It was only a thumbnail-size photo, an accolade buried deep in that week's Sports Illustrated. But to Web Wright III of Annapolis, then a 21-year-old college student, his photo in the "Faces in the Crowd" section seemed a way to drum up a date.
It was April 1988, and Wright was sitting in a bar in Morgantown, W.Va., trying to impress a woman when he saw the magazine on the counter.
"I turned to that page and laid it in front of her," said Wright, an All-America rifleman.
"She was not impressed," he said. "But I think I got a free beer from the bartender."
Wright was No. 228 of the 373 Marylanders who have appeared in "Faces" since Sports Illustrated began -- from James McKinney, a running back at Severn School who was picked in the magazine's first year (1954), to Emily Richards of Silver Spring, a field hockey goalie at St. Mary's College who was honored in the Oct. 31 issue.
A standing feature, "Faces In The Crowd" pays homage each week to six accomplished athletes, most in their teens. It's a fleeting brush with celebrity: a 40-word blurb and a one-inch head shot. Then, the next week, the magazine moves on to another batch of stamp-size wunderkinder.
What happened to those Baltimore area athletes who've been singled out? A few reached the pros. Bryan "Moose" Haas, a pitcher from Franklin High, spent 12 years in the big leagues and won 100 games, mostly for the Milwaukee Brewers. Reggie Williams, a skinny swingman out of Dunbar High, played 10 NBA seasons and averaged 12.5 points a game. And tailback Lou Carter (Arundel High) reached the NFL, lasting four years.
More often, however, those honored simply fade from sport's forefront, their exploits stowed in musty trunks and dresser drawers.
The Sun spoke with 35 people who have appeared in "Faces." Some became standouts in other fields. Glenn Meininger, goalie of Centennial High's 1987 state championship soccer team, is a Baltimore cardiologist. Dick Voith, a long-haired basketball star at Calvert Hall in 1973, is a nationally known economist. Karen Stout played field hockey at Bel Air High when tabbed by SI in 1977; now she is president of Montgomery County (Pa.) Community College.
All said they had maintained, in their work, the tenacity that won them success in sports and mention in the magazine.
"There's something within you -- call it discipline or focus -- that comes out, whether you're in the business world or on the athletic field," said Stout. "If you're lucky, you find that zone and stay in it."
Wrestling earned Ray Finch (Westminster High) a plug in SI in 1977. The two-time state champion now heads the family's lawn equipment company in Carroll County. His transition to business was a smooth one, Finch said.
"The adrenaline rush I got on the mat is the same one I get when we close a big deal today," he said.
And what of , the rifleman at West Virginia University who had used his prominence to try to get a date? He won a gold medal in the 1995 Pan American Games, joined the Army's Marksmanship Unit and made a career in the military. Now a major, Wright returned this summer from Iraq, where he served with the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
"So far, I haven't had to use my shooting skills in combat," he said. "But I'm pretty sure that the soldiers I have trained over the years have."Colette Yarosh Benner Jumping right in
Name a kids' game, from marbles to Monopoly, and Maryland youngsters have ridden it into the magazine. In 1960, an 11- year-old from East Baltimore made "Faces" for her facility at jumping rope -- 150 times in 30 seconds.
"That was my fame for a month in sixth grade," said , 55, of Middle River. Then a student at Holabird Elementary, she skipped rope three times faster than the U.S. average to win national acclaim. SI honored Benner who then landed on The Dave Garroway Show and showed her stuff on network television.
"I could have been in the Olympics if I had kept at it," she said.
Nowadays, works for a city florist and stays busy with her two children and five grandchildren. None of them jumps rope.
"Mom didn't pass those genes on to us," said her daughter Michele.Stacy Chanin In the swim
Before Fear Factor, before Survivor, before The Amazing Race, a University of Maryland student plunged into the murky East River and swam around Manhattan Island. Three times.
Stacy Chanin's reward in 1984: a paragraph in SI and tendinitis in her right wrist.Was the 33-hour marathon worth it?
"I knew it was rare to get into that magazine," said the swimmer, since married and now known as Stacy Butler. "That was my moment in time."
No one had ever lapped Manhattan thrice before Butler did it. The college sophomore trained by paddling around Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
"That was gross," she said. "I had black streaks on my face from the oil slicks."
