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EP265: Emma McCormick Sails Away, Real-Life John Wayne and Rhett Butler and The Scout Never Called: Growing Up in Competitive Sports

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2022 3:05 am

EP265: Emma McCormick Sails Away, Real-Life John Wayne and Rhett Butler and The Scout Never Called: Growing Up in Competitive Sports

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 15, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Emma McCormick was told she'd be working remotely in 2020, so she decided to live on a sailboat in Florida. Roger McGrath and William Yancey from Texas A&M University, Kingsville bring us the story of Richard King and the cattle kings of the Old West who carved empires out of the wilderness. Roger Rench shares with us some memories of his time playing various competitive sports throughout his life that are sure to put a smile on your face.

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Time Codes:

00:00 - Emma McCormick Sails Away

10:00 - Real-Life John Wayne and Rhett Butler

35:00 - The Scout Never Called: Growing Up in Competitive Sports

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This is Jem and Em from In Our Own World Podcast. My coutura podcast network and Coca-Cola celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with incredible content creators like Patty Rodriguez. I was born in East LA and I remember growing up there was a small little shack in the apartment we lived at and I would make that shack into a television studio and there I would play pretend. I would pretend that I was a news reporter and that's how I would spend most of my afternoons pretending and imagining that one day I would be able to tell our own stories. Listen to Out of the Shadows hosted by Patty Rodriguez and Eric Galindo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by Coca-Cola, proud sponsor of the MyCultura Podcast Network.

Hispanic Heritage is magic. So you're in the garage working on your car and you need the valves you bought last week. You look in the cabinets and on the shelves but the parts are never in the right place. eBay Motors has the car parts you need, over 122 million of them all in one place and all at the right prices.

Find parts for everything from your classic coupe to your brand new truck at Let's ride. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and United Healthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

If you're working past age 65 you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing but it doesn't have to be. Visit to learn more. United Healthcare, helping people live healthier lives. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories and we tell stories about everything here on this show from the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between including your stories send them to our Up next a story from Emma McCormick. Emma is a Hillsdale graduate who decided to live somewhere interesting after graduating college because in her words she's a person who loves adventure and doing something new. Here's our own Monty Montgomery himself a Hillsdale graduate with a story. The allure of the sea.

It's hard not to deny it when it comes beckoning. If you've ever so much as looked at a boat it's hard not to imagine what it'd be like to own one. One person who decided to make those dreams into reality is Emma McCormick who did it on a whim of course. Well my name is Emma and I'm a financial analyst at General Motors. Right now I'm a sailor.

I grew up in Idaho. I like never even noticed sailboats didn't know anything about it and then after college when I moved to Detroit I was new to the city. I didn't know anybody and I was out for a run one day and I saw a poster that said free no experience necessary learn to sail. It's like that sounds perfect. It sounds like so much fun and so I just showed up and it was at a yacht club that had a race series and they would take new people and just put you on a boat.

I did some training and learning with them over the winter and then sailed with them and every regatta I could. But in 2020 Emma was told she'd be working remotely and decided to make the most of it. If she could work remotely she could live remotely too.

But what to live in was the question she had to answer. I thought about a sailboat for a fleeting second but then I kind of doubted myself. I was like I probably can't do that by myself. So then I thought about a van and then I was talking to a sailing friend and we were talking about the possibilities of doing that but that was also pretty far fetched.

But then I was like well you know I could probably just do this by myself. I don't know it just seemed like more fun and sailing is a lot more fun than driving and it all came together really at the last minute. I cancelled my lease before I had even officially bought a boat. The second hardest part about owning a boat is finding one to buy. Obviously the first hardest part is maintaining the boat.

All of them are going to have something wrong with them. I spent almost two full months searching just looking into different types of boats but I ended up finding this boat. I found it was listed on craigslist and the man who was selling it was 92 and he actually only bought the boat when he was 88. And with the boat bought she did what so many other people from the midwest do when spring rolls around.

She went to Florida but what's her house like? So it's 25 feet long. It's about eight and a half feet wide. The head room is actually about four feet nine inches which means I can't stand up in my boat. Technically four people could sleep on this boat.

