The Press Box for August 21
I’ve seen some great sporting events in my time. Mainly professional basketball back in the 60’s and 70’s. I remember to this day the great games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Nothing was more exciting than a match between Wilt Chamberlin and Bill Russell or Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Great baseball games like the 70’s matchups between Pittsburg and the Reds. Those were great days. The games were intense, they were real there was dedication to their teams. It was real sports, real fun, and real exciting.
Last week I stopped in a place in Parkersburg, a local small sports pub. Bought a sandwich and was admiring the sports memorabilia when I heard a guy say, “no way you can’t to it.” They were playing pool for five bucks and were down to the eight ball which was agreed had to be banked in to win. The guy shooting called the shot! A triple bank to go in the side pocket. The bets were on and I joined taking the shooters side. I had seen my brother make the same shot several times, so I was confident he would nail it. And that he did earning me a $20 bill.
The next bet was even better as the man claimed he could stand on his head and chug a bottle of beer. I had nothing to lose so down went my $20 bucks. This guy was in his eighties, but there he went leaning up against the wall on his head downing that drink in one swallow. I was now up $40 bucks when he made one more claim. “I will bet $100 bucks I can drink a large mug of draft and then eat the glass.” If you know those mugs they are pretty thick glass, so I was hesitant, but being up $40 I went for double or nothing .
The guy laid $100 on the bar and it was quickly covered. The side bets were mounting up when the bar tender drew the draft beer into the mug. Oh yeah, he did it, one drink and then the first bite on the glass. He proceeded to eat that entire glass and you could hear it crunching in his mouth. I came away $80 up. Several people were talking to him about eating that glass. He said he learned to do it in a carnival he worked for back in the sixties and claims he has eaten at least 500 pieces of glass in his lifetime. He said he used to travel with Thomas Joy Land throughout the country under the name Hard Harvey, and they used to spend a week in New Martinsville. I used to go to that carnival as a child, but I don’t remember seeing anyone eat glass, but I saw it that night and I can’t prove him wrong.
I got off the subject of sports for a little there, but it brought to mind some of the great things we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes that we often forget. I witnessed some great fastpitch softball over the years, back in the day when Witschey’s sponsored area teams. WVU sports have always been some of my favorite sports to attend. I have watched literally hundreds of high school games and attended many state tournaments. Professionally baseball has been my sport of choice with Cleveland, and Pittsburg my favorite teams. Ocassionally I take in a Steelers or Browns game.
My all time favorite was watching a three game series between the 1975 Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburg Pirates. Back when the Reds had Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Dan Driessen, Ken Griffey and Johnny Bench. The Pirates countered with Al Oliver, Willie Stargell, Bob Moose, Dock Ellis, Rennie Stennett, Richie Zisk, Kent Tekulve and more. It was a great series and a great year for baseball. I once got to watch a professional boxing match with Muhamed Ali and Gerry Quarry, Ali dominated, but it was a great event. Professional wrestling I never cared much for, but my youngest son loved it so I had to go to a couple of them when Hulk Hogan, and the Underrtaker were the big names.
With all those good times in the past, I still enjoy high school sports as much as ever. I get excited when new coaches come on the scene. When local teams are expecting big things it brings out the best in the communities. I think we have some of that excitement right here in our area. We may not have any glass eaters, but we have kids who are tough as nails. A Kid who will lost a shoe and ran a cross country race with blood running down his foot from an open wound.
Kids who twist an ankle, tape it up and continue playing football or basketball. Kids who run when they feel like quiting. I like the girls who play volleyball and hit the floor trying for a save and come up with skinned knees and brusies, only to keep right on competing. I watched a couple years ago when a local basketball player lost a tooth by an advertant elbow, but finished the game. Year after year we see kids with injuries who want to continue playing. We have schools who play football with 15-17 players and nearly everyone plays on both sides of the ball. These are tough kids! Put them on a team where there’s 30-35 players and they will be standouts.
Soccer is another sports where injuries occur quite frequent however it is becoming more and more popular. It takes a lot of endurance and physicality to compete nonstop on a soccer field. These kids are in tremendous shape, these are tough kids who go at it night after night.. Every child who gets involved in something whether it’s cheering, band. FFA, football or anything else they will usually come out with memories that last a lifetime. Thank your coaches, teachers, friends and anyone else who helps you along the way, you never know you might be mentioned in a sports column some day like the ones above. firstname.lastname@example.org