Tony Hazzard’s smile and style powered Cape’s Little Big House
Heaven in the house - Cape’s Little Big House was heaven for Tony Hazzard. Back in the day, there was the Dog Pound on one side of the gym and the Baseline Bums across the court. Slaughter Neck had its own section. Tony Hazzard wearing a big hat and fur coat was all freestyle improvisation. He was a member of Cape’s Class of 1975, the year the Vikings basketball team went 25-0 and won a state championship. Tony was the Cape wild card, everyone’s uncle and cousin. He often appeared out of control. Other times he affected a mad face directed at officials or Cape’s own coach. I never knew when he meant it and when he was playing. Tony was the good guy, a sideline character even the referees learned to love. Tragedy struck the extended Cape family last week when we learned that Tony Hazzard had died in a horrific single-car accident. Back in February 2015, Tony was in home hospice care and given close to no chance of survival. Before a Tuesday night game at Seaford, I said to coach Steve Re, “Tony is getting the game ball from tonight’s game – win or lose – so try to win.” Cape trailed 58-45 entering the fourth quarter. The Vikings outscored the Blue Jays 30-15 in the final frame to win 75-73. Two days later on a Thursday, the Cape bus stopped at Tony’s house on the way to Dover. Coach and team came in the back door. Players were upset to see the “Flamboyant Fan” lying in a hospital bed. Coach Re laid the signed comeback ball down beside Tony and said, “We are going to Dover. Can we beat them?” In a faint voice Tony said, “Not a chance!” Brutal honesty or comedy? We do know Tony would go for the laugh before all else. Tony came back from whatever dropped him in 2015 and reclaimed his seat along the front row. He learned all the Cape muppets in the Big House loved him. He had climbed the mountain in a fur coat and red hat to achieve legendary icon status. His memory will last forever.
Bednarik or Brady - Chuck “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik was the last two-way player in the NFL, also known as a 60-minute man. He was a center and middle linebacker in 1960 when the Eagles won the NFL Championship, and he never left the field. When I played football for Temple, the local broadcast team (channel 6) was Les Keiter and Chuck Bednarik. Reflecting back, I can’t believe I actually talked to Bednarik in the locker room. “Brady, Brady” all day long. I don’t know when the anagram GOAT showed up, but in the sport of football, for me, it's Bednarik. There is no valid comparison because of different eras and positions, so stop with the GOAT talk. I believe we are all our own GOATs, the absolute best versions of ourselves.
Crazy talent - I watched a basketball game for five minutes during my snowbound Saturday night before I realized it was a high school game and not college. Camden (N.J.), coached by Rick Brunson, beat Sierra Canyon (Calif.) 66-62 at some arena in Allentown where the usual maskless crowd shuffled in. Blend all that with the power college teams featuring the one-and-done crowd and it makes me wonder, where do all these kids come from? And, why are most of them too cool for school, taking money in pocket over knowledge in the brain?
Nick Willis - Kiwi track star Nick Willis, 38, placed ninth in a Wanamaker Mile at the New York Armory Saturday afternoon in a time of 3:59. The feat marked the 20th straight year Williams has run a sub-four-minute mile. Peter Snell is a New Zealand middle-distance legend. Snell ran the mile in 3:54 in 1962, setting a world record. In 1978, he was vacationing in Rehoboth Beach and spent time on a Boardwalk bench talking to Cape runner Glen Smith. I asked Glen, “Which way were you facing?” He said, “Toward the people. Ain't nobody want to look at no dark ocean.” Steve Spence, cross country coach at Shippensburg, ran a sub-five-minute mile for 43 straight years –1976 to 2018 – which came to an end when the 57-year-old simply couldn't break five minutes.
Snippets - Wednesday, Feb. 2, is considered National Signing Day. It is the day when most football guys sign a National Letter of Intent, but many athletes sign late because scholarships are freed up when athletes that are pursued by multiple schools finally choose one. Go on now, git!