Skip to main content
Original Issue

Abandon Ship

With Titanic steaming toward what seems certain to be a boatload
of Oscars on Monday, it's an appropriate time to dredge up some
memorable sporting Titanics. All of the following teams or
individuals set sail amid pomp and circumstance, only to run
into a hazard that scuttled their journey.

--VESSEL 1954 Cleveland Indians
UNSINKABLE? Bob Feller was the fifth starter on this 111-43
(still best record by an American League team) leviathan that
cruised into the Series.
ICEBERG Willie Mays said nay with his back-to-the-plate catch
on Vic Wertz, and the New York Giants said, Hey, see you later,
in shocking four-game sweep.

--VESSEL David Clyde
UNSINKABLE? Bonus-baby lefty, selected ahead of Dave Winfield
and Robin Yount in 1973 amateur draft, showed Hall of Fame tools
in winning first game in majors 19 days after high school
ICEBERG Arm trouble, alcohol abuse and inability to handle
great expectations left him with a career record of 18-33.

--VESSEL Gerry Cooney
UNSINKABLE? Ultimate Great White Hype with rib-cracking left
hook ran up record of 25-0 against tomato cans.
ICEBERG Overmatched against champ Larry Holmes in 1982, the
6'7" Cooney was outclassed and knocked out in the 13th; he
fought sparingly and unimpressively after that.

--VESSEL Tony Mandarich
UNSINKABLE? Bulked-up Michigan Stater touted as player to
revolutionize offensive tackle position in NFL.
ICEBERG Nondescript pro career marked by injuries and steroid
rumors; out of NFL from 1992 until '96, when picked up by a
leaky lifeboat, the Indianapolis Colts.

--VESSEL Young America
UNSINKABLE? In 1995 America's Cup skipper Dennis Conner so
believed in the boat that he ditched Stars and Stripes in favor
of Young America to make his Cup defense.
ICEBERG New Zealand's Black Magic made Young look old with a
5-0 sweep.

--VESSEL 1997 U.S. Ryder Cup team (above)
UNSINKABLE? With Captain Kite at the helm and a Tiger in the
tank, this outfit was billed as the best ever.
ICEBERG Seve-coached Europeans gave 'em a nasty Nick and the
full Monty.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: JEFF WONG [Sinking Tom Kite- and Tiger Woods-visaged Titanic beside Seve Ballesteros-faced iceberg]