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Softball Player Who Missed Home Capitalizes on Notoriety

August 15, 1996

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Remember when U.S. softball player Dani Tyler failed to touch home after hitting a ball over the fence in the Olympics? Well, the truth can now be told.

She meant to do that.

Tyler’s gaffe came in a 2-1 extra-inning loss to Australia, which as the host country for the 2000 Olympics will decide if softball will be included again.

``A lot of people have told me, `Dani, you might have a big influence in how 2000 might have softball in it,‴ Tyler said Thursday. ``I said, `Why do you say that?′ Well, it’s because of you that Australia won. So I did it for the sport. It was all planned.″

Tyler can joke about it now because her team went on to win the gold medal. Plus, Tyler’s notoriety has opened avenues of opportunity that will keep her on the go for the next several months.

She has thrown out the first pitch in a game at Wrigley Field and played in a celebrity slow-pitch tournament in Chicago’s Grant Park. Her calendar is rapidly filling with clinics and speaking engagements, which she’ll have to fit in while completing her senior year as an accounting major at Drake University.

Tyler has made several such appearances already and laughed along with everyone else when some of the groups presented her with a home plate. It’s turning out to be the best mistake she ever made.

``I guess I have gotten a lot more attention, and in a good way,″ Tyler said. ``When it happened, I thought, oh, this is going to be with me for the rest of my life. I think I’m going to go to Mexico and hide.

``But it really to me wasn’t that big of a deal. I was very confident that we were going to come back and win. And it’s part of sports. Bad things are going to happen. I guess it kind of shows that everybody’s human.″

When Australia’s Joanne Brown hit the game-winning home run that day, she hopped on the plate with both feet. Tyler didn’t do that because it’s not her style. Too cocky in her view.

``I just kind of walk by and start giving high fives. I know a teammate was right behind home plate and I went to give her a hug and stepped over it by that much,″ said Tyler, holding her thumb and forefinger barely two inches apart.

``People were arguing, `Oh, you stepped on it.′ Well, I saw the real film and I really missed it.″

But she didn’t pout and she didn’t throw a fit.

``You can react two ways,″ she said. ``One, you can argue, run up and down the field and look like a jerk, Or two, hey, it’s over, it was dumb, very dumb, and move on from it. And that’s kind of the way I looked at it. That’s the way I was brought up _ learn from it and move on.″

And so she has. After a year away from school, Tyler returned this week to get ready for her senior year. She’ll take 16 to 18 hours this fall and graduate next spring.

``I’ve got my school supplies, I’ve got my book bag,″ Tyler said. ``I’m really excited. It’s like starting kindergarten again.″

Tyler plans to spend two weekends a month traveling. When she’s not on the road, Tyler will visit schools and take part in activities in the Des Moines area.

She wants to hold up her Olympic experience as an example for youngsters.

``It just shows everybody that it’s possible,″ Tyler said. ``I wasn’t this big superstar from California. I was just a regular kid and I just believed in something, which was the Olympic experience, and I tried as hard as I could. I put a lot of heart into it.

``I was never a dirty player. You don’t need to be a dirty player. I just had fun with it. And when you have fun with it, things come out of you that you don’t really believe can happen.″

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