Hall of Fame selection causes some head-scratching
Pete Rose has nothing on me.
I’m going into the Hall of Fame, baby.
Not the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., of course. I’m about 2,000 hits short of that one.
In fact, it’s not any hall of fame you’ve ever heard of, or are likely to visit unless you somehow get lost in a maze of cornfields a few miles outside of Stanford, Ill.
There, at a three-way stop sign, you’ll notice a flat, brick building with the name Olympia High School on it. Apparently, somewhere inside it is a Hall of Fame.
The only halls I recall at Olympia High School were lined with tan lockers. Maybe they’ll put my name on one – hopefully, not the one I used to have to kick to open.
I got a call this week from some fellow at ol’ OHS whose unfortunate job includes calling people like me to tell me the good news. I doubt it was part of the job description when he hired on.
“Hi,” he said. “I’m calling to tell you you’ve been selected to the Olympia Hall of Fame.”
“Great!” I said. “What’s that?”
He went on to tell me it was an honor afforded to people who had been star athletes at the school or had made a significant mark on the world after they left.
“Gee, that’s wonderful,” I said. “Ummm… What did I do?”
“Well,” he replied, “I don’t know. I’m kind of new here.”
I didn’t press for details.
Later, however, I did start wondering what possible reason could have compelled someone to nominate me for the Hall of Fame at my old high school.
– I flung a half-court shot that miraculously went into the basket as the buzzer sounded to beat Danvers. But that was when I was in eighth grade, so that couldn’t count toward high school.
– One time I got my name in the newspaper as being the favorite to win the high jump in an upcoming track meet. I buckled under the pressure and finished third. That wouldn’t be it, either.
– On the baseball team, I once ripped a line drive over the left fielder’s head for a triple that drove in the go-ahead runs. Unfortunately, it started pouring while I was still standing on third base, the game was called on account of rain and the triple never officially went into the books.
I was forced to conclude my selection to the Hall of Fame probably wasn’t for any of my athletic exploits. Maybe it was for all my contributions to the academic and social life at Olympia High.
– My senior picture looks like I’m wearing a brown plastic helmet. The photographer’s assistant decided that my hair was looking a little too unruly that day, so she plastered it with hair spray. In the photo, it looks supernaturally shiny and strong enough to repel missiles.
Lord, please don’t let them display that photo in the Hall of Fame.
– I was prom king.
Lord, don’t let them display that picture, either.
– I played trumpet in the school band. Poorly. But loudly.
As far as I know, there are no pictures – or recordings.
OK, so I’m not going into the Hall of Fame for anything I did in high school. It must have something to do with the mark I’ve left on the world since I left Olympia High.
– In college, I set the high score on the pinball machine just inside the door at Zack’s Bar. Not many people know about that, though, and somebody probably has beaten my score in the past 25 years.
– As a reporter, I once tasted some yellow cake – the radioactive kind they take out of mines for its uranium content.
I didn’t really have much choice, though. This burly miner was trying to make a point about how safe it was, and we were a few thousand feet underground, and he was the only one who knew how to get out again. Yes, at the time, yellow cake did seem relatively safe.
– I once rode with a photographer to the scene of a fire.
This may not seem like much, but until you actually do it you probably think the Screaming Eagle roller-coaster is a wild ride. I was doing all right – white-knuckled grip, fingernails dug into the dashboard – until he decided to take a shortcut through the lumber yard. At that point, I just closed my eyes.
– My series of columns over the years, including these in the Nevada Appeal. Judging by this one, though, I wouldn’t even qualify for the Best Columnist on Bath Street Hall of Fame.
No, in the summary of my life so far, I just can’t figure out why the Hall of Fame selection committee would possibly dredge up my name.
Then it hit me.
They’re probably looking for a donation.
Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.