Norman Poole, a lifetime hall of fame good guy

Athletes coming out sliding, spikes up
June 12, 2020

Walking the planet - I asked a couple people who go deep with Seaford history if teacher/coach Norman Poole was still walking the planet. Their answers: “As far as I know he is ... great guy!” I recently came across the greatest Norman Poole photo I didn’t remember I had taken at a Seaford basketball game. I wanted to double down with a Facebook post and column item. Here’s the skinny: Norman Poole, a Seaford legend, a math/social studies teacher, was official timer in football and basketball for 41 years. A member of Delaware Afro American Sports Hall of Fame, he graduated from Maryland State College, later UMES, in 1961. Norman recently celebrated his 81st birthday. Three generations of Seaford athletes loved playing in front of Mr. Poole, having him as a teacher and feeling grateful he always knew their name. “I call him Brother Poole and he calls me Brother Sirman. And we are!” said Ben Sirman. Guys like Norman, who age well with class and kindness for everyone, are always church guys. I'm striving to be the first heathen to reach Ocho Zero. 

Running down a dream - A favorite memory of mine is standing along the fence in 1979 on a Saturday morning watching the Cape football defense smother an offense like Smokey Bear on a smoldering campfire. Coach Ron Dickerson was next to me and he said, “See those linebackers – they mostly line up out of position, which is technically unsound but makes them impossible to block, especially for linemen who have rules. But when you’re as good as those three guys, they can line up anywhere they want and just run people over or run them down.” Took this photo 40 years later, fall 2019, in the Cape library of Hertford Gibbs, Vincent Daniels and Noland Hazzard. Just incredible to have those three athletes backing up a defensive line in 1979. 

Caution to the wind - Humans talk about nature without copping to being a part of it, and we often talk of animals and other life forms like they are humans because we can combine language with arrogance. “If your dog is so smart, how come he can’t talk?” An easily transmitted virus culls the human herd; some say it’s Mother Nature taking care of herself. We’ve read the restricted rules about resuming softball and baseball and we expect kids to respond, “Those rules are dumb,” but when the parents are in agreement, then we’ve entered the pandemic phase of play at your own risk, and we’ll continue to slide until somebody dies. The entire sports society has become epidemiologist majors with minors in sociology.   

Umpire Tom Disharoon (from June 5, 2018) - He is a ripped, fit, in-charge umpire, and he don't play. He was all over the 10-inning 6-5 game between Cape versus Dover with barely a drink of water, and if you don't want to get squeezed, then try throwing strikes. I told Eric Gooch: "If it ain't a strike, then you ain't getting the call.” Alan Quillen from Seaford, a runner and longtime Little League ump, said of Tom, “I'll bet you nobody gives him much of a hard time. He's a tough hombre.” Getting in Tom’s face would be like making fun of GI Joe because of his uniform. There were 24 total walks in the game, including 16 issued by Cape pitchers, who also hit two batters. A bang-bang play at the plate in the top of the ninth with two outs, and Tommy D was eating the dust, all over it, waited, then gave the out sign, which Cape catcher Zach Savage gave right back to him. That game will always be a part of Cape baseball legacy and lore, and Tom Disharoon will always be part of the story.

Snippets - I have been lined up on rare occasions and been the target of criticism for something I said or wrote. Mostly I just stand there and wait for the person to finish with a question, “How come you’re not saying anything?” I respond, ”I’m considering the possibility you may be right.” People don’t want to hear that. It’s what I call last-word syndrome, which is so popular today on social media. Grandmom Rose: “The smart person knows what they don’t know, which is a paradox, whatever that is.” You’re out, don’t argue the call, just go on now, git!


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