The Price Was Right
Seemingly on the brink of being shipped to Tampa-St. Petersburg, the San Francisco Giants instead were sold to a group of investors headed by grocery-chain mogul Peter Magowan, who wanted them to stay put. Magowan plumbed the depths of his devotion to the city, if not of his coffers, by signing free-agent Barry Bonds to baseball's richest contract, a six-year, $43.75 million deal. Love blossomed: A team-record 2,606,354 fans filed into newly renovated Candlestick Park to listen to the big leagues' first full-time female P.A. announcer (Sherry Davis) and watch baseball's best pennant race in years. Bonds earned his hefty paycheck, hitting .336, with 46 homers and 123 RBIs, en route to his third National League MVP award, and manager Dusty Baker guided the team to 103 wins—one fewer than the Atlanta Braves.
Four years after helmet-haired coach Jimmy Johnson came to Dallas and cropped the Cowboys' roster, the team went from 1-15 ducktails to world-champion pompadours. The Johnson Gang's 52-17 Super Bowl trouncing of the Buffalo Bills was a triumph of ruthless efficiency and bad hair. Dallas's defense forced five first-half turnovers, and Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman passed for 273 yards and four touchdowns in an MVP performance. In the game's waning moments, Johnson's players dared muss his famous 'do—though he had it stiffly back in place in time to meet with the press minutes later.
I Hug You, You Punch Me
Having already bested Godzilla in a shoe commercial, the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player, Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns, went one-on-one with Barney, the relentlessly cheerful scourge of children's TV, during the star forward's Sept. 25 stint as guest host of Saturday Night Live. Though Barkley's ruthless Barney-bashing left the Cretinous Age dinosaur with a bent tail and one stuffed eyeball dangling from its socket, Barney remained ever the optimist: "Charles told me I'm special."
No Thugs On Our Rugs
The Three Thousand Stooges, also known as British soccer hooligans, will not be making an appearance in the U.S. next summer as expected. That's because England, a semifinalist in the 1990 World Cup, failed to make the 24-team field for the '94 event. In October more than 600 British rowdies were arrested before a match with the Netherlands in Rotterdam, where they smashed windows, threw beer bottles and clashed with police. "The attachment of thugs to English football would have caused serious security problems," said Alan Rothenberg, president of World Cup USA '94. "Fortunately, they didn't qualify."
Super Mario Fights Back
Mario Lemieux's hockey season should have been over on Jan. 12, shortly after he was told that he had Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer. But after missing 24 games while undergoing radiation treatments, the 28-year-old Pittsburgh Penguin center returned to the lineup, sparked his team to an NHL-record 17-game winning streak arid wrapped up his fourth scoring title in six years. "I grew up watching Bobby Orr," said teammate Kevin Stevens. "And Wayne Gretzky was phenomenal. But Mario is on another level."
Love That Bob
Talk about a clutch pinch hit! In May, 4'10" Secretary of Labor Robert Reich came to bat for 5'6" batboy Tommy McCoy of the Class A Savannah (Ga.) Cardinals. The team had to ax McCoy when a federal bureaucrat discovered—while reading a weekly newspaper—that McCoy was only 14. Federal child labor laws state that 14-and 15-year-olds can't work past 7 p.m. on school nights or 9 p.m. during the summer. Reich stepped to the plate and knocked the regulation out of the ballpark. "Off base," is how he described the original decision.
The Don of NFL Coaches
Behind reserve quarterback Doug Pederson, a former third-stringer in the World League, the Miami Dolphins beat the Philadelphia Eagles 19-14 on Nov. 14 to give Don Shula his 325th victory—most ever by an NFL coach. "I never worried about the win totals," said Shula, 63, the only coach to have appeared in six Super Bowls. "They just crept up on me. Afterward you find out you won your 100th game, then somebody hands you a plaque for winning the 200th. I don't think of these things as milestones. They're byproducts of hard work."
Swoopes To the Hoops
The shots swooped in from everywhere: from three-point range, from the foul line, from the paint, from the baseline and from behind the backboard. Texas Tech fans whooped from everywhere: Those 47 points—a championship-game record for men or women—by six-foot forward Sheryl Swoopes propelled the Red Raiders to an 84-82 win over Ohio State in the NCAA women's basketball final. Swoopes, who set six NCAA tournament records and finished second in the country in scoring, was the Player of the Year. But perhaps her greatest accolade was the one bestowed by a team of eight-and nine-year-olds in Shallowater, Texas. The team calls itself the Swoopesters.
Hip, Hip Hooray
His left hip held together by polyethylene and cobalt chrome, pinch hitter Bo Jackson slowly, purposefully walked to home plate on April 9. It had been 18 months since his last regulation game and more than a year since the Chicago White Sox outfielder had been fitted with the artificial joint. The crowd at Comiskey Park erupted in cheers. New York Yankee reliever Neal Heaton threw an outside changeup. Called strike one. He threw another. Jackson blasted it into the rightfield bleachers. Jackson brought the baseball home for his mother, Florence, who had died three weeks after his hip surgery. He planned to have it bronzed and bolted to her tombstone. "I made a promise," he said, "that I would give her the ball."
Thumbs Up Down Under
After critics carped that choosing Beijing to host the 2000 Olympics would demoralize democracy advocates in China and give a stamp of approval to the government of China and its horrendous record on human rights, the International Olympic Committee picked Sydney, Australia, as the site of the Summer Games. China's bid was not helped when less than a week before the IOC vote, Zhang Baifa, the head of Beijing's bid committee, warned that China might boycott the '96 Games as "revenge" for "meddling" by U.S. Congressmen who were at the fore in urging IOC members to reject the Chinese capital.