If you do not know me (I mean, really know me) then there is something you need to understand before you read this blog: I value the truth above everything else... except a good laugh. A good laugh will almost always beat the truth as far as I’m concerned. Everything you read on this blog will be true, somewhat true, or something I made up in an effort to get a laugh. Sometimes I will go on a rant that I don’t really mean (or only kind of mean). Sometimes I will mean what I write only to completely change my mind a year, month, or day later. Such is life. By reading this blog you agree not to get offended by anything I write (or, at the very least, you agree not to tell me or anyone else that you are offended). It is worth noting that my employer does not endorse my blog (or even read it, to tell you the truth). The Wife also does not endorse my blog (though she will read it from time to time). I am not paid to write this... it’s just my way of giving back to the community. I have, and will, touch on a wide range of subjects and will give my opinion on these subjects. Again, most of what I say is for laughs but every now and then I will say what I really think and feel (see my views on Westboro Baptist Cult). How will you know when I’m serious and when I’m trying to get a laugh? You’ll know. And if you don’t know, well... maybe this isn’t the best thing for you to be reading. So, sit back, read and enjoy. Leave comments if you want and don’t be afraid to publicly follow me.

Friday, April 24, 2015

High School Baseball

Know Your Medal of Honor Recipients:

Coxswain Charles H. Smith (US Navy) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on December 30, 1862, on board the U.S.S. Rhode Island. His citation reads:

On board the U.S.S. Rhode Island which was engaged in rescuing men from the stricken Monitor in Mobile Bay, on December 30, 1862. After the Monitor sprang a leak and went down, Smith courageously risked his life in a gallant attempt to rescue members of the crew. Although he, too, lost his life during the hazardous operation, he had made every effort possible to save the lives of his fellow men.

Corporal Charles E. Smith (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on July 12, 1870, at Wichita River, Texas. His citation reads:

Gallantry in action.

Corporal Cornelius C. Smith (US Army) received his Medal of Honor for his actions on January 1, 1891, near White River, South Dakota. His citation reads:

With 4 men of his troop drove off a superior force of the enemy and held his position against their repeated efforts to recapture it, and subsequently pursued them a great distance.

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My Aunt Yvonne (not yours) made me an afghan of many colors a few years ago. She wasn’t overly excited to make it for me when I told her what colors I wanted on there… Blue, Orange, Garnet, Gold… not really four colors you’d usually (ever) see together. The face she made let me know that I should explain my reason for wanting these colors, so I did. These colors represent two of my loves: James Island High School and Winthrop University. More specifically, James Island Baseball and Winthrop Basketball (though all sports and, yes, academic accomplishments by these schools make me proud). So today I’m going to tell you that I’m proud of two recent JI Baseball accomplishments… Coach Tom Hatley winning his 500th game (all at JI) and the team this year winning the region (Region 7-AAAA, I believe). I’m not sure who was picked to win the region, but I know it wasn’t James Island (my guess is it was either Wando, West Ashley or Stratford). I’m not 100% sure how many Region titles this gives Coach Hatley, but I know it’s at least 8 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2011 and 2015). I could be missing a title from the ‘80s or early 2000’s. I don’t care how good you are, winning the region title is a great accomplishment. This area has always, in my opinion, had great high school baseball. Now, hopefully, this current Trojans team can be the first since 1999 to win a Lower State championship and the first since 1996 to win a State Championship.

Maybe I’ve talked about this before on here… I’m not sure, but it’s worth saying something again (if I have)… Sonny has now played for two coaches that have over 500 wins in their respective sports. Both are also Hall of Fame coaches. Both were also very young coaches when Sonny played for them… now they (and Sonny) are, well, not young.

