He was tougher than nails
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
Although it's been well over 30 years since his death, I don't think Hartselle will ever see the likes of Richard Grammer again.
He was not only a great and courageous athlete, excelling in both baseball and football, he was a leader that gave everything had, did a little something extra, and inspired others to do the same.
He was the president of his senior class, president of the Student Council, National Honor Society, Key Club officer, and went on to be named in Who's Who of Colleges and Universities in 1969.
Even though there was less than two years difference in Richard and me, he matured physically long before me and at one time was about twice my size. I often got sympathetic looks from those who thought he must have been choking me away from the dinner table because he was so much larger. I think I can now safely admit that there were occasional physical disagreements over food in our younger days.
I think Richard and I had an unusually close relationship growing up, even for brothers close in age. Everything we did we did together, from eating, sleeping, school, church, playing and fighting. I remember numerous people remarking they never saw two brothers get along as well as we did. I didn't realize it was unusual at all until much later.
But, when it comes to just plain-ole' down-home toughness, he was as tough as it gets.
One time he got his tooth knocked out in a high school football game, picked it up and went back to the huddle. He stuck the tooth down in his jockey and kept it there until he got a chance to go to the sidelines. He asked Coach Cain to hold it for him.
Another time, we were playing baseball: I was pitching and he was the catcher. A batter swung, missed, and jerked his bat back as hard as he could, and hit Richard solidly on top of the head.
This was back when catchers didn't wear helmets, some wore baseball caps, but Richard didn't where anything but a mask. On the impact of the bat, Richard went down to one knee with blood going down his face. I thought it killed him.
He took off his catcher's mask, wiped blood from his head and threw the ball back to me. He then just motioned the coach back to the dugout. We went on with game as nothing had happened.
I saw him take a pitch to the face in a game once when we were behind and needed base runners. He could easily see the ball coming for his head and could have gotten out of the way, but he stood motionless and faced the ball as it hit him on the cheek.
He trotted down to first base and we came from behind to win by one run.
He was the one run.
And I'll never forget the football game between Decatur and Morgan County High School. We were tied in the fourth quarter, and Richard called the defense together and told everyone to take a knee and bow our head. He held a prayer there on that football field in which he asked God to give us strength to "do whatever it takes to win this game."
That Morgan County High School team in fall of 1965 came out of that huddle with nothing but determination in their heart. A few minutes later, Tim Waldrop blocked a Decatur punt, and Richard scooped it up and ran into the endzone for the game-winning score. It was the first time Hartselle had beaten Decatur in 27 years.
When I think back to Richard and my growing-up days, I realize he was always the brave, daring and courageous one. He feared nothing. I think his philosophy was that he was as tough as anybody that could come along and take anything.
I know I may be a bit bias – he was my brother. But, I think he was right.