Living the American Dream


This excerpt about PGA golfer Rich Beem -- recent winner of the PGA Championship -- is from BUD, SWEAT, AND TEES by Alan Shipnuck. Copyright © 2001 by Alan Shipnuck. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc., N.Y. Reprinted by permission. Alan Shipnuck is a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated.

"So on Sunday I got in Beemer's face and told him, 'Tommy is gonna be a prick out there. He doesn't respect you, and he thinks you're weak. Well, f--- him. Who the f--- does this f----' guy think he is? You don't need his approval. The only friend you need out there is me. We're gonna wipe that s----- little grin off his f-----' face. We've been shoving it up his ass all week, and we're gonna do it again today.'

"I know Tommy," Duplantis continues. "I knew he wasn't gonna talk to Rich, and that he would have this look of disdain on his face all day. I just wanted to prepare Rich for what was coming. You know how Rich is, he always wants to be friends with everybody. I didn't want him out there going, 'Gee, I don't think Tommy likes me. Why doesn't Tommy like me? What can I do to make Tommy like me?' F--- Tommy. This was business."

After warming up Beem moseyed to the practice putting green. "I didn't make a lot of putts, but I felt pretty comfortable," he says. "My hands weren't shaking, if that's what you're wondering." At last the moment of truth arrived. When Beem was announced for the final tee time the crowd roared its approval. There was no doubt who the masses were rooting for, and the outpouring of support helped to further settle him down.

Taking his practice swings Beem realized he was less nervous than he had been the day before on the first tee or, for that matter, the morning of the last round at the final stage of Q School. "One thing I learned during Kemper is that you can only get so nervous, and that's it," Beem says. "There is not an infinite nervousness. I'm not gonna lie, I was feeling it big time on Sunday. But I had felt that way before and I had pulled it out when I had to, so that helped the nerves." On the first drive of the rest of his life, Beem smashed one down the middle.

He followed with a cautious approach to the fat side of the first green, leaving himself a forty-footer for birdie. Beem was just trying to lag it close, but the ball kept tracking ... tracking ... tracking toward the hole before falling in the side door for a stunning birdie. In contrast to the manic fist-pumping of the previous days, Beem showed virtually no outward emotion. It was only the first hole, but already he had found a grim determination. Duplantis, on the other hand, had raised a fist in triumph after the putt fell, and he pounded Beem on the back as they walked off the green. "Sunday I wanted it so bad," says Duplantis. "I could taste it. I could feel it. My hands were sweaty long before we ever got to the first hole. I knew Rich had the talent to hit the shots, and I was determined not to let him make any mistakes."

A routine par on the second hole brought Beem to the number 3, the epic downhill par-3 that was playing 247 yards on Sunday. Beem had missed the green in all three previous rounds, which led Duplantis to say, "I think you are good enough to hit this green once this week. Why don't you show me." Beem smote a 3-wood to fifteen feet, then calmly rolled in the birdie putt. This brought his first fist pump of the day and pushed his lead to two strokes over Armour III, who looked like he had gotten a whiff of something foul.

When Armour bogeyed four, the lead was stretched to three strokes, and then on the 5th hole Beem played a delicate wedge to fifteen feet. At the exact moment Beem was standing over the putt the CBS telecast kicked in. Without so much as an opening thought they cut to Beem putting on the 5th. "What a story we have developing here," Jim Nantz intoned. "Rich Beem, a rookie who had lived out of his car earlier this year [a myth that CBS propagated throughout the day] is your leader here in the final round." Beem clobbered his putt. "The ball was going Mach eight," he said later. "If it didn't hit the hole it might have rolled off the green." It did hit the hole, falling in for his third birdie in five holes. He was now 12 under for the tournament, and a whopping four strokes in the lead.

After showing the putt CBS faded into their prerecorded opening, which was pure Velveeta even by the standards of a network golf telecast. "For one week one young man has lived the American Dream," Nantz said in a voice-over, as a montage of Beem filled the screen-holing putts, pumping fists, and generally emoting enough to shame Al Pacino, all set to the strains of throbbing Muzak. From there CBS cut to highlights of Beem's birdies on 1 and 3, and then went to a live shot of Nantz and Venturi, in their familiar aerie in the tower above the 18th green.

"How long can the kid hold on?" Nantz asked. "It's not every week where you have a story like this, a guy coming from oblivion to take over a tournament."

