The cold front storms were not only the thing rocking the Durham, North Carolina skies last night. After a brief delay waiting for rain to let up and prep the field, the Pawtucket Red Sox lit up the scoreboard launching rocket after rocket! Final score 17 – 2 PawSox over the Durham Bulls.
This column runs in the Summer 2019 issue of Heart Beat of the Texas Hill Country
I’ll never forget the day – May 5, 2015 – 5:09PM. The email read, “Hi Carlotta, Long time no see. Was wondering if you would care to write for our magazine. Noticed that Happenings has gone dark and I always loved your columns. Would you have any interest? Either way keep writing cowgirl! -Greg”
The following day, our call lasted over an hour. I could tell right away this was going to be a fun gig! It was so easy talking to Greg. He understood my passion for sports and respected my ideas. More importantly, he was as “pumped” about my column as I was!
For the fall issue that year, he dropped me a line a couple of weeks before deadline. “Do you think you could focus on Texas football? Your take on the upcoming NFL/college season? Hoping to have all editorial in by the 15th. We’re at third down and goal to go!” I already had the column finished when I read his email. It started with, “For those of you reading this that haven’t lived in Texas, let me explain. Football is the culture — an array of delicacies from the traditional fantasy football leagues to Friday Night Lights to Big 12 and SEC rivalries to The ‘Boys at Jerry’s House or JJ Watt and Company at the NRG. Fall is Texas football!” Greg’s response? “Girl — You rock!” Go figure – it was what he wanted.
Greg not only communicated with me in sports lingo, he also recognized my other passion – the canines! He already knew about my years of chairing the Bark For Life cancer fundraiser. When I asked him to run a flyer on a Kerr County Bark in one of the issues, he said he would. A few days before print, he discovered the copy in his spam. He emailed me saying, “Hi, somehow you got in my spam list. Just noticed this morning. All is good now. Thanks! (I mean “woof!”)”
I normally decided which sport my column would touch on. Last year, he had a special request. “How about a piece on Manu Ginobili? I know NBA season will be over by summer but I would like a tribute to him.” I had just volunteered for and attended the NFL draft in North Texas. My plan was to write about that. Instead I went with a Ginobili tribute. It’s always nice to keep the boss happy. And apparently it made the readers happy too! The feedback as Greg would say, “Rocked!”
I delayed the NFL Draft to the fall issue. When he got the copy and pictures, he called me. “Girl! You met the NFL Commissioner! Girl! You have your picture with him!! Girl!! You were on the floor of the NFL draft! You didn’t tell me about THAT when I asked you to run something on Ginobili! Manu could have waited! “ We both laughed!
That was the last time we laughed together. Greg was diagnosed with liver cancer that fall. I tried to reassure him. I had been on a caregiver’s journey back in 2015 with my husband’s cancer. Medical science had made great strides. Get the treatment and stay on it no matter how awful the side effects are. Attitude is 99% of the cure. Stay strong and listen to your body. Get lots of rest. You will get through this.
We talked one more time in early March. There was nothing more the doctors could do and the end was near. He passed away on the 18th of that month. While others think they will see Greg again on the beach in the Jamaican part of Heaven, I know I’ll find him near the San Antonio Spurs angels waiting on Manu. You rock Angel Greg. RIP my MVP.
This column appears in the Spring 2019 issue of Heart Beat of the Texas Hill Country
Heisman winner Kyler Murray has decided – he has chosen the National Football League over Major League Baseball. I can’t help admire the kid – he’s very talented when it comes to throwing passes and crushing home runs. In high school, as the starting quarterback, he led North Texas’s Allen HS to three straight state championships and won 43 games in a row. He also played baseball – shortstop/second base – and was a top prospect for the 2015 MLB draft. He was the first player to ever be selected for both the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game and Under Armour All-America Football Game!
Instead of entering the baseball draft, he chose to attend Texas A &M his freshman year. Just a few months into the football season, he transferred to Oklahoma when it became apparent he would be battling against another high recruit, Kyle Allen, for a starting nod. With NCAA transfer rules, he had to sit out in 2016. In 2017, he hit the ground running as Baker Mayfield’s backup and even had playing time in a couple of games. Come spring, he switched hats and had a sluggish start playing Sooners baseball, but did so well the following year; he again caught the attention of Major League Baseball. The Oakland As took him as the 9th pick overall in the 2018 MLB Draft last June and presented him with a high dollar contract including a lucrative signing bonus. In return, he would play in the fall one more season of college football, then report to spring training in 2019.
