Here’s a commentary that I wrote for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s football section published on Sunday. Wanted everyone to read it here, too. Lot of fun memories for me. Yes, I’m old, but I confirmed this after visits with my oldest brother Butch:
Clay all this time I thought we invented kneeball man my buddies dad had a great yard of Bermuda grass we loved it to play on it but never when he was home.
The knee grass games were hard hitting. But you couldn’t really get up a steam and brutalize someone. You just knocked them off balance and they were down. Little pitch outs were the way to go. I think the games were about 3-on-3. Of course, someone did usually get hurt, but never too badly. There were rules. But they were not very complicated. Every now and then, someone got up and ran. They were severely chastised by all and might have gotten kicked out of the game.
Now there were all kinds of other games played in that yard. Home run whiffle ball was another.
That’s a great story, Clay. Thanks for sharing.
As I was reading it, it stirred memories of reading - somewhere, decades ago - that some Arkansas fans had taken a bit of the Memorial Field turf home with them. Not sure if that was something Dan Jenkins mentioned in one of his wonderful SI stories, or if it might have been an “inside note” included in one of your Dad’s contributions to Texas/Arkansas football (living in Texas, that is all of his work I was able to read before the internet). In any event, none of the “culprits” were named; indeed, there may have been more than one lawn in Arkansas with some burnt-orange turf!
Either way, it evokes some great memories.
No doubt, there were other “culprits” or whatever you want to call them. My mom was probably a copy cat. Regardless, no one cared for that The Royal Holy Turf better than my dad. He was an expert at taking care of lawns and knowing how to get that turf to spread and take over that corner of the yard.
Wonderful story Clay. Having grown up reading OH daily it’s been a pleasure to read your personal stories about him, your family and friends. Thanks for sharing.
This also reminded me that in Junior High our football coach would have us do “knee boxing”. We would get on our knees with big soft boxing gloves and hit each other until we were exhausted. In close quarters and with those soft gloves you could do no real harm but apparently it taught us toughness. I learned quickly that I would never be a boxer.
My dad was unique. Some might say most unique, but that would get a correction from my dad. Unique stands alone. You cannot use most, more or any other modifier. Unique should be used all by itself.
I enjoyed talking with my oldest brother Butch to come up with this column. He sent me about 800 words with his recollection of the turf in our lawns. Again, he’s six years older than me and sharp as a tack. Some of the things he remembered included much detail on the different strains brought from Tifton, Ga. I just barely remember those. Butch had some other details about the azaleas and other flowering plants my dad planted and harvested, including his attempt to graft some new species of azaleas through some techniques learned at Hocott Nursery. I hope I have that place spelled right. It was just north of the girls catholic school (The Mount?).