"He's on a mission," agreed Venturi.

By now Beem had driven on the par-5 6th hole, and CBS cut to him in mid-fairway. Though he had only 223 yards to the flag, he opted to lay up, a sure sign that the lead was already toying with his mind. It was the first time all week that Beem had turned conservative, and in the galley Amy Onick said, "Larry (Beem) must have just fainted on his couch."

"Nah," said David Wyatt, who was turned out in Beem's lucky blue shirt and lucky Chicago Cubs hat, "he's probably so mad he crushed out his cigarette on the living room carpet."

Back in Las Cruces, sequestered in his living room with his daughter Susie, Larry was already beginning to field phone calls from reporters. "That wasn't Rich," Larry grumbled about the layup. "That was his caddie. I know it wasn't Rich." Larry had allowed a reporter from the Las Cruces Sun-News, Sam Aselstine, to watch the telecast with him. In a subsequent interview, Aselstine says, "You know how Larry is -- real gruff, right? He spent most of the time making unprintable jokes and speculating how Rich was going to spend the winner's check. He was trying to downplay how nervous he was, but it was pretty obvious he was feeling it. He was chain-smoking up a storm. He wouldn't even finish one cigarette before he had lit another."

After a commercial break the telecast resumed with Rich Beem standing over an eighty-three-yard wedge shot on the sixth hole. He struck it purely but the ball took a big hop on the firm green and landed in the long grass just behind the putting surface. As player and caddie strode to the green together, Duplantis got his first props of the afternoon. Said McCord, "He's got a Tour caddie on his bag, Steve Duplantis, who used to caddie for Jim Furyk, and he's really, really helping Beem out right now." As Beem arrived at the sixth green the crowd went wild. "He's getting a fabulous reception every time he walks on a green," said Feherty, who was following the final group on foot. Beem got up-and-down for his par, not without the usual emoting. "He's not one of those guys who come out here by the hundred who don't say anything or give you any expression," said McCord. "This kid is fun to watch." As Beem idled on the 7th tee, Nantz invoked, for the first time, the name Roy McAvoy, the fictitious hero of Tin Cup. With the marquee players all having dropped out of sight-including Furyk, Vijay Singh, Hal Sutton, Justin Leonard, Mark O'Meara, and Lee Janzen-CBS had clearly decided to turn the telecast into the Rich Beem Show, and they were working every angle. Beem was not immune to what was going on. "The cameras were everywhere," he says, "and I was loving it. I felt so comfortable with that. I can't tell you why, but I did." Between shots, off camera, he was even kibitzing with the agreeable Feherty.

Beem played the long 7th hole flawlessly, with a big drive, crisp 5-iron to twenty feet, and smooth lag putt for an easy par. He was clearly on his game, and so, too, was Duplantis, who was determined to prevent his boss's mind from wandering. "After seven I said, 'From now on, all we think about is winning,' " says Duplantis. " 'All the exemptions, the money, the bullshit, we'll talk about that after the round while having a beer.' Beemer just nodded. There was no backing off in him."

On the 8th hole Beem hooked his drive into a bunker, and the lie was so bad he was forced to lay up by blasting back out to the fairway, where he wound up just barely ahead of Armour's drive. Armour produced a solid approach to twelve feet, and suddenly Beem was faced with his first real test of the day. If he made bogey, and Armour holed his birdie putt, the lead would be cut in half. Beem followed with the kind of shot that did his old man proud-a tricky little wedge that landed long and left of the pin but spun back fiercely to two and a half feet. Armour made his putt to move to -9, but Beem got his par, and the lead remained at three. "That was a really big momentum keeper for me," Beem said later.

Both Beem and Armour followed with routine pars at the par-3 9th. The hole was notable for an exchange between
McCord and Feherty. Of Duplantis, Feherty said, "He's one of the best caddies in the business, and he's got an interesting story, too. He's a single parent, and he travels the Tour with a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, little Sierra, and that's no mean feat."

"Caddying has got to be easy after that," said McCord.

Thus the story line had been set as the action moved to the final nine. Beem was the overachieving longshot, the scrappy dreamer playing his heart out, while Duplantis was the world-weary caddie leading the way. Though both were virtual unknowns four days earlier, Beem and Duplantis were quickly endearing themselves to a nation of golf fans. The back nine promised an excess of melodrama.