But it prepared her for the Manhattan project. There, led by a guide boat, Butler tried to dodge sea nettles, dead chickens and other nasty stuff.
"A lot of [debris] got stuck between my fingers," she said. "I just shook it off."
Near the end, exhausted, she dozed off in the water and awoke in a panic. Another time, choppy water roiled by speedboats slapped her face.
"I ended up drinking it," she said.
Overall, Butler relished the experience.
"I liked being in the water,wearing my cap and goggles and tuning everything else out," she said. "I have multiple learning disabilities, but I found that by swimming, I could shine."
At 44, she lives in California, where she teaches physical education to disabled children. Given an issue of Sports Illustrated, she always turns to her favorite page.
"As a kid, I never liked to read, but 'Faces' had those little blurbs, with pictures. I could handle that," she said. "It was inspiring to me."Jeff Gorschboth Shell game
It has been 24 years since SI saluted his beady-eyed buddy, but Jeff Gorschboth remembers the moment. Then 11, had entered Jackie, his pet turtle, in the Chesapeake Turtle Derby. Jackie trampled the field, literally, clambering over her rivals in record time (16.32 seconds) on the 12-foot course in War Memorial Plaza.
"She was a very fast turtle, if there is such a thing," Gorschboth said.
The victory put Jackie's kisser in the magazine in 1981 and promoted her owner,who had found the 10-inch turtle in a field near his home in Hamilton.
"It was so neat -- I got a letter signed by [then] Mayor [William Donald] Schaefer, a red plastic crown to wear on my head and a chance to meet [local television star] Captain Chesapeake," said Gorschboth, now a pharmacist in Bel Air.
That autumn, he gave Jackie her just reward. He took the turtle to Prettyboy Reservoir, placed her in the water and watched her swim away.
"She seemed very happy to be out of captivity and not in someone's pot," he said.Phil Denkevitz Swim phenom
Scissors, paste and the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. spread it all out before him on the desk in his dorm room at the University of Maryland.
It was March 1964, and Denkevitz -- who had set a national 50-yard freestyle record -- was news. There, on page 73 of the 76-page magazine, was a photo of the Terps swimmer. To the college freshman, this was bigger even than the Beatles.
He grabbed the scissors and went to work.
"I cut out my picture from the other five in 'Faces,'" Denkevitz said. "Then I cut up the cover, saving the part that says Sports Illustrated, with the date and 30- cent price. Then I arranged and pasted it all on a sheet of typing paper."
Forty-one years later, the transformed SI "cover" survives, tucked away in an old suitcase in Denkevitz's home in Baldwin.
At 61, the retired gym teacher has more hair now than when he swam at Maryland or, before that, at Poly. He still holds several high school sprint records in the Engineers' pool.
"I was fortunate to be a gifted swimmer," said , who failed to make the 1964 Olympics. "What I didn't have was a Michael Phelps work ethic."
For a while, though, he was BMOC around College Park, where classmates noted his picture and gave him a nickname.
"They called me 'Phenomenal Phil.'"Steve Sandusky Reel life
Hooking up with Steve Sandusky isn't easy. Hit the beach at Ocean City, hang a right, take the Panama Canal and slide up the coast until you reach Dominical, a beachfront town in Costa Rica.
See that charter boat, trolling for tuna? Sandusky, 45, has the helm. As a kid, he wormed his way into SI by winning a fishing tournament on the Chesapeake.Now,he takes tourists 25 miles out in the Pacific in search of sailfish,wahoo and marlin.
It's as if his appearance in the magazine rigged his destiny, said Sandusky, who began running fishing charters in Costa Rica in 1996.
"Maybe all that [publicity] works on you subconsciously," he said.
Sandusky was 12 when he hooked a winning 30-pound, 10- ounce rockfish on the family's boat near the Bay Bridge.
"It was evening, just before supper, when Steve caught it," said his father, Alex Sandusky, former All- Pro guard for the Baltimore Colts. The fish was weighed, certified, photographed -- and eaten.
"It tasted real good," the elder Sandusky said.
Meanwhile, his son was savoring the spotlight.
"It was really cool, bragging about being in Sports Illustrated at St. Mary's School [in Annapolis]," Steve Sandusky said.
