Sunday, February 16, 2014

one for the team

John Irby Sammons was born in Kentucky 66 years ago and the world hasn't been the same since. It takes a special kind of teacher to cross over to being a sports hero to young people and he managed to do just that. His entire career has been based on coaching and teaching for the joy of it, certainly not for the money. He later went to the "office" that oversees the schools and retired from there several years ago. As a principal he inspired greatness in teachers. And as a friend, he was the biggest soft hearted smartass that I've ever known. The kind of man that I would fall for myself! Our 36 years of life together have been filled with all kinds of ups and downs including raising our kids and working crappy shifts at the sawmill with me and the Little General. John's spirit is that of every football coach everywhere who dreams of being the star in Friday Night Lights.

One of his former students honored him today with a newspaper article about how Big John had affected him and his own vocation as sports writer. There will be speeches tomorrow and there's a big board with lots of pictures, the same ones that I've seen over the years at various family functions at the Halls UMC. Our friend Sue catered his retirement party and 10 gallons of punch turned over on the exquisitely designed cake complete with goal posts. And yes, it was in August and it was hot as hell hades. I helped serve and clean up and enjoyed looking over all of the memorabilia from Mt Vernon where he found Sharry. A KY boy himself, teaching had taken him straight to the Quaker of his life. They raised two children during those years and both have produced various offspring. I stopped by to visit the fam, whomever was available, after I left work today. I know them all and got to meet Baxter the new and improved Basset hound that sleeps by grandma's bed. He'll be staying there while JT hits the road for work. He kissed my cheek as I was leaving and I held tightly asking him to take care of his mama. "He was a great man" I said. "Big shoes to fill."

So this is for you Big. For all you did to inspire greatness.. like walking around on a hotass muddy football field running your blood pressure up. For being a good father and provider and thinker of big thoughts. I ran across the list that you gave me last summer of what ball cards are worth a buck or two and it's the oddest thing. It surfaced on the day you went to see the Heavenly lights. Touchdown, Sammons!!!!

1 comment:

  1. When I die, I want you to write my epitaph. He sounds like a man I would have liked to know.