Beem produced fairway-and-green pars on 10 and 11, picking up another stroke on Armour, who was listing badly. With the lead back to four strokes Beem eschewed a 3-wood on the dangerous 12th hole and instead pulled a driver, which brought more trouble into play and left him far less margin for error. When Beem split the fairway, Feherty was moved to say, "I'll tell ya, he's got some lead in his pencil." The flag on the 12th hole was front right, only a few paces from Rock Run Creek. This was virtually the same pin position as in the third round, when Beem had been suckered into a double bogey. If ever there was a time for Beem to throttle his natural aggressiveness, this was it. From 173 yards, downhill and downwind, he chose to go with an 8-iron. The plan was to fade a safe shot into the left center of the green, but Beem's brain is hard-wired to fire at flags, and this was no exception. The ball took off well to the right of the intended line and then began drifting toward the pin and the creek that framed it. With both Beem and Duplantis shouting invective, the ball landed with a thud less than a pace from the edge of the green, and then kicked into the first cut of rough-safe, but just barely. ("It wasn't up by more than a couple of inches," Beem said later.)

"You almost gave me a heart attack," Duplantis said, back in the fairway.

"I'm sorry," Beem said, sheepishly. "I promise I was aiming left."

Beem got his par, to stay at -12 and keep his lead at four strokes. Armour bogeyed the 12th, falling to -7, but by now a trio of pursuers had moved into a tie for second place at -8: Bill Glasson, playing in the second to last group; Bradley Hughes, a couple of holes ahead; and a charging Sutton, who was suddenly six under on his round through the 17th.

Bogeyless on the day, Beem should have been looking invincible, but that wasn't the case. The approach shot on 12 was not only a mental error but also the product of a tired swing. By now it was well past four in the afternoon, and all he had eaten since 7:00 a.m. was half a muffin. Idling on the 13th tee, the weight of the entire week seemed to finally hit Beem. He plopped down on a bench next to the tee and then turned to a group of reporters kneeling nearby. "I'm wiped out, man," he said. "I'm sucking wind."

When it came time to hit on the tricky par-5 Beem said to Duplantis, "Get me through this, Steve. You've been in this position more than I have." They agreed to play it safe with a 3-wood, but again Beem pushed the shot right, this time into the rough, and a flier lie. With the long grass resting against the back of the ball, the grooves on Beem's club would be unable to impart the normal amount of backspin. This, in turn, would have the effect of making the ball fly farther. How far it was impossible to say, as fliers bedevil even the best of players. Beem had about 165 yards downhill to the edge of Rock Run Creek, if he played to the right edge of the fairway. The farther left he went the closer the creek crept in on the fairway. Beem decided to hit a three-quarters
8-iron, though Feherty had said on TV that the shot was no more than a 9-iron or pitching wedge. As soon as Beem struck the shot he knew he was in trouble. Instead of an easy swing as planned, he had taken a good rip at the ball. "The adrenaline got me, big time," he says. So, too, did the lie. The ball rocketed off the clubface, and then began drifting left, toward the creek. It splashed into the murky water with a sickening finality.

It was a shocking mistake.

Armour, rising to the occasion for the first time, followed by almost holing his second shot for an albatross. With tapping in for eagle but a formality, Armour was on the verge of moving back to -9 (moments later Hughes would chip in to also go to nine under). Beem was ashen as he arrived at the edge of the creek. He quickly took his penalty drop and then followed with a meek pitch that left him a big-breaking twenty-five-footer for par. He missed that to drop to -11, slicing the four-stroke lead in half. (Up ahead Glasson had birdied to also move to -9.) For the first time all day the pursuers were nipping at Beem's heels.

At this point Duplantis all but took over the tournament. Leaving the 13th green he made his best read of the day; seeing how spent his man was, he made Beem eat a Nutri-Grain bar, and when they reached the tee he draped an arm on Beem's shoulders and gave him a long pep talk. "It was pretty obvious Rich was dragging," says Duplantis. "I think he was just mentally exhausted, just drained emotionally. At that point I decided to get in his face so much he'd have to pay attention." The short par-4 14th was a welcome break in the middle of the exacting back nine, allowing Beem to tee off with a 5-iron. "Just swing the club," Duplantis said. "That's all you gotta do." Beem found the fairway, and then, following another long chat with Duplantis, knocked a wedge to fifteen feet. He missed the birdie putt but came away with a par to stop the bleeding. On the 15th tee Duplantis continued to harangue Beem, so much so that CBS announcer Bobby Clampett was moved to say, "There is some heavy coaching going on right now." Looking as if he had found his second wind, Beem split the fairway, and from two hundred yards out he made maybe his best swing of the back nine, leaving a 5-iron in the perfect spot, on the front of the green, below the hole. From twenty feet he just missed the birdie putt, but pars were now Beem's best friend, as no one else was making birdies, either. With three holes to play Beem still had a two-stroke lead.

