Fri Jul 1, 2022

Frank Thoughts

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1 Free Article Remaining (through 07/30/22)

What do you do while sitting, waiting for a red light to turn green? I imagine a lot of people use the opportunity to check their phone. I will admit to doing so on occasion myself. However, primarily my attention is on the light and surrounding traffic. One of my quirks (yes, I do have several, Thank You!) is wanting to be the first person moving. This is easy to accomplish if you are first in line. I smile if able to open up a 2-3-car length lead over the vehicle immediately behind or beside me. I don’t take off with tires spinning; just as soon as I can safely proceed I do so.

My reason is one of generosity. If you are sixth or seventh in line, I have given you a better opportunity to make it through the light. Unfortunately, if any of two through five are not attentive, the rest of the queue is “up the creek without a paddle” or green light. Have you ever been in a turn lane in Wilmington and never moved while the light went from red to green to yellow to red? How do I react when one or more slow to react vehicles in front force me to sit through a second sequence? NOT TOO GOOD! There are several streets that cross JK Powell Blvd. where the opportunity to cross is fleeting. Just this morning only THREE cars made the left turn from Washington to JK Powell. Please pay attention!

I think some people take the “Cinderella” label as an insult when used to describe a sports team. How can recognition for performing well be bad? I think it is a great thing to be recognized for performing above expectations. Of course, I am talking about outside expectations. Any team that earns the “Cinderella” label has high expectations for themselves.

I have not found anyone with something bad to say about the Whiteville Post 137 baseball team. The coaches agree it was a fun bunch to work with. The players came together to the point that C.J. Hammonds called it a “brotherhood.” Several players were excited about playing in a state tournament since it was a new experience for them. I hope the players that have experienced team success during their careers will remember their excitement, appreciate and never take that success for granted.

Post 137 Athletic Director, Alex Newell, is trying to come up with a list of players that have played for Post 137. I’d like to approach each one about donating $5 per year to Post 137 baseball. A lot of people doing a little bit can do a lot of good. The program has been around since the 1940’s. Maybe a way could be found to erect some type of board of recognition at Legion Stadium for our alumni group?

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It never fails that at least one long-time American Legion baseball follower will bring up my “last” Legion baseball game at some point during the season when I attend a game. Why the apostrophes? My last Legion game was never completed, so I guess you can’t technically call it a game. It was the summer of 1975. Whiteville had a good Legion team that summer. Two future All-Americans headed up the pitching staff, Greg Norris (UNC-CH) and Mike “Willard” Baldwin (UNC-P). Bunky Williams and I rounded out the staff.

Anyway, Wilmington Post 10 was very good as well. We faced them in a best of seven series. They won game 1 in Wilmington. We won game 2 in Whiteville. They won at home in game 3. We won game 4. The series was interrupted by rain on several days. In Legion baseball, a series MUST be completed by a certain date. If not finished, the result is determined by the winner of the most games of the previous odd number. For example; a best of seven takes four wins, if the series is tied and you can’t get the seventh game in, the series reverts to a best of five. Whichever team won three of the first five would be the winner and advance.

Heading to Wilmington for game 5, we knew that would be the final game. Of course, it rained. Post 10 coach Buck Hardee said the field was too wet to play on. Coach Hedgepeth had other ideas. He got their field ready for play. The game started with Norris and Hal Hutchens (headed to Univ. of South Carolina) on the mound. Some people mistakenly think I started that game. Not the case, I pitched game 4, a 3-2 win, that come to think of it, may not really be a game either! Norris and Hutchens were both superb, throwing shut out baseball through 12 innings, with Norris allowing only four hits. I spent most of my time in the “bullpen” to be ready in case Greg got in trouble. He never did. Legion rules only allowed a pitcher to pitch 12 innings in a 3-day period. I came into the ballgame in the 13th and was on the mound in the bottom of the 14th inning when the rains came. The field became a quagmire; even Coach Hedgepeth had to agree play could not continue. The series reverted to a best of three, Wilmington prevailing 2-1. My last Legion game in a sense never happened.

Michael Powell, former West Columbus basketball coach, gave me a “backhanded” compliment last spring. I don’t remember which article, but his comment was “I had to read for a while before I knew where you were going.” Thanks Coach, mission accomplished! Generally, I want you to THINK about what I write. Sometimes, the real story is somewhere between the lines……… Did you know that Hubert McCleney and Michael Powell are the only two varsity basketball coaches in 50 years of West Columbus?

Not a lot of mystery or thought-provoking statements in this edition of FT. I felt like I owed you something. Your comments are always welcome

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