“Your Encouragement”

Walter ChadwickFormer Vol tackle and VFL Jerry Holloway reports that former Vol running back and VFL Walter Chadwick’s health is declining, and that he could use a mailbox stuffed with good wishes “long about now.”

Attached is a 2008 picture of Walter and former Vol tackle Elliott Gammage.

“Your encouragement will certainly help in this process,” says Walter’s friend Ellen Morrison.

 

 

Send your messages of encouragement to:

Walter Chadwick

341 Winn Way Apt. 135 

Decatur, GA 30030

Let’s let Walter know the “Vol Nation” is standing behind him.

Friday, August 22, 2014

 

 

“Memory Banks Playing Tricks”

Occasionally the memory banks play tricks on all of us. It’s just a fact of life.

Here’s an example, coming mere days after the death of former Vol tight end Reggie Harper, one of the great players in the history of Trousdale County High School.

COMMENT FROM A POSTER ON ANOTHER SITE: “Reggie was a studball TE…but will never forget his flaming out at the 20 yard line in the swamp in 79…might have won that game for us. Great player. Lots of Vols from that era have passed at a young age…Galbreath, Streater, Daryle Smith, Gary Moore.”

Perceptive comment about the Vols we’ve lost over the past couple of years, balanced off by a reference to a game at Florida in 1979, a year in which the Gators went 0-10-1. Reggie played in the 1977 game at Florida and scored a touchdown in a 27-17 loss, but there is no memory of him “flaming out at the 20 yard line.”

Not to worry, however.

You see enough games, and sometimes they all run together. It happens to all of us.

Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

 

Gavin SmokeyHere’s what every writer wants to see: his grandson, Gavin Stewart McManus, curled up with one of his books.

That happened today and is worthy of mention.

Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

“The Artful Dodger”

Found a book about former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda entitled “The Artful Dodger” at McKay’s the other day.

Sorry, folks.

There’s only one “Artful Dodger,” and that’s Condredge Holloway, a Tennessee quarterback from way back in the 1970s.

That’s not to show any disrespect to LaSorda, who had a memorable tenure with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but when push comes to shove, always go with Condredge. Those of us who saw him play will agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.

Maybe there’s another adjective that can go in front of “Dodger” in LaSorda’s case. Or maybe he can be the “Artful Dodger” on the West Coast, and Condredge can have the title in the ever-broadening expanse of Big Orange Country.

Sounds like a reasonable compromise.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

“More Fans at the Games”

The 1996 football season brought the new north upper deck to Neyland Stadium, an addition of 10,642 seats, bringing total stadium capacity to 102,544. The Vols, ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, knocked off UNLV 62-3 in the first game in the enlarged stadium. Florida spoiled the fun in the bigger venue, jumping to a 35-0 lead and eventually winning 35-29.

There was an intriguing clash in Memphis on a Thursday night, when Tennessee and Ole Miss squared off, a game in which Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning was to face his dad’s alma mater. The Vols won 41-3, in a game that was probably harder on Archie than on Peyton.

Tennessee won at Georgia by 29-17, but not without some anxious moments. The highlight came when Manning tried a quarterback sneak without success, bounced off the line, took the great circle route around referee Bill Goss, and threw a TD pass to Marcus Nash, a play run exactly the way it is diagrammed in the Vol playbook.

Tennessee defeated Alabama 20-13, coming back from a 13-0 deficit, on a Manning TD pass to Kent and two TDs by Jay Graham, the latter a 79-run in the final moments that was the game-winner.

Tennessee played four out of five games on the road in one stretch, winning four, but the fifth one brought great joy to exceptionally small portions of the western end of the state.

Memphis finally knocked off the Vols 21-17, first win in the series that started in 1968. The Vols haven’t lost to the Tigers since, although several of the games have been close.

A couple haven’t.

The Vols recovered from the loss to the Tigers very nicely, knocking off Arkansas, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, then defeating Northwestern in the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

“A Big Orange Day in Orange County”

In 1995, the Vols finished 11-1, best record since 1989, and defeated Ohio State in the Florida Citrus Bowl.

The Vols lost to Florida Sept. 16 in Gainesville, after leading 30-21 at the half, in what could have been a crushing defeat. Instead the Vols ran the table from that point on, including the first victory over Alabama since 1985.

The Vols started quickly against the Tide, with an 80-yard pass from quarterback Peyton Manning to wide receiver Joey Kent on the game’s first play. When the Tide closed to 28-14 in the third quarter, the Vols had a significant response.