Years later, he bragged about it in college, too.
"My roommate would bet people that I'd once had my picture in the magazine," Sandusky said. "Then we'd all march over to the library [at Frostburg State], look it up on microfilm and collect on the bet.
"I made a lot of money off of that."Delano Meriwether On the fast break
was 26 when he appeared in "Faces," a tall, slender scholar with a degree in medicine and a devotion to track.
A hematologist, Meriwether spent his days treating leukemia at the Baltimore Cancer Research Center, near the Johns Hopkins University. The work weighed on him, so he lightened the load by running sprints on the Hopkins track at night. In the dark. To train, he had to scale a surrounding fence.
Why trespass? The year was 1970.
"It wouldn't have been smart for me to run the city streets," said Meriwether. "And I was desperate to run."
Self-trained, he began entering races, including the 100-yard dash at the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Men's Nationals. A victory there put him in the magazine.
"Getting into [Sports Illustrated] changed my life," said , now 61. "Mine was a very modest achievement, but it encouraged me to continue to train."
In 1971, he entered the AAU Nationals. Dressed in his customary attire -- gold swim trunks, gold-and-white suspenders and a white hospital shirt -- he ran the 100 in 9.0 seconds, becoming the second man to do so. (John Carlos was the first.) This time, Meriwether made the cover of SI.
His Olympic bid dashed by a bum knee, the doctor returned to medicine. In 1976, he headed the ill-fated national swine flu vaccination program, then spent seven years in Africa, treating the poor. Today, Meriwether lives in Potomac and practices emergency medicine in rural areas of Maryland,West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
He still jogs, climbing the steps at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium at least twice a week.
"I'll run anyplace I can without scaling fences," he said.Karen Sollanek Unwanted attention
Celebrity has its dark side. Ask Karen Sollanek, one-time basketball star at Parkville High. In 1984, her appearance in SI triggered a disturbing response.
"I got a couple of weird letters, very sexual-driven, addressed to me at school," Sollanek recalled.
That wasn't all.
"My parents got a call from a man who said he was a janitor who'd found the magazine while throwing out the trash," she said. "He read it and wanted to meet me."
Not until she enrolled at Drexel University in Philadelphia did Sollanek realize the legacy of an appearance in SI.
"My friends were pretty affluent. I could never compete with them in conversations about wealth or cars or homes," she said. "Then one of them saw [Sollanek's issue of] Sports Illustrated in the student union and told me, 'That's an accomplishment none of us will ever have.'"
Now 38, she does financial work at the Johns Hopkins University. A mother of three, finally showed that magazine photo to her 10-year-old, who was taken aback.
"He tends not to think his athletic prowess comes from his mother," she said.Carole Gittings Just ducky
Some of those tapped by the magazine feel a link with the star on the cover. For instance, Pete Maravich's death in 1988 saddened Carole Gittings, a bowler who had appeared in "Faces" in a 1973 issue that featured the pro basketball star out front.
"I thought, 'What a shame that he's gone,'" said Gittings, of White Marsh. "We'd never met, but I felt a connection -- like [Maravich] was a notation in my history."
was noted for setting a world single-game duckpin record for women (265), a mark that stands more than three decades later.
"At 22, I didn't understand the power of Sports Illustrated," she said. "Until I went shopping at Sears, on North Avenue, and someone asked for my autograph. I was, like, in shock. 'Autograph for what?' I said. I couldn't comprehend that."
Leafing through that old yellowed magazine now provides validation for , 54, a retired police officer for the Maryland Department of Education.
"You reach a point where you think,what have I done in my life?" she said.
"I didn't save the world, but at some point in time I was pretty good at what I did."
As were all of her fellow "Faces." And they have the pages to prove it.Dee Curran Lacrosse tandem
In 1973, a drive to the beach ended up being an ego trip for Dee Curran, a 17-year-old lacrosse player from McDonogh School.
It was there, as he thumbed through magazines at a newsstand on the Jersey shore, that Curran learned he had been plucked from the crowd.
"I yelled, 'Holy smoke! Look at this!'" Curran said. "That first feeling [of seeing his picture] took my breath away."
His next thought: Can I get a copy free?
"My buddies grabbed five magazines off the rack, showed my picture to the owner and said, 'See? This is him! Give them to him!'"
