Among the more than 60,000 fans at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on Oct. 17, when the earthquake stopped the World Series, was professional golfer Patty Sheehan. Like everyone else at the game, she quietly took life's little inventory and was thankful to find herself all in one piece. But things hadn't gone quite so well at Sheehan's house in Los Gatos, Calif., where her trophy collection—including her Sportswoman of the Year award from SI—had become so much smashed crockery.
When Sheehan finally reached her home the next day, the place looked as if, well, it had been hit by an earthquake. "It was a mess," says Sheehan. "It was as if somebody had gone into the house and ransacked it like they do in the movies. Only this was real life."
The Sportswoman trophy, a ceramic replica of an ancient Greek urn, was missing its base and two handles and was chipped and cracked. Sheehan was particularly disheartened by the loss of her ST trophy because, she says, "Winning it meant I must be doing something right."
Doing the right thing has always been one of Sheehan's paramount concerns. Her work with troubled teenagers in Santa Cruz County is what made her one of the eight Athletes Who Care who were our co-Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year in 1987. One of the first phone calls she made after the earthquake was to Tigh Sheehan, the group home she underwrites in Soquel, Calif. The home is a safe haven for teenage girls who are struggling to overcome emotional and behavioral problems stemming from abuse or abandonment. She was relieved to find out that everybody there was O.K.
February 26, 1990
A few months later Sheehan wrote SI to commend us on our choice of Greg LeMond as 1989 Sportsman of the Year. She and LeMond both graduated from the same high school in Reno. "From one Wooster High graduate to another," wrote Sheehan, "way to go Greg!" She closed with a p.s. lamenting the destruction of her ST amphora. We got a replacement to her within a month.
In pursuit of new trophies, Sheehan entered this year's first LPGA tour event, the Jamaica Classic, on Jan. 19. She won it by three strokes. "Now, if I could win about 16 more tournaments and all four majors," she says, "maybe I could win an SI Sportswoman trophy for my golf, too, instead of just for being Ms. Nice Guy."