When I was ten years old in 1931, well let's say getting back two years before that, I saw my first football game. It was against Yale, in October 1929, they dedicated Sanford Stadium — 30,000 fans in the stadium then. It holds 95,000 now. They had 18,000 seats on the north side and 12,000 on the south side, and everybody was talking about it. I was just eight years old, and everybody was talking about the big game, the big football game coming up. Well, I thought I could play in the game. I didn't know it was between two colleges. So I went down to the game, I told my daddy I wanted to be there, and he got Charley Martin to pass me in, Charley Martin was the business manager, and he passed me through the gate and I had walked from home, in those days everybody walked everywhere, there wasn't any automobiles, and I was dressed up in my football uniform. I had got it for a Christmas present. And Charley Martin passed me in the gate, and I said "where's my daddy?"And he was in the press box, and he wasn't a sports writer, but it was such a big deal, the governors of all nine southern states were there in ceremonies before the game. And I ran down to the press box and I found my daddy, and said "Daddy! They've already chosen sides! " I was so disappointed.
You didn't get to play.
I didn't get to play. But he said, "Yeah, you can go on down there, on the sideline." There is a little sidewalk around the field, you know, and that's where I watched the game from. I didn't know anything about the game, but my biggest memory of the game was the Yale band was really fancy. The Georgia band was, the boys were just dressed in old military uniforms and they were nothing like the great Georgia band now today. But Yale had a crack band and they had on white helmets and blue coats, and they played a song that everybody, when they played this tune, everybody in the grandstand stood up and cheered, and I asked my daddy later on, what was that song? It was "Dixie". They made a lot of friends playing "Dixie".
They did. Talk to us a little bit, I had read it somewhere, that you were a bat boy and the manager of the tennis courts.
Well, as I say, I grew up on the Georgia campus. I used to cut the grass in the field. I even cut the grass with a push mower in Sanford Stadium as a boy. I wasn't the head, though, there was a little fellow named Tom, and on hot days he'd get tired, and I'd say "Tom", in fact his name was Uncle Tom, and he was an old fellow, and I'd say "I'll cut the grass. You can just sit down here in the shade" so as a boy, I used to do all that. I was an All-American flunkie. And I grew up, I started off chasing foul balls. The baseball park then was at the bottom of Lumpkin Street and it was a big sport. Have I already told the story for you?
No, so you go ahead and tell it, tell it again.
Eventually I worked my way up to bat boy, and I had the most famous person, one of the most famous people in history at the University of Georgia teaching me how to stack the bats. It was Clegg Stark, the famous water boy. I want to talk at length on Clegg later on, because he grew up on the Georgia campus. He was President (David) Barrow's cook's son, and he lived in their home on the campus, but anyway that's another story. But, baseball was a big sport in those days. The merchants closed the stores at 12:00 noon, and the band would assemble in front of our Arch and march all the way to the…Sanford Field it was called, Sanford Field at the bottom of Lumpkin, and I really was on the payroll at the University of Georgia at that time. It was 1931 or 1932, and I was ten or eleven years old, and the coach was old Bill White, and he told me he wanted me to clean up under the grandstand after every game. He said he had no money to pay me. It was just two years after the great Depression. The stock market blew up in 1929, and he said, "You can keep all the money you find". And I found a lot of Indian Head pennies, which I still have. And one day, I found a silver coin, and I went up to Coach White, and said "Coach White, what is this?"He said "It's yours. That's a silver dollar." I had never seen one. I showed it to my dad, and he made me go down to College Avenue at the bank where Howard McWhorter was manager, he was the younger brother of the great Bob McWhorter, and I started a bank account. But I don't know what happened to that dollar, I think my dad had to spend it for food for us.
Talk about your days, I know the tennis…I had read that you were manager of the tennis courts after that.
Well, I did all kinds of flunkie jobs, and in high school I hung around the tennis courts and my senior year in high school when I was going to be a freshman at Georgia the next year, Johnny Broadnax actually was the business manager of the athletic department, and he told me he wanted me to look after the courts in the summer time. And he said that he had no money to pay me. We were still in the depression years, but that I could charge ten cents for anybody playing. Students, faculty, townsfolk, anybody, but I had to manage the courts. I had to ride my bicycle down in the morning, water them, drag them, and roll them, and line them off with wet lime then, and that's how I got interested in tennis. And we used to have a city tournament, a northeast Georgia tournament, and I wanted to have a bigger tournament, bigger than the name, than northeast Georgia. So I didn't give the name, my father gave it the name, the Crackerland. So the Crackerland tennis tournament began in 1939 and later on after the war, when I returned to Athens, it grew into one of the biggest tournaments ever held. When I retired as the director of tennis at Georgia in 1994, I thought they'd continue it, but it wasn't continued. I did it just for the fun of it, and anybody carrying on that type tournament…there's a lot of work for nothing.
Tell us a little bit, I know, I had heard a story, and maybe you told it one time, Coach, and this maybe was after you were in college, but you were a member of an on-field crew during a football game, I think you were holding a down marker?