SOUR GRAPES: The game in Pickering

By Jim Magdefrau

Decades ago, when the Big 12 was the Big 8, our college crew would travel to the basketball tournament in Kansas City. The night before the tournament we stayed the night in Maryville, where our Maryville friend would find a nearby gym to play some basketball. He’d also find a few Maryville friends to play the game with us.

David Bell, who taught with our Maryville friend’s wife, made a point to join us one year.

It was a good lesson to try to play the game before criticizing how others might play the game.

Opening up the gym for us in nearby Pickering one night was Bill Linebaugh, a janitor and friend of our Maryville friend. Bill was in his mid-60s, still played the game and taught us a lesson about the game. Bill was old school, protected the ball when dribbling and knew the art of staying low while doing a perfect bounce pass. It’s impossible to defend.

The thought I had back then was that we hoped we could still be doing this when we get to be his age.

Well, we are now the age that Bill was back then. I’m not sure we can keep up with the Bill from three decades ago. Sure, we can bike and golf, but we’re not into running on the basketball court or slam dunks. Then again, weren’t into running three decades ago. Or slam dunks. Not that we can’t. We just choose not to.

It was just last week that my Maryville friend passed along Bill’s obituary. 93 years old. Farmer, custodian, big family, active in his church, scouts and 4-H leadership.

The example he set on the court was reflected in his life and family.

If we can live up to that, we’d be pretty happy.

Bill, thanks for opening the gym, and thanks for the example.

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