It had been nearly two years, and five spinal-cord operations, for Notre Dame swimmer Haley Scott since the bus crash that killed two of her teammates and broke her back, leaving her partly paralyzed. But on Oct. 29 the butterfly and freestyle specialist toed the starting block at a meet in South Bend, poised to take a truly improbable plunge. She took her mark, she dived, she swam, she turned, she swam back, she touched the wall—and she won her heat. Among those who had flown in to witness Scott's remarkable comeback was Ann Hipp, whose daughter, Colleen, had died in the accident. "I wanted to be here for her," Ann Hipp said, "and yet I know Haley's doing fine without me. I guess I'm here to make myself heal."
Returning The Favor
Just before signing a seven-year, $32 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks, former Kentucky forward Jamaal Mashburn announced he would donate $500,000 to a university scholarship fund. "I see this as my chance to give something back to the people who have helped me and to help those students who may not otherwise get a chance," said Mashburn, who was the fourth pick in the NBA draft last June. "I think I have enough money to give."
As he was lateraled from the Los Angeles Rams to the Chicago Bears to the New England Patriots, quarterback Doug Flutie had an NFL career that was incomplete. But after joining the Canadian Football League in 1990, the '84 Heisman Trophy winner led the Calgary Stampeders to the '92 Grey Cup and this year won an unprecedented third consecutive CFL Most Outstanding Player award. In fact, Flutie (above) has completed 1,278 passes for 18,643 yards and 114 touchdowns the last three seasons—better numbers than those of any of the QBs who played for the NFL teams that once owned his rights.
Hockey Hall of Fame wannabe Gil Stein is no longer a gonnabe. Apparently convinced he wouldn't get in on merit, the onetime NHL president rigged his March 30 election by stacking the hall's board of governors and railroading them into changing the rules for selection. Stein—whose major contribution to the sport was to suspend brawling players for practices, rather than have them sit out games—withdrew from the hall induction after the league hired outside counsel to investigate the balloting process.
A Major Achievement
On Aug. 15, when Paul Azinger parred the second playoff hole in the PGA Championship at Inverness in Toledo, Ohio, he forever shed his image as the best player never to have won a major. Given a reprieve when Greg Norman's birdie putt on the first extra hole lipped the cup and spun out, Azinger slammed the door on Norman after the Aussie three-putted the next hole. Azinger (below) won two other Tour events in 1993, finished in the top three in 10 tournaments and ended up second on the money list. A recent diagnosis of lymphoma in his right shoulder won't stop Azinger, who expects to be swinging a club again in six months.
Hey, Pop, Watch This
Only 23, Seattle Mariner centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. tied a major league record by hitting a home run in eight straight games. Over that span Junior hit more homers than 11 teams did. He finished the year with 45 dingers, for a five-year total of 132—only 20 fewer than his dad, Ken Sr., had in 19 big league seasons.
A Modell Citizen
Jim Brown was 29 in 1965 when he left Cleveland for Hollywood. Trading screen passes for screen tests, the Browns' record-breaking fullback turned bad guy—more so in real life than in films. Lately he has adopted a more heroic persona, working to bring peace to gang-war-torn Los Angeles. That may explain why the Browns brought him back to the team as a troubleshooter. "A cloud of toughness and success envelops Jim," said Brown vice-president David Modell. "You get caught up in that type of thing."
Coming Full Circle
Minnesota Twin outfielder and DH Dave Winfield got his 3,000th hit on Sept. 16 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, a few miles and a few decades from the Oxford Playground he played on while growing up in St. Paul. "It will be interesting to see what, when I'm done, people will perceive that I did best offensively," said Winfield, who has also belted 453 home runs and driven in 1,786 runs with five teams in 21 years. "To me, the biggest thing is the hits. No matter how you look at it, that's a lot of hits."
High Cost Of Winning
Convinced that he should be the highest-paid running back in the NFL, two-time rushing king Emmitt Smith held out until the Dallas Cowboys anted up. When the defending Super Bowl champs lost their first two games playing without Smith, Cowboy owner Jerry Jones caved in and made him the highest-paid rusher ever. Smith signed the contract on Thursday, Sept. 16, practiced on Friday and played in Dallas's 17-10 win over the Phoenix Cardinals on Sunday. "As crazy as it sounds, we knew the only way we could get our team back was to lose," said one teammate. "We weren't trying to lose, but we knew if we won a game, Jerry would figure we could get along without Emmitt. We're not the Dallas Cowboys without Emmitt." The team won seven straight before Smith injured a quadriceps in the first quarter of Game 10, against the Atlanta Falcons. He didn't return, and the Dallas winning streak ended.
Pulling His Own Weight
On Jan. 27 Shinto priests formally invested a 6'8", 466-pound Hawaiian named Chad Rowan as the first foreign yokozuna (grand champion) in the 2,015-year history of sumo wrestling. Rowan, known in sumodom as Akebono, took up Japan's sacred sport in 1988 after dropping out of college. For his first six months in Japan, this son of a retired Honolulu tour guide cried every night. "I wanted to quit," he said. "But if I went home, people would laugh at my parents and say, Your son has a big body, but he can't do anything." Akebono stuck with it. The past two years, he has won Japan's grand tournament.