Tidbits - September 29, 2016

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TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY

YE OF LITTLE FAITH

  It is more than the fact the Saluda High football team had not beaten Ninety Six since 1998.
  My personal Ninety Six “affliction” goes way back.
  It was the first game of the 1967 season at Ninety Six. I was a junior in high school and it was my debut as the SHS statistician, sports information director and reporter.
  That night  Ninety Six beat Saluda for the FIRST TIME EVER!!!
 Saluda went on to finish that year 0-11, thankfully the only winless season in school history. Don’t blame me. Blame Ninety Six. They started it.
  Friday at Ninety Six, it took Saluda four tries to make an extra point because of penalties.
  Pat Griffith was sitting right below me and the kicks reminded him of when he played in 1983. Ninety Six had to attempt the extra point kick five times, because of penalties. Most of them were against Ninety Six, and several times the kicks were missed. But since the whistle blew before the kick, the Wildcats got another try.
  The Wildcats finally made the extra point kick from 35-yards out and beat Saluda 7-6. The Tigers finished in a three-way tie for first place in the region, but only two teams got to go to the playoffs. Guess who didn’t go? Don’t blame me, blame Ninety Six.
  In that losing streak from 1999-2015, there were games when the Wildcats slaughtered the Tigers, but there were also some close games Saluda should have won, but Ninety Six found a way to win.
  That prompted me to write several years ago Ninety Six could make up a team comprised of local nursing home residents and still beat Saluda.
  I took me four quarter Friday, to finally accept the fact Saluda was actually going to beat Ninety Six.
  The Tigers were up 24-0 at halftime, but had three touchdowns called back. See? I’ve seen Mississippi blow 21 points leads in two games this year.
  With a minute to go in the third quarter, Saluda upped the lead to 31-0, but when Ninety Six returned the kick-off, I said, “Uh, oh! Here they came!”
  It was not until the Tigers went up 38-7 in the fourth quarter did I finally begin to relax. The streak was over!!!!
  What a great win for Tigers! No Saluda team before has had to play their five closest rivals in their first five games, but this team did, and finished 4-1.
  I honestly believe if the Thurmond game had not been rained out, that game would have been much closer.
  In beating RSM, Mid-Carolina, Batesburg-Leesville and Ninety Six, the Tigers have averaged 39.5 points per game, and like last year, this is a fun team to watch.
  Somebody new each week steps up and makes a big play, offensively and defensively.
  This team beat B&L and Ninety Six without two of their best defensive players, Slayter Waters and Jonathan Griffith. Both injured their knees against B&L, and both injuries required surgery. Slayter may get to come back this season, but Jonathan’s season is done.
  Like in the B&L game when quarterback Tyrell Abney missed most of the season half, Saluda played most of the second half with star running back Malik Brooks limited because of an injury. Both Tyrell and Malik were able to make big plays late in the games.
  What I am getting at is this Tiger team has been able to adjust to losing such stalwarts. Younger players have stepped up. In the B&L game, the Tigers had three interceptions. They were made by a freshman and two sophomores.
  Saluda offense really got going when freshman quarterback Noah Bell came in Friday against Ninety Six. The Wildcats were basically running an eight-man front designed to stop Saluda’s outstanding runners, Brooks and Abney. Noah’s ability to pass loosened that defense up.
  I had mentioned last week, Noah had to fill in for Slayter as deep snapper in the game. Several occasions Noah was late getting on the field. I found out why.
  Slayter is the Tigers long snapper on certain kicks, and Jonathan Griffith is the snapper on the others.. So, the Tigers not only lost two starting linebackers in the first half, they lost both long snappers!
  Finally, at the end of the game at Ninety Six quarterback Noah was joined in the backfield by his running back brother, Ty. I wonder when was the last time Saluda High had two brothers at quarterback and running back in a game at the same time?