"Five bucks," the owner growled.
For Curran, an attackman who had scored nine goals in one game for McDonogh, the selection was doubly sweet. Sharing honors with him in "Faces" that week was his brother, Val, then a star at Duke and that team's Most Valuable Player.
The magazine award "brought us closer as brothers," Dee Curran said. "Val was four years older and had never given me the time of day. All of a sudden, we were in something together. I got more of a break from him after that."
Now head of a paper distribution firm in Maryland, still has the magazine, with tennis star Billie Jean King on the cover. During that magical summer of '73, Curran ran into King at a tournament and had her autograph his keepsake:
Dee -- Keep playing that Indian game of yours. All the best, Billie Jean King.
Contact the author at email@example.com
Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.
More 'Faces' profiles
The farmer had hay to bale, barley to cut and steers to feed. But Steve Hoff, 47, took time out from working the family's 350-acre farm to dig up the past.
Twenty-nine years ago, Hoff made it into "Faces" as the first high school wrestler in Maryland history to win three state championships - the last in 1976.
The plaudits brought colleges rushing to his doorstep on Bethel Road.
"My gosh, I had [scholarship] offers coming out of my ears," said Hoff, a graduate of Westminster High. He turned them all down to stay home and work the farm with his father.
Regrets? He has none.
"When you're happy with what you're doing, you don't worry about it too much," he said.
But on rainy days, once the livestock have been fed and the other chores are finished, Hoff might pull out his scrapbook with the dog-eared magazine and read it one more time.Steve Martin
Water helped get Steve Martin into the magazine. It nearly wiped out his souvenirs from it.
Martin, who won the intercollegiate single-handed sailing championship in 1964, feared he had lost his copies of SI last year when two hurricanes flooded his home in Vero Beach, Fla.
"We had to throw out a lot of stuff, but thank goodness the magazines weren't part of it," he said.
A native of Bay Ridge, Martin attended Severn School and graduated from the Coast Guard Academy, where he later taught. At 63, he still takes to the shallow waters nearby in his 21-foot sailboat.
"It's immensely satisfying to do something all by yourself and to manipulate the forces of nature," he said.Arnold Sing
When the phone rang in his family's home in Columbia, Arnold Sing answered it, as 15-year-olds are wont to do.
"Check out Sports Illustrated," a friend said. "You're in it."
That was in 1978. But Sing still recalls the satisfaction he felt in being tabbed for winning the U.S. Judo Federation junior championships while he was a student at Oakland Mills High.
"Being chosen [for the magazine] helped me to continue in that sport," he said. "And it helped to validate the martial arts, which really weren't a big thing then."
Sing is now a ship harbor pilot in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"I hop on the big oil tankers, filled with crude, and bring them into port," he said. "You try to keep your stress level down."
The mind-set he adopted for judo, said Sing, "helps me through tense times."Jim Born
Jim Born, star swimmer, stared at the pint-sized photo of himself in SI - and wanted more. Who could blame him? The year was 1985 and Born, of Edgewood, had just set five NCAA Division III records in leading Kenyon College to a national championship.
"I was excited to make 'Faces,' but I still had more to do," said Born. "I felt that I'd arrived, but that I was a thumbnail size in the back [of SI] rather than a featured athlete. I wanted to move forward in the magazine."
It wasn't to be. Born would make the top 10 internationally in the 100-meter freestyle, but two Olympic bids fell short. Now 41, he is a security analyst for the state of North Carolina.
"No more practices at 5:30 a.m.," he said. "Nowadays, I swim just to get wet."Ken Hill
Ken Hill's football performance on that crisp September day in 1983 was the stuff of legend. The Overlea High running back scored five touchdowns in a victory over rival Perry Hall. Among them were an 82-yard kickoff return, a 70-yard punt return, a 71-yard rushing touchdown and a pass reception for a score.
Then came the clincher - Hill's mug shot made the magazine.
Let the ribbing begin.
"Once my picture appeared, everyone began calling me 'Hollywood,'" said Hill. "Kids in school stuck little stars all over my locker and my football gear.
"Oh yeah, I think I got a date or two."
