Being a manager was no fun
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
I first arrived at Morgan County High School as a frightened and nervous seventh grader in the fall of 1961. I was coming from Flint Elementary School which included all of about 100 students in an old wooden structure with coal heaters in each room.
My brother Richard was beginning the eighth grade at Hartselle, and had been there a year before me, so he could show me the ropes.
I didn't know anything about the school except it had a football team.
And somehow, someway, someday I was going to make that football team. Of course, at the time I weighed about 90 pounds if I filled my pockets with rocks.
Richard weighed about 170 pounds, about twice my size even though there was just less than two years between us.
Sammy Moore coached the junior varsity back then and one day I mustered up the courage to ask him if I could go out for the team. He just looked at me, smiled, and said "You're a little small, aren't you kid?"
I turned away with tears welling up in my eyes and began to walk away.
"Tell ya what, you wait a few years until you get bigger," he said.
But then, he asked something I'll never forget. "Hey little Grammer, you know what I really need is a manager."
So, with a big smile, I asked if I could be the manager, and coach Moore agreed.
Then I thought, what is a manager? I didn't know and didn't care. It must be important; gosh, it's probably being like an assistant coach or something. It must be like being a manager of a baseball team or something. This was going to be great, I thought.
I found out quickly that manager of the football team is the lowest man on the totem pole.
The manager can't possible do all he is asked to do and he's constantly being fussed at and whatever he does isn't good enough.
He has the nastiest, messiest and most demeaning jobs and he's constantly being yelled at be either a player or a coach.
In the hierarchy of a football team, there is, of course, the head coach at the top, then the assistants, players, first team, second team, third team, custodians, night watchmen, pest control exterminators, the guys that happened to ride by in their cars, then the manager.
And the manager might be even further down the list.
After having just a horrible time being a manager, I finally went to coach Moore and almost begged him for a uniform.
My thinking was I would much rather be getting the hell beat out of me during practice than do what a manager has to do.
He finally agreed.
My uniform consisted of a pair of pants 10 sizes too big, shoulder pads that my dad said were so large you couldn't see my head, a cardboard helmet with no face mask, and cleats that made me feel as if I was walking on stilts.
But, I remember sitting and looking at the old Morgan County High School jersey that was part of my uniform, with its faded numbers and ragged holes in the elbows.
I remember thinking, it might not be much, but it's mine.
I knew all the time that I wanted to be a part of the football team, but I found out one thing for sure, I did not want to be a manager.