We've actually slept five for a few nights in a row. I had actually never slept on a boat until I bought this. I have a little galley or kitchen with a two burner alcohol stove. It's like your living room, your dining room, there's storage behind them. So yeah I'm generally a pretty tidy person to begin with. I like things to be organized which I think is good because living on a boat in such a small space where your living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, it's all it's all the same.

If you leave something sitting out the whole place looks like a mess. So I think you just need to be prepared to put a lot of work into it. I mean there's definitely people who live on boats here who put zero work into it and their boats reflect that but if you want to live somewhere nice like you got to maintain it. I think just be prepared for work.

Be prepared for things to take longer than you expect and cost more than you expect. But to move down here definitely simplified things a lot down to like one pot and one pan and a handful of shirts. So what's living in a marina like and who are the kinds of people who spend time there? Unsurprisingly they're a very eclectic group of people who certainly like to talk to Emma. The sailing community, the boating community, everyone is so kind and so excited and they especially if you're younger. Being around the marina like I can hardly go to the bathroom because there's bathrooms and showers and laundry and everything in the entrance lounge area to the marina. So I can hardly walk there without talking to somebody because there's always people out and about and there's always interesting people and it probably depends on where you are. Like I'm in the marina here so maybe a little bit different clientele than people who just anchor in some random bayou but I do love hearing people's stories and what brings them here.

Like one of my friends like broke up with his girlfriend and so he's just like wanted to move to a new state do something different and it's like it's a fun life. There's there's several families with young kids and they have day jobs. I think one family I'm thinking of the wife's the doctor, the husband runs a sail rigging company and they've got their whole family lives on their catamaran. But have any of her friends from up north come to visit?

Of course of course they have. That's funny I told all my friends hey I'm in Florida I have a boat it's warm and sunny come visit and I wasn't sure how many people would actually jump on that and buy a plane ticket and come down but everyone I've told about it has. I have guests basically every weekend which is a ton of fun.

Most of them have never been on sailboats and so they love my boat until I show them a friend's boat that's bigger but they're no they're impressed. And just a delightful piece and a special thanks to Monty Montgomery for snagging it and a special thanks to Emma McCormick for telling her story. She had some time to do remote work and she did what so many Americans do she pursued her own version of the American dream and decided to live on a sailboat in a beautiful marina in a beautiful part of the country where it was nice and warm. The story of Emma McCormick sailing away while doing her work here on Our American Stories. Folks if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past know that all of our stories about American history from war to politics to innovation culture and faith are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College. A place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life and if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to to learn more. And we continue here on Our American Stories and our next story is about an American legend named Richard King. King's legacy can be seen on every tailgate and door of Ford's upscale F-Series trucks.

The logo reads King Ranch. Here to tell the story of Richard King is Roger McGrath, author of Gunfighters, Heilman, and Vigilantes. A former U.S. Marine and former history professor at UCLA, Dr. McGrath has appeared on numerous History Channel documentaries and is a regular contributor to Our American Stories.

Here's Roger McGrath. The cattle kings of the Old West carved empires out of the wilderness. They were larger than life characters, bold, daring, intelligent, courageous, tough.

They had great strength of character and iron wills. No cattle king exhibited these characteristics more than Richard King. Born in New York City to Irish immigrant parents in 1824, Richard King is only three years old when his parents die and he is left in the care of an ant. At nine years old, he is apprenticed to a jeweler.

The jeweler works him hard six days a week. On his day off, the young boy walks down to the docks of Manhattan and watches the ships come and go. He dreams of climbing aboard a ship and sailing off. At 12 years old, he does just that.

Here's William Yancy, historian at Texas A&M University, Kingsville. He ran away to the docks in New York City and he snuck on board an ocean-going ship called the Desdemona and he hid out in the hold of that ship for about two weeks just scrounging whatever food he could get his hands on. After two weeks, some sailors found him in the hold of that ship and at this point, the ship was already well out to sea. So they grabbed him, brought him up to the captain. The captain asked him the question, what is your name, boy?

