Whiffle Ball and The King
As the 2018 season of Shenandoah University Football draws near and the Washington Nationals continue to slog along at .500, I wanted to take a breather this week, step into the hot tub time machine, and remember several things that happened this week.
Before I do that, congratulations and best wishes are in order for Reed Prosser. The 1991 Handley HS grad returns to his alma mater as the school’s new Athletic Director. In addition to reviving the football programs at Milbrook, Heritage, and Broadway High Schools (taking all 3 to the playoffs) as head football coach at all 3, Reed was instrumental in the start-up of Shenandoah University Football, serving as an assistant under the Hornet’s first head coach, the great Walter Barr.
Coach Prosser also played football for the Tribe at William & Mary. A nicer and more deserving gentleman you will not find, and I know he will do a great job as the Judge’s new AD!
It was this week in 1953 that the iconic Wiffle Ball was invented. Inventor David Mullany named his iconic toy after the baseball term “whiff”, slang for a strikeout. In my neighborhood, even if you could only round up 3 kids on a given Saturday, that was enough to play whiffle ball. And the great thing was that no windows were ever broken on Talbott Avenue from playing whiffle ball (many were in games of catch using a real baseball).
Today, there is even a World Whiffle Ball Championship (in Illinois) and some enthusiasts have even built whiffle ball fields resembling major league ballparks. We didn’t go that far, but “Brennans Field” served quite nicely, thank you.
And this week marked the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley in 1977. There are moments in life that we mark by remembering exactly what we were doing when they happened. For some, it’s 9-11, the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King, or Nixon’s resignation. I think most of us remember what we were doing when we got the news of the passing of “The King of Rock and Roll.” I certainly do.
By 1977, the music world had passed Elvis by. We were listening to Heart, Fleetwood Mac, and an up-and-coming Billy Joel. Elvis had become a parody of the lean, mean, leather-clad icon that rocked the world in his ’68 Comeback Special. He was still selling out arenas, but with fans who remembered the King as he used to be, not who he was.
Anyway, as there was no internet or social media in 1977, we got our news primarily from good old fashioned radio and tv, and then by word-of-mouth, as one neighbor told another neighbor, and so forth. On that hot August day, I was playing touch football in my front yard, drawing up plays in the dirt, when we got the news.
I think we processed the news of Elvis’ death for about 30 seconds, and went back to our game. A few years later, when I got into radio, I would realize the true impact of “The King” on music and pop culture. There will be only one Elvis Presley. He was an American Original.
That’s it from the Booth! Until next week, when we get even closer to SU Football…GO HORNETS!