IN THE spring of 1982 Dan Rains was an oft-injured, 28-year-old former college linebacker, five years removed from his last game at the University of Cincinnati and desperate for a shot at the NFL. So when the Bears offered him a tryout, Rains (above) did what many an actor has done to get a job—he lied about his age. He told Chicago he was 23 and kept up the ruse until he retired in 1987, after four seasons with the Bears. Rains came clean last week; he told the Chicago Tribune that he felt guilty after seeing Invincible, in which Mark Wahlberg plays an aging walk-on who wins a job with the Eagles. "I felt like that movie was about me," he said. But Rains is hardly the only athlete who has shown great agility when asked his date of birth. Some great moments in age-shaving:
Two years after giving a $400,000 bonus to a flamethrowing, 15-year-old Dominican righty named Adriano Rosario, the Diamondbacks learn their hot prospect, now in Double A, is actually one Tony Pe√±a and that he was 18 when he signed. (Pe√±a had pretended to be his cousin.) Other than having his jersey name restitched, the hoax has little effect on Pe√±a's career. Now 24, Pe√±a (left) made his big league debut this year and went 3--4 for Arizona.
Told by the government that foreign players caught falsifying information wouldn't be able to play in the States, major league teams start checking their records. Many clubs find age discrepancies—none more than the Padres, who discover 11 minor leaguers played under false names or ages the previous season. The first Padre caught: 24-year-old pitcher Isabel Giron, who is actually 29 and playing under his sister's first name. San Diego releases him without bothering to find out his real name.
Indians ace Bartolo Colon admits that he faked his age when he signed as a teenager and is actually 28, not 26. The revelation doesn't bother the Cleveland brass. "What difference does it make?" says scout Dom Chiti. "Most pitchers don't mature until they're 30."
After Danny Almonte pitches a perfect game and leads his Bronx team to third place in the Little League World Series, questions about the lefthander's age catch up with him. Almonte (right), who submitted a fake birth certificate in order to play, is revealed to be 14, not 12, after an SI reporter unearths his birth documents in the Dominican Republic. The team forfeits its Series victories, but Almonte continues to live beyond his years. Now 19, he is married to a 31-year-old woman.
Two years after hosting the World Cup, Mexico is banned from the '90 tournament by FIFA because the Mexican under-20 team had used four overage players in a qualifier for the world youth championships. "I'm angry because we have struggled so much to raise the prestige of Mexican sports, while others did everything to the contrary," says Hugo Sanchez (left), Mexico's star player. The scandal is referred to in Mexico as the Cachirules, which translates loosely as "hanky-panky."
AFP/GETTY IMAGES (SANCHEZ)
PETER MORGAN/REUTERS (ALMONTE)
AL TIELEMANS (PENA)
CHICAGO BEARS FOOTBALL CLUB (RAINS)