And he immediately answered, my name is Richard King and you can either throw me overboard or put me to work, but I'm not going back. The captain seemed to be impressed by this young man's attitude, so he put him to work. For the next several years, King works in a variety of capacities on several different ships. He demonstrates such intelligence, talent, and leadership that two different ship captains school him in navigation in command of a ship.

By the time he is 16, he has a pilot's license and knows the gulf coast and the rivers of the cotton kingdom like the back of his hand. In 1842, King lists for service in the seminal war in Florida. It is during his seminal war service that he meets Mifflin Kennedy, another ship's officer. King and Kennedy will become lifelong friends. Kennedy had been born in Pennsylvania and like King, had first gone to sea as a cabin boy and worked his way up to become a ship's pilot. By 1843, Richard King has grown and matured.

The 19 year old is square jawed, well muscled, and tall for the times at five feet 11 inches. When provoked, he can turn the air purple with profanity. That makes his friendship with a soft-spoken Quaker, Mifflin Kennedy, something of a surprise. In 1847, Richard King enlists for a second war, taking command of the ship Colonel Cross and rises to rank up captain in the US Navy during the Mexican War. King serves for the war's duration, transporting troops and supplies. He becomes intimately familiar with the Texas and Mexican coasts and with the Rio Grande River. It is during his service in the Mexican War that King recognizes steamship service would revolutionize the commerce of South Texas, especially the Rio Grande Valley. When the war ends, he buys this ship. He commands as war surplus and is often steaming.

King soon forms a partnership with his old friend, Mifflin Kennedy. By the mid 1850s, their company is operating more than two dozen ships. And thanks in part to their low rates, they're monopolizing shipping on the Rio Grande River.

They will continue in this preeminent position for more than two decades. Here again is William Yancey. In 1850, Captain King had been on a steamboat run to Rio Grande City and back. He'd had a rough couple of days. He'd had problems with his sailors. He'd had problems with the engines on his steamboats.

The final straw was when he got back to Brownsville. He went to moor his steamboat in the slip where he normally kept it. And somebody already had a boat there. Today, there was a steamboat in this slip. Now everybody in Brownsville knew not to park their steamboats there because that was Richard King's slip.

But today there's a steamboat there. Well, this sent him over the edge. He starts cursing a blue streak, had to go down the river a little ways, found an empty slip to moor his boat. And he starts walking back towards this houseboat. And he's about to give the occupant of this houseboat a piece of his mind. Well, he never got a chance to do that. There was a young lady on the houseboat who had heard him and she decided to confront him first.

And the two walked towards each other. And this young lady says, essentially, who do you think you are using language like that? This is my father's houseboat.

He has just as much right to be here as you do. Why don't you spend less time making a fool of yourself and more time washing your filthy boat? And at that Richard King didn't really have a response.

He's not someone who was left speechless very often, but this time he was left speechless. He turned around and he walked back to his boat. And then he and his sailor spent the rest of the afternoon washing that boat.

Over the next several days, he couldn't get this young lady out of his mind. So he's going to go to his best friend and business partner, Mifflin Kennedy. So he goes to Kennedy and asks him, who's the young lady whose father's houseboat's parked in my slip? And Kennedy says, well, that's Ms. Henrietta Chamberlain. Her father's the new Presbyterian minister in town.

Kennedy said, there's only one way you're going to get to meet her. And that's if you start going to church with her. Well, over the next several weeks and months, he becomes a very faithful Presbyterian.

He is there every time the doors of the church are open. And to make a long story short, he'll begin a four year courtship of Ms. Henrietta. But eventually the two of them will be married in 1854 there in Brownsville. Her father performed the ceremony.

The ceremony was at their church. King takes risks when those with fainter hearts shy away. He steams sections of the Rio Grande where others think it impossible to go.

He designed ships specifically for the fast currents and narrow bends of the river, enabling him to reach destinations previously considered impossibly remote. While dominating trade on the Rio Grande, King recognizes that much of the land of southwestern Texas would not support farming, but would be good for cattle. As a result, he begins to buy property, including the 53,000 acre Santa Gertrudis Grant.

