because she was the first waitress hired, in 1983, by chain founder Ed Droste, who was ogling on the beach as Lynne won the Miss Jose Cuervo Gold bikini contest.
Other Hooters girls (they're always called girls) try to unseat her all the time. But a veteran at 32, she's a promotional dream, always cheerful, always smiling, witty, even wacky, sexy without being tacky. When guys harass her, she shakes her finger and adopts a mock-stern look, her blue eyes twinkling. When feminists attack her, she says, lightly, "Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot to live my life the way you wanted me to. I'll do better next time."
You might want to hate Lynne Austin-Daulton because she's rich and pretty and has a body of death, but, in person, she's impossible to dislike. She's sassy and forthright, alternately thoughtful and flip, and often very funny. She has a talent for self-deprecation, calling herself and the other Hooters calendar girls "the bimbs," which is inaccurate. She has a brain. She worries about being a good wife and what her husband does on the road, she works hard at being a good mother, and she's paying her mother's way through the University of Tampa.
Lynne appraises the crowd milling around Hooters, which likes to define itself with the total non sequitur "delightfully tacky yet unrefined."
Unrefined would be kind. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have just won their first football game of the season, and the stadium mob, already drunk, has descended to slobber over the waitresses, who wear teeny T-shirts, knotted in the back to make them even tauter, and orange running shorts that, in an exotic channeling of static electricity, tenaciously cling to the pantyhose underneath.
As she braces for the two-hour drool-athon, a guy with a leer shouts, ''Hey, that's Lynne Austin!" She gives a kind of sick grin and says, ''This is the part of the job that Darren doesn't really like."
In truth, their jobs have more in common than you would think. They're both celebrities, but in different cities. Both sign a lot of autographs, and, says Lynne with her quick grin and flip of the hair, "I have baseball cards, too, thank you very much." Both are lust objects for hundreds of members of the opposite sex, most of complete strangers.
And both have jobs entirely dependent on their bodies. Darren, 31, has an $18.5 million contract for the next four years, but he'll have baseball only as long as his creaky knees let him. Lynne has a two-year contract, but, she says with a shrug, "They're not going to want me forever," confiding that she doesn't like to sit beside the 18-year-old calendar girls. "They intimidate me," she says.
There are two huge differences between these two careers. First, Darren Daulton earns nearly twice as much each week as his wife does in a year. And second, his career is baseball, while hers clashes completely with hidebound baseball culture, which dictates that baseball wives should look pretty, shop, raise their children and stay out of sight except for approved charitable events.
Lynne Austin-Daulton is one of the few wives in all of baseball who has a career. Now, you can debate whether careers are made of a few bikini contests, a Playmate-of-the-Month spread (Miss July 1986) and a company latching onto you for your big set of, well, hooters. And you can bet there have been more than a few sneers in the Phillies clubhouse and beyond. But it's a career to Lynne, she's proud of it and she's stubborn about hanging on to it.
"For me, it wasn't enough to be someone's wife and mother. And my family is my top priority, no question. But I am trying to have this creative acting thing going, and I have got to have an outlet," she says after the Hooters appearance last weekend. "I could not just be Mrs. Darren Daulton."
To which you can almost hear all of Major League Baseball demanding, ''Well, why the hell not? That's the way the game is played."
Baseball wives do not work, with a few exceptions. Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice married an actress, Halle Berry, last year, "but she's about 5,000 levels above me," says Lynne. Bo Jackson's wife, Linda, is a Ph.D. in counseling psychology who is contemplating entering law school, or was the last time anybody bothered to interview her.
So Lynne Austin is an oddity, and isolated. By choosing to keep her home, job and son, Zachary, 3, in Clearwater, she's out of the circle of Phillies wives. But her 1989 marriage to Daulton and the subsequent wealth that has brought has also closed her off from some of her old Florida running-mates. ''Our lives have gone in completely different directions," she says.
Lynne and Zac spend homestands with Daulton at their home in Media. She schedules her work and extensive travel for Hooters and tapes her TV show, comedy skits that introduce and close a Saturday-afternoon movie, during Phillies road trips. She and Zac fly home to Florida, where her mother or her father, who are divorced, do the baby-sitting.
Last Sunday, while the Phillies happily lost to St. Louis and waited to see if they'd face the Giants or Braves, Lynne got up at 7 a.m., after working the Hooters' 10th anniversary party until 2 the night before, "cleaned out the dog cage, picked up the dog poop, scrubbed out the swimming pool, tried to get a Lysol smell into the house instead of a dog smell and cleaned out the cupboards under the sinks - real glamorous, huh?!" ran into Clearwater Beach
from her Safety Harbor home and back again, to drop off Zac, all before the afternoon autograph session with the belching football fans.
"It's a lot of stress," being married to baseball. "I'm really proud of Darren. I love him to death. I think it must be the biggest thrill in the world to want something since you were 7 years old, and then be able to fulfill it, I really do. When I was 7, I wanted to be Marilyn Monroe or a ballet dancer, right?" She laughs.
"But Darren knew he wanted to be a ball player when he was 7 years old, and this is the biggest summer of his life. He has struggled for years to get to this.
"But I never see my husband. I'm jealous of baseball. I get pouty. He says, 'Lynne, you don't understand,' and he's right. I try, but I don't." When she and Zac arrived Tuesday for the playoffs, neither had seen Daulton for the past three weeks. The boy, who is very articulate for a 3-year-old, sometimes says, "I think my daddy forgot about me."
