Postcards from the Fred: Players are primetime outside the lines
Postcards from the Fred - This column, “People in Sports,” has been here for 37 years. Sometimes it’s about people and sometimes sports, but all societies and issues directly or obliquely related to sports are fair game. That way I don’t waste my unmarketable degree in anthropology. I like to capture the image of a person and write a profile around him or her. I call that “Postcards from the Fred,” and I’ve been doing it since third grade, the year I caught my first nun beatdown for not paying attention.
Perry and Johnson - Warren Perry and Curtis Johnson were members of a mile relay team that won a dramatic race against Dover in 1978 that stopped the Senators at 33 straight dual-meet victories. Warren and Curtis were in the Big House Jan. 2 watching the Sussex Tech at Cape basketball game. Both men will be 60 on their next birthdays. That spring, 40 years ago, Cape also won the Division II state championship on the Vikings’ home track. Curtis got out of prison last year – he retired as a guard – while Warren still goes to work inside the walls of Sussex Correctional Institution every day. The other two people on that storied relay team were Glenn Smith and Tracy Felton, who have both passed away. The best sports stories are oftentimes outside the lines.
Bilbo Dunning - A loose-fitting track uniform with a faded gold stripe was the Vikings’ look in the mid-70s. I inherited the Cape track team from Tom Hickman in spring 1976, when Frank Coveleski said to me, “You’ve been appointed head coach of track,” to which I responded, “I didn’t apply.” And he said, “Don’t worry. You’ll do fine.” I can safely say there has never been a person from Philly named Bilbo Dunning. I felt a tap on the shoulder at the basketball game Jan. 2. I turn around and straight out of 1976 – a mere 43 years ago – is Bilbo looking exactly the same. I had him in an instant. We talked and reminisced. The game was about to start and he said, “It was nice meeting you,” but I knew what he meant. He was an explosive athlete in both football and track, always top-end speed on his second step. Those athletes from back in the day were no joke. I’m the one who had the jokes.
Jim Powell - Jim was inside Cape’s Big House Jan. 2 officiating a freshman basketball game. I’ve never known Delaware without Jim Powell – he was here when I hit town. Jim is now 85 years old, and save the jokes, his stamina is simply remarkable. “I know I’ve been an official for 55 years because they gave me a watch five years ago,” he said. “But it may be longer than that.” I have never heard Jim go south on today’s players. He’s more of a looking-forward type of person.
Pink - Official Lloyd Mears worked the JV game. His closest friends call him Pink, a play on words likening Pink Floyd to Pink Lloyd. You’ve got to love the derivation of Sussex County nicknames. Lloyd, a member of Delaware Track and Field Hall of Fame, ran on a mile relay team at the University of Delaware that set a school record 3:14.2, which converts to a 3:13 4-by-400 meters, the fastest ever run by Delaware residents. Mears led off in 48.6, then handed to Peter Sukalo, who clocked 48.9. Third leg was John Flickinger in 47.9, handing to anchorman Ed Mongan, who finished in 47.6. Landscaper Lloyd is now riding mower guy, but if he had to run from a dog, he would be gone like a turkey through the corn.
Double impressive - Lake Forest junior 220-pounder Kris Thompson impressed me twice at the Battle at the Beach wrestling tournament held Dec. 27-28. The first time was after he lost a semifinal bout to Anthony Diaz of Milford. Disappointed, he was walking off the mat when my grandson Davey with Downs sitting matside reached up his hand and said, “Good job.” Kris slapped his hand, revealing a part of his personality you just can’t rehearse. Later, after a third-place win by pin over Gavin Range of West Chester, Pa., Thompson first found the ref to shake his hand and say “Good job” before shaking the hands of opposing coaches. A walk-around high-character kid. You can’t put it on a resume. Just be that guy and the rest will take care of itself.
Keith Medley - A former football player and wrestler at Saint Mark's then Caravel, a 220-pound state champion and now a sophomore at Delaware carrying a 3.5 average majoring in health services. Keith helps coach wrestling at Newark Charter and runs a youth wrestling program on the weekends. He has a charismatic personality and is a congenial young man who is a new friend in Fredman's world.
Snippets - “Shiny happy people laughing.” I captured the Stancofski Quartet on the Boardwalk after the Dec. 31 Race into the New Year. Missing from the shot is Surgeon Stancofski, known around his neighborhood as Big Erik. And don’t let the smiles disarm you. When it goes full contact, any of these people will knock your block off. Lastly, former Sussex Central wrestler Keith Jones was at the Battle at the Beach wrestling tournament with his daughter Kalani. Keith’s mom, Robyn Holston, said, “Kalani looks exotic, like her dad. My entire family is beautiful.” Go on now, git!