When columnist Steve Rushin travels the country, he reads the
local papers and keeps an eye out for intriguing two-paragraph
sports-related stories on, say, a man in Great Falls, Mont.,
accidentally shooting off one of his testicles while stuffing his
gun into his waistband after a bar fight. He tears out those
stories, stuffing them away in his notebook like a homemaker
clipping coupons; this week he trots them out for his annual
review of the year in weirdness. Rushin has no shortage of
unusual material to draw on. "So many ridiculous things happen,"
he says. "It's easy. It falls out of the sky as though I were
playing the tuba on the day it rains gold nuggets."

Also looking back this week is SI's picture editor, Jimmy Colton,
who selected our Pictures of the Year. For the feature Colton
cleaned out his "cool pics" file--photos he'd been grabbing for
the past 12 months that he says "make you look back again and
again." Some of the pictures were chosen for their sheer beauty,
while others tell the big stories of the year. "And sometimes,"
says Colton, "you get lucky and they do both." Colton, who
selects photos every week for the LEADING OFF pages, said that in
his 30 years in the industry--including five at SI and 17 at
Newsweek--this is the first time he's had the opportunity to fill
12 consecutive spreads. "It's pretty amazing," he says. "I wish
we could do this every week."

Bruce McCall

As others look back, SI asked a veteran writer-illustrator to
give us his thoughts on the future of sport. Bruce McCall's view
is a satirical one, replete with stretch mansions, super-retro
ballparks and an unheard of single-event attendance record.
McCall says sports is an especially fertile field in which to
work: "In sports there are more ideas than there's room for
because it's so dynamic. There's a lot of color in it." A high
school dropout who broke into journalism through auto magazines,
McCall has done numerous covers and humor pieces for The New
Yorker; his work also appears regularly in Vanity Fair. A new
collection, All Meat Looks Like South America, will be published
this spring.

COLOR PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER DYNAMIC DUO Rushin (left) and Colton unearth the best of 2002. COLOR PHOTO: PORTER BINKS [See caption above] COLOR ILLUSTRATION: BRUCE MCCALL


Lefthanded catcher Bruce McCall sees it as an honor and a
privilege to travel back in time to 1952 if it means he can help
the St. Louis Browns battle up from their last-place 1951
American League finish. The hustling graybeard's team spirit may
not make up for his power, speed or fielding deficiencies. And it
won't compensate for his advanced age or his fear of batted
balls, but the lowly Brownies can't be choosy--and they pay him
in 1952 dollars!

Eagle (-2)
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