P.O. Box 668
Saluda, SC 29138
Phone 864 445-2527
Fax 864 445-8679
BY RALPH SHEALY
40 YEARS AGO
I got an email Sunday from my long, lost friend Will York, with the question, “Remember where we were 40 years ago today?”
Being that the Heritage Classic was on TV, I remembered. We were at Harbour Town covering the golf tournament for “Carolina Golfer Magazine.”
Will was watching the tournament from his home in Washington State. I guess when you’re 3000 miles away, milestones pop up. It didn’t pop for me.
In 1974 I was the associate editor of “Carolina Golfer,” and Will was the managing editor of Wing Publications.
It was Will who came up with the idea of suggesting to our boss, the company owner Sidney Wise, that we cover the tournament for our magazine.
We were both amazed when Mr. Wise gave the go-ahead. We were “forced” to take a four-day, all expense paid trip to Hilton Head. Of course, we were “working.”
Will was a native of Brownsville, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas in Austin.
When I first met him and learned he was from Texas, I said, “Themopylae had its messenger of defeat. The Alamo had none.”
In wide-eyed shock, he said, “How could you possibly know that?”
“It’s on a monument on the Saluda County Courthouse lawn,” I said.
When I explained to him about Travis and Bonham, we went on to form a great friendship.
I soon learned Will did not see his first pine comb until he was a teenager, and he had never eaten boiled peanuts.
I had always assumed boiled peanuts, Krispie Kreme doughnuts and Moon Pies were universal delicacies, and not confined to the southeast.
Will soon learned to love boiled peanuts.
Back to the Heritage Classic. Will had never seen Charleston, so he suggested we go to Hilton Head by way of the Holy City.
We spent three or for hours in Charleston, hitting the downtown highlights, then drove to our real destination.
When we got to the island, we were flabbergasted by the traffic circles. I was a Saluda Traffic Circle veteran, but I knew where I was going. Neither of us had ever been to Hilton Head, so we made a few extra laps around the circles.
The next four days, we covered our first professional golf tournament. We learned things you don’t see or hear on TV, like the language and actions of the players.
One player I had admired before Harbour Town, I lost all respect for. You didn’t see what a cursing prima donna he was on TV.
We had a great time. A fellow by the name of Johnny Miller won the tourney ... 40 years ago.
Will and I had a nice email conversation.
I said I guessed they don’t have boiled peanuts in Washington State.
“...Nor red-eye gravy. And don’t even think of offering guests a tomato sandwich, unless you want them to leave.”
What? They don’t each tomato sandwiches on the left coast?
It took a bunch of kids to bring Buddy Jones, James Porter, Ben Carroll Nicholson and me together in 1976.
I was the coach of the Yankees, and James’ daughter Melissa, Buddy’s son Mickey and Ben’s children Carroll, Karen and Wade were on the team.
I asked those three to help me coach.
James had helped me the year before, when his son Charles played. Ben was a longtime baseball player, and Buddy was a former manager of the Saluda Dutch Fork team.
Buddy earned a special place in my heart when I learned his son Mickey was named after my hero Mickey Mantle.
We had a season coaches only dream about. We had a great bunch of talented kids, who finished the year as league champions, with an up until that time greatest record in the history of Saluda youth baseball, 18-1-1.
Our coaching staff stayed together a few more years, and we won a couple of more championships.
We had a great time those years, and formed friendships among the coaches and players that have lasted a lifetime.
A tradition with the Yankees was an end of season campout, usually with the Rebels, who were coached by my daddy Shake and my brother Jamie.
One year Buddy found us a great place. It was a large open shelter that even had lights.
You know kids, thus adults, don’t sleep on campouts.
Late in the evening Ben, Buddy, Jamie and I decided to play setback, hoping the kids would drift off. Ben and I teamed up against Buddy and Jamie.
Ben and I had a night card players only dream about.
We couldn’t lose, and Jamie and Buddy were getting madder and madder.
It was well past midnight, and I said, “Let’s just quit.”
“No,” Jamie said. “We are not going to bed until we beat you.”
“Okay,” I said, “we forfeit.”
“No,” Buddy said. “We want to beat you fair and square.”
Ben and I had a plan. We were going to try to lose by bidding “seven and out” on the next deal, no matter what cards we were dealt.
This meant we had to get every point in the hand, and neither us had good enough cards on the deal to pull it off.
I picked up the widow and it had every card we needed. We made seven and out!
All four of us, totally exhausted, were on the verge of tears.
Finally, on the ninth hand, Jamie and Buddy won, and we got about an hour of sleep.
We talked about that game many times, and Buddy and Jamie were still mad.
Buddy called me “Raphael,” and I called him “Buddro” every time we saw each other for the next 38 years.
Buddy was well known throughout Saluda County for his work as a contractor. I’d usually run into him at the hardware store where we’d pick on each other.
I had seen him at the hardware store not too long ago, and that’s why I was so shocked when I heard Buddy died last week.
When I paid my respects at the funeral home, I smiled when I saw Buddy was buried wearing his signature overalls. That’s how people knew him.
I’m sure glad I got to know you, Buddro. You were as good as gold.
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