Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scorekeeping ain’t so easy

There we were, two old friends from the Heavener High School class of 1965, both ex-sports writers and sports information directors, as well as official baseball scorers, at one time, yet we were rooting for opposite teams, sort of. He for the Texas Rangers, me for the New York Yankees, who just might wind up playing each other when the MLB playoffs start next month. Never mind, the Rangers won with a three-game sweep over the weekend, the first time the Yankees have been swept all season and the first time the Rangers have done it in Arlington for the first time in 14 years.

Yes, it would be safe to say we’ve both come a long way since our days at Heavener, when we both played a little baseball. Jim Patterson is a Rangers baseball fan, I am a Yankees baseball fan. Our worlds crossed paths at The Ballpark in Arlington recently. Jim left Heavener in ’65, went on to graduate college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and become a sports writer in Ft. Smith before returning to Northeastern as the sports information director (SID). He later moved on to the University of Texas-Arlington as the SID. I left Heavener in ’65 also, went to Northeastern, then entered into the U.S. Air Force before going back to Northeastern and graduating. While there the second time, Jim got me interested in journalism and I became sports editor of the school’s campus newspaper, The Northeastern, and essentially worked for Jim. After graduation, I went into newspaper work myself in Texas. We continued to keep in touch through all the years.

Jim eventually got out of the SID work and moved to the publishing business in Ft. Worth, then back to UTA as director of publications. Along the way, he served as official scorer for the Rangers for a couple years. I eventually moved into the SID business at LeTourneau University in Longview, TX, but had a brief stint as official scorer for the Tyler Roughnecks, an independent baseball team. Neither of those side jobs was as easy as just keeping score.

“I was the scorer the night that Kenny Rogers pitched his perfect game in late July. It was very nerve-racking toward the end of the game, but fortunately I did not have to make any decisions on hits and errors. That was one of the last games of the 1994 season as Major League Baseball went on strike around Aug. 11,” Jim remembers. I was in the Las Vegas airport the night Rogers tossed his perfect game. I remember it coming on Sports Center.

I also had some forgettable experiences as scorer for the Roughnecks. One time the manager called from the dugout up to the press box to ask me if I was watching the same game as him! You just can’t please some people. My daughter Karen even got in on the act, keeping the scorebook for my grandson’s baseball team in Malakoff, TX. She, too, has had times she’d probably rather forget. But, through it all, Jim and I have remained friends ever since I first met him at a fireworks stand at the end of town in Heavener in 1963 – almost 50 years ago, give or take a few. Go Yankees!


At September 13, 2010 at 2:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story. I have wondered what Jim was doing other than winning the LCJ football contest.
bill pitchford


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