On the 16th tee Duplantis waved the yardage guide in Beem's face with such vigor that McCord said, "This is some serious, serious coaching. That's what you gotta do-take him by the scruff of his neck and say, 'Hit it over here.' " McCord fell silent, but after observing Duplantis's continued instructions, McCord added, "There he is, Yoda and his pupil."

Beem again produced a clutch tee ball at 16, finding the fairway on a tricky driving hole. "For a while there, on the early part of the back nine, the club felt heavy," he says. "It was work swinging it. Starting on fourteen or fifteen I got comfortable again." Nevertheless, Beem's fuel gauge was now resting on E. "Walking up the hill after my tee shot, my legs were just about out," he said. "I was so tired physically, and so tired mentally, from not trying to think about everything."

While discussing the play from 136 yards out, Duplantis pointed his finger at Beem, and then slapped him on the shoulder as a parting gesture. Said Feherty, "He's saying, 'Make a good swing or I'll slap you silly and call you Betty.' " This curious remark brought an awkward silence from the rest of the CBS broadcast team, and as Beem's 9-iron began descending toward the center of the green, Feherty added, "He won't call him Betty after that one." From twenty feet away Beem lagged to less than two, and as he was crossing the green to mark his ball, Duplantis followed him step for step, pointing and lecturing at him the whole way to take his time and follow his routine. "He won't let him get away," McCord said with a chuckle. "Look at that, he's still pointing at him! Steve, his faithful little servant." Beem nailed his short par putt to remain at -11. Armour, meanwhile, slashed his way to a double bogey, to drop from contention. By now Hughes's charge had stalled, too, as he missed putt after putt on the back nine, finishing at -9. While Beem was assessing his options on 17, the watery par-3, Glasson was up ahead playing the 18th, trying to make a birdie and post at -10, which would ratchet up the pressure on Beem.

With water short and right, Beem obviously needed to favor the left side of the 17th green, as well as play long to take the creek out of the equation. At 178 yards, steeply downhill, the yardage was a perfect 7-iron for Beem. "It's just a seven," Duplantis said. "Make a good swing. It's just a seven." Beem spent a long time on the tee box, trying to visualize the shot in his mind. At one point he went into some weird gyrations, windmilling his arms in an attempt to relieve the tension. Finally Beem settled over his ball, looking as intensely focused as he had all week. At that exact moment Glasson was missing a twenty-footer for birdie at the last hole, a bit of news that rippled through the gallery thanks to a plethora of pocket TVs and transistor radios. Beem's tee shot at 17, then, would all but decide the tournament. If he kept it dry, he would likely take a two-shot lead to the waterless 18th.

As soon as Beem struck his shot at 17 he looked anxious, as did Duplantis, who sprinted from the side of the tee box to stand by his man. Back in the grillroom at El Paso Country Club the atmosphere was tight. "When Rich got to the seventeenth tee," says Cameron Doan, "the room was pretty rowdy, everyone kinda shouting encouragement. When he hit his shot at seventeen, it got real quiet. That hole is so downhill it seemed like the ball was in the air forever, and I remember they showed him on TV, and he looked a little worried. And then they cut to the ball. It almost hit the hole, and then ran like twelve feet past. When Rich's ball landed safely the room exploded. I mean exploded. I remember yelling, to no one in particular, 'I can't fucking believe he went for that pin!' Typical Rich." On the tee Beem shook his head lightly, rolled his eyes, and then floated down the hill toward the green.

With a cautious roll Beem missed his birdie putt but left just a tap-in for par. So to 18 he went, needing only a bogey for the victory. "Come on, kid, don't throw up all over yourself," Larry Beem barked at his TV.