Things got complicated when Murray led the Sooners to the semi-finals of the College Football National Championship collecting a slew of hardware along the way. He won the Davey O’Brien Award, AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, First-team All-American, First-team All-Big 12 and the big daddy of them all, the Heisman Trophy. He finished out last year with an estimated net-worth of three billion dollars! Meanwhile, the Oakland As quietly waited in the wings for his report to spring training. Now, it is possible to play in both the NFL and MLB at the same time – about seventy have accomplished it – only a small handful since 1987 including Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Seahawks Russell Wilson played in minor league ball a few years and currently has a contract with the Yankees.
In January 2019, Murray teased the sports world with hints he would not be splitting time with the two sports. The A’s and MLB met with Murray, deviating from the norm, and offered him a major league contract. A decision had to be made soon since spring training was on the horizon. The suspense was over Monday, February 11th. Kyler committed to professional football citing “football had been his love and passion his entire life.” Murray would not get to keep his entire $4.66 million signing bonus with the As. Brace yourselves — He already has in hand 1.5 million, but only has to repay $1.29 million of that! He hasn’t even picked up a bat! The A’s will retain his baseball rights going forward and he will be placed on the minor-league restricted list indefinitely. Should Murray ever decide to return to baseball, he would have to return to the Oakland organization.
Did the Phenom do the right thing? Will he be a part of the Heisman Curse? Will he ever see a batting circle? Will hard hits from his bat ever replace hard hits from a Defense? Check back with me in five years.
This column appears in the Winter 2018 issue of Heart Beat of the Texas Hill Country
I love this time of the year — Holidays and College Football! All the craziness of the fall games come to an end with the Playoff Committee sorting out records, justifying the upsets and strength of schedules to build the college bowl schedules and the National Championship semi-final games. Oh what fun it has been getting to this point! Every Saturday I have been known to camp out at our TV starting at 8AM for College Game Day and remaining into the wee hours of Sunday morning watching the west coast teams play.
This fall, I actually got to experience College Game Day when my husband’s Ohio State Buckeyes were in Ft. Worth playing TCU. What I didn’t realize when I first hatched the brainstorm of attending, was what a crowd the Saturday live show would attract and how early one had to be there for the show’s early start. Rumor has it college kids always sleep in on the weekends when there are no classes, but not when College Game Day is in town!
When we arrived at the TCU campus a little after 7AM, we found the last parking place right across from the Campus Commons where it was being held. Before the car came to a complete stop, my seatbelt was whizzing into the holder and my hand on the door handle. “Hang on Harriet!” my husband advised, but quickly changed his tune after he spotted the cheerleaders of both TCU and Ohio State at the Commons entrance. Over the crosswalk we both flew. Rick, who hates posing for pictures, made an exception when the Buckeyes mascot Brutus clamped his hand around Rick’s.
Next was clearing security. Men never carry anything so my husband was waved through. I, however, had my pom-poms and purse. After having my pom-poms shaken and my purse (the size of a postage stamp) severely scrutinized, it was time to proceed through the portal into the Commons area. By then, we could see the sea of people already gathered and the ESPN stage way down the Commons. The bands were playing – time to make our entrance. There are times it pays to be shorter than the majority and I played that trump card, getting us second row, second section back from the stage. We could see the backs of Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Rece Davis. My life was complete – we were the backdrop of College Game Day!
Thirty minutes later, the director came out and reviewed the rules for the show as well as his signal for noise. This group already had the noise part down. Eight o’clock finally came and the roar was deafening especially when the TV camera mounted on a cable above us zoomed by. It turned out to be a fun morning mingling with fans not only of TCU and Ohio State, but colleges all over the country. I had DVR’d the show and even found us – a speck in the foreground – good thing for those red pom- poms!
Click here for pictures of the day! https://lottasports.com/2018/09/15/lotta-sports-college-game-day/
A fun day!! Caught up with driver Timmy Hill — he will never forget when we met in 2013. It was pre-race and he was checking things at their pit-box. “Now what is it you do with the team?” “I am the driver….” Every year we laugh about that. Saw Garrett after qualifying and got to meet his sponsor.
Race was what I expected — it’s playoff time and all bets are off — 1st yellow flag was in 1st lap when pole winner Christopher Bell spun — the race had 13 cautions. Garrett flirted with 10th at one point — excellent for a small team. He was involved in late race accident and still got a top 20.
Click here to hear my interview with Garrett
Race Action with the “0” — (on video, the red car pulling off the track is the pace car)