Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The Best of Sports Talk available in e-book format
I always thought that some of my best work was featured in those Sports Talk columns. They started as an effort to write stories about each of the senior players on the Lamar High School sports teams when I was at the Democrat in the 1980s, but toward the end of my stay there, I began expanding the column to write more about the people who were playing the sports, rather than by-the-number stories talking about where they were going to college or what their favorite moments in high school sports had been.
You won't find sports writing like this in area newspapers nowadays (and some of you might think that is a good thing).
The columns featured in the Best of Sports Talk are described below:
1. Football Coaches Don't Cry- Seneca Coach Alvin Elbert meets his eight-year-old pen-pal Abby Phipps of Lamar, the wheelchair-bound victim of a drunk driver.
2. A Bases-Loaded Walk- My tribute to the late Gary Shepherd, tells a story from my youth when the coach of my Little League team, Brad Letts, decided to walk the best player on the other team, his brother, Steve Letts, with the bases loaded. (Gary was the coach of Steve's team.)
3. She Will Always Be With Us- Webb City cheerleader Miranda Yocum (now Joplin City Council candidate Miranda Lewis) talks about the death of her aunt, Nancy Cruzan, whose right-to-die case went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.
4. Stacey and the Magic Free Throw- The story of how a non-existent free throw enabled the Mt. Vernon girls team to beat Carthage in double overtime, despite the best efforts of Stacey Brunnert.
5. Gary Embry's Memory Lives On- Rita Embry talks about her son, former Lamar High School and Missouri Southern great Gary Embry, who was killed in a car accident.
6. Under Mom's Watch- Peggy Lucas watches as her daughter, Carthage senior Tysha Lucas, plays her final high school volleyball match.
7. The Days of Swine and Roses- The day Jasper County Youth Fair princess (and pig-catching expert), Christy Olson got the munchies and lost a friend.
8. Just Five Minutes- The real-life horror story of former Lamar coach Armando DeLaRosa, who committed suicide moments after murdering his wife.
9. The Love of Baseball- My interviews with the former KOM minor league players as they played in an oldtimers game 50 years later.
10. Past His Bedtime- Today, he's Webb City's basketball coach, but in this story Landon Cornish was six years old and had no use for girls whatsoever.
11. Remembering Harry Caray- My thoughts after the death of the broadcasting legend
12. This Is My Class, Too- Jamie Turner, a Carthage High School graduate, returns to watch her former classmates at Sarcoxie High School graduate.
13. Smiles at the End of their Rainbows- The first graders who he volunteered to help every day were the ones hit the hardest when Lamar swimmer Brandon Teel died suddenly from spinal meningitis.
14. Girls in the Big Gym- The column I wrote that put an end forever to having Carthage High School girls basketball games in the physical education building instead of the big gym.
15. Cruel Words- When she was in junior high, adults said Webb City volleyball and basketball player Kari Perry would never amount to anything. She tells the story of how she fought back with the help of her coach Sarah Gamble (now Carl Junction volleyball coach Sarah Wall).
16. Return of a Legend- Twenty-five years after leading Jasper to two straight undefeated football seasons, Bill McClintock returns to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
17. The Game Ball- Lamar's Jim Hillman presents the game ball to his grandfather, Tom O'Sullivan, at the dedication of the stadium named after O'Sullivan.
18. Carthages' King Carl- The story of New York Giants great Carl Hubbell and he how he struck out five future Hall-of-Famers in a row at the 1934 All-Star Game. (Hubbell was born near Carthage.)
19. First Kiss- When she was crowned Lamar High School Basketball Homecoming Queen, senior Leigh Hughes received her first kiss in front of 1,500 people. That was the hook Leigh's sister, Lindsay, used to get students to vote for Leigh. But there was another secret that no one knew at the time.
20. She Said Yes- The follow-up, two years later, to the previous story, as Leigh Hughes' boyfriend offers a surprise wedding proposal, and once again it was in front of 1,500 people.
21. Tiger Pride- Polite to referees, but downright mean while playing defense, Carthage junior Brandi Richardson receives the Tiger Pride award at the basketball banquet.
22. The Final 16 Seconds- The high school football career of Jasper senior Stacy Maggard comes to an end.
23. Waffling- This unusual column pairs the serves of Carthage junior varsity volleyball player Stephanie Greenwood with breakfast food.
24. Love and Haiti- While her Lamar teammates were playing in a brand new gym at the Aurora Tournament, Kelly Stahl teaches Haitian children how to play on a dirt court.
25. Beating the Odds- A Liberal barber survives brain surgery and holds off death for a few days longer to accept a special award for years of supporting the school's athletic teams.
26. Taking the Wrong Path- Carthage junior varsity basketball player Alicia Peters was great with the steals, but did not always take the ball in the right direction.
27. My Little Brother's Face- Lockwood High School reacts to the suicide of a freshman football player.
28. As Time Ran Out- Webb City guard Jennifer Lawrence takes one last shot at a district basketball championship.
29. Smelling the Silver- He played in one of the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl games in history, but more than four decades later, it is still the Silver Tiger game between Lamar and Nevada that ranks first in Pete Ihm's memory.
30. My Comeback- A first person account of my return to baseball, playing in the Granby Old Mining Town Days Oldtimers Game.
31. Family and Friends- When his house burned down, Lamar guard Michael Miller learned what was important.
32. A Shining Star- On the day when everyone thought she would be headed to the state volleyball championship, funeral services were held for Diamond senior Kelli Dorsey.
33. A New Home- After spending all of her life in the small town of Henderson, Nebraska, Andrea Friesen moves to the big city (Carthage) for her senior year.
34. The Power of Prayer- After an ACLU protest, the pre-game prayer over the loudspeaker at Lamar football games was stopped, but more than 100 people gathered in the end zone to pray.
35. Second Chance- He nearly died when a trash dumpster fell on him, but only a few years later, Carthage wide receiver Shaine Sundy received a scholarship to play football at MSSC.