff MVP. Perhaps thinking he had taken the Kings as far as he could, the Great One hinted at retirement minutes after the season ended. But he's back, and he's among the NHL's scoring leaders.
A Three-Hour Course?
Bob Denver spent three years in a sand trap called Gilligan's Island. Now, 26 years after his sitcom was scuttled, the former castaway is building a Putt-Putt franchise near his Princeton, W.Va., home. Little Buddy says he'll donate part of the profits to the handicapped. No word on whether millionaire Thurston Howell III will offer a three-for-one matching grant.
Sheehan Is Believin'
Last March, after 13 full seasons on the LPGA Tour, Patty Sheehan, who at the age of 13 had been rated the best junior slalom skier in the country, hit a brilliant bunker shot on the 13th hole at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix to set up her win in the Standard Register Ping tournament. That gave her 30 career victories on the women's tour, which qualified her to become the 13th member of the LPGA Hall of Fame. "It doesn't get any better as you get older," Sheehan, 37, said in June alter the LPGA Championship became victory number 31, which of course is the inverse of 13. "My hands were shaking on that last putt. The only problem with that is you never know which shake is going to hit the putt."
39 Managing Just Fine
When Art Shell's Los Angeles Raiders defeated Dennis Green's Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 5, it was the first game in NFL history in which each team was coached by an African-American. A few months earlier, black managers had their teams on top in three of baseball's four divisions—Cito Gaston of the Toronto Blue Jays, Hal McRae of the Kansas City Royals and Dusty Baker of the San Francisco Giants. Gaston won a second straight World Series, and Baker (above) wound up the National League's Manager of the Year.
40 Reversal Of Fortune
Proving that it has an interest in fairness, the International Olympic Committee awarded Sylvie Frechette a duplicate gold medal for solo synchronized swimming at the 1992 Seoul Olympics. Frechette, a Canadian, had narrowly placed second to Kristen Babb-Sprague of the U.S. But a Brazilian judge admitted after the compulsory figures competition that she had erroneously punched up an 8.7 score for Frechette, instead of a 9.7. When the American referee didn't understand the judge's English, the inferior score was posted in the computer totals. Had the correct score been entered, Frechette would have been the winner of the competition.