Mom, Dad and I went out to the JI/Goose Creek baseball game at James Island this past Wednesday night. A good many “old guys” were out there… not as many as I would have liked to see, but still a good many. A lot of Sonny’s old teammates were there (one who has a son on the current team). I only had a couple of old teammates there, but one of them is a legit James Island living legend. Friends, I don’t think I need to tell you how much I think of myself. I mean, come on, who are we trying to kid here? If you know me or have read enough of these posts, then I think you know that I have what I consider a healthy image of me (especially in regards to JI baseball). This view of myself takes a hit whenever I talk to someone who played with (or watched) Sonny play. I am not making this up (dear God trust me, I am not making this up), there have been times I have been with Sonny’s former teammates (some who, I must point out, went on to have great college baseball careers and minor league careers… I’m not sure how great the minor league careers were, but they HAD minor league careers) and they have GUSHED over Sonny. I swear I’m about to throw-up typing this, but I have sat with guys (some who are JI legends in my eyes) and they have said things about Sonny like “great player”, “awesome”, “could catch everything”, “nothing got by him”, “an incredible player”… some would have probably said more, but I usually black-out at that point and start slapping them across the face and yelling “Get ahold of yourself! Do you know who you are?! My God, you are (insert first name of the now 40-something year old I’m talking to) F’ing (insert last name of the now 40-something year old I’m talking to)!” and then I walk away. You think I’m kidding, but this has happened too many times for me to think it’s a fluke. I tell you this to help you understand the texts I’m going to now share with you…

Me: You know how to make a fat guy invisible? Have him stand next to Tony Elliott at a JI baseball game!

Sonny: I’m guessing he’s there and you’re the other guy?

Me: Yep. I’m not even sure you’d get noticed standing by him.

So, we got out to the game early and I see my friend and old teammate Tony Elliott talking on the phone. I don’t want to bother him while he’s on the phone, so I just stand close by and wait for him to get off. Now, I’m going to be honest… and this might come as a shock to some of you… but I’m a little bigger than I was when I played baseball. And by “a little bigger”, I mean about 70 pounds or so bigger… and I wear glasses now. So I’m not real sure he’s going to remember me. Anyway, he gets off the phone, throws me a big smile sticks his hand out and says, “Greg, brother, how are you doing?” and shakes my hand and gives me a hug. I have to admit, it felt great to be remembered. I hadn’t seen Tony since 2003 when he was still playing football at Clemson. Back then, my cousin Louis had written an article about Tony for the game program. He interviewed me for the article and I said some pretty good things about Tony… all which I stand by today. The Wife and I went to that game and after it, I got Tony to autograph the article for me. On it, he wrote, “To Greg, My favorite #4”. So, the quick version of the story behind that is that Tony’s favorite # was 4… but since I was on the varsity baseball team before him, I already had that number (it’s also my favorite). I guess he hadn’t forgotten that. So as we were standing there at the JI field a couple of days ago, I asked him if he remembered that (he did). I then asked if it was still true. It took him about half a second, and then a big smile came across his face. You see, there’s a young star QB at Clemson who wears #4… and since Tony is now co-offensive coordinator, having a great QB is kind of a big deal to him. He said that I’m still his favorite… but that I should probably be worried.

We then stood and talked about the good old days. At some point as we talked, every person to ever live on or drive through James Island stopped by to shake Tony’s hand and tell him how proud they are of him. Even people with USC hats on were coming up to say great things about him. Ok, maybe it wasn’t every person from James Island, but it was a lot. I’m pretty sure the school sold 1,000 tickets to the game. 300 people were there to watch it and 700 just stopped by to see Tony and shake his hand and have him say hey to their children. The thing is, Tony is a very humble guy (always has been). That could be why we always got along so well… he was a great athlete and I had a big ego. Having all of these people come up to him kind of made him a little uncomfortable (though he was very polite to everyone). I could tell he was getting a little embarrassed, so I did my best to make fun of him as much as I could. After about the 50th time in a ten minute span of someone saying “I tell everyone that I watched you play in high school”, I looked at Tony straight in the eye and said, “Huh, I always tell everyone you got to play baseball with me”. I think he appreciated it… but he could have just been polite. Anyway, it was great seeing him and I hope he uses those plays I gave him.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Pg 1 of the article

Pg 2

I zoomed in so you can see I wasn't making up the thing about the autograph

Before the game this past Monday (for win #500), Mary Ruth had the color of her braces changed to blue and orange to bring JI luck.  It worked!

Before win #500

A view of the JI field... I think this is about the same angle as the picture at the top of this blog... except this one has Mom and Dad in it.

Troy Miller (class of '99), Coach Mims (one of our assistant coaches when we played), Tony Elliott (class of '97), me (class of '97) and Jimbo Smoak (class of '95).  It was so great seeing guys who remember the same stories I remember.

The 2015 baseball team

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