Saturday, April 01, 2017

South Carolina Basketball

I don't follow it - hell, I don't even follow William and Mary until February - but I was pleased to see them make it to the Final Four.

My only connection with Gamecock basketball came in 1972.  I hitchhiked from Williamsburg down to Columbia over Thanksgiving to see my best friend from 7th-11th grade, John Malyerck. He had tried out for them as a walk-on and made the freshman team, which was quite an accomplishment, as he had never played high school ball.  I told his story in 2011, Big Mal. An interesting character who died early, around age 50. 

While visiting we went to some club downtown, and he did wave and point out friends he had made, enough of whom were very tall that I guessed they might be basketball players.  So they might have been Alex English or Mike Dunleavy, but I would not have recognised those names then, nor would anyone else. I doubt it anyway, as Mal had a phenomenal memory and would have mentioned it to me years later:  "You met him.  He was at the club when you came down to visit."  Kevin Joyce from the robbed 1972 Olympic Silver Medal team - that name I would have recognised, so he wasn't one of them, though Mal told me he was still banging heads with the team at practice that year, even after graduation.  I had thought Mal played the next few years as well, but his brother tells me he played only that one year, then was injured.

Anyway, he introduced me to a girl who giggled and said her name was "Coconut."  I took that at face value for years, because she looked like the sort of girl who might be named Coconut. Mal and I had rather different tastes in women. Coconut and I never did establish any rapport. I am now pretty that wasn't her name after all.  She also looked like the sort of girl who would find that funny.

His other claim to fame was leading the then-record 508-person South Carolina streak in 1974, which made the cover of Newsweek. He called to tell me about it, but I couldn't pick him out.  I imagine a naked 6-7 guy carrying some sort of torch made out of a broom was pretty noticeable live, though, even in a crowd. If you are wondering whether he is connected to any other Malyerck you've run across, the answer is yes.  There aren't many and they are closely related.

I like underdogs anyway, as many of us do, but this was just a bit more fun.


Donna B. said...

My W&M girl met a W&L boy from Columbia. They got married, had children, and live in Columbia now. Since neither college they attended is... um, prominent in sports, it's Gamecocks for them. My 5 year old grandson was so excited about the basketball team that his father took him to NYC to see them play. Only downside of the trip was that Mama set a 3 hotdog/day limit for both of them. So my very intelligent son-in-law didn't post more than 3 hotdog photos/day.

That kid has probably attended as many Gamecock games as most of the students there. If his Dad isn't taking him, his grandfather is. Or both.

While it's unthinkable to deny him those times with his father and grandfather, his mother and I worry that the sweet boy is big, tall, and looks like he could be recruited some day. There's a similarity in his build, interests, and talents to a nephew whose parents are already being approached by scouts even though he's just a freshman in high school. We tell ourselves it will all be OK because he asked for a trumpet for Christmas and likes choir as much as he does sports.

Girls are so easy. Sort of. The only one I worry about much is the 6 year old who asked for a sword and spy equipment for Christmas. I want to buy her dolls! Yet, she's also the one who set out her drawings of the Eiffel tower in Paris and actually sold one. (I'd love to personally thank the couple who encouraged her and bought it -- what kind people! Also, not going to take this child to Jackson Square in New Orleans any time soon.)

I think the trick here is to not stifle any of the interests. And that is so much easier said than done. Being a grandparent is so much easier and harder than being a parent!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

There is no trick. They will become what they want and blame it on you. We had no TV and seldom went to movies - son #2 is a filmmaker.

If they are in Columbia, the Scott Malyerck who is politically prominent is his younger brother. The short one, at 6-4.

Donna B. said...

Ha... blame it on me. Of course they will. I don't care, as long as they are content.

Grim said...

I never knew a girl named "Coconut," but I did one know a girl whose real name was "Cinnamon."

On the other hand, I also once knew a punk-rocker lesbian whose two given names were "Liberty Chance." Her parents really set her up well, as either name would have fit her nicely but both together were ideal. I liked her a lot.