BROOMSTICKS AND
DAYDREAMS

  There was no high technology when I came along, other than televisions, radios, record players and telephones.
  So, kids were basically limited to imagination.
  My “magic wand” was a broomstick. No, not the kind you ride, like Harry Potter, but one that could transformed into sports’ equipment.
  With a broomstick, with the broom sawed off, of course, I became Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees by throwing up rocks and hitting them into the pond with the stick.
  Because Mickey was a switch hitter, I taught myself to bat lefthanded. I hit rocks into the pond almost every day during baseball season.
  When I wasn’t Mickey Mantle, I’d use the stick to become Arnold Palmer and hit pine cones, as I imagined winning The Masters.
  At 12-years-old, I finally got the chance to hit a real golf ball with a real golf club. I found out it was a lot easier to hit a pine cone than a golf ball!
  Arnie was my hero because he was a class act, always.
  I never knew when I played my first game of golf at Persimmon Hill as a boy, that my hero Arnie would fly in one day and tour our course. Yes, Arnold came to Saluda County.
  As an adult I had the opportunity to attend the Masters and the Heritage at Hilton Head. I followed Arnie every time.
  When I worked for a golf magazine in Columbia, I got the chance to go to an event at Lan Yair Country Club in Spartanburg where Arnie was the special guest golfer. It was one of the many events he did for charity.
  I got close enough to him to take several pictures.
  By winning the Fedex Cup and the golf tournament Sunday, Rory Mcilroy won $11.5 million in one day. That’s more than Arnie earned in his entire career, but it is because of Arnold Palmer than Rory was able to get the big pay check.
  With his charisma, Arnie brought golf to the forefront in sports.
  They’ll never be another one like him.
  I’m glad he was a part of my broomstick daydreams!

KNEW HAWAII

  In his position with Occidental College in California, Saluda native Mitchell Spearman gets to travel all over the world.
  A few weeks ago he was “forced” to go to Hawaii.
  While there, he visited his cousin Nancy and family. Nancy is the daughter of Saluda County natives Marshall and Julia Coleman Johnson.
  He also visited Renee Infinger Peterson. Renee is the daughter of late Saluda County native Virgil Stoudemayer Neel.
  Nancy and Renee and families live in Hawaii because their husbands are in the military.
  Mitchell found out that Renee’s husband works with Nancy’s husband at the Pearl Harbor base.
  “Imagine that,” Mitchell said. “Saluda High graduates’ children grow up in different towns and their husbands end up working together on the same base in Hawaii!”
  “Such a small, small world! All roads lead to Saluda!”
  Yep!

LEADERS

  I was saddened by the passing of Baxter Shealy.
  Many of us can look around our homes today and see TVs, furniture and appliances bought from Baxter’s Saluda Appliance & TV.
  The company sold good products and offered excellence service.
  They had to stay up on the times. They introduced me to coaxial cables, and were able to rig a wired remote so that I could record “The Andy Griffith Show” on the VCR in my den, while I was watching it in my bedroom!
  Yes, it was a wired remote. That’s how my first VCR, that cost a small fortune, came.
  Each day, I am awakened by a digital alarm clock I purchased when the store was located in Travis Avenue. It has to be close to 30 years old, or more.
  Baxter was a fine man, and he, his brothers, his children and all the workers were vital parts of this community.
  He now joins his wife Sarah, who died a few months ago.
  Pauline McGee would call me a least once a year to see if I wanted to advertise on the Ridge Spring Birthday Calendar.
  She would also drop by the office, when she was in town.
  She was a tiny lady, with a “trademark” page boy haircut. Everyone who knew her, loved her. Her size did not stop her from being a “giant” leader in the town she so dearly loved.
  Her son Buford was my age, and a good friend. He was the Athletic Director at his alma mater, Ridge Spring-Monetta High School, when he died in a tragic horse riding accident.
  Her daughter Susan Cathey was once the media specialist at Saluda Elementary School.
  Lastly, I was saddened the of the death of my old friend Roy Kennerly Jr.
  We both grew up in Emory Church, and were members of the first and last Emory MYF group to spend a week at the beach in 1965!
  Good times will be remembered.