HE RUNS THE HOLE SHOW
This is an article from the Oct. 16, 1991 issue
The sign reads MICKEY LOLICH DONUT AND PASTRY SHOP. It's just too good, too apt, too much caloric justice to be true. But there it is, next to the Lake Orion (Mich.) U.S. Post Office, a 45-minute ride from Tiger Stadium. The bat-and-ball-shaped sign confirms that the shop belongs to the Mickey Lolich, the lefty who won 217 games and struck out 2,832 batters in a 16-year career with the Detroit Tigers. I he one who turned the 1968 World Series into a personal showcase, winning three games and the MVP award. You know...the one with the belly.
Lolich, the original portly portsider, now runs an old-fashioned, 22-stool coffee and doughnut joint. "I never had a lifelong desire to be the Pillsbury Doughboy," Lolich says. "But you know, I enjoy making doughnuts. You've got to pay attention to all the details every day. A 20-game winner in this business is no good if you only have 20 days in a row that are good. You've got to be good 365 days a year."
At 51, he has the same affable smile and, yes, the same potbelly. "I used to like to say, 'There are a lot of guys with good bellies and bad arms.' Well, I've got a bad belly and a good arm," he says. Lolich won't reveal his weight, but hints that he's in the two-hundred-thirty-something range, about 20 pounds over his playing weight. Given his sugary surroundings for the past 12 years, that's quite a feat. "I have 50 types of doughnuts here, and I only eat three kinds: fry cake, chocolate fry cake or fritter. And at most, I'll have two in one day."
And what about the occasional Tiger fan who taunts him about his tummy? "Never bothers me," Lolich says, smiling. "You know, you can never trust a skinny cook. People see my potbelly and they say, 'His doughnuts must be good. He eats his product.' " Lolich laughs. It's just too sweet.
DUANE DOES LUNCH
He jokes with the waiter, he flirts with the waitress. He flips his shades to the top of his head, orders a yuppie beer and chats with a group of middle-aged women at the next table. Duane Thomas is not someone you would expect to find doing lunch at a trendy Los Angeles restaurant.
In 1971-72, when Thomas was the star running back of the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl VI team, he was known as the Sphinx, the man who not only refused to talk to the press but also barely spoke to his teammates and coaches. He was so moody', so intense, so...different that former San Diego Charger owner Gene Klein once called him "the strangest human being I've ever met." It's mildly surprising, then, to see Thomas laughing and talking and forking down the spicy vegetarian pasta on a sunny afternoon in L.A.
A lot has changed for Thomas in the 20 years since he dazzled and mystified the NFL. His career was short and stormy. In Dallas he called coach Tom Landry the "plastic man" and president Tex Schramm "totally demented." He refused to answer roll call at team meetings ("The coach could see I was right there"). Alter he gained 95 yards and scored a touchdown to lead the Cowboys to a 24-3 win over Miami, CBS-TV's Tom Brookshier nervously asked him if he was as fast as he had looked during the game. Replied Thomas: "Evidently."
By July 1972 the Cowboys had had enough; he was traded to San Diego, then to Washington. The '74 season was his last in the NFL.
"It was a strange time to be playing football," he says over lunch. "We had the Vietnam War, Woodstock, social changes all around us. But football wasn't real." He says he has only one regret over his abbreviated football career—"I wish I'd made more money."
At 44, Thomas looks 24 and weighs 15 pounds less than the 220 pounds he carried while with the Cowboys. He and his second wife, Shatemar, split their time between Taos, N.Mex., where they own a ranch; Dallas, home to his six children—ages nine to 25—from his first marriage; and L.A., where Thomas has a contracting company for commercial construction. Thomas also co-hosts a weekly L.A. radio talk show on football. Talk show? "Yeah, I know," says the ex-Sphinx, "a lot of people get a good chuckle out of that one."
A PUNCHER TURNED POET
It turns out that Jerry Quarry is a better poet than Muhammad Ali and a better singer than Joe Frazier. As you may remember, Quarry wasn't quite in their class as a boxer. He was a popular heavyweight contender in the '60s and early '70s, a rough-and-tumble Irishman who could hit pretty hard but always came up several rounds short of living up to that promotional knockout, the (.real White I lope. So he was left to consider finer arts than boxing.
Perhaps you'll find yourself in a small club in San Bernardino some night and hear a husky voice crooning: "I went to a garden party/And out steps Muhammad Ali/He was throwing lefts and was throwing lights/Like he threw at me...."
"We Irish all know how to sing," says Quarry, who has fronted for several California bands. "And I don't mean to put anybody down, but I'm a much better singer than Joe Frazier was with the Knockouts, or even Lorry Holmes. When it comes to singing, I'm the heavyweight champion of the world."
His poetry would probably also stop Ali in his tracks. Quarry says he will soon have a book of his poems published, titled. The Best of All Time. Here's a snippet he recites: "In the ring with Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali/Is a memory I look on with pride/fought with my heart but needed much more/The bridesmaid but never the bride."
"What I'm trying to do primarily," he says, "is become a Renaissance man. I want to show the world you don't have in gel into the ring to be a man."