If you want to hear some humorous stories from three of the best sportswriters in this state, Cumberland University’s Memorial Hall is the place to be Thursday night.
It is the annual Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame induction dinner.
Inductees include retired Tennessean columnist Larry Woody, Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist John Adams and Roy Exum, former columnist for the defunct Chattanooga News-Free Press.
Not only do I get to emcee the banquet, they are three of my best friends in the business. Trust me, these three amigos have some stories to tell.
Since this may be my first (and last) time to emcee the event, I have permission to do it my way from Associated Press sports writer Teresa Walker. She may regret giving me the green light.
These writers have covered local sports in their respective cities. They have also covered major sporting events such as Super Bowls, college football national championship games and college football’s major post-season bowl games.
They have covered a number of World Series, Final Fours, Masters golf tournaments, Summer Olympics Games, Kentucky Derbies, heavyweight boxing championship bouts.
If you want to know what the old Skywriters Tour was like, Exum and Woody lived through a number of them. Since the statue of limitations has expired, I’m sure they will share some of the stories they can remember. I understand a sizeable amount of adult beverages were consumed on these annual trips to visit each SEC head coach during Fall practice.
I’m not sure that smoke-bellowing Southern Airways plane used to transport the Skywriters is still in one piece, but if so it should be on display at the Smithsonian Museum.
Covering my first Kentucky Derby, I leaned on Roy Exum as my tour guide. The first place he took me was to Churchill Downs’ infield.
I had heard some of the stories. I can vouch they were worse than advertised.
Just minutes after entering the den of iniquity, all I could see was this humongous young man wearing his birthday suit. He wasn’t drunk. He would had to sober up to be drunk. He was swinging his fists wildly, trying to connect with anyone dumb enough to get near him.
He would repeatedly swing, miss and fall on his face in the infield mud. Eventually the police arrived and arrested him. He didn’t know where his clothes were. Are you kidding? He didn’t know where he was.
We heard (never confirmed) that he was an offensive lineman at an OVC school located in the state.
After that, covering the Derby was a breeze. Hey, it only lasted two minutes.
I will get Woody to tell about the time we covered the Tennessee-LSU football game in Tiger Stadium. It had been postponed due to Katrina and we drove to Baton Rouge, which was overrun by people fleeing from New Orleans.
We checked into our hotel the same time a large group of young men who were from the FBI training academy did. It had two stories. They were assigned rooms and given their keys. As we walked up to our room, the FBI trainees were racing up and down the halls trying to locate their rooms without much luck.
Woody watched them flounder for a few minutes, then said, “Bid, if these guys can’t find their rooms, what chance do they have of finding a murderer?"
There will be more. You won’t want to miss it.
Contact Wilson Post Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at email@example.com.