Here’s a salute to the benchwarmers of every team in the country, from high school to the pros. They go unnoticed while the stars get all the publicity.
That’s OK for Saturdays and Fridays, but all through the week, we benchwarmers do just as much as they do – pushups, sit-ups, running, running and more running. Then we get to be something for the stars to practice on.
It takes one to know one. I have been there, fellow second- and third-stringers.
It’s like the Army in that respect. You just can’t know how it is unless you’ve been there.
Take me. At a recent class reunion, I discovered there are only three of us who were on the football team left. Tommy and (best friend) Pierce were second-stringers. I was third. .
On Fridays Bradley, Demps, Tom, Paul, John, Olen “anem” were the big stars. The cheerleaders would rave when those stars came off the field for a moment: “Rah, rah, Demps,” etc.
But through the week, I’ll guarantee I hurt just as much as any of them. Blam. We scrubs were cannon fodder, dummies to be used any way the coaches saw fit.
We scrubs were the guys who would edge up to the coach and plead, “Put me in, Coach. Put me in.” My brother-in-law tells of a rare exception to that policy. He was a great high school player. How good? Well, this is a true story.
Our biggest rival was Sulligent. Bitter rivals all the time, but especially in the football season. Frosty, my wife, was born in Sulligent. The reason she grew up (and became the prettiest girl) in my hometown was because the city fathers offered her daddy a much better job if he’d move to Vernon so his son could play football there. And he did, and the rest is history.
He, brother-in-law, tells of the time Vernon played Florence. Now, Vernon had no business playing big old Florence. They were in a totally different size class, and they had two or three players on the state all-star team. Playing under lights (gah!), and eating before the game in a cafeteria!
That was nice enough. But in the game, Florence was mopping the field with Vernon. Oh, it was terrible. Second-stringers were not begging to play. After a while of such blood-letting, Vernon running back Will Hicks staggered over to the bench and said, “Hey, coach, why don’t you let some of them scrubs play. They need the experience.”
And even I had one golden moment. I’ll tell you about that next time.
Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.