Re­mem­ber­ing stars from the past; Thur­man, Wal­raven

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY -

There have been many mo­ments and achieve­ments in ath­let­ics viewed with a boast from me that I would re­mem­ber that scene as long as I lived. Some were from the pro­fes­sional leagues that ex­cited this old heart greatly. One that will re­main stamped in my mind is the last play of the 1957 World Se­ries. The bases were loaded in that sev­enth game of the World Se­ries with the Mil­wau­kee Braves and New York Yan­kees each with three vic­to­ries. Now it was the ninth in­ning, the Braves were lead­ing 4-0. There were two outs and “Moose” Skowron, the big slug­ging first base­man of the Yan­kees, was com­ing to bat. The big boy hit a hard grounder that Ed­die Mathews fielded be­hind third base and raced to tag third base for the fi­nal out and seal the vic­tory and the se­ries for the Braves. It is a scene I won’t for­get and one I watch ev­ery so of­ten on Youtube.com.

The com­ments to­day do not deal with those Yan­kee and Braves stars of the 50’s and 60’s. The two men­tioned in the pre­vi­ous para­graph, along with many oth­ers, were def­i­nitely stars dur­ing their days in the Ma­jor Leagues and oc­cu­pied hero sta­tus to thou­sands of ador­ing fans.

I use a state­ment about those and any other team that climbed to the sta­tus of be­ing pow­er­ful or dy­nasty games in the 50’s and 60’s. The play­ers from those teams of that era are dwin­dling. As we read of any old player pass­ing we are re­minded that we too are get­ting older. As one ar­ti­cle noted, “Our heroes die and our child­hood me­mories are all that re­main.”

I now add the ob­ser­va­tion that of­ten we are not even fa­mil­iar with the names of play­ers of past days. That is a shame; the re­mem­brance of the play­ers and their ac­com­plish­ments in past years are those things that en­rich the uni­ver­salath­letic or sports’ sto­ries.

A young and bright star in the lo­cal track world ap­peared on the scene in the mid­dle 1980s. Re­cently, I had oc­ca­sion to meet a young lady and two of her chil­dren. It was at that meet­ing I re­al­ized I had never met her and only knew her by her per­for­mance on the track and by read­ing about her in the sports sec­tion of the news­pa­per. The beau­ti­ful young lady was none other than the great track star from her ear­lier years at Gor­don Cen­tral High School.

The re­ports in the paper left no room to doubt the out­stand­ing tal­ent of the young lady. Words on the printed page de­scribed in glow­ing terms of the young Gor­don Cen­tral’s tal­ent and her ac­com­plish­ments on the track. In spite of all I had read I wasn’t ready for what I was to wit­ness at ei­ther the county or re­gion track meet at Gor­don Cen­tral one Satur­day morn­ing on that spring day long ago.

Shea’s per­for­mances in the sprints that day were beauty in mo­tion. The view of her rac­ing around the curve en­ter­ing the home stretch of the 220-yard dash (it might have been the 200 me­ter by then) dis­played one of the most beau­ti­ful scenes I have ever wit­nessed on the track. I hear the an­nounc­ers speak of the per­for­mances of horses in the big races on TV. Their words of de­scrip­tion are those I need now to de­scribe Shea Thur­man and her per­for­mances. It was smooth­ness and seem­ingly ef­fort­less one could not imag­ine as she glided passed her op­po­nents and left the field be­hind.

In keep­ing with the sen­ti­ments ex­pressed in the sec­tion above con­cern­ing our heroes from past teams, I al­lowed the same thing hap­pened to me about Shea Thur­man. I had not for­got­ten her and nei­ther had I al­lowed her per­for­mances to leave my mind.

It was great meet­ing Shea. I hope I suf­fi­ciently con­veyed to her my ad­mi­ra­tion for her per­for­mances that I wit­nessed that day.

I need to say here that there are other tal­ented young ladies from the past I in­tended to men­tion here. I am about out of space but they will be no­ticed later.

It goes with­out say­ing that Shea Thur­man was an out­stand­ing ath­lete. It can now be es­tab­lished that the ath­letic story did not end with Shea. Wil Wal­raven is Shea’s son. His story has been pro­claimed in a won­der­ful way on the pages of our lo­cal and re­gional pa­pers dur­ing his se­nior year at Sono­rav­ille High School.

The all-around ath­lete ex­celled in so many ar­eas. Most re­cently, he played on Team GA in the GA-Tenn. All-Star Bas­ket­ball Game last week in Chattanooga.

The Wil Wal­raven story will oc­cupy great space in the his­tory and records of Sono­rav­ille High School ath­let­ics.

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