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Some of the biggest impacts Clint Hurdle had on people this year wasn’t while he was managing the Pittsburgh Pirates to their best season...

Since being awarded the National League MVP in November, Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen gets the questions all the time. What’s the key to success? How did you get the MVP? What makes you so calm and confident?

Because of who he is—the NFL's MVP and single-season record holder for touchdowns—wide-eyed kids excitedly surround him as he arrives, anxious to peer into their hero's face. And because of who he once was—a kid, a hero worshiper like the ones that encircle him—Shaun Alexander appreciates the power of the moment. He signs autographs, slaps high fives, and poses for cellphone photos, smiling for each click. He doesn't deny a request. Alexander, the Seattle Seahawks' running back with the knack for scoring touchdowns, is touring the old YMCA in his hometown of Florence, Kentucky, the building he bought last year for $1.8 million... Read the remainder of Shaun Alexander's story from our September/October 2006 issue here...

On Oct. 4, 1890, Philadelphia outfielder William Ashley “Billy” Sunday (1862-1935) played his final Major League Baseball game. Traded from the woeful Pittsburgh Alleghenys, who finished 23-113, to the National League Phillies for a late-season pennant run, he batted .261—but stole 28 bases in 31 games (with 84 overall)...

It sounds preposterous now—kind of like an era when carbs weren’t counted, phones weren’t smart and people didn’t tweet—but there was a time when Chris Davis considered quitting baseball. Davis, the Baltimore Orioles’ newly minted superstar, was fed up with the game by 2011. His promising major league debut with the Texas Rangers three years earlier at age 22 was a distant memory. A logjam of talent within the organization and his own inconsistencies at the plate...

Joe Torre finishes huddling with reporters in the dugout shortly before the first pitch of a spring training game. One writer lingers to ask a quick question. The Los Angeles Dodgers manager prefers not to offer quick answers regarding Mariano Rivera, the celebrated Yankees reliever who helped Torre collect four World Series rings in the first five years of his tenure on the New York bench...

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey went 20-6 and posted a 2.73 ERA in 2012. His win total and ERA were 2nd in the National League. Dickey also led the NL in strikeouts with 230. R.A. Dickey is one of the top candidates for the NL Cy Young award, which will be announced later today. Here is his story, from the March issue of Sports Spectrum: The knuckleball. It dips and dives, darts and drops, and is the most unpredictable pitch in baseball. It seemingly takes a wild journey before reaching its destination to the plate. No one knows exactly where it will go. The batter doesn’t, the fielder doesn’t, even the catcher, and most importantly the pitcher, aren’t exactly sure where the ball will land. It’s so tough to tame that there is just one active major league knuckleballer: R.A. Dickey...

Adam Wainwright’s 2011 season had ended before it began. On the first day of spring training, on the very first day of batting practice, he blew his arm out. “It was one of those things that was just hard to believe,” Wainwright says. “We had literally just started spring training and, on the first day of BP, I completely blow my arm out. The pain was just excruciating and I couldn’t even lift a shampoo bottle with my throwing arm for a long time. It was very disappointing at first because we were all coming into camp, ready for a new season to start. And, suddenly, my season was really over before it began.”

Dave Dravecky was a Cinderella story – if Cinderella could have worn cleats to a ballgame instead of glass slippers to a royal ball. Sure athletes retire with every season, but America had followed the ups and downs of Dave’s career as closely as the sporting year’s many scandals and tragedies, though for an entirely different reason. Dave Dravecky had overcome cancer surgery on his throwing arm and come back to pitch again in the major leagues. Not since watching helplessly as Lou Gehrig battled amyotrophic lateral sclerosis had the nation so intimately identified with a ballplayer’s struggle with illness...

Andy Pettitte and the New York Yankees have clinched yet another AL East title in 2012 and the once-retired Pettitte figures to factor into the Yankees postseason success one last time. Pettitte is the all-time leader in postseason wins with 19 and could be going for number 20 in Game 2 of the ALDS. Pettitte has always been a strong believer and family man, Here is our story on Andy from the May-June 2001 issue of Sports Spectrum. It was the perfect day for an all-star showcase. The best baseball players from the Houston area had been invited to show their stuff in front of college and professional scouts. But something was wrong. Where was the Pettitte boy?

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