Sports Illustrated recently published its annual “Where Are They Now?” issue, giving readers a glimpse of what yesterday’s heroes are doing today. But once again this year the editors chose well-known personalities like Yogi Berra and Joe Namath. Let’s even the playing field by skipping the stars and looking at some of the lesser lights.
Rodney Grenier, remembered as the only baseball player who failed to score from second on a triple by the next batter on June 18, 1977 when he mysteriously stopped numerous times between third and home. Now a florist in Philadelphia, Rodney’s motto has not changed: “Take time to smell the roses.”
Rolly Hammond, architect of the northwest coast offense which involves a complex pattern of reverses and laterals, retired to Portland and is living with his wife of 47 years in a quad-level home he designed himself that has six gables, four lofts, three hidden staircases, and a pair of really dumb waiters.
Greg Forer remains the only basketball player to have more career steals than points, primarily because he anticipated passes and left his man unguarded repeatedly which resulted in many easy baskets for the opposition and considerable resentment from his teammates. Forer indicates he is now associated with the Katchaskatchkan Bail Bond Company, although he declined to confirm that he was employed there.
Louise Bidwell, Olympic swimmer who created a furor at the 1984 games for wearing a four-piece bathing suit, is librarian emeritus in Mumsville,Iowa. Fans still ask her to sign bloomers “Wear this one for the old Biddy.”
Cecil “Deadeye” Harmetz who, after recording a strike or spare in 87 consecutive frames, walked away from a tournament in Waco, Texas and never again entered a bowling alley. Now homeless and sleepless in Seattle, Cecil still refuses to talk about his decision, saying only “Now I can’t miss the gutter.”
Lonnie Adamson, who had the best-worst day in professional golf on July 18, 1974 when he recorded a miraculous 26 on the front half only to tally a dismal 63 on the back nine, now runs a restaurant in Gobbler, Pennsylvania. Lonnie recommends the 11-course special totaling 6,700 calories. “Everyone starts hungry here,” he says, “but nobody finishes strong.”
GooGoo Condon, the Iberian soccer player who disrupted the World Cup in 1978. After being booed for missing a kick at an open net, he grabbed the PA microphone and tried to start a panic by shouting “There are poisonous snakes under your seats!” in four different languages. Fortunately, the languages he chose were Fula, Wolof, Malagasy, and Nauruan so nearly everyone in attendance ignored him. Today Condon is head of Retro Bro, a recording company that releases hip hop versions of novelty tunes like “The Hut Sut Song” and “Mares Eat Oats.”
Flip Niven, scrambling pro quarterback who in 1989 was flagged eight times in a game for intentional grounding, is an air traffic controller in Florida. Niven is currently on suspension for an incident this spring in which he ordered every plane and jet in his vicinity out of the air and onto the tarmac.
Jockey Spider McCann who, on May 8, 1977, rode four thoroughbreds to third-place finishes at Santa Pernita, has been operating a string of movie theaters in Alabama since his last race in 1998. Says 5’3” Spider who married a 5’9” ecdysiast named Lotta Peel: “For me, it’s always show time.”
Jason Dmytrk, defenseman permanently banned from hockey in 1992 after being penalized repeatedly for icing, dicing, and slicing on the power tool play. Dmyrk now spends most of his time peddling his own analgesic salve, Creamed for Good, which works best on thick skin and rough necks.
For many former athletes the locker room door never fully closes behind them. As Yogi might have said, “I want to keep playing this game forever–even longer if I can.”