|Taken in 1955, my brother Paul, 14, showing his layup form. Notice the basket.|
A produce basket nailed to the porch railing. I was 7. This is where, several
years later, I perfected my Al Attles hook shot.
I wasn't a great student. If not for the C-average requirement to play sports, I might still be there trying to graduate.
Turned in a 10-pager. Guy hit a home run; as he circled the bases he thought about the stages in his life and by the time he touched home plate, he decided not to kill himself.
Pretty good, huh?
Problem was the teacher didn't believe I wrote it. At the end of class he called me aside, handed me back the paper, and said, "Good try, now write your own paper." Besides, he told me, there's no misspelled words and I know you can't spell spit.
That's why I have a feel for people on death row who said they didn't do it!
My girlfriend, who edited the paper, went with me to testify about my authoring ability and the teacher reluctantly gave me an A. Should have been an A-plus.
I had an imagination.
In 10th grade I invented a baseball board game using three pairs of dice. Each Major League player's success or failure was related to a set of numbers — based on whether they were good, or they stunk. We kept player's stats on cards I made up.
We'd play for hours. The dice gave a combination of numbers which determined a hit, strike out, home run, etc. We moved players around the board. Brought in relief pitchers to change the numbers
Different hitters had different number combinations, as did pitchers.
It was complicated. Anything to do with baseball we learned in five minutes. Trig? Forget it. Never learned it to this day.
My good friend Pete, who reads this blog, can vouch for the English paper and the game. Now I'll find out if he really reads it.
Denise and I once held a beer tasting contest at my home in Mansfield with a dozen other couples. Each couple was assigned a different six pack to bring. The men tasted in the basement while the women brought the unmarked beer down in little cups on trays. I made a score board and we had playoffs. Then tasted the final two beers.
One thing about drinking beer out of 75 little cups — each: The women drove home.
Takes an imagination to think that one up.
Which brings me to LeBron James and the NBA Finals.
In my backyard my brother Paul nailed a basket to the porch railing — yes, an actual produce basket, we were kind of poor — and I would — no, we were very poor — play for hours.
When I hit one, I'd even make the crowd noise, like a hush from the mouth. Only really loud.
In 1960 I loved the Philadelphia Warriors. Philly guys like Overbrook's Wilt the Stilt, Villanova's Pitchin' Paul Arizin, Temple's Guy Rodgers, and LaSalle's Tommy Gola — "GOLA GOAL." Tom Meschery and the Hawks' Bobby McNeil. I didn't have to look up the names, but yesterday it took me a half hour to remember where I put my SEPTA pass.
Would listen on my little transistor radio. A GE, if I remember. Believe it or not it wasn't made in China.
My favorite Warrior was Al Attles. I perfected his hook shot at the age of 12, and could drop it through that wicker without touching wood. Swoosh! "Attttttttttttles." HAAAAAAAAAA — that's the crowd.
Suddenly the Warriors were moved to San Francisco following the '62 season and I was crushed. Never could get use to the 76ers. Sounded like something in school. Didn't learn until I was 22 that it was actually the famous year when Ben Franklin was born.
Now who would name a team that? Ridiculous.
The Warriors are finally in the finals. Better yet, they represent a whole state. Cleveland? A shot-and-beer city, one I never liked — except it's where Jim Thome came from.
But here's the thing.
I still see the Warriors as traitors, and I love LeBron. He's a damn good man. I bet if LeBron played for the '61 Warriors, he'd been my favorite, not Al Attles.
Several days after this blog was posted. My friend Pete sent this comment:
I can certainly without question vouch for Ron's English paper and his bottomless creative mind.
We drove that poor English teacher crazy, Mr T... tried his best but he was stuck with not only the "hill" crew but also the not so bright main"line" gifted children who had everything in life but motivation to get above a C average
Ron created so many different games to entertain ourselves, it baffles the mind, these were the days before ESPN, cell phones, 3to 5 TV stations only, am radio, no cable, our little developing minds was "it".