Hill would play one year in the Canadian Football League before injuring a knee. He still plays lacrosse, rides a motorcycle and lives in Sudlersville (Queen Anne's County) where, at 39, he works as a supervisor for a utility company.
"Every time I pick up an SI, I turn to 'Faces in the Crowd' to see if there's anyone from Maryland," he said. "It's like a little alumni thing."Steve McDonald
Excuse Steve McDonald if he didn't whoop it up when he learned he had appeared in SI.
"It was Thanksgiving 1974, when someone brought home the magazine," said McDonald, then the soccer goalie at Loch Raven High. "I leafed through it, saw my picture and - smiled."
"I couldn't tell anybody about it then," he said. "I was the middle of three brothers, and I probably would have gotten beat up."
His award capped a near-perfect senior year for the long-haired McDonald, who allowed one goal in 14 games for Loch Raven's state champions.
"Kids called me 'Sports Illustrated' for a while," said McDonald, 48. Co-owner of an insurance agency, he still coaches youth soccer near his home in Lutherville.
The father of three, he has shared his write-up with his kids. Their response?
"Nobody lingered over it," McDonald said. "They acted like, 'Hey, the old man really did something at some point in time.'"Nancy Brown
Nancy Brown was 55 when she was made a "Face" for setting three national age-group swimming records in 1991.
"They [SI] got me in my prime," the Pasadena woman said. "Pretty cool, huh?"
Still active, Brown is gearing up to swim across the Chesapeake Bay next year, when she turns 70. The distance? Nearly 4 1/2 miles.
"I do this once every five years," said Brown, a grandmother of 12. "I'll be fine, as long as the water temperature is OK and there's not a lot of current. I have no problem with the distance."Tyler Gearhart
He was a 10-year-old soccer star when singled out by the magazine. All hail Tyler Gearhart, one-time scoring machine of the Ruxton Raccoons recreation team. His offensive prowess (13 goals in six games) won him honors in 1969.
That, said Gearhart, was the height of his sporting career.
"It was great when it happened," he said. "But the reality is that my athletic ability peaked in elementary school."
By college, Gearhart had switched to playing ultimate Frisbee.
He is executive director of Preservation Maryland, the state's oldest historic preservation organization. His keepsakes include a framed copy of his SI photograph, which hangs in the office of his home in Roland Park.
"Nobody at work really knows about it," Gearhart said wryly. "But when I try to get a little respect, I mention the fact that I was in Sports Illustrated."Arthur Simonsen
He was the Annie Oakley of the Eastern District, a sharpshooting sergeant who kept racking up prizes in pistol competition. When he retired in 1972 from the Baltimore City Police Department, Arthur H. Simonsen Jr. had won nearly 150 medals for marksmanship.
Well done, said the magazine, which acknowledged him in "Faces."
"I appreciated that, but I didn't go around bragging," said Simonsen, 84, of Eastpoint. "My equipment was top-notch stuff - a $75 revolver from Bacharach-Rasin."
Though at home on the range, Simonsen also used his weapon on the job "once or twice," he said.
"In 24 years, I never fired at anybody to hurt them. Mostly, I'd fire warning shots in the air, so [suspects] would stop running."
Did it work?
"Oh yeah," he said. "I hope to tell."Karen Class
Truth be told, Karen Class spent less time admiring her own photo in "Faces" than she did the hunk on the magazine's cover in November 1968.
"Jean-Claude Killy was on the front," said Class. "I loved him. He was one of my sports heroes at the time, and I thought, 'His picture is in there, and mine is, too.'
"When you're 11 years old, you think those things."
A victory in the National Jousting Championships (novice class) clinched a spot in "Faces" for Class (nee Bands). It was a big deal for the skinny sixth-grader, who practiced jousting aboard her brown pony, Cocoa, on the family's 5-acre farm in Bel Air.
"I remember the school principal announced that I had won the SI award, and that I would receive it on TV [Channel 2] and that everyone should watch," she said. "After that, it seemed like everyone in school wanted to come to my house and ride Cocoa."
The SI award is rarely mentioned now, said Class, a math teacher at Magnolia Middle School.
"It's always good to use in group discussions when someone says, 'Tell us something about yourself that no one else might know,'" she said.John Houska
John Houska, 49, played soccer for much of his life, but the one-time pro can count on one hand the games that his father attended.
