The author, R.C. McCourt, as a schoolboy pitcher.

Great Moments In Small Town Sports

By R.C. McCOURT

White County Historical Society

Once when I was about 13 or 14, Luther Siler, who was teaching at Grubtown, had a sick player and wanted to borrow me to play shortstop for him that day against Providence. He sent one of his students by to ask me but I was helping Dad haul hay and he said no.

Well, just before 1 p.m. here comes Luther himself and puts his hand on Dadís shoulder and says, "Gene, think you ought to let him go. If I had a boy that was a good player Iíd rather see him become a big leaguer than president. And your boy has a good chance." My Dad rubbed his nose, removed his straw hat and after scratching his head replied, "Take him, donít think he will ever make a farmer anyway. But, Luther, you orta been a politician rather than school teacher."

Then some of you will remember back about 1948 Pangburn had a good little junior team. Robbie Dale, Junior, Garland, Jerry Don, Ernest and Bobby were some of them. This little skit is about Bobby. What Preston Epperson and Julian Southerland were to their generation, doing exciting antics on the basketball court, then Bobby McDaniel was to his.

Once in an important tournament game with the score close, olí Bobby broke down the court like a wild mustang with head back, doing that high dribble. His favorite thing was to end his run with a high leap and pass off to a teammate. This day opposing players checked him about center court, so he leaped, looked to his right then left, but no mate to pass to. So while still floating through the air he lifted the ball toward the basket some 40 feet away. Coach Lawrence hid his eyes and turned his back in agony but, so help me, that ball sailed through, stripping the net.

Way back about 1930 a group of boys out about where the old gym is were trying to learn something about football. Malcom Peeler, who had learned something about the game at Searcy, was trying to show the guys how to play and was trying to referee. Of course no one had on any kinds of pads or protection but still they were tackling just the same.

Tom Sooter was in the backfield of the offensive group, and as a surprise to him the ball was centered right into his hands. A split second after he caught it, three boys coming from various angles tackled him hard. As he slowly got up and brushed himself off he didnít seem upset at the tacklers but with fire in his eyes and voice boomed out, "who threw that (blank) thing to me?"

Some of you will remember the time on our Junior Legion ball team when Dutch Finney stretched a single into a home run. Jack Bridger, who was coaching third and also the first base coach tried to hold Dutch up on first but, failing, thought sure he would stop at second. Jack said, "I saw him coming, head back, laughing like a hyena and I just got out of his way at third. I needed a lariat rope."

Then there was the time we senior boys had just got our new maroon- trimmed-in-white gabardine suits and were trying to hard to impress Juanita, who was in the bleachers. Flatus rebounded under our goal and after taking a few elbows and knees in the ribs whirled and dribbled all alone toward the opponentsí goal. Of course, he came to himself after crossing the center line but had to turn over the ball. Embarrassed a little but olí Flatus (he now goes by Wes) was a good clean boy and still is a fine friend. So I never held this little incident against him. If a blue-chip lady like that had smiled at me perhaps I would have done worse than dribble a ball toward the wrong end.

And, finally, this same year the county tournament was held in Judsonia. Floodwaters were out and on Friday teams west of the river could not get home. Some teams slept in the gym or legion hut while some stayed in private homes. I.W. Dilliha, Judsonia superintendent, took Houston and me to his home. Lorene was a spic and span keeper of the house. We did not shower after our game late that night and after looking at snow white sheets and spread Houston says, "Letís be sure and wipe off our feet and trousers and not get black on the white bedding."

We lost our game Saturday morning and were out of the tournament and the river was still over Highway 67 and both Panther and Big Creeks were over Highway 16. Some of us had dates that night and wanted to go home. So we talked Coach Murphy into all of us walking the railroad to Kensett and for about a dime each got a taxi in to Searcy. We found Bill Epperson during the afternoon and he promised us a ride in his truck. We came by way of Rose Bud and got home just before dark. As for the ones of us that were 12th graders this was our last tournament as schoolboys. With the high waters and all, it was quite an experience.