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Son of a legend

Sports | Alabama QB Brodie Croyle is used to hardship, having spent time at a second-chance home for troubled and abused boys

Issue: "Malaria: Kill or be killed," Oct. 29, 2005

When the University of Alabama needed points in a recent victory over Mississippi, they turned to Brodie Croyle. And the 22-year-old son of Crimson Tide legend John Croyle didn't disappoint, either. The senior accounted for 60 yards, executing the Tide's two-minute drill almost perfectly. With Mr. Croyle leading Alabama to a 6-0 start this year, there doesn't seem to be any spot too tight. "When he talks on the field, everybody listens," coach Mike Shula said.

Maybe it's because the Alabama quarterback knows something about hardship. After all, he saw it every day growing up alongside hundreds of adopted brothers at Big Oak Ranch, the second-chance home for troubled and abused boys outside Gadsden, Ala. Since 1974 when he opened Big Oak rather than launching an NFL career, John Croyle has taken in 1,400 abused and neglected boys from across the South-some placed there by social workers, others simply abandoned at the gates. All find at Big Oak a Christian environment and a surrogate father named Mr. John.

But Big Oak almost never happened. Back in 1974 after John Croyle's tenure with Alabama as a player, he struggled with his future. That's when his coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant, told him to forget about football and pursue his dream: opening a children's home. Following his standout senior season, Brodie, too, might have a shot at the NFL-but only if it's his dream.

Pitching is back

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Nearly a decade ago, when pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine bemoaned the fact that "chicks" mostly like home runs, it seemed like the long ball was poised to take over baseball. And it did-perhaps reaching a high point in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox lineup pounded their way through the playoffs to capture their first World Series in nearly a century.

What Boston proved by the power of the bat last season, the Chicago White Sox are proving about the maxim that pitching and defense wins World Series. The White Sox starters dominated Boston's batting order (a minor vindication for Mr. Maddux and Mr. Glavine) and also vaulted Chicago past the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Championship Series.

The White Sox pitching against the Angels wasn't just good-it was outrageous. White Sox starters contributed four complete games against Los Angeles, leaving Chicago rested and ready for their National League opponent. Maybe chicks can dig that, too.

Around the Horn

Perhaps Texas Tech just operates in a different reality than the rest of college football. Where else would Cody Hodges' 643 yards passing (in one game) only be the second-best passing game in the past three seasons? And where else but Tech, where a zany, pass-crazy offense is the norm, would nearly 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns in the first six games still not get you serious Heisman consideration?

The Indy Racing League season ended roughly for new star Danica Patrick. The woman racer collided with Jaques Lazier at the California Speedway during the season's final race. Both blamed each other, but Ms. Patrick apparently made physical contact with Mr. Lazier, who wasn't impressed: "If she said she hit me on the temple with her fingers, that's fine," he told The Indianapolis Star. "It doesn't matter. My [4-year-old] son hits harder than she does.'

Whatever will Allen Iverson wear? A new NBA dress code will prohibit players from wearing some of their favorite gear before and after games, including throwback jerseys and other hip-hop regalia. The NBA will go business casual beginning opening night, Nov. 1. Veteran Chicago guard Eric Piatkowski says he's fine with the new regulation. "Some of the guys were worried at first because they thought they would have to go buy a full rack of expensive suits," he said. "But it's really that they don't want gym shoes, jeans, T-shirts, and jerseys. They are really not asking too much from us."


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