Blue northers, stripes and two foul balls
Mike Brown

Sports during spring break always brings to mind a pet theory of mine. You get colder covering so-called “spring sports” than you do in the sure enough fall and winter covering football.

I covered some memorably cold football games in the 30-plus years I had the sports beat—or sports had me beat, as many of my friends would say—but you kind of expect that.

I mean, who would go to Abilene the Saturday before Christmas in 1989, as many of us did to see Thorndale thump Sudan to win the first of its three state titles, and not expect it be cold.

So cold that some, uh, extremely necessary facilities at Shotwell Stadium were frozen solid when we arrived, making things sort of, well you know, extremely uncomfortable for those of us who had been imbibing during a fourhour bus ride!

But you don’t expect to be that cold at a baseball game, as we all were in the mid- 1970s when Rockdale hosted a baseball tourney and a Blue Norther at the same time.

At one point they lined the buses up on the north side of the field to try and keep the Arctic north wind off the players and fans.

We kept looking at each other going “this is baseball?”


Track is another sport which doesn’t mix well with cold weather. It’s also dangerous. You know how fast sprinters and long jumpers go and what can happen if they slip.

And have you ever seen a wet discus get away from someone? It becomes a weapon in a big hurry.

One of the more memorable track meets I recall was a girls district event in the 1970s.

Everything went fine until they got to the 800-meter relay, an event the boys didn’t run.

There was an awful lot of standing around and head scratching, then a guy grabbed some keys, broke and ran for an equipment shed and we all realized what was happening.

They had never striped the track for the 800 baton exchanges.

So they stopped the district track meet, brought out the striping machine and did it right there.

No, I’m not going to tell you where it was. Not in Milam County but not too far away.


Basketball is sort of a spring sport, especially when it goes deep into the playoffs.

Rockdale once had a coach who didn’t keep the best tabs on his scorebook, which is a very valuable source of information to a sports writer.

One Monday I went to see him and he had left it in the Cameron gym the previous Friday. Big deal, 16 miles. I went over to the Yoe gym on my lunch hour and retrieved it for him.

The next Friday he left it in Smithville. I said my Retrieval Service for Coaches stopped at the county line.

The 5ive

Five most memorable moments from spring sports, in no particular order:

• Johnny Lam Jones runs a 9.05 in the 100 meters in Round Rock. And he eased up at the end.

• Rockdale’s Vincent Jimenez’s home run to dead center field at Texas A&M’s Olson Field. It would have been out of any park in the United States, including Yellowstone.

• Giddings track coach Jimmy Simmonds bringing athletes from his track team to every school in the district to make them apologize for the fight with Smithville players during the district track meet.

• That day in 1985 when Tony Brooks (track) and Ken and Kevin Cooke (tennis) won state titles within a few hours, and miles, of each other in Austin.

• The game where a member of the Little League team I was coaching hit consecutive foul balls into the boys and girls restrooms at the Copeland Street complex.

Let’s see somebody break that record!

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2011-03-17 digital edition

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