SHE WAS, simply,the best villain there ever was in sport. She was the Meanest Mama on Skatesand the Queen of the Penalty Box--and proud of it. She was also a terrificathlete, but she knew how to entertain far better than any of the jerks todaywho prance about in the end zone. Nobody in any sport knew how to wear auniform so well as she did, topping off her rakish ensemble with garishly dyedhair (green for St. Paddy's, pink, purple, maybe some polka dots or stars).Whatever. Ann Calvello was the whole package.
Calvello, who diedlast week at 76, started in roller derby in 1948. For several years she was thestar of the Bay Bombers, but then she "went red shirt," over to whoeverthe Bombers' main opposition was on a given night, and there she thrived as abaddie. Her classic duels with the winsome Blonde Bomber, Joanie Weston, werethe best Good vs. Evil confrontations this side of Snow White and the WickedStepmother. Off the track, though, Ann was sweet and thoughtful and full offun. The license plate on her '74 Lincoln was LOVER. A 2001 documentary onCalvello helped spark renewed interest in women's derby and remade her as acult figure for young women. In Texas rollergirls now play for the CalvelloCup. If she'd played an uptown sport, Ann Calvello would be in the company ofBabe Didrickson, Chris Evert and Peggy Fleming. As it is, she'll just have tobe remembered as an absolute original.