Just some thoughts
Very seldom does one hear praise or even an acknowledgement for a team’s manager.
In Pat Conroy’s book, My Losing Season, his college basketball team at The Citadel had a manager they called Rat–Joe Eubanks. Eubanks was later killed in the Vietnam War. Of Eubanks Conroy says:
“My teammates talk about Rat often because it disturbs us greatly
that he died without having a clue of how much he meant to us.”
Conroy often visits the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. He carries a list of names with him that are etched in the marble. (I also have done such–one name I always look for–a kid who played fro me) The last two names are Carl Peterson and Joe Eubanks, team managers of his college basketball team. In a tear-strangled voice as Conroy leaves the Wall, he has been heard to say: “He gave me towels, the Rat gave me towels.”
Three managers I can remember from my school basketball days were managers, Skip Morgan, Dennis Piety and Marvin Hayhurst. I never knew what Skip’s given name was. I also remember he had a really cool car for the times, a 1949 bullet noised Studebaker. Often in Gunn’s or the school’s parking lot he would let me play the radio. He would let me punch the buttons on the dial. I can still remember how at night the dash would light up like no other car of the time.
He and Dennis were managers, not at the same time, at the small high school where I attended and played basketball. Marvin was a manager my last year of school, 1960. Dennis was a year ahead of me, graduating in 1959. He always seemed to take care of details. Dennis was at our coach’s call. Medicine kit, tape, aspirin, smelling salts, towels, a drink, whatever the needs, they always seemed to be at his quick reach. He had a behind the scenes way of doing his responsibilities as manager, and he saw to them like a business. Ask him a question or for something, you got it.
Over the years I coached various sports and I think back to the kids, young men, we had as managers and what they contributed. I am ashamed to say I often did not fully realized their contributions. Hopefully they took something from that time that proved of value to them in later years.
Last year one Saturday afternoon my phone rang. I answered and the a voice on the line said, “Coach, do you know who this is?” “Well, you got to give me a bit more information than this opening,” I replied. The party went on to share with me his good memories and his time as a basketball manager during my coaching years in the early 1970s’ in Indiana.
He told me a story of when I came and took him out of study hall and ask him if he would consider being my manager. To be truthful I vaguely remember the happening. What he next shared with me, well it got me. “Coach I was about to be in a world of trouble those last couple years of high school, I had no focus and being a manager kept me out of trouble, probably even out of jail. You guys put responsibilities on me and believed in me as no one else had ever done before. You guys would give me the locker room keys and I would go and get things ready for practice.” I chuckled a bit at his line, “kept me out of jail.” “No coach, I’m serious.”
So often athletes receive praise and accolades from those who come to see them perform, I bet seldom, maybe never does one take note of a team’s managers. So here’s to all those managers from our past, a belated thank you and a nod of appreciation for a job well done and seldom recognized. Sorry I’m a bit late.
I think team managers are often representative of people who were or are important to an effort but unfortunately are often neglected or forgotten. They often go unnoticed for their efforts, contributions to the success and efforts of other.
If we really stop and think managers, like a lot of people in our lives:
“They give all of us much more than towels.”
November 15, 2017