Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara Larry

Little League Football

Dad and Me at Gator football game 2011Dad and me at Florida Gator football game 2011

In the summer of ’64 I signed up for little league football.  I’m not really sure what made me sign up, I really didn’t care for such sports.  I was a gangly, awkward kid, not good at ball sports. About the only thing sport wise I was reasonably good at was running and riding my bike which at the time I didn’t really consider sports at all.  Bike riding was essential for me, riding my bike to school and to my friends houses that lived in the neighborhood, bike riding was my primary means of transportation, not a sport.  On the other hand my brother David, although almost two years younger, was good a sports, quick, fast, good at throwing balls, much better than I at any of such things.  I think unconsciously I felt Dad liked David better than I because he was good as sports.  For what ever reason I signed up for Little League Football that summer, perhaps to make an impression on Dad. 

The team met at Westside Park across from Littlewood school a few times before the first game.  There were two men as coaches, one was clearly the main coach, the other the assistant.  We met for practice, hopping, jumping, running, rules and positions explained.  Well, it was a lot of work, and I did not put my fullest into the effort, I rather not work as hard but analyze and observe.  After a few practices, the coach evaluated us for positions.  Both the coaches’ sons both were on the team, and they got key positions but the most important position of quarterback went to a young, although seemingly more mature boy, a black boy.  Now I don’t every recall seeing a black boy, all the other boys on the team were white, all the boys at school were white, all the kids in the neighborhood were white, where did the coaches find a black boy? I did not think much of it at the time.  I was assigned position of “end”, like at end of the bench but I did make the team, oh wait, every boy that showed up made the team.  We were provided with full football equipment, I never knew there was so much equipment, huge shoulder pads, pants with knee pads, jersey with a number and a helmet.  When I put it all on, I felt powerful. 

The first game came which were played at Citizens Field on the east side of town by the Boys Club, I was excited and was not surprised at all when I didn’t get to play, we won.  Second, third, fourth games we won, I didn’t play, Oh, well, I was still on the team although on the bench.  The fifth game was exciting, we were down by a goal, fourth and eight, a few minutes left in the game, the coach calls time out and calls the players to the sideline and the coach talks to the quarterback and the team goes back on the field.  The quarterback counts, the ball is hiked, the quarterback steps back looking for a receiver down field, he pulls back his arm to throw the ball, and another player, sweeps back and grabs the football out of the quarterbacks lifted arm and runs for a touchdown.  The team, the stands all roared.  The classic “Statue of Liberty” play I learned later it was called.  The winning put us into the final playoff game the title the following week but before the final game we were told our star quarterback wouldn’t be able to play, it seems the coaches recruited a boy that was a year too old, and we would have to play without him at the final game.  Final game night came, our alternate quarterback was put in, and the position he played filled by another and so on down the line, it was like a whole different team was playing.  We did manage to score, but by fourth quarter were down by two touchdowns, the other team had the ball, five minutes left in the game, and the coach looks at me and says, “Larry, go in.” I put my helmet on for the first time at a game and go in the left defensive end position.  The ball is snapped, their quarter back steps back, one of their players tries to block me and I easily push him aside and run straight for the quarter back sacking him, they lose three yards.  I felt exhilarated, energized, the next play the ball is hiked, I do the same thing sacking the quarterback a second time, another two yards lost.  I could imagine Dad in the stands telling someone next to him, “That’s my boy, that’s my boy”.  Next play they put two guys to block me, and they run for a touchdown.  They kicked off and before we could score the game was over, but I had my two plays of fame.  Afterwards we all went to the Dairy Queen for cokes and the coach said he thought I was the most improved player.  I personally thought there was no improvement, it was there all the time, he just didn’t see it.   As we drove home that night after the game in the car Dad, not much on words, says, “You did good.” simple words but I could hear the pride in his voice, I was happy.

Updated: 10-16-2022

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