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My Conversations With Two Fraternity Brothers Before They Died

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2024 3:03 am

My Conversations With Two Fraternity Brothers Before They Died

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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March 8, 2024 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick tells the story of two college friendships that would impact him for the rest of his life.

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Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb

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Not obligations of Navy Federal and may lose value. And we continue with our American stories and with a story about college friendships and how they can impact the rest of our lives. Today, Ken Kendrick is best known as the principal owner of the Arizona Diamondback.

Here's Ken on one of the most impactful periods of his entire life. In those days in the early 60s, Playboy magazine had this famous issue that they came out with that the center point of it, aside from the Playmate, was the top 20 party schools in the United States. So, they listed all 20 schools. And when we all saw that, we noted that West Virginia was not included. And we were shocked. At the bottom of the article, they put an asterisk and said, we didn't think it fair to include West Virginia University in the above list because we didn't want to compare professionals with amateurs. So, we were considered ineligible for the college list because we were considered as professionals by the Playboy rating system of the best party schools.

I can attest that they were accurate. But the fraternity stories, I could go on for hours because it was the time when I met some of the more important people in my life, both then, of course, but for forever. Really, the guy of all that was my most close colleague, roommate from that group was Al Cauley. And he was from New Jersey, and he spoke very rapidly. And his nickname was Ack Ack, like the machine gun. Sadly for Al, he had a genetic disease inherited from his father, a deadly disease called amyloidosis. And it is a gene that we all have in our body.

And when it acts improperly, as it did in his body, it attacks organs and kills the other organs where that gene has attacked. And he knew that he might get it because his dad had died of it. And he came to visit us once, never forget this.

Yeah, we're having our usual fun time here visiting. And he said, well, I need to visit with you privately. And so he gets me aside. And he says, well, Ken, he says, I have to tell you, sadly, I've contracted my dad's disease. And I said, oh man, that's really sad.

He says, yeah. He says, I think I only have about two years to live. And I said, oh, Al, isn't there anything at all that can be done? He said, well, not really. He said, the only thing that could be done would be organ transplant. And he said, I'm not doing that. And I said, you're not doing it if it could save your life? He said, no. Look, I've lived a very good life.

He's in his late 50s at this point. I've lived a very good life. I dodged all the bullets in Vietnam. It's my time. And I said, and you've shared this with your family. He says, well, the only people who know are my wife and children. And I've told them that I'm not going to undergo this organ transplant. And I said, Al, you're a selfish son of a... And he just was shocked. I said, you may not care that much about yourself, but a lot of other people do.

And you owe it to those people who care about you to give everything you can to keeping your life going. And he kind of rumped. He was a real hard hitched guy and didn't respond. And, you know, visit ended. They left. A couple of weeks later, he called up and he said, well, you were right.

I'm going to have to do that. And he did. And he was the first ever, and there was national, made national news, the first ever triple organ transplant in the United States done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He had it done. He lived 10 more years. So it extended his life. And, you know, I played a small role in it.

Obviously, I didn't suffer any pain or hardship, but it was just one of those memories of a lifetime with somebody you cared about. And I'll remember he and I had invited him, the first Super Bowl that was ever played in Arizona, I invited him to come and be my guest. And the second Super Bowl that was played in Arizona was when the Patriots and Giants played the famous game where the Patriots were undefeated. And the other game had been 20 some years in the past.

It was the Steelers and the Cowboys game, Super Bowl 30. And Al had been my guest. And the day before the giant Patriot Super Bowl, I get a call from his wife and she said, look, you know, Al's in hospice care and he wants to talk to you. And so we get on the phone and, you know, we're sharing, you know, stories and, and he and I always had this, can you top this?

Can you get the other guy kind of relationship? And I said, boy, Al, I wish you were here to go to the Super Bowl tomorrow. The Super Bowl we went to is one of those great times that we had together. And he said, oh yeah. And he said, do you remember who played? And I said, yeah, it was the Cowboys and the Steelers. And I say, do you remember who won?

And he said, yeah, it was the Steelers. And so we went through these back and forth questions. Now this guy is, as it turns out, the end of the story, we'll tell the story, the ultimate story, we get down to each guy is able to answer the other guy's questions.

And we always would get to, somebody would win by stumping the other guy. So the last question he asked me that I couldn't answer was after I had asked him who the halftime performer was, the answer he gave was Diana Ross, which was correct. And he said, what significant happened to her during her performance? And I couldn't remember. And his last words to me were, well, when you figure it out, call me back and hung up.

And I didn't figure it out at the time. The next day I go to the Super Bowl. And after the Super Bowl, I get a call from his wife that he had passed away. And I later figured it out that Diana Ross had been planned, she was going to land in a helicopter in the middle of the football field and it was too windy.

So they had to land outside the stadium and bring her in in a golf cart. And that was the answer. And just so that I came out ahead, when I was one of the speakers at his memorial service, I gave the answer. So I got the last word on my friend, Big Al. And he was one of those legendary figures in my life that I love as much as you can another as much as you can another guy.

I lost another fraternity brother. Recently, his name was Tom Longmire. He was referred to as Longs, as might be expected, his last name. And Longs was a character. He was one of those, he was a glue character, meaning he kept everybody together.

I have this ranch here called Bumble Bee Ranch. And he organized a group of guys to come out here and spend time in baseball spring training and going to the ranch and so on. But he was the guy that put groups of guys together. And sadly, he passed away, unfortunately, with brain cancer. And my very last conversation with him turned out to be not unlike the one with Al. He was also in hospice care.

I get a text from him and I remember it vividly. And it was the it was the last basketball game of the basketball season. And West Virginia was playing Baylor in basketball. And we were all lifetime Mountaineer fans and Baylor was top five team.

West Virginia was decent this past season, but not great. And the morning of that game in March, I get a text. And it's from him.

And it says, bet 50 on Baylor and bet 50 on Marquette. And that's all it said. And I saw it was from him. And I thought, what the hell is this? So I call.

Well, he's in hospice care. His sister answers the phone. And I said to her, I said, I got this text from Tom.

What the hell is this about? And she says, here, I'll put him on. And he and my nickname was and he never didn't ever call me by my nickname from college days. My nickname was Keg. In any event, he says, hey, Keg, boy, I didn't mean to send that to you. That was meant for my bookie. I said, well, Longs, you know, I note you're betting against the Mountaineers.

I don't think your buddies would want to know that. He says, oh, oh, you don't understand. He says, I never win. He says, if I bet against them, they'll win the game. I said, sure, I get it. And we talked a little bit. And that was the last conversation we ever had. I hang up the phone, the game is played, and West Virginia wins the game. So two of my lifelong friends from those days, you know, with kind of these unusual parting shots that occurred when these guys are on their deathbeds, basically, you know, engaging with me and what turned out to be the lifelong banter that you have with people that you shared those days with. You know, when you're a young person and nobody had any money to amount to anything, you just had a life ahead of you and a lot of things to learn and a lot of things to enjoy together. And we really did.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-08 04:59:26 / 2024-03-08 05:04:59 / 6

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