Sunday, July 26, 2009

sunday musings while wondering whatever happened to volney meece and why i haven’t made it to the indian hills powwow locally or the blackeyed pea festival in athens, texas [southeast of dallas, right past gun barrel city].

the opening line there is a takeoff on what my memory says a longtime daily oklahoman sports write, volney meece, used to say: ‘midweek musings while wondering whatever happened to ....’ the line would be a spring board each time to his reminding me and the rest of oklahoma about some temporarily forgotten person in sports history.

volney meece went from tonkawa, to norman and ou sports, to oklahoma city and the daily oklahoman and times and eventually served 21 years as the executive director of the football writers association of america, who created a scholarship in his honor that keeps his name alive now . He was a member of the oklahoma sports hall of fame. he also was one of the few people to have created a later occasionally imitated phrase - he reported a diminution in oklahoma city university basketball talent in 1985 as the bottom dropping out of the '
talent bucket'. the only pictures online of him do not reflect what i remember as a somewhat jonathan winters like friendly round face.

when he died in 1995 his friend and student max nichols memorialized him in Focusing on Success Made Volney Meece Great, that perked my memory bank. it talked about his choice to report the positive in sports and provided one quote that seems destined to be repeated when i write about more modern times and news reporting in general:
'He is one of few newspaper men and women who managed to avoid becoming a cynic or an expert.'
but it nichols description of meece's reporting which reminds me of how he made me happy and the era i grew up in:
'Sports pages once were enjoyable _ an escape from the real world of war, crime, corruption, budgets and all the problems that go with money. Volney joined The Daily Oklahoman and Times staff during that era _ in 1950, when Bud Wilkinson was at his peak as University of Oklahoma football coach and the Oklahoma City Indians played baseball in the Texas League.'

this was my growing up story. we went to every oklahoma football game and believed the sooner myth even when notre dame destroyed the 53 game winning streak. and i worked at texas league stadium, home of the oklahoma city indians, for 2 years and imagine now that i saw him in the press box. my memories of him are also contemporaneous and consistent with mike mccarville, a troglodyte whose blog is presumptively irritating otherwise. [link on request] but he was part of my happydays memories and i quote a bit more of nichols article with respect and a hope that i would be judged well by his standards. anyone with a back then picture or the accurate opening quote please contact me.

'He called his column "So They Tell Me," and every day he managed to lace his column with several yarns that brought chuckles. It was great for the digestion of readers like my father, who read the Times after dinner every evening before television led to the death of afternoon newspapers. He disliked the strikes, problem athletes, prima donnas and increasing emphasis on money as much as anyone, but he never lost his sense of humor about it. In the press box, he would joke such things, but he rarely complained about them. At the same time, he maintained his stance as a professional reporter. He avoided the temptation to become an expert _ a major pitfall for sports writers. He reported on what others said and did, rather than what he thought should be done, through four decades of covering champions and losers alike. He accepted the humanity of coaches and athletes.'

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