Posted tagged ‘Boston Red Sox’

Confusing American and Sports History

January 7, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      January 7, 2017


My substitute teaching gig takes a new turn next week. I begin a long-term substitute teaching position at the middle school I have coached basketball and football at for the past 15 years.

7th Grade Social Studies! I’m trying to think what I learned in 7th Grade Social Studies. All I can remember is sitting beside Becky Beckwith, a cute blonde whose brother played on the Williamstown, West Virginia varsity basketball team. I had a hard time focusing on the Civil War with Becky sitting to my right.

Now I’ll be teaching 7th Graders!

I’m using this weekend to bone up on my American History. In the 50 years (Say it ain’t so!) since I was a 7th Grader I’ve pumped a lot of history into my brain…sports history that is! Now I have to untangle the two spools of thread.

When I think of Patriots I go right to Babe Parilli, quarterback of the Boston Patriots of the old American Football League, and graduate of the University of Kentucky when it was coached by Bear Bryant.

If a student asks me how many Senators there are I may correct him and say “were!” The Washington Senators, perpetual cellar dwellers of the American League. One sports columnist made the statement, “Washington: first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.” I’ll be able to tell the student that the Minnesota Twins exist because of the Washington Senators.

When we get to the Civil War and start talking about the Yankees I’ll have to be careful to not talk about the New York Yankees who began playing at the old Polo Grounds in New York. My disdain for the Yankees might emerge. I’m not sure how I got to the point of despising the Bronx Bombers so much. After all, my Topps ’67 and ’68 Mickey Mantle baseball cards were my most valued possessions. I’ll have to be careful when a student asks me about the biggest obstacle for the Yankees to not reply “the Red Sox!”

The subject of “oil” comes up and I may immediately go to the Houston Oilers and their running back Earl Campbell, or amaze the students with the facts that George Blanda played for the Oilers before he became an Oakland Raider. I may even transition into the Oilers transition to become the Tennessee Titans.

The subject of George Washington comes up and I’ll talk about the George Washington University Colonels basketball team and playing in the Atlantic 10 conference with teams like the Richmond Spiders and the Rhode Island Rams.

If we get to the California Gold Rush I’ll easily transition into the San Francisco 49’ers, and the days of Joe Montana and Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Dwight Clark. I’ll probably get caught up in the moment and start talking about Montana’s game-winning TD drive against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.

I’ll just have to be careful as I hold the minds of these thirteen year olds in my hands. At the end of my teaching when someone asks them who some of the Trailblazers were of American History I don’t want them to say Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton…although they’d be right!