On the 18th tee Beem fished a special ball out of his bag, one he was hoping would get a little TV airtime. He had doctored it the night before with a Sharpie, writing the letters E and S in block print. It was a message for Max and Dina Schroeder back
at the hospital in Las Cruces. The E was for Evan, the S for Schroeder. Beem had left the middle initial blank. If he could hold on to his lead it would become an R, for Richard.

Avenel's 18th is an exceptionally tough driving hole, though you wouldn't know it by the way Beem had played it in the first three rounds-birdie-birdie-birdie. There is out of bounds far to the left, which is generally not a problem (Corey Pavin, however, had jacked his drive O.B. the day before, to fall from contention). The real trouble is to the right. "All I wanted to do was keep it out of the right bunker," says Beem. "On the other hand, when I get excited I tend to pull it left. So I swung as smooth as I could, and naturally pulled it left anyway. I never realized how thick the rough was over there. It was brutal." Beem's drive had sailed 264 yards but settled in a horrific lie. The ball was so buried it wasn't even visible in the long grass. Beem had 180 yards to the green. He conferred briefly with Duplantis, but as soon as he saw the lie he knew what he wanted to do. Instead of trying to muscle a risky shot all the way to the green, he would play short, into the neck, which still gave him a chip and two putts to burn. It was a smart decision, and well executed. With his 5-iron Beem took a heroic swing, and he muscled his ball just short and left of the green. "I thought that was one of the best shots I hit all week," he says.

Victory was now looking certain, and as Beem strode to the final green, the tributes had already begun. "What a storybook this is," Venturi said. "Unbelievable."

"I've sat by your side a long time," Nantz replied, "and I don't think I've ever seen you so nervous. Even at the Masters I haven't seen your hands so clammy."

"I think the last time I was this excited was when I saw John Daly win the PGA," said Venturi.

A third of the way down the fairway, Beem looked into one of the cameras that was shadowing him and said with a grin, "Hello El Paso Country Club."

"That brought the house down," says Doan.

Back in Flower Mound, Texas, Paul Stankowski was jolted awake in his easy chair by a ringing telephone. (It was Stankowski's victory three years earlier that had inspired Beem to take up golf again after his eight-month hiatus in Seattle.) Stankowski had missed the cut at the Kemper and returned home. He knew Beem was playing well, but like a lot of pros, he makes a point of ignoring the Tour while at home. That Sunday Stankowski had fallen asleep watching a baseball game on TV. The phone call was from an old El Paso friend, who wanted to know if he was watching the Kemper.

"Why would I be?" Stankowski asked.

Briefed on the ongoing developments, Stankowski tuned
in to CBS just as Beem was strolling up the 18th fairway. Stankowski immediately dialed the El Paso Country Club, where he has been an honorary member since graduating from the University of Texas-El Paso. He wanted to share the experience with someone, anyone, and he knew the EPCC would be in a tizzy. Stankowski was transferred to the grillroom, where the phone was answered but then, amidst the anarchy, simply dropped on the bar, allowing Stankowski to listen in on the scene. "Rich was walking up eighteen, and they were cheering every step," says Stankowski. "It was incredible to listen to. God, I'm getting goose bumps right now just thinking about it. I was on hold forever, but I didn't mind, because it was the perfect soundtrack."

As Beem reached the green the thousands of fans lining the grass amphitheater rose as one to salute him. "This is something he will never forget," Venturi said, back on the telecast. "Look at him, he's teary-eyed." Beem was indeed a bit caught up in the moment, but as soon as he got to his ball he regained his focus. The chip he was facing was hardly a gimme.

The pin had been set in its traditional Sunday spot, back left, on the crown of the green's second tier. Beem had to carry his ball over the corner of a cavernous bunker, across a deep swale, and up the steeply pitched green to get to the hole.

"He's sucking wind right now," Larry said. "Just don't chili-dip it, boy."

Beem damn near did. He caught his chip heavy enough that it barely cleared the lip of the bunker, and then it landed only an inch or two beyond the gnarly rough. "I've been getting so much shit about that," Beem says. "I promise you, it cleared the bunker by more than it looked like on TV." Whatever, the longer grass of the fringe killed the speed of the chip, and Beem's ball ran out of gas a good twenty feet short of the hole. He was now facing a tough sidehill putt, and a three-jack loomed as a very real possibility. Duplantis rushed over to Beem to slow him down and make sure he gathered himself before the putt. On the tube Nantz hailed him for "one of the greatest caddying performances you'll ever see." Beem took a deep breath and then stepped up to his putt. He made a credible stroke, but he missed the putt on the low side. It peeled right of the hole and stopped a full two feet away. It was a putt he had to make to avoid a playoff. Duplantis walked Beem up to the ball and again insisted he mark and go through his full routine. Beem hurriedly crouched to get a look at the line, performed a perfunctory practice stroke, and then addressed his ball.

