Lamke: Humor much-needed in life, sports

Tony Lamke - The Ol’ Coach

I have always believed that humor makes the world a much better place. I don’t mean the humor a stand up comedian spills out on a stage. I’m talking about the humor in every day living.

For example, yesterday I saw a woman try to leave a local store by going through the glass space space between the two doors while looking over her shoulder talking to a friend. Fortunately she did not get hurt but to me it was terribly funny, made my day.

As a football coach for many years, humor was around every day. A shy freshman came into my office on the first day of practice with his hip pads around his shoulders. Back then hip pad were separate pads that had a belt buckle. It was a wild picture and we finally got him straight.

By the way, he turned out to be a very good player once he got his pads on right, but that day, he was lost. It was very funny for me and my coaching staff.

When the Reds were in the World Series back in the mid 1970s, the games often were played on Friday nights when we were playing football. Many times my players came in the locker room with radios listening to a game. Once one of my young assistant coaches came in as well with a radio.

I immediately laid down a rule, no radios in the locker room and all concentration should be on the football game. As the team left the locker room toward the field, I did not see one of my coaches but I could hear the baseball game. Back in the locker room I found a coach, in a shower with the shower curtain pulled listening to the game.

That same coach was good for many laughs. One November Friday game night, we were having a terrible wind, rain, sleet storm. As we came out of the locker room, it was so windy we had to lean into the wind just to stand up.

My assistant coach bent down, picked up a hand fill of grass and tossed it up in the air. I asked him what he was doing and he innocently said he was testing the winds direction. I said very calmly, we are leaning into the wind, and that the grass he tossed would eventually land in Pennsylvania due to the power of the wind. We laughed for years about that, especially when I would say casually, “Hey, check the wind direction.”

He also broke his finger giving a high five to one of our receivers who scored a touchdown.

At practice, I had a habit of kneeling in the huddle and calling a play.

After watching my team really butcher a play, I threw down my clip board, said some things I should probably not have said without looking up. When I did look up my team was huddling 20 yards away from me. We all had a great laugh and got on with practice.

John McKay who coached football at Southern California in the 1960s and ‘70s, was the first coach of the new NFL team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His Bucs lost a a big game and his team play very bad.

When they entered the locker room after the game he addressed the team. Although I never said these words, I felt like saying them a time or two when my team may have lacked great effort.

“If any of you thinks he needs a shower, the shower room is down the hall and to the right.”

Tony Lamke

The Ol’ Coach

Tony Lamke is a former coach. He writes a periodic column for the News Journal. He can be reached at [email protected]

Tony Lamke is a former coach. He writes a periodic column for the News Journal. He can be reached at [email protected]