“So Long Everybody…”
As we head into the long Memorial weekend of parties, graduations,and travel, let’s remember to take a moment and say thanks to our fallen heroes who have paid the ultimate price in service to the USA. If you can, block off an hour or so and attend a Memorial service near you.
A little post-mortem on the Shenandoah University baseball season. The Hornets were oh-so-close to their third trip to Appleton and the D-3 baseball World Series, as they fell just short in the Mid-Atlantic Region. SU had to fight through the loser’s bracket last weekend, and won 2 on Saturday, and 2 more on Sunday (including an ousting of number one seed Johns Hopkins), forcing a winner take all game on Monday. Unfortunately the Hornets came up on the short end of a 1-0 score. Shenandoah can look back proudly on a program-best 41 win season, with high hopes in 2018. Well done guys!
Now today’s headline topic. I was saddened at the news that former NFL great and Virginia sports Hall of Fame member Sonny Randle passed away this week at his home in the Shenandoah Valley. Sonny, who was 81, was a longtime member of my “Wake-Up Crew” every morning on WZRV. Sonny called in to my radio show at 7:35, adding his spin and unique insight to the sports news of the day. I still do a sports segment at 7:35, known as “The Sports Dogs”. It’s a nod to Sonny, who always referred to me as “The R-Dog.”
A little background on Sonny: He grew up in Virginia and attended Fork Union Military Academy. Sonny was a football standout at UVA, and went on to play in the NFL, mainly for the St. Louis Cardinals. Sonny, who ran a 9.6 100-yard dash, once caught 16 passes in a game, a record that stood until the great Jerry Rice broke it in the 80s. A 4-time Pro Bowler, Sonny would later coach at East Carolina, Marshall, and UVA, before embarking on a successful career in the broadcast booth.
Sonny played in the 60’s where football was a much more violent game. When the topic of concussion issues comes up, I think of players like Sonny Randle, and one wonders if his health issues later in life were a result of those brutal hits out in the secondary. Phil Foster, a longtime friend of Sonny, texted me this week and recounted a conversation the two had, during which Sonny said that if he had to do it all over again knowing what we know today, he would absolutely sign that contract.
Before his health issues prevented him from doing so, Sonny and I would play at least one round of golf a year, usually a match-play format. It was during these matches that the competitive fires still burned hot, to the extent that I almost hated making a good shot against Sonny, because he would really get mad. His “Sonny Randle Lowlife Invitationals” were legendary, and I was fortunate enough to play in one of those, with former Redskins Pat Fischer and Mike Bragg.
I will remember most, though, the “Sonny-isms” that he would use on my show. Sayings like “He couldn’t play dead in a cowboy movie” and “The last time he scored a touchdown, Moby Dick was a minnow.” He had a million of those, along with stories from the NFL that I can’t tell on the air. Music was not his forte, however, and I still laugh about the morning he said on-air, referring to Stevie Nicks, “He can flat-out get it done.”
I’m not sure Sonny had NFL Hall-of-Fame statistics. But if there was a Hall-Of-Unique, Sonny Randle would be one of the first to be inducted. I can’t help but think and hope that the last thought of Sonny before he left this world were the words he ended every one of his Sonny Randle Sportsminute features with:
“Until the next visit, this is Sonny Randle saying…so long everybody!”
Until our next visit…have a great Memorial Weekend and GO HORNETS! RW