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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday. Me, Baseball, and Fire Ants

Throwback Thursday. Me, Baseball, and Fire Ants

As you may have read about in my post Football Helmets and Cleats, my father was always athletic. He was a real man's man, one who went to Newberry College on a football scholarship. 

Me, on the other hand, when it came to sports, I could not care any less about any of them.  

Our friend David Bundy summed it up well when he said watching baseball was about as exciting as watching paint dry.  Playing it was not much more exciting than that for me.

My mother would not hear of me playing football, although the sandlot games we played in the neighborhood were much more dangerous than the team sport itself.

When I was in first and second grade, my parents signed me up to play on a baseball team,the Yankees.  I had no more clue what was going on than if they had signed me up to work in nuclear physics or something similar.  I watched baseball and football on television, but only had a vague idea of what was going on.

From time to time, my father and I would go out in the yard and he would throw the ball to me and I would try to hit it or try to catch it.  Usually, I would catch it with my forehead.

As the years passed slowly by, I became less and less interested in sports.  Then, I was hired by the University of South Carolina to be the locker room guard on game day.  It was my job to keep anyone who did not have a pass out of the locker room.  Period. 

One of the top men from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) tried to get into the locker room without a pass.  I would not let him pass and it irritated him to no end.  He called my captain.  My captain escorted the man into the secured area.  

The next day, I was summoned to headquarters to meet with the man.  I thought, "He is going to fire me."  As it turned out, he thanked me.  He told me that most men would have let him through, but I was right, he did not have a pass.

It was my job to make sure the secure room in the locker room was, in fact, secure.  That is the room where the governor of the state would wait while his detail made sure the way up to his box was secure.  

He and his entourage would wait in the secure room while I stood guard outside the door.  It impressed me that Governor Dick Riley ALWAYS stopped to shake my hand on the way in.  

The football players did not know my name.  They only knew me as "Barney"  I was six foot three inches tall and maybe weighed 160 pounds with all my security gear.  I did not carry a gun, so there was no need to carry my bullet in my pocket.

Everyone compared me to Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith show.  If one of the players needed me, he would call "Barney".

I was a licensed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).  I took a swimming class there at the University.  Many of the players were in the same class because there was some rule about which PE classes they could take that did not violate NCAA rules.  I have no idea what they were.

In the class, all you had to do to pass was get in the water.  Come to find out, some of these huge guys were afraid of the water, deathly afraid.  

Some of the guys had this game they called Throw Barney in the Pool.  I could swim like a fish and they knew it, so it was no problem.  There was one guy, I will call "Big Guy",who was about twice my size, who did not participate in the game of Throw Barney In the Pool.  He was deathly afraid of the water,.

We had to wear university-issued swim suits into the pool  I was the only one in the class not on the football team.  Most of these guys wore large or extra large.  So, that was all the equipment people distributed.  The large would bag all over the place on me.  

One day, Big Guy, who was deathly afraid of the water, was standing behind me in line
when the equipment manager handed me a large suit.  I asked for a medium and he told me that all he had gotten out were large and extra large. Big Guy behind me spoke up and said, "Give Barney a medium." From that point forward, there was ALWAYS a medium for me. 

A few classes later, the coach told Big Guy he had to get in the water at least once or he would not be eligible to play football.  He was devastated.  I told Big Guy, I am an EMT and an excellent swimmer.  I will walk you in the shallow end of the pool (about four foot deep) and will stay with you.  If anything happens, I will take care of it.  

We walked slowly into the shallow end.  We showed the coach that Big Guy was in the water and he passed the class.  The game Throw Barney in the Pool was never played again.  That year, Big Guy set all types of school records for the defense.  He WAS the defensive line.  He was the backbone of the "Fire Ant Defense."  

He never knew my name.  It was not important.  Barney took care of him. 

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  1. Great story. I have never liked any sports, I write this as my husband has the Red Sox on- why do they play so often?

    1. Back when I worked with Spartanburg County EMS, the fire guys would sit around watching the Atlanta Braves on television between calls. We would have an ambulance call, leave, and when we got back, the ONLY thing that had changed was the inning number. The score would be the same.


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