If this sounds like a lot of whining for a woman who is a millionaire, you have to think beyond money. The money is fabulous. The year she married Daulton, he was making only $225,000, which is great money, but not the kind of money that you never need to pay attention to again. Eighteen-and-a-half million is that kind of money.
The Daultons have hardly gone overboard with it. They both drive Mercedes, and they can pick up and go whenever they please, but they still live in the modest three-bedroom house that Darren bought when he was single, and they're putting off building a new one on the 1/2-acre beachfront lot they bought earlier this spring.
She doesn't have a nanny (Zac has grandparents, which is best of all), she usually flies coach, because "I figure the front of the plane gets there the same time as the back of the plane," and she cleans her own house before the cleaning lady comes each week.
But even an $18.5 million contract does not permit a ballplayer to tuck his boy into bed at night. Or to pick up the dog poop. Or be the kind of full partner in a relationship that a woman might want. "That's the down side, and it's steep," Lynne says.
When Daulton comes home at the end of the season, "it takes two months to get all the communication going again, because he has been away all that time, much of it on his own, and Zac and I are used to our own routine."
The Daultons, in a parallel with Darren's baseball career, have had more catastrophes in their marriage than most. They started dating in February 1989, introduced by one of Lynne's girlfriends, who was dating a Phillies minor-leaguer. By June they were engaged and planning a December wedding.
"By necessity, baseball courting season is very short, because the guy is leaving and you have to make a decision what's going on," Lynne says. By the following May, she was 10 days overdue with Zac and facing the usual logistical nightmare of having a baby in season.
"We were going to induce on an off-day, and Darren was going to catch the redeye from San Diego. With baseball babies, you have to have it planned or do it yourself," she says. Birthing babies pay baseball no mind, so her labor
went faster than the plan, and she was begging the medical staff for Demerol to slow her down.
"There was absolutely no way I would have that baby without Darren. It was so important to the marriage. I knew we needed to bond over that," she says.
He made it, cut the umbilical cord and changed that baby's first diaper, but he had to leave 24 hours later. Nine weeks later, Lynne's only brother was killed in a car wreck. Nine months later, her grandfather, to whom she was very close, died. Three months after that, Darren nearly lost it all when Lenny Dykstra whipped his car around a curve too fast.
"That's a lot to deal with for a new marriage," she says, understatedly. She has a rich library of self-help books.
So why doesn't she just travel with the team on road trips? "It's a sore subject," she says. "I would, if he liked me on the road. It doesn't make sense to me, but Darren says that when Zac and I are there, it's hard for him to focus completely on baseball. He says, 'Lynne, you don't understand. There's practice and then there's press before the game, and the game itself, and then press after the game, and then I would have to hurry up and get out of there so that I could back (to the hotel) to see you guys, and pay attention to you.' And that's too distracting for him."
"He says, 'Lynn, baseball is my mistress.' "
That explanation will raise a few eyebrows, but she gives Daulton the benefit of the doubt, based on the peculiar nature of his career. He is a catcher who has battled through seven knee surgeries, a major car crash and several seasons of uninspiring stats to become an All-Star and team leader. What got him there is relentless focus, sheer will and hard work.
There is one subject that brings storm clouds across the sunny high- pressure system of Lynne Austin-Daulton. Does she worry about her husband being faithful to her?
She sighs, then says, in a rush, "I'd be a fool to say, 'Oh, my husband would never do that to me.' I hope he would figure one night is not worth 20 years. But what can I do about it, really? It's not that I'm in denial. It would hurt horribly, and it would be awful, and it would do nasty, terrible things to the marriage," she says.
"I know how it is, out there, the girls coming around, which does not comfort me in my hours of missing him."
And then she lightens. "He's awesomely cute, he's a great person. I want to say, 'Leave him alone, he be mine.' And besides" - and here comes the quick grin and the flip of the hair again - "he could worry, too."
She has some thoughts, sometimes. "You might wonder how it would feel to kiss someone, or more, but if you think it through, and the getting out of there and how you would feel after that . . . ugh. That's the end of that.
"But I don't know if that's how guys think."
The uncertainty over how guys think - Lynne is on record as believing men are from Mars, women are from Venus - keeps her fussing at Darren on this issue, long-distance, and keeps him telling her not to freak out.
"We fight in the kitchen just like everybody else, but we're in different kitchens," she says. It's usually over little stuff, details. The fiber-optic network can only do so much. They agree on the big issues.
"He's very laid back," says Lynne of her catcher. "He's very easygoing, and he's pretty funny when he wants to be. We don't fight on the fundamentals. We both agree on how to raise Zac, and his schooling. We don't argue about what to do with our money. We come from the same kind of family, so we have shared values."
The man who is almost always around is the little one, Zac, who has benefited tremendously from his mother's love of conversation.
"If people heard him talk, it would just blow them away," she says. ''When he was littler, he just looked like a cherub, like something you'd want to put wings on."
In the absence of his father, in the Hooters realm, "he's real protective. He gets an attitude. Sometimes, he gets this dreamy, kind of glazed look to him, and I say, 'Honey, what are you thinking about?' and he says, 'I was thinking, you're so cute.'
"Oh, it feels wonderful," she says. "From him I get that unconditional love, there's nothing like it."