He pays $1,800 for the grant, fought by many to be near worthless because recurrent droughts leave much of the area a wasteland. In 1854, Captain Richard King is going to find some help for his cattle operation from an unlikely source. During the 1850s, he made several trips to Mexico to buy cattle to stock his ranch with.

Now one particular occasion, he went to a village called Cruias, which was in the state of Tamaulipas, maybe 100 miles southwest of Matamoros. This village at the time was well known for its cattle herds and for its vaqueros or cowboys, but they were in the middle of a three year drought. All the grass was dead.

There wasn't any water. The cattle were dying. So Richard King goes there and he makes a pitch to the villagers because they own the herd in common. And he basically said to them, why don't you sell me your entire herd?

And the villagers said, here's what we're willing to do. We're willing to sell you the entire herd. If you'll take as many of us as want to go back to your ranch and we'll work that herd for you. Well, that's a no brainer, isn't it?

He needs help. They need cattle to work. So about a hundred villagers are going to come back to the ranch in Texas with Captain King at that point. They become the first vaqueros or cowboys on the ranch. And over time, they take a lot of pride in working for Captain King. They start to call themselves kinenos, which roughly translated means King's men or King's people. Whenever he can, King buys more land. His philosophy is simple, buy land and never sell.

And when we come back, we continue the story of Richard King here on Our American Stories. Soon, millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit to learn more. United Healthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. iHeartRadio and the Black Effect Podcast Network are sponsored by Better Help Online Therapy. Better Help Online Therapy, a more convenient, affordable, and accessible way to try therapy. I'm Debbie Brown, host of the Dropping Gems Podcast, a podcast about the depth and potential of personal growth and the human spirit, all in service to our liberation and internal peace.

Go to forward slash black effect for 10% off your first month. And we return to our American stories and the remarkable story of Cattle King, Richard King. Let's continue where we last left off. During the Civil War, Texas, seized from the Union, joins the Confederacy. Within months, the U.S. Navy effectively blockades the Gulf Coast, cutting off the South's greatest source of income, cotton exports. In these dire circumstances, King becomes one of the Confederacy's heroes, a blockade runner. He is so successful that he becomes a legend.

It doesn't hurt that he is handsome and well built. He becomes a real life Rhett Butler. Union forces raid the King Ranch late in 1863 and loot and burn everything they can. However, their principal target, Richard King, escapes. And when the Confederates retake South Texas in 1864, King is back in business. With the Confederates surrendered in April 1865, though, King slips into Mexico. King's story might have ended right there, but late in 1865, he secures a pardon from President Andrew Johnson and resumes all of his former activities. Here again is William Yancey, historian at Texas A&M University, Kingsville. Now it's not until 1867 before he really starts to reestablish his full-time cattle operation.

And that just goes to show what good sense of timing the man had. Because around 1867, they're starting to develop a huge market for beef in the Northeast. As the Northeast becomes more industrialized, people are moving into cities, so they're not raising and growing their own food.

You also have a large influx of immigrants from Europe. There is a need for beef. And Richard King becomes one of the first South Texas ranchers to realize that you can make quite a bit of money supplying that need. Now, at the time, there aren't very many railroads in Texas. So in order to get the beef to where it is needed, you have to walk them to where the railroads were. And that meant cattle drives. Richard King will become one of the first South Texas ranchers to drive cattle, specifically the Texas Longhorn, from his ranch in South Texas to railheads, first in Missouri and then later in Kansas. At the time, you could purchase Longhorns for between $2 to $4 a head in South Texas, sell them for around $20 a head in Fort Worth, maybe even as high as $40 by the time you got to Kansas.