Jay Graham took a pitch on the right side and motored 75 yards for the score that let everyone in Legion Field know that school was out. The final was 41-14, same score as a similar triumph in 1969.

The Vols lived dangerously against season-ending foes Kentucky and Vanderbilt, going to the wire with each traditional foe. Kentucky led 24-9 at one juncture, but the Vols ended up winning 34-31. Vanderbilt led 7-6 until a late drive gave the Vols a 12-7 win.

The Vols took a Big Orange victory in Orange County at the Citrus Bowl, defeating Ohio State 20-14, on the basis of a 69-yard run by Jay Graham just before the half, a 47-yard TD pass from Manning to Kent, a down in the mud goal line stand in the second quarter where Bill Duff and colleagues stopped Heisman winner Eddie George, and two fourth quarter field goals by Jeff Hall.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“Buck O’Neill”

In 2004, Buck O’Neil was the featured speaker at the Tennessee Baseball Leadoff Banquet. He was 92 years old, but looked and acted much younger, his white hair not withstanding.

O’Neil had showcased his baseball skills with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. He joined the Monarchs in 1938, was named player/manager in 1948, and continued his association with the organization through 1955.

He had a career average of .288, hitting .300-plus four times. He led the league at .353 in 1946 and had a career best mark of .358 in 1947.

He was a man with an engaging personality who spent a lifetime creating and influencing baseball history.

“The idea of playing in the Negro Leagues is outstanding for me,” he said, relaxing in a room at the then-Hyatt Regency. “I played with Satchel Paige, with and against Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard, and against Babe Ruth and Bob Feller.

“I had seen great baseball all my life. When Babe Ruth swung the bat, it was a sweet sound, a sound I had never heard before. I saw a barrel-chested man with skinny legs hitting the ball.”

It was definitely a vintage time, Buck said.

“The players in the Negro Leagues were outstanding,” he said. “The best black athletes in the world played in the Negro Leagues. The best white athletes played in the major leagues. To make a living in those days, you had to play baseball. That was where the money was. The major league minimum was $5,000.

“Some Negro League players, like Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, might have made more than some major league players. They got a percentage of the gate. When I went to Kansas City, I got $100 a month.”

He teamed with Paige, who once said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” During the height of Negro League barnstorming in the 1930s and 1940s, Buck remembered having “no luck” hitting Paige and worked tirelessly to get Satchel on his side, instead of facing him, bat in hand, each day.

O’Neil later became a scout with the Chicago Cubs and was named the first African-American coach in the big leagues in 1962.

“I knew all about the Cubs,” he said. “I knew their system and their players. I went to spring training with them, working all the levels.”

He mentioned a couple of the trailblazers who helped make the game better, specifically for African-American players.

“The real trailblazer was Rube Foster, who started the Negro Leagues in 1920,” Buck said. “He thought if he organized the black players, the National League would take one and the American League would take one.”

The other was Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

“Jackie was not the best player in the Negro Leagues,” he said. “He was the ‘right’ player to break the color barrier.”

There was more about Jackie most folks didn’t know.

“We stopped in a filling station in Oklahoma one night, and the sign on the restroom door said ‘White Men Only.’ As we were filling up the tank on our bus (with 50-gallon tanks on each side), Jackie started to walk in. The attendant said, ‘Boy, that’s for white men only.’

“In response, Jackie said, ‘Pull the hose and let’s go.’ He understood economics better than we did. We had become acclimated to segregation.

“He hadn’t.”

Buck saw Babe Ruth hit home runs and talked hitting with Lou Gehrig, according to an Associated Press story written after his death Oct. 6, 2006, at age 94.

“In February 2006,” the AP story continued, “it was widely thought that a special 12-person committee commissioned to render final judgments on Negro Leagues and pre-Negro League figures would make him a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It would be, his many fans all thought, a fitting tribute to the entire body of his life’s work.”

AP reported that the panel voted in 16 men and one woman, with O’Neil being left out, garnering 11 votes, but needing 12.

Regardless, there was always a love affair between Buck O’Neil and baseball.

“I can’t remember a time when I did not want to make my living in baseball, or a time when that wasn’t what I did get to do,” he told AP in 2003.

Then came the final word, the final comment on his life, at least for one night at the old Hyatt Regency.

“God was very good to old Buck.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

“The End of the Line for Artificial Turf”

The 1993 season was the final campaign on artificial turf that had covered the floor of Shields-Watkins Field in one form or another since 1968. Grass would appear at the “Home of the Vols” the next season.

