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FUEL INSPIRATION FRIENDS FOR LIFE y father hated lacrosse.


He was a baseball guy to the end. He grew up in New England, and in the 1920s, he was recruited by Loyola College in Baltimore to play football and baseball. Later, he played fi rst base for the International League Baltimore Orioles.


WE TALK


LACROSSE MORE THAN ANY OTHER SUBJECT,


NO MATTER WHO THE


PRESIDENT IS.


He used to wonder about the people he saw in Baltimore playing a game with something that looked to him like crab nets. Bunch of weirdoes, he thought. “Lacrosse,” he often said, “is a game for guys who can’t hit a curveball.” In spite of all that, I liked lacrosse from the start — especially the lacrosse being played at St. Paul’s School. The team there won 72 straight games. It wore classy blue and gold uniforms. In that condensed environment, Howdy Myers, the coach, had the aura of a Rockne or a Lombardi. I was too young to think the whole package had anything to do with the culture.


So I played at St. Paul’s and at Johns Hopkins and then, after a few years in the Army and graduate school, I went to work covering sports for The Baltimore Evening Sun. I covered a lot of college lacrosse in those years. I spent 12 years offi ciating the sport. Lacrosse was becoming my identity. Years ago, I went to Chapel Hill, N.C., to cover a Navy-North Carolina football game. That evening, I fl ew back to the Baltimore-Washington airport on the same plane with the offi cials who had worked the game. They told me they hadn’t had anything to do the night before the football game, so they were the guests of Tar Heel lacrosse coach Willie Scroggs at the team’s Blue-White scrimmage ending fall ball. It was the fi rst time any of them had seen lacrosse. They didn’t exactly go gaga over it. One of the refs said to me, “Willie told us everybody who plays this game knows everybody else who plays lacrosse. It doesn’t matter if a guy plays in Texas. They know him.” That was an exaggeration even then, but I knew what Willie was driving at. It was the culture thing again. Today, with 800,000 people playing lacrosse on organized teams, we can’t all know each other. But there’s something there. In the last 10 years or so, I drew closer to old friends Bob Scott, who died last summer, and to Dick Edell, the latter also known as Big Man. Scotty’s daughters mercifully took his car away from their badly failing but much loved father, so I became Scotty’s driver for numerous visits to the Edells’ home in Howard County. Big Man, the former Army and Maryland lacrosse coach, was stricken with a rare disease that deprived him of use of his arms and legs. He’s wheelchair-bound. He is also the most courageous man I know, never ever yielding to the negative. On one occasion there were fi ve National Lacrosse Hall of Fame coaches who were there just to visit Dick. Dom Starsia was there. So were Dave Urick and Jim Adams. Scotty and Edell are Hall of Famers. That day, as I left, Big Man looked up at me and said quietly, “I don’t think the football guys do this.” Once more, the culture thing. I’m 85 years old now and I have just retired from US Lacrosse after 21 years — and that was after 40 years at The Evening Sun. If you see me around now, you’re likely to see me with friends like Fred Eisenbrandt, Dick Watts, Tom Peace, Bob Miser or Bill Sbarra. They’re all lacrosse guys. We talk lacrosse more than any other subject, no matter who the president is.


Is lacrosse a game for guys who can’t hit a curveball? No. It’s a game for


fi nding the people who will end up being your friends for life. That’s part of the culture.


— BILL TANTON btanton@uslacrosse.org 30 US LACROSSE MAGAZINE May/June 2017 USlacrosse.org


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