And Captain King was able to make a considerable amount of money doing this. Eventually, Longhorns, however, are going to fall out of favor in Northeastern markets. The problem with Longhorns is their beef is very tough and stringy. And eventually, as railroads start to penetrate more of the country, it's easier for ranchers in other areas to raise better tasting breeds of beef, load them onto railroad cars, and ship them to slaughterhouses in Chicago for movement on to the east. In 1869, he leads his first herd north on the Long Drive. For King, coming from his ranch in the extreme Southwestern region of Texas, the drive to the Kansas railheads is more than 1,200 miles. Despite the length of the drive and losses to stampede, swollen streams, and Indians, King makes enormous profits. From 1869 through 1884, King sends well more than 100,000 head of cattle to the Texas railheads in Kansas or to ranges of the Northern High Plains. He continues to plow his profit back into cattle and land until he has hundreds of thousands of acres and tens of thousands of cattle.

If Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind is a Richard King-like character during the Civil War, then Tom Dunson is a Richard King-like character in Red River. King's great cattle operation is not without problems, which include regular cross-border raids by Mexican bandidos such as Juan Cortina and Juan Flores. In three years, King loses 33,000 head of cattle.

He asks the state for help, but the governor refuses. In 1867, King begins to fence his huge ranch. At first, his crews put up wooden fences. After Bob Wire appears in 1874, the work goes faster.

In 1883 alone, the ranch uses 190,000 pounds of Bob Wire. During the mid-1870s, King wages a personal war with Flores in his bandidos. Entirely at his own expense, King supplies Captain Lee McNally and his company of Texas Rangers with horses, food, and the latest Winchester rifles for pursuit of the bandidos.

McNally is spectacularly successful, but not without controversy. He not only pursues the Mexican bandits through Texas, but right into Mexico. In Mexico, he destroys several bandido sanctuaries and defeats a Mexican army. While the U.S. government is apoplectic over McNally's border crossing, Richard King couldn't be happier. By the time of his death in 1885, King has increased the size of his ranch to 614,000 acres, and those are acres he actually owns rather than leases from the government. Following his instructions to buy land and never sell, his son-in-law, Robert Clayburg, adds more acreage to the ranch until, by the 1890s, the King Ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island. Like the eastern industrial barons, King tries to control all businesses related to his ranching operation. He invests in railroads, feedlots, packing houses, ice plants, harbors, and ships.

King, in many ways, is a king. To improve his longhorns, King brings in Durham bulls from Kentucky. His goal is to produce a steer with a longhorn's toughness and a Durham's bulk.

Here again is Professor Yancey. In 1940, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would recognize the Santa Gertrudis breed as the first breed of beef cattle produced in the western U.S. hemisphere, and really the first anywhere in the world in over a hundred years. In pursuing his dream, Richard King invents modern ranching. Farmers before him tended to raise cattle as a sideline. In the cities, fresh meat was a luxury few could afford. The King Ranch turns ranching into a big business.

It also helps turn Americans into a nation of beef eaters. Richard King is a colorful character whose violent temper and wild, rough-hewn nature never diminish with age. King gets in several fights in his lifetime and seems to enjoy them. On one occasion, a big, angry cowboy exclaims to King that if he were not Captain King, the great cattle baron, he would not be able to get away with the price of the cattle. King says, the great cattle baron, he would not be able to get away with the profane remarks that he just made. King is no longer a young man, but the old cattle man explodes.

Damn you. Forget the riches and the captain title and let's fight. And fight they do. It is one of the best fights anybody can recall. A cowboy and the captain pummel each other with vicious blows for half an hour.

Then, bloody and arm-weary, they shake hands. Thereafter, the cowboy says he will stand back-to-back with King anywhere and anytime. We tend to think of Hollywood's portrayals of the cattle kings of the Old West as exaggerated. Actually, a close look at Richard King demonstrates that such a classic Western as Red River and John Wayne's character of Tom Dunson told a tale no taller than the facts of the real life of Richard King. And great job to Greg Hengler and special thanks as always to Roger McGrath, author of Gunfighters, Highwaymen and Vigilantes, and also a special shout out to William Yancey, historian at Texas A&M University, Kingsville.

Richard King's story here on Our American Stories. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. iHeartRadio and the Black Effect Podcast Network are sponsored by BetterHelp Online Therapy. BetterHelp Online Therapy, a more convenient, affordable, and accessible way to try therapy. I'm Debbie Brown, host of the Dropping Gems Podcast, a podcast about the depth and potential of personal growth and the human spirit, all in service to our liberation and internal peace.

