Walking the sidelines
For the larger part of 50 years, I worked for the Hartselle Enquirer as reporter, photographer, editor and part-owner. I walked the sidelines of football stadiums, basketball courts and baseball fields, keeping stats, shooting photos, interviewing coaches and writing game reports about high school sports.
My attention was drawn back to that side of my newspaper career when I was nominated for induction in the 2020 Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame.
The announcement came more than a year ago, but it was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obviously, sports writing – not sports participation – was the criteria that made my selection possible. The induction ceremony is scheduled May 1.
Here are some of the thoughts that came to mind as I look back over my years of sports coverage, carrying a pen and stat pad in one hand and a camera in the other.
The play of a half-century was the late Richard Grammer’s fumble recovery in the end zone that resulted in Hartselle’s first win over Decatur in 28 years, in 1964. The win was the first and only one to receive front-page coverage in the paper in 50 years with a 72-point headline.
Grammer went on to play for the University of Alabama, winning All-SEC honors twice before losing his life in a hunting accident.
Boonie Russell led Hartselle to its first state basketball championship against Leighton in 1972, scoring and rebounding in double figures and earning MVP recognition. He earned a junior college scholarship and transferred to the University of Alabama, where he played two years. He went on to play for a South American professional team for several years before returning to Hartselle in 2002 to take a job with Hartselle Parks & Recreation.
Basketball excitement was at its peak in the 1960s when the Morgan County Tournament was played in Danville, before Decatur and Austin opted out of the competition.
My youngest granddaughter, Meaghan Gray, added icing to my sports coverage cake when she began her softball career as a 6-year-old. I had the opportunity to follow her playing summer with Parks & Recreation, travel team and high school ball, followed by pitching for Northwest Shoals, UNA and Alabama A&M.
Her career is still going strong as head softball coach at Falkville High School. I now enjoy watching her team play from my folding chair, when the weather is suitable.