"Slow down, slow down," Larry cried.

Across town Beem's mother, Diana, turned away from the TV and put her hands over her eyes. "I know that's redundant," she says, "but I was just so afraid. I know it was only two feet but it looked like twenty to me."

"It wasn't a tough putt," says Beem. "I'd had two-footers all day, and this was exactly what you'd like, straight in, slightly uphill. I didn't stop to think about it, because I didn't want to. I just told myself, This is a piece of cake, just step up and knock it in."

Which is exactly what he did.

When the putt dropped Beem put both arms above his head in triumph. "From oblivion to ecstasy," Nantz intoned. Beem stumbled around the green for a few beats, dazed, and then he spied Wyatt and Onick, who had elbowed their way to the front row of spectators behind the green. Beem had been so focused throughout the day that this was the first time he noticed them in the gallery. CBS's Peter Kostis made a move toward Beem to do the traditional champion's interview, but Beem blew right by him and sprinted toward the ropes. He threw his arms around Wyatt for a long, sloppy, teary hug, and then did the same with Onick.

On the other side of the green Duplantis was wiping away tears of his own. He had wandered in the direction of the scorer's tent, where the reporters had gathered, and instantly he was swallowed whole. "For me, personally, the best moment was walking off the eighteenth green and just being surrounded by that semicircle of reporters," he says. "You were there, Golf Channel, ESPN, everybody. It just felt unbelievable to be recognized like that." Up in Brampton, Duplantis's mom was sobbing softly on her couch. "What was so gratifying was hearing Steve get so much of the credit," says Sandy. "I have never heard a caddie have his name mentioned that much on TV. Ever. I just knew how much the victory meant to Steve, considering everything he had been through."

Kostis finally corralled Beem, who made no attempt to disguise the emotion of the moment. Hoarse and breathless, Beem said, "This is a dream come true. Mom, Dad, I did it. El Paso Country Club, I did it. To all my sponsors, thank you. I'm just so excited."

"What a kid. What a win. What a story. What a ride," Larry Beem was saying back in Las Cruces. "It's a real Cinderella story."

Signing off from the booth, Nantz said, "He's got some game. We're gonna be hearing from him for years and years."

"What a day," said Venturi. "I am proud to be a part of this."

"One of the most improbable rides to victory you will ever see, Rich Beem has beat 'em all at the Kemper Open," Nantz said, closing the telecast.

After signing his scorecard, which made the victory official, Beem dug out his cell phone and placed two calls while still standing amongst the melee around the 18th green. The first was to his father. It was short but sweet. "He wanted to make sure I was watching," says Larry, chuckling at the thought. "All he really had time to say was, 'Dad, I did it.' I think that was all he wanted to say anyway." Beem's second call was to the El Paso Country Club. He told the boys to start a tab, on him. (Later that night he would call Max and Dina Schroeder in the hospital so he could coo at Evan Richard, while parties on both ends of the telephone enjoyed a good cry.)

Beem was then escorted to the middle of the green for the champion's presentation. In a series of stultifying speeches various tournament officials saluted his effort, and then the microphone was turned over to Beem. He thanked the fans for their unwavering support, paid tribute to Duplantis, and summed up with a few self-deprecating remarks. Beem was then presented with a gorgeous crystal trophy and the $450,000 winner's check, which had been discreetly placed in an envelope. Beem tore open the envelope with relish, then mouthed "wow" when he saw the check's cartoon-sized numbers. The cash and crystal weren't the only souvenirs he had to show for his day. Prior to the round Wyatt had slipped Beem a little good luck charm, which he carried in his bag throughout the day. It was a pilfered employee ID card from Magnolia Hi-Fi, a reminder of an old life that now seemed very far away.

From BUD, SWEAT, AND TEES by Alan Shipnuck. Copyright © 2001 by Alan Shipnuck. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc., N.Y. Reprinted by permission. Alan Shipnuck is a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated.