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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight

It's Not The Heat, It's The Humility

A look at the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer Games

July 22, 1996|BILL PLASCHKE

When the temperature soared above 90 degrees with humidity to match--all before 10 a.m.--officials at Golden Park in Columbus, Ga., knew they had to do something to warn the 8,462 softball fans.

So they raised the flag.

A black flag.

The ominous looking piece of plastic--it could have been a lawn bag in a previous life--hung lifeless atop the center-field pole while an announcer intoned:

"The black flag means danger is imminent. Danger is imminent."

Officials then warned the crowd to drink water, which cost as much as $2 a bottle. U.S. Coach Ralph Raymond, the oldest coach in the Games at 72, ignored all warnings and refused even to remove his warmup.

"I'm from the old school, from the Gashouse Gang, where everyone was tough," Raymond said. "I'm soaking wet under this jacket, but I'm not taking it off."

Said shortstop Dot Richardson: "Ohhh, a macho man."

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