The Vols zoomed up and down gridirons across the south for 471 regular season points, led by SEC player of the year, former U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), under center. Shuler could beat you in a number of ways, with his feet or with his arm.

He had a stable of running backs at his disposal, James Stewart, Charley Garner, and Aaron Hayden, and equally talented receivers such as Billy Williams, Cory Fleming, Craig Faulkner, and Joey Kent.

He became one of the most popular players in Tennessee history, finishing second in the Heisman race to Florida State’s Charley Ward, with the theme “You have to be 21 to win the Heisman,” owing to his jersey number. Heath candy bars were also part of the publicity effort.

That campaign also included the Vols’ first trip to Little Rock since 1907, culminating in a 28-14 victory over Arkansas at War Memorial Stadium.

Tennessee had No. 2 Alabama on the ropes Oct. 16 in Birmingham, leading 17-9 with just minutes to play, but the Tide made the requisite plays to gain the deadlock, led by quarterback Jay Barker and wideout David Palmer.

The tie was a downer, but the Vols took no prisoners the rest of the way. The Vols scored points by the bushel in an amazing show of offensive efficiency. Tennessee scored 250 points in the final four regular season games against South Caroline, Louisville, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

“A Season of Controversy”

The month of August 1992 changed the history of the Vol football program. The much respected head trainer Tim Kerin, a prime John Majors confidante since the days at Pittsburgh, died early in that month, doctors calling the cause of death a “dissecting aortic aneurysm.”

That was a blow to the Vol program in more than one way. His was a voice of reason, a voice of integrity. Tennessee named the training room in the Neyland-Thompson Center in his honor and memory.

One day a week or so later, Majors left practice early, with the media being told it was for a doctor’s appointment. That was correct as far as it went. The next morning, a local radio station announced Majors was undergoing heart surgery. He missed the first three games of the season, with Phillip Fulmer being appointed interim head coach.

It probably didn’t help matters that Majors came back before anyone had expected, just a day after a 31-14 win over Florida, the second win over the Gators in three years. Many people close to the Vol program believe that had Kerin been alive, things might have transpired differently, what with the influence he had on Majors.

The schedule-maker also made things worse. There were successive losses to Arkansas and Alabama and open dates before and after a one-point loss at South Carolina, a road trip that will never make a list of the Top 10 trips in Vol history.

It was a dark time, one during which the Vol family seemed to be split asunder. There was considerable talk centering around broken promises, bad relationships, and disloyal behavior. No one, save those involved, knows the entire story.

It all came to a head in Memphis on Friday night, Nov. 13, at the Wilson World Hotel. Fans appeared to be shocked at what was transpiring, gathering at the hotel with saddened faces, some fighting back tears, not believing what was happening.

Majors resigned that night, saying, “Since I have not been given the opportunity by the UT administration to remain as head football coach, I am, effective December 31, 1992, relinquishing my duties connected to the University of Tennessee.”

There were a couple of historical ironies. The announcement of the end of the Majors era came in Bluff City, where his Tennessee career had started more than 38 years before in a win over Mississippi State. His last game as Vol head coach came in Nashville where his regular-season playing days had ended about 36 years earlier with a 27-7 win over Vanderbilt.

Looking back, there was certainly travail. Emotions ran high. Everyone seemed to have an opinion.

For the record, here are a couple of certainties, regardless of the position Tennessee fans might have taken then, or takes even now. There is a cogent argument to be made that choosing up sides, then or now, helped no one, and things are tough enough in the SEC without strife within the program.

The name “Majors” is thus written large in Tennessee football history. As Haywood Harris noted when John’s brother Bill was killed in the car-train wreck of 1965, “It is enough for longtime residents of this community to say he was a Majors.” That’s how strong the Majors name was and still is today around Big Orange Country.

That’s the way things appeared a long time ago, before, during, and during the 1992 football season.

Saturday, August 16, 1992

“Institutional Memory”

Had three obits published in the KNS over the past few weeks: Richard Pickens, Orvis Milner, and Dr. John Karnes, all VFLs in their own right.

These stories are never easy to write, but give perspective to what each man meant to the University of Tennessee.

Milner was from the 1940s, Pickens from the 1960s, and Dr. Karnes a fixture in the Vol pharmacy from the 1970s into the 2000s.

They are part of the “institutional memory” that is so important in giving the history of the program perspective and context.

Thanks to each one of them for what they accomplished as part of the Tennessee program.

Friday, August 15, 2014