Never has the world seen such a basketball machine as this, the 1990-1991 Pine Tree Pirates Junior Varsity squad. No, they didn't win any district titles. In fact, they didn't win anything to speak of except perhaps the hearts of basketball devotees everywhere. But this endearing bunch of rag-tag teens didn't get to the top without a lot of hard work. OK, they didn't get to the top at all, but there was still a lot of hard work.
Led by Coach Ronnie Hinkle, the Pirates prepared with great anticipation for an exciting season of roundball. There were drills, scrimmages and weightlifting. And of course, words of wisdom from their fearless leader (Hinkle) in his trademark high-pitched voice.
"Some of you don't care about this. It's all about chicken fried to you, isn't is? YOU JUST WANNA RIDE THE BUS! AND POOT! AND EAT CHICKEN FRIED!"
Alas, 'twas true for many of these players. After all, how would a 16 year old boy rather spend his Friday nights than riding an un-air-conditioned bus all over East Texas in 100 degree heat, filled with sweaty would-be athletes, constantly being berated and yelled at by demeaning coaches, and ending up with a greasy burger, or, were they lucky, a chicken fried.
"CHERRY PIE AND CHICKEN FRIED!" the coach would yell on those long difficult afternooons. Was this really all there was? Not for three young players. They had their sights on greater things. Perhaps they too would, some how, some way, see actual playing time one day.
One of these lads (kneeling, first from left #20) was the "Mailman," Rodney Malone. In one particular game, his loyal and devoted fans chanted his name. "Rod-neeee... Rod-neeee," they yelled. During the second quarter, the signs came out. "