For the blooper reelsIf we’d had sports highlight reels back when I was playing basketball for Chamberlain, the time Roger Miller knocked me flat on the court surely would have gotten some air time.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
If we’d had sports highlight reels back when I was playing basketball for Chamberlain, the time Roger Miller knocked me flat on the court surely would have gotten some air time.
Roger and I were seniors on the same Cubs team in 1962. I never once was knocked down by an opponent, just teammates. Roger was a loosy-goosy forward with unorthodox moves, no interest in set plays or defense but an uncanny knack for being wherever the ball was going to be about a split-second before the ball got wherever that was. We called him Tillie for some reason I can’t remember, and he was about as free a spirit as you’ll meet on a high-school basketball team.
The highlight reel moment came at the end of a game in Burke. We’d just won, and I was running toward the locker room. Roger, as often was the case, had ended up with the ball, and when the buzzer sounded, he made a sweeping arm motion and threw it as high in the air as he could. I’d have been just fine if the ceiling in the gym had been higher than Roger could throw a basketball. It wasn’t, not by a long shot. We played in a lot of low-ceilinged gyms, and I guess this was one of them.
Whether the ball struck a beam on the way up or hit the ceiling and caromed back, I never knew. I was headed for the showers when something slammed into the top of my crew cut and sent me sprawling on my face on the wooden floor. When I lifted my head to rub my nose, I saw a basketball rolling off toward the sideline. I could hear Roger’s high-pitched giggle. That was followed by the southern drawl of Bill Miller, our senior guard who had moved to town the previous summer from Florida after his dad took a job up by Fort Thomson where the Big Bend Dam was being built.
“Hey, Farm Boy,” Willie said. “Haven’t you been listening to Coach? Keep your eye on the ball.”
I picked myself up with nothing damaged but my ego and joined the rest of the Cubs in the locker room.
OK, maybe I’m not thinking highlight reels. Maybe I’m thinking sports bloopers, but the episode would have pulled in some viewers, for sure.
That wasn’t such a bad moment, because Coach Byre wasn’t looking. He was still over by the scorer’s table, making sure the student manager had the stats book filled in and the towels and other team stuff gathered and ready to haul to the bus.
I recall a moment when the coach was watching, and it was probably goofier than getting knocked down by a basketball from the sky. That deal involved Ron Ballou, a good buddy with whom I’d been demoted from the varsity to the “B” team at the end of our junior season. It’s a long story that didn’t involve drinking or team infractions, unless attitude is an infraction. Anyway, we kind of redeemed ourselves by staying on the varsity for our entire senior season.
In a late-season game that senior year — it might have been Kimball, because we were supposed to be the better team and we were tied after three quarters — Coach Byre called a time out during a particularly intense moment in the contest. He had some intense things to tell us about the non-intense way we were playing, and he told them to us in an intense way. Coach was usually pretty calm during games, but I think he was a little bothered by our lousy play.
I was standing there trying to listen to the instructions when Ron reached over and smashed a wad of chewing gum on the lens of my glasses. Just then, Coach Byre looked my way to say something about how seriously a center should be playing defense. There I stood with a big wad of chewing gum covering one lens. He stopped talking and stared. I shrugged and scraped the gum from my lens.
Mercifully, the horn sounded to end the time out, and I got to turn and run back onto the court.
Terry Woster’s column appears Saturdays and Wednesdays in The Daily Republic.