"My dad was a doctor in East Baltimore who made house calls," said Houska. "He probably only got to see me play five times in my career."
Imagine the goaltender's delight on appearing in "Faces" in 1976 - after leading Loyola College to the NCAA Division II championship. He scored a shutout in the title game.
"Seeing my picture in the magazine made my parents so proud," said Houska, regional sales director for a food company in Lexington, S.C. "My father was a very humble man, but he loved having that picture around."Jack Thomas
Front to back, cover to cover, Jack Thomas would read Sports Illustrated week after week. In 1970, the Towson High senior used to study the people in "Faces," read their terse biographies and envy the whole lot.
Then Thomas, an attackman, exploded in a lacrosse game (four goals and seven assists) and landed in the magazine himself.
There was just one hitch.
"They used my senior picture, with the white tux coat and the black bow tie," he said. "Looking back, it was pretty silly."
The photo followed him to Johns Hopkins University, where Thomas made All-American and led the Blue Jays to the NCAA title. Even then, he said, "kids remembered the picture and made fun of my bow tie."
Today, Thomas teaches history at Centennial High and helps coach the boys lacrosse team.H. Turney McKnight
"Faces" has been known to select multiple family members, but usually in the same issue of the magazine. H. Turney McKnight and his daughter were chosen 30 years apart.
McKnight, of Jarrettsville, earned his place in 1970 after winning four consecutive steeplechase races. Three decades later, Anna McKnight, 15, made the big time. An equestrian like her father, she also won four straight riding events in 2000.
"Did being in the magazine change my life? Not one bit," said Turney McKnight, 62, a retired attorney. "In my whole life, no one has ever referred to my being in SI.
"But it was really fun for my daughter. More people picked up on her being in ['Faces'] than back in my time. Of course, when she was picked, I told people that I had been in the magazine, too."
"They all said, 'We don't care.'" Mark Michael
Mark Michael was a 12-year-old swim prodigy when he appeared on a back page of SI in 1976.
His mug might as well have been on the front of the magazine.
"My swim life sort of peaked right there, in eighth grade," said Michael. "I felt like I got the Sports Illustrated [cover] jinx.'"
Then a student at Friends School, Michael ranked No. 1 in the country in his age group in backstroke and butterfly sprints.
"Then SI came out with my picture, and it all kind of went to my head," he said. "It was a badge of honor and an introduction line with the girls. People would whisper and say, 'That's the guy.'
"In fact, I swam great in high school [Calvert Hall] and college [Stanford], but I was never a national champion again."
Now 41, Michael operates Occasions caterers, a business he started with his brother, Eric, in Washington.
The father of three, he is biding his time before sharing that old magazine with his children. The eldest is 9.
"When it means something to them, I will show it to them and have them admire me for life," he said. Roger Tuck
Roger Tuck has no idea as to the number of copies of the June 19, 1972, Sports Illustrated there are in his mother's house in Dundalk. Except that she must have squirreled away lots of them.
"Every time I turn around, I find another one stuck in a drawer," said Tuck.
And every time he skims the pages, there is the picture of one of Dundalk High's favorite sons, a high-scoring lacrosse attackman and an All-Stater in football.
That's Tuck beneath a massive mound of hair.
"I had this big, thick, black, curly hair that took up most of the picture," he said. "I don't think they got all of my head in [the photo]."
Tuck made the magazine one more time, in 1975 when his University of Maryland team defeated Navy for the NCAA lacrosse title.
A former All-American, Tuck, 50, now works for his brother, Michael, who owns a janitorial business in Catonsville.Mary Beth Akre
Somewhere in her house in Parkton, buried beneath stacks of old sketches and faded landscapes and crusty paint brushes and oils, there's a yellowed sports magazine from 1976 with Mary Beth Akre's photo inside.
"Give me a week and I'll find it," she said.
Akre, 46, is associate professor of fine arts at Loyola College and an accomplished painter. Twenty-nine years ago, she was something else entirely - a fierce attackman who led Loch Raven High to an undefeated lacrosse season and the Baltimore County championship.
Hence, her appearance in "Faces."
"That was pretty cool, but I played because I loved the game and not for glory or honors," said Akre. Which is why she hasn't a clue where that magazine is.
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