Lorah and Karl don’t send thoughts and prayers, they send themselves

Players from 40 years back can’t break into hospital to see coach
June 16, 2020

Prayers and players - Some people send thoughts and prayers, while others send themselves. Billy Lorah and Ralphy Karl, members of Cape’s 1979 state championship football team coached by Jim Alderman, headed to Florida Friday afternoon with six Nic-o-bolis on dry ice to see coach Jim, who is in the hospital in St. Petersburg. There was an understanding that Jim could receive visitors one at a time. The reality was one visitor a day and that was Kathy, Jim’s wife. "Alderman!" is how Jim always introduced himself on the phone and in person. He is forever Muppet Alderman here at Sesame Street by the Sea. Jim recently underwent exotic cancer surgery which included removing his pancreas. His weight is way down – 170 – but he's a Lineman for Life bruiser from the steel mill town of Coatesville, Pa. And he is a Carolina Tarheel. Jim recently rang the chemo bell at the hospital and painted the top of his bald head. Alderman is a serious player. He is a bad hombre! Jim will lose no battle, but the game has gone into overtime, and he is hanging on, but may get flagged for holding. The situation ain't good, but family and friends and the team from ’79 are tough by his side. What relentlessly invincible man orders six Nic-o-bolis while staring out from inside the helmet at his own mortality? Alderman, that's who. Ralph and Billy drove 15 hours, visited Jim’s daughter Abby, couldn't talk their way into the hospital, so they drove 15 hours back. But spirits from 40 years past go through walls. Those jokers were there and Jim knew it. “We’re hoping for a late-game field goal to get Dad out of the hospital so he can see his friends, plus because of the coronavirus I haven’t hugged him since March,” Abby said. “I really need to do that.” Sunday, Jim was feeling better. After the last time Alderman called my cellphone, I messaged Abby and she said, “Great, how long did you talk to him?”  I said, “I didn’t. He talked to me for about seven miles.” Abby contacts are or Facebook messenger. 

Moral dilemma - I stood on top of the press box at the Lewes football field in 1976. I was wearing headphones. Bill Collick was down on the sidelines wearing the other set. We were like friends who had gotten a walkie-talkie set for Christmas. We were playing Caesar Rodney. No one knew or cared about Caesar and his horse or his history; this was just football. Coach Jim Brooks was on the CR headset talking to Joe Purzycki. Brooks had a strong and clear voice that cut through a cluttered atmosphere. I heard him say, “Run 29 sweep then come back and run the counter criss-cross at Dukes [defensive end]; he’s coming way upfield.” I was not trying to hear it but I did. I quickly rationalized away sportsmanship thinking, “Mumble like the rest of us.” I told Collick, “Be cool but let Alderman know they are going to run the counter criss-cross at Bunky and for Dukes to stay home and not chase. And tell Alderman to be cool.” I saw Collick whisper to coach Alderman who then exploded, “Bunky! Bunky!  Watch the counter criss-cross!” Jim Brooks was just staring at me. I went outside the honor code. If I were a broker, I’d be insider trading all day long.  

I’m not fazed - I find myself reacting to things in ways I did not anticipate. All this social upheaval, I’m just kicking back and not sharing much with anyone besides my wife Susan. I tell her, I figure whatever I think is shared by a few million people; uniqueness of thought is not attainable, but explaining those thoughts is what separates the posers from the hosers. I remember in the early days of Hotmail and Yahoo just constructing the most outrageous and low-down email address then finding out that 300 people had beaten me to it. No, I don’t want to be Misterfannyface326. The latest phases for resuming sports competitions are “lame game bizarro,” which I may adopt as a handle. “Play and get out of the way” is where I’m at, but I’m surprised to be there. Soccer with no headers, social distancing on penalty corners for hockey? Surely you can’t be serious, and, yes, I will call you Shirley. Go mess with the oiled-up flabba-dabbers on the beach or the denizens of discount stores or big-box behemoths; just leave the athletes alone      

Race car drivers - I grew up a mile from the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. I’ve always been impressed by the drivers and the crews that keep those cars performing at high speeds over long races. I’ve never given a second thought to fans but believe NASCAR, which never stops talking about advertisers, has given it lots of thought. I get the flag flap and don’t need it explained. The only flags that matter to drivers are those pertaining to the track and race in progress, not on the infield. There are 13 flag combinations used to control a race. Racing is a great sport, the camera work is crazy good and now everyone is watching and some will be leaving, but NASCAR and sponsors are banking on a surge in fans. 

Snippets - I had my first interview at Cape in the summer of 1975 in what is now the senior center in Nassau. Saturday I parked at the senior center 45 years older and a senior citizen. I sat in a blue chair and took photos of runners and bikers who acted like they were in witness protection. Go on now, git!  


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