Once in a while, one must expand his horizons and explore topics outside of baseball and politics. Today’s March is Mostly Mets Reading Month takes us back to the mid-1980s, Mizzou and America’s sweetheart!
March 6: Mary Lou, Creating an Olympic Champion by Mary Lou Retton and Bela Karolyi and John Powers
Published in 1986
I had, unquestionably, the kindest and most patient college roommate ever.
Tony was not only a good friend and spiritual mentor, but he was extremely tolerant.
I was not easy to live with. I realize this now.
Other people in the University of Missouri’s Floyd Cramer Hall were able to bring proper furnishings from their homes in and around the Show Me State.
I, on the other hand, could contribute stuff that I could pack in a suitcase or arrive in a box in the mail. These included a Twisted Sister “Stay Hungry” mirror that was a gift form a girlfriend the prior year, a rather glorious collection of snap-back baseball caps, a modest boom box and posters.
The posters were, of course, images of the New York skyline, the Mets, a life-sized Tom Seaver, Twisted Sister and Rush. Oh, and Mary Lou Retton.
Yup, I had the classic Wheaties cover poster of Mary Lou in her star-spangled leotard, fists raised triumphantly in the air and megawatt smile. I ate a lot of Wheaties to get that.
It was the 1980s and we all were swept up in national pride after the 1984 Olympics. I’m sure every young guy in America had a secret crush on perky and victorious Mary Lou. They just weren’t willing to eat enough Wheaties.
Well, maybe not everyone.
The Mary Lou crush was the source of playful teasing, and we determined that it was probably healthier than Becky’s crush on James Dean – who had not won a single gold medal.
Tony tolerated this and many other things, including my dependence on the snooze button on the alarm clock each morning. Only years later did I realize that the snooze feature must have awakened Tony, too, over and over.
It’s amazing I didn’t come back from class one day and find my bed and Twisted Sister mirror in the hallway with a new lock on the door.
And I'm glad that didn't happen, because I would have been completely lost without Tony. We're still good friends today.
A couple years after graduating, I came across this cool book at a discount book store. Not yet 20, Mary Lou didn’t have much to say. But coach Bela Karolyi had an interesting story.
I know you are curious. Mary Lou retired from gymnastics but went on to have role in one of my favorite movies – “Scrooged” – and now is a motivational speaker and mother of four.
When I son was heading off to his first dorm room, unearthed the poster box and allowed him to take his pick. He liked the Rush “Permanent Waves” promo poster – which I believe still hangs in his apartment. He politely declined Mary Lou. Actually, he recoiled in horror.
Maybe some things are better left in the 1980s.
March 5: "Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century" by Marc Okkenon
March 4: "Clemente! The Enduring Legacy" by Kal Wagenheim
March 3: "Mets by the Numbers" by Jon Springer and Matthew Silverman
March 2: "Faith and Fear in Flushing" by Greg W. Prince