Go to forward slash Black Effect for 10% off your first month. And we return to Our American Stories. Up next, we'll hear from our regular contributor and contributor in Iowa, Roger Rensch. He's here to share with us some memories about his time in competitive sports, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Take it away, Roger. I think it was around fifth or sixth grade when my interest in sports began, and that interest would grow into a lifelong love. Before that, I was a chubby, clumsy kid, not very fast or strong.

And in the summer, between sixth and seventh grade, I shot up six inches to six feet tall, thinned out, and got pretty strong and coordinated. I went to Grace Lutheran School, and we had a great sports program and a network of Lutheran schools in Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. I played flag football and basketball, and I was the star center on our team.

I also liked baseball. In the summer after seventh grade, my mom signed me up for Little League. At our first practice, I didn't recognize a single face. Not only was I the new kid, but the rest of them had played together for years.

The coaches had coached them since they were little. I was a rookie on a team of experienced stars. The next summer, I played in a different league on a team with friends from my school, and I had the opportunity to shine as one of our two starting pitchers. I had never pitched before, but I had this wicked curve ball that couldn't be hit.

It moved about a foot, and as the batters would see it coming at them, they'd back up off the plate, afraid to get hit. Then it would curve back over the plate, often for a strike, and I got dozens of strikeouts that summer. And it felt great to be a star again and be able to show what I could do. In ninth grade, things changed as I went to public school for the first time. I went from a small private school with about eight kids in my class to West Junior High, where I had hundreds of classmates. And when it came to sports, I was in the big leagues now, with a lot more competition and bigger, faster, and stronger athletes.

First came football. I wasn't very fast, but I could catch anything thrown near me. I was tall at six foot two, so they put me at tight end. I was also the punter and could kick at a good 40 yards pretty consistently.

And I have two standout memories from that season. The first happened in practice one day, and I must have dropped a pass, flubbed a pun, or did something else to upset the coach, because we had this drill where one guy would line up against two other guys and try to fight his way through. Coach called my name, and then he called the names of the two biggest and meanest guys on our team to double team me. Charles was the toughest guy on our team and could not the snot out of people.

And James was our biggest, heaviest guy. And I knew I was gonna get killed. So I did what any scared, skinny string bean would do in that situation and got creative. When we lined up and coach blew the whistle, I dove straight down to the ground in the space between them and tried to crawl through. Now, when we did this drill, the whole team was watching. And boy, did I earn the comedy laughs for my efforts.

The coach even enjoyed the entertainment. But unfortunately, he made me do it again and face my fear. And this time, Charles and James were licking their chops to get to me.

I prepared for launch. And sure enough, when they hit me, I went flying in the air about 10 yards straight back. I think I still have a bruise of my behind today from that hit. But you know, I have to thank my coach because I figured if I could survive that hit from those two monsters, I didn't have to be afraid of anything on the field.

My other memory was in a game where we were playing a team that was beating us bad. We were backed up to our own 10-yard line, and it was fourth down. Time to punt again for about the sixth or seventh time that game. So I came out to punt and I'm standing right on the end zone line. James was lined up behind the line of scrimmage to block anyone who would try to get through and block the punt. They hiked me the ball, and as I stepped forward to kick it, James is backing up. And I kicked the ball right into his backside.

It bounces back into the end zone, and the other team recovers it for a touchdown. Despite that moment, I really enjoyed my first season of tackle football, and it prepared me for the basketball season where I tried out, made the team, and played with some of my football teammates. My basketball experience was quite different. We had 11 guys on the team and they were all good.

I was the 11th guy, the odd man out. So at practice where we went five on five, I didn't even get enough court time to learn the plays. We were good and won the city championship, so I did get to play in a few games where we had a big lead.

But every day I mostly just sat there watching at practice. I felt left out and I didn't think the coach liked me. In the middle of the season, I made one of the worst decisions of my life. I quit. I didn't go to practice and I didn't go talk to the coach.

