Tidbits - November 16 2017

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



AL DANIEL


   I enjoyed hearing Al Daniel speak a the annual Farm-City banquet last Thursday.
  Many years ago I wrote about my first introduction to Al.
  My senior year at Saluda High, my basketball coach Jack Hatchell came up with a great idea. Looking to the future, he started a youth basketball league and got his basketball players to be the coaches.
  I can’t remember all the players on my team. After all it is been 48 years. I know Charles Long, Don Kneece and Joe Todd were on my team. The only reason I remember Joe is I saw him at the Hall of Fame ceremony a few weeks ago when his late father Boyce Todd was inducted, and it came to me several days later that Joe was on the team.
  Don Kneece had the distinction of scoring for the other team in two different games. Who can forget that? Charles was the little brother of my friend and classmate Nicky Long.
  We shared the “Cracker Box” with another team for practice.
  The first day, I saw this tall kid on the other team  nailing three pointers from the top of the key. Please note, this was long before the 3-point shot was invented, but this 12-year-old was killing it from everywhere.
  I found out his name was Alfred Daniel. That very day, I knew great things were in store  for that young man and for Saluda High basketball.
  There were some great athletes in the 1970s at SHS. Alfred and his teammates started something that would culminate with the SHS boys winning back-to-back state championships, led by Alfred’s brother Melvin.
  Al and Melvin would eventually both be named to the Saluda District and Furman University Halls of Fame.
  I averaged about three points a game in high school, but Al and I do have something in common.
  He began his speech at the Farm-City banquet by saying he thought is was quite ironic he got invited to speak at a function that had to word “farm” in it, because he and his siblings were active in sports because they wanted to get out of working on the farm!
  I did the same thing! I liked basketball and baseball, but I knew by playing those two sports, I would not have to milk cows in the afternoon during those seasons. Poor old Jamie got stuck.
  I would still have to milk some on the weekends, but that wasn’t as bad.
  Once Al graduated from Saluda High, he signed with Anderson Junior College (now 4-year Anderson University), because he wanted to eventually play Division I basketball. His only Division 1 offer out of high school was to the Naval Academy, which was quite an honor, but it also had a five-year military commitment after college.
  When he finished at Anderson, he signed with Furman and had a Hall of Fame career. This son of Saluda scored 29-points in Furman’s upset of Dean Smith’s UNC Tar Heels.
  Al talked about the support he got from his parents. They rarely missed a high school or college game.
  His father, Charlie Sam, would yell, “Defense!” from the stands all the time, and Al said he got tired of hearing it.
  Back then, the Southern Conference teams were all within driving distance of Saluda, so the Daniels would make the trips to away games, and Al would hear “Defense!” in Boone, Charleston or Davidson.
  Finally, Furman had a game at West Virginia, which was 450 miles way, and Al knew his parents wouldn’t make that long journey.
  Alas, when Al ran onto the court in Morgantown, he heard “Defense!” They made it!
  It was a very entertaining talk. Thanks, Al for sharing with us.

NINETY SIX CURSE, NOT

  I wrote about Ninety Six  football “curse” over Saluda a few weeks ago, even though Saluda had recorded its second straight win over the Wildcats, after losing 18 straight.
  As the play-offs neared, the one team I did not want Saluda to play was Ninety Six, even though the Wildcats had a losing record. For Saluda in the past, playing a team for the second time has been  deadly.
  In 2003 Saluda beat B&L 26-14 in the regular season. In the third round of the play-offs, the Panthers stomped the Tigers 28-0. In 2013 Saluda beat Abbeville 10-7 during the regular season. In the playoffs, Abbeville won 21-0. In case you’re tallying that’s 0-49  in second meeting against teams you beat earlier in the season, 36-21.
  Had I known Ninety Six was a different team than the one Saluda played earlier, I really would have been worried even more.
  I still had my program from the first Saluda-Ninety Six meeting, so I took it down to the field to get the starting line-up, figuring the Ninety Six coach would look at it and say, “It’s the same.”
  Instead, he started scratching off names. In all there were nine players who either didn’t start against Saluda the first game or were playing a different position.
  When Saluda got behind 14-0, I was beginning to think the second time around plague was going to hit us again, but the Tigers outscored the Wildcats 28-0 the rest of the way.
  You wouldn’t know they were the same two teams that played earlier in the year. Ninety Six rushed for 385 yards in the first game and Saluda threw for 337. In the second game, Ninety Six rushed for 97 yards and Saluda threw for 154.
  It was another gut-check performance by the Tigers. For the second straight week, they entered the fourth quarter trailing and they came out on top.
  A touching incident happened in the first half. Saluda sophomore Cade Gentry, who has started every game for the Tigers since he was a freshman, broke his leg while blocking during a kick-off return.
  While EMS personnel was caring for Cade, the players and coaches from these two bitter rivals gathered together and midfield to pray for the fallen player.
  We see so much in pro sports that often turns the stomach, but seeing these teenagers show such much caring and class is refreshing.
  I also need to mention Saluda freshman wide receiver Marco Mercado. Even though his 37-year-old mother Rosa Pliego died earlier that day, Marco joined his teammates for the game.
  Prayers for his family.

WHO’D A THUNK IT?

  Carolina fans are always optimistic, almost to a fault.
  We have high hopes, and often get the ladder kicked out from under us.
  “Gamecock Larry,” an octogenarian that calls into the Carolina radio station every day, predicted the Gamecocks would go 8-4, and people snickered at the eternal optimist. The SEC Network “experts” picked the Gamecocks to go 4-8.
  If the Gamecocks don’t take Wofford lightly, they will win their 8th game Saturday. Old Larry knew what he was talking about.
  That’s pretty remarkable. I’d prefer if every game wasn’t so ugly, but I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.
  I’m still waiting on a great offensive game. Saturday’s contest with Florida  might have been what I have been waiting for, had Jake Bentley not thrown three interceptions. Those miscues helped keep the game close.
  I’m anxious to see if Muschamp can produce a defense that can slow down the option. Spurrier and his crowed didn’t have a clue.
  If you read about the Clemson-Florida State game, you thought the Tigers won in a blow-out, but if you watched it, you’ll know how close Florida State came to pulling out a shocker.
  Florida State cut Clemson’s 17-0 lead to 17-14 in the fourth quarter, then recovered a Clemson fumble. On the next play the Seminoles’ 6-5, 165-lb. quarterback threw an interception, and the momentum turned back to the Tigers.
  When was the last time Clemson and Carolina were favored over Florida State and Florida? When was the last time they defeated those two teams on the same day.
  When was the last time Florida and Florida State were the fourth and fifth place teams in their state? Miami, Central Florida and South Florida would all  be favored to beat them.
  How the mighty have fallen!

SADDENED

  I was saddened at the passing of my cousin, the Rev.James Allen Grigsby, last week. He had reached the age of 97.
  He was laid to rest at Emory Saturday. He served nearly 40-years as a United Methodist pastor, one of three to go out from Emory.
  He was the last surviving child of Uncle Jake and Aunt Ada Grigsby. Oh, the memories!