Kiss and Pay Up
Just 171 years. That's how long 29-year-old sprinter Butch Reynolds has left before the IAAF, the world governing body of track and field, even thinks about coughing up the $27.3 million it owes him. Last July a U.S. court reaffirmed its earlier ruling that the IAAF should pay that amount in damages to Reynolds for the IAAF's improper handling of his 1990 drug suspension. But when asked if the award would be paid, IAAF president Primo Nebiolo said, "Never, never. He can live 200 years." Instead of waiting around for the loot, Reynolds went to Stuttgart for the World Track and Field Championships in August. He ran his fastest leg ever in the 4 x 400 relay, 43.3 seconds, to help the U.S. team knock 1.45 seconds off the world record, with a winning time of 2:54.29. During the ensuing awards ceremony, Nebiolo himself stepped forward and placed the gold medal around Reynolds's neck. Then he kissed the runner on both cheeks and told him, "You are very strong, very strong." Later, Reynolds said he felt vindicated.
Jim Dandy Of a Gem
It wasn't the only no-hitter thrown last baseball season, but it was surely the most inspirational. In the heat of a September pennant race, one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott aced the Cleveland Indians to keep the New York Yankees in the American League East chase. "The last couple of innings," said teammate Don Mattingly, "I had these huge goose bumps on my forearms, and the hair on the back of my neck was standing up. Maybe that would have happened with someone else. Maybe I'd have the same feelings. But I think because it was Jim, there was a little something extra."
Role with The Punch
Too slow, too fat, too punched out, George Foreman, 44, thankfully hung up the gloves again, this time to dispatch lightweight punch lines in the ABC sitcom George. Cast against type, the retired heavyweight champ plays a retired heavyweight champ named George Foster. Alas, this George took it on the chin from TV critics and Nielsen viewers, and retired to his corner. But TV imitates life and Foreman (left) came back for more. The show just came off hiatus.
Manon Rheaume broke another of pro hockey's gender barriers on April 10 when she started in goal for the Atlanta Knights of the International Hockey League. The 21-year-old goaltender stopped 25 shots and yielded six goals before she was pulled for an extra skater in the 8-6 loss to Cincinnati. Originally signed last year by Atlanta's parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rheaume had the good sense to turn down a $50,000 offer to pose nude for Playboy, and she never lost her cool when piggish male sportswriters asked, "Did you break a nail?"
Ten days after winning all three of his golf matches to help the U.S. defeat Great Britain and Ireland and win the Walker Cup, insurance executive John Harris, 41, hit every green in regulation to beat Danny Ellis, 5 and 3, for the U.S. Amateur title. Harris, who played center for the Minnesota hockey team that won the 1974 NCAA crown, had quit the pro mini-tour in the late 1970s. He regained his amateur standing in '83.
Despite falling twice during the race, Lance Armstrong, a 21-year-old Texan, won the World Cycling Championship on a rain-slicked course in Oslo, Norway. After his victory, Armstrong refused an audience with the king of Norway unless his mom could I come too. King Harald V consented to posing for a photo with mother and son.
It's Getting Harder
The guy who threw the first pitch when Cleveland Stadium opened in 1932 also threw the ceremonial last pitch when it closed on Oct. 3, 1993. "Let's face it," said 84-year-old Mel Harder, who won 223 games in a 20-year career with the Cleveland Indians, "after 61 years, I'm just happy to be able to throw a baseball."
A Bunch Of Gunners
One of the year's major arms deals was transacted April 17 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Denver. The church was one of four area dropoff points at which hoops fans could swap their guns for tickets to a Denver Nuggets-Phoenix Suns game. The promotion, dubbed Operation Cease Fire, netted 47 firearms, including a fully loaded .38 caliber revolver. No, they weren't Washington Bullets.
Round-headed kid wins game with round-tripper! screamed the headlines. After 43 years the unthinkable happened on March 30: Peanuts character Charlie Brown compromised his reputation as an eternal loser when he hit a home run in the ninth inning to give his team its first victory ever. Of the shot syndicated around the world, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz said, "I think it's a mistake to be unfaithful to your readers, always to be letting them down."
Showtime for M&M Boys
Two ballplayers who spent most of their major league careers in small-market obscurity made it big as soon as they changed teams. Free-agent Paul Molitor left the Milwaukee Brewers after 15 notable, if largely unnoticed, years to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was runner-up in the American League batting race, led the Blue Jays through the postseason and was the World Series MVP. As one of the high-salaried players the San Diego Padres unloaded last season, Fred McGriff went to Atlanta in a July trade, just in time to jump-start the Braves' drive to the National League West title. He had 19 of his 37 home runs and 55 of his 101 RBIs in 68 games for the Braves and wound up fourth in the National League MVP voting.