I just didn't show up. I let my teammates down, I let my coach down, and I let myself down. Quitting like that felt horrible, way worse than any feeling of being left out. But I did it and I learned from it. I made a decision later never to quit anything just because it wasn't going my way.

That decision has served me well. In high school, I expanded my sports repertoire. I played football for a couple years and that led to testing out another sport. The first day of football practice, our coach made his run a full mile into high heat and humidity.

It was about 100 degrees. By the end of the first lap, several of our speedy players passed me and were way ahead. But as the run went on, I passed them all back and ended up finishing first, about a half lap ahead of the next guy. That raised some eyebrows among my teammates and also my coaches.

And one of them said to me, that's impressive. You should try out for the cross country team. So the next school year, I did just that. I ran well and made varsity. But in practice, after we'd go out and run several miles, which I loved, our coach made us go over to the track and run quarter and half miles, several of them again and again. And I hated it. I couldn't see any point to it since we're running a three mile race in competition.

I completely lost interest. And before the season started, I talked to the coach and told him, thanks, but no thanks. However, I loved long distance running and kept doing it each day on my own.

And 44 years later, I'm still doing it every day. In 1980, I went to St. John's College in Winfield, Kansas, a small school with only about 300 students. At St. John's, I played baseball my junior year. We only had one catcher. So in practice, I started warming up our pitchers and ended up becoming our backup.

My shining moment came when we traveled to Atchison, Kansas, for a weekend baseball tournament hosted by Benedictine College. The first night, our starting catcher went out and had a little too much fun missing the curfew. So our coach sat him on the bench for the next game. And guess who got the start at catcher?

I didn't expect that and was a little nervous, but I was also excited. Now that game was against the host team, Benedictine. And on their team were a few of my teammates from that first little league team I played on in Kansas City. Also in the audience that day was a pro scout checking out the small college talent. So the game started and it was pretty close.

I didn't do anything spectacular, but did my job okay. Until about the fourth inning when the ball was popped up. Now, you know how when a ball is popped up, the catcher will throw off his face mask, look up to try to find the ball and then run over to catch it? Well, I threw off my mask and then with my other hand, I threw off my catcher's mitt too.

A few seconds later, the razzing started. First, from a few of my friends on the other team who knew my name and were shouting it out of their dugout along with their jokes. Then one of my own teammates brought down the house when he shouted for everyone to hear, hey, Raj, next time throw the shin guards. Both dugouts erupted in laughter. It was embarrassing, but I had to laugh too. So slowly picked up my face mask and my glove, looked over at their dugout and then ours, then bowed before my audience.

Some of them even stood and cheered. Needless to say, I never got a call from that pro scout. Despite blowing my opportunity to get called up for spring training, sports and athletics have always been a big part of my life. Along with running, I bike ride every day and lift weights two or three times a week. I always wanted to stay in shape to keep up with my kids. And I played all kinds of games and sports with them growing up.

And now it's my grandkids turn. In my lifetime, I've played many sports and games. I've experienced both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat along with a few humorous and embarrassing moments. Sports has helped me make friends, learn teamwork and kept me in good physical shape. I'll keep running and playing as best as I can for as long as I can. And if I die doing it, it will be with a big smile on my face. And a great job on the production by Madison and a special thanks to Roger Wrench, reminding us why we play sports and it's for the fun.

It's for the bonding. In high school, I was a captain of my basketball team. We had a good team and I wasn't paying attention. We won the tip. I got the ball, raced for an easy layup in the other guy's basket. Two points for the other team. Wrong way Habib was my name for the next two years.

Roger Wrench's story here on Our American Stories. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

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It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture, and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in.

Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. This is the start of a new era. We have an opportunity to build a better future for all of us. We have an opportunity to build a better future for everyone. Combining the best of humanity in the technology, we will unleash our imagination. Everything that can be connected will be connected. We as an industry must dare to dream. So we find ourselves at a critical juncture in human history. See, touch, and experience the very latest in technology. September 28th through the 30th.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 12:47:58 / 2023-02-15 13:03:50 / 16

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