In this issue staff writer Jack McCallum brings into focus a group accustomed to being overlooked, the offensive line of top-ranked Brigham Young (page 38). McCallum's own experience in the pits was as a 170-pound center on the Alpha Tau Omega intramural team at Muhlenberg College. In three seasons he never made a bad snap—until the last play of his last game, when he paused to reflect on his perfect record and promptly dribbled the ball into the backfield (quarterback Marc Hellman, now a bank analyst in New York, snatched it up and salvaged the play).
McCallum's game nowadays is pickup basketball, an activity that he has engaged in during various trips to BYU. On his first BYU assignment as an SI writer, a profile of Danny Ainge 3½ years ago, McCallum went looking for a game in Smith Fieldhouse dressed in a MAGIC SHOW T shirt and gold shorts. The clothing was unacceptable—he was quickly outfitted in standard BYU-issue gear. "It was nine guys who looked like Danny Ainge, all dressed the same, and me," says McCallum, who recalls that his performance lacked distinction, too.
McCallum resides in Bethlehem, Pa., where he worked for eight years at The Globe-Times (he still does a weekly column of humor for that paper). He has become addicted to midday pickup games at nearby Lehigh University.
Though McCallum is not unacquainted with jet travel, he takes the bus when he comes to our New York offices. The trip takes two hours, with stops in Easton, Pa., at a truckstop in Bloomsbury, N.J. and the Daz-O-Del fast-food restaurant in Clinton, N.J. "It's not an exhilarating ride. In fact," says McCallum, "I've never had an interesting conversation of any kind." But it gets him here.
As for this week's story, McCallum found his subjects refreshing, accustomed to anonymity as they are. "They don't have a fanatical desire to promote themselves," he says. "Instead, they take a quiet pride in the recognition afforded the more visible members of the team."
This year, for the first time in our 30-year history, SI will simultaneously announce its Sportsman—Sportswoman?—of the Year not only in the magazine but also on national television. Merlin Olsen will be host of the hour-long program, which will be broadcast live by Home Box Office from New York's Lincoln Center starting at 8 p.m. E.S.T. Tuesday, Dec. 18. The show will include taped highlights from this year in sport, and appearances by former Sportsmen of the Year Roger Bannister (1954), Stan Musial (1956), Rafer Johnson (1957), John Wooden (1971) and Sugar Ray Leonard (1981).
TO McCALLUM, BUSING MEANS CHECKING IN AT WORK