Behind the Lines: I’ll Bet That

It wasn’t the best World Series I’ve seen personally, but it was as close as you could get without being at Fenway Park or Riverfront Stadium. I was 18 years old, away from home for the first time, and in the midst of a few dozen fellow bullies, many of whom became lifelong friends.

Our friend John from Knoxville, Illinois, had the biggest TV in our wing, a set of 25″ Curtis Maths monsters.

His room did not receive a great reception but the corner room down the hall to the west of Crane Hall picked up Denver stations properly. We moved his TV into that room and packed about 25 of us in a room with a 16×20 door. On the top bunk, on the bottom bunk, in some chairs, and on the floor cheered, cursed, side bets, and thoroughly enjoyed what is often considered the greatest World Series between the Reds and Red Sox of all time .

I was a fan of Cesar Geronimo, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Pete Rose, but I was in awe of Jim Rice and Fred Lynn’s drama, and who couldn’t be a fan of Carl Yastrzemsky?

I found it interesting that during the previous MLB players’ strike, ESPN began re-telecasting the 1975 World Series and received higher ratings than its regular season games the year before. Why not? A series of seven matches in which both teams registered easy wins, but five matches were decided by one run and two of them finding it difficult to go into extra innings.

Later that same year, we repeated the event with a gallery of mostly the same rookies in the same room, (aside from a handful who already exited) to see the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in Superbowl 10. had gone). A bet on almost every game, betting on whether Jack Lambert will make the tackle or whether Roger Staubach will complete a pass, among hundreds of other bets. Although I was a fan of Dallas, it was awesome.

My friend Casey Lohman from Pittsburgh took back five cases of Stroh and Iron City beer from Steel City after the Christmas break. Casey was smart, always filling his car for the trip home from Coors where it wasn’t available and making mints. Combined with the Pennsylvania brew, wild game jerky and smoked trout just before kickoff magically appeared, as well as memorable.

But adulthood hit the horizon and watching sports on TV became a solitary pursuit, or perhaps with my father, son, or in the event of a pay per view boxing match, some friend who chipped in to buy the broadcast.

ESPN made things easier when the once great sports network appeared in 1979. We didn’t find it in Laramie, but it came to Lusk in the fall of 1980, where I got my first teaching and coaching job.

The Lusk Cable Company only had a dozen or so channels. He added to ESPN during the high school football season in October.

It was expensive for a first year teacher to take home after taxes at just $788 a month, so I didn’t buy it right away. My friend and fellow coach Mike Hart was better established and had it at his house.

On a Thursday in February 1981, Mike invited all of us to his place to watch a really cool Wyoming team play Brigham Young.

I had just been dropped from the University of Wyoming for a year, and I had some friends and some acquaintances on head coach Jim Brandenburg’s team.

Chris Angler was sitting outside a year after I transferred from the University of Minnesota when I met him. My roommate Frank knew post 6-11 from Stillwater, Minnesota, from high school when they played each other in the Minnesota State High School tournament. We had a basement apartment with an upstairs room converted from a garage. The garage room only had 6-8 ceilings, but the owner put a skylight in the middle of the room. At parties, Chris would stand inside the skylight so he didn’t have to bend over.

I can clearly remember him saying “beer me” as he held out his big hand waiting for someone to put the interest in it.

Charles “Tub” Bradley was the star of the team. Tub and I took a lot of classes together and sometimes shared a study table at the Coe library. He later played for the Boston Celtics.

Mark Rapp was a 6-8 freshman post sitting next to me in an accounting class. Rapp had trouble waking up so early and had no interest in accounting. I helped her as much as possible through the class.

I knew Coach Brandenburg well, so he allowed me to participate in closed practice sessions.

I knew the Cowboys better than anyone else in the house that night when we gathered to watch them play Provo’s dreaded Cougar.

Some people, including Mike, smoked and quit the sport from time to time by going out to get addicted.

We started betting on play and possession in the game. This time it was a bet of five, ten, or twenty dollars, big money for me on my starvation level salary.

The game was tough from the beginning. At the start of the second half, Mike came back in and said I’d bet five bucks if the angler makes a hook shot over the key.

I used to play pickup games with Chris. I knew he couldn’t hit that shot and jumped on the bet. Sure enough, about a minute later, the angler hit a hook from outside the free throw line. I was out of five bucks, and suspicious.

The next time Mike went out I waited a few seconds and then followed him through the next door. His truck had a game on the radio. There was a delay of about 90 seconds between the radio broadcast and the ESPN program. He had bet all night, winning them all because he already knew what was going to happen.

He didn’t see me while I was listening as Tub Bradley dunked the ball on the fast brake.

“I bet the tub for five bucks is going to sink one on the brakes,” I said to Mike, shocked.

“Listen, I’ll give you your five bucks back,” said Mike. “Just don’t tell other people.”

I told no one, recovered my bet, and watched as Mike continued to run from other coaches for the rest of the game.

It’s sad what has happened to ESPN. Instead of the crisp, amusing dialogue of Chris Berman, Hannah Storm, and Roy Firestone from the early days, the network has bought into the cult of personality and spends too much time on some other talking head, wearing some Joker on Court or To “wake up” issues that are not related to the game.

But there was a time when the network shone.

Maybe it was the company rather than the broadcast that made those sports so special from long ago, but it would be a lot more enjoyable if they limited their coverage of trends and politics and focused only on the raw enjoyment of athletics. Huh.

This is a sure bet that will never pay off.

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