OUR COUNTRY’S MOST FAMOUS ATHLETE
“Like to see some club jockey boy sitting on______.” (Line from the movie the "Music Man")
I had been in Green Bay, Wisconsin for a three-day-old car and rock-n’- roll show. I was traveling back home to Tennessee and I found myself passing through a small town in my home state of Indiana. (Oh, forgot to say that Little Richard closed the three-day-show. Wow.) I smiled to myself and I thought, at one time, right here in this town, lived the most famous athlete in all of the United States.
He was so famous that crowds of upwards to 100,000 would come to see him perform. He set world records. Former President Eisenhower once made a special effort to see him. President Harry Truman once wrote him a fan letter. President Roosevelt delayed a very important meeting with his cabinet to listen to this athlete’s performance on radio. Often, he would acknowledge his fans with a special nod of his head. He enjoyed his picture in advertisements long before the Wheaties cereal sports figures started. He out-salaried any other athlete. For a period of about thirty years his sport dominated the sporting-world. His sport was the first to organize as a business, publish a schedule and standardize rules for competition.
Sadly, when he passed, there were no words of praise, recognition of his life, his work and no funeral, no one to carry his body to its grave. In fact, the location of his grave was, and still is today, in question. As I drove on through this small town, I drove by the location of what was once his birthplace and his old homeplace. No marking, no plaques, nothing. As I left town, the sign said Oxford. I thought to myself how could you do that, just have the name of the town and nothing about your once famous athlete?
Humm. At one time in our country’s history, the most famous athlete was a horse. With all the goings on in the world of sports today, I again vote for the horse. Lord knows we have enough
___________ in sports today.
(If you are having trouble filling in the blank, just think of another word that refers to a donkey.)
November 12, 2011