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Greetings from The Booth!
A golf buddy said after our usual weekend round that this was a “nothing” time in the sports world, and there probably is some truth to that. Did anyone really care about the USFL after the first few games? Sure, Wimbledon is happening, and the Tour de France is certainly an acquired taste (although I like the event and will watch). NFL training camps are still a few weeks from opening. And then there are your Washington Nationals, who are on pace for a 100-loss season. How many of you would have thought that possible after their World Series title in 2019?
If you’re a golf fan, the sport’s final major, The 150th Open Championship, a.k.a. The British Open, happens next week at the Old Course at St. Andrews. St. Andrews is hallowed ground in the golf world, and I love the British Open, because it’s golf the way it was meant to be played: low to the ground, in the elements. When I think of The Open Championship, I think of cold, wind, and rain. I also think of 59 year-old Tom Watson almost winning the Claret Jug in 2009, as a bunch of us geezers were gathered around the TV at Rock Harbor cheering him on. Moments like that can only happen at the Open.
Speaking of golf, this time of year takes me back to what might have been the greatest golf prank ever played. It happened during a beach trip to Nags Head with a group of friends around 1987. It was a great week of beachin’, night life, and a round of golf during which the aforementioned prank took place. The group included longtime friend Kevin Funkhouser, who would be my best man 4 years later when I tied the knot. The foil of the prank was Todd Lyons, another member of our Martinsburg circle of friends and participant in the annual “Turkey Bowl” Thanksgiving football game at Rosemont School, among other things.
The round of golf started, as you might expect, with drink flowing freely, and somewhere on the front 9, Funkhouser was victim of the old “exploding golf ball” prank. If you’re unfamiliar, these are joke golf balls that explode on impact, and are good for a laugh. As we moved on to the back 9, no other gags were played as the laughs and libation continued. Late in the round, Lyons hit a beautiful approach shot within 3 feet of the pin. As we drove to the green, Funkhouser got out of the cart, walked onto the green to survey Lyons’ shot and said, “Hey Todd, is this your ball…great shot!” He then …well, let’s just say, proceeded to water Lyons’ golf ball, if you get my drift. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard on a golf course.
They say revenge is a meal best served cold. In this case…best served wet.
I look forward to being back in the Booth the week of the 18th! FORE!
Greetings from The Booth!
As we get ready to celebrate the long 4th Of July weekend, the awards and accolades continue to pour in for the Shenandoah University baseball team. Earlier this week the Virginia State Sports Information Directors Association handed out it’s all-state honors, and at the top of the list was Head Hornet Kevin Anderson, who was named VaSID Coach Of The Year. It’s his 4th such award, with 3 coming at SU, and his 9th overall Coach Of The Year accolade. Several of his players were also named by the organization. Kyle Lisa, Henry Delavergne, and Calvin Pastel are first-team honorees, while Pearce Bucher and Frankie Ritter were second-team picks. Congratulations, guys!
I don’t often write about tennis, but this week the Wimbledon fortnight has begun across the pond, and the early shocker is the first-round loss by Serena Williams to 115th ranked Harmony Tan of France in a 3-set thriller. I didn’t realize this, but Serena is 40, which is Methuselah in tennis years. The ageless Williams has been so good for so long that it’s easy to forget that she is at the tail end of her career. She has been the Tom Brady of tennis. Serena was noncommittal when asked if the aforementioned loss was her final match, but my gut tells me that she doesn’t want to go out like this.
Thinking of Wimbledon takes me back to the mid-70s through the early 80s when I was really into tennis. Summer nights would find me either at Lambert Park or Oatsdale Park in Martinsburg with my Wilson T-2000 and a fresh can of balls from Coaches Supply, ready for a set or two. It was nothing to stay on the courts until 10 pm and beyond. I also bought the tennis mags and followed the fortunes of my favorites like Borg, Connors, and Evert.
What made tennis great in those days were the rivalries, and the rivalries were great because of the contrast in styles. There is nothing today that compares to the icy coolness of Bjorn Borg going against the fiery Jimmy Connors or the volatile John McEnroe. How about Chris Evert versus Martina Navratilova? Give me a comparable contemporary feud–I’ll bet you can’t (OK, I’ll give you Djokovic-Nadal). And tennis had some great villains. Ilie Nastase comes to mind, along with Connors and McEnroe. It was a great time to be a tennis fan.
And I would always wake up in time for “Breakfast At Wimbledon” on NBC. No one could call a match like Dick Enberg (“Oh my!”) and Bud Collins. The matches would start early in the morning and continue into the afternoon on Wimbledon weekends, and there was little that could pull me away from the TV.
Eventually, my interest in tennis would wane, along with American prominence in the sport. But the two weeks of Wimbledon always has me scrambling to find a can of balls and that Wilson T-2000…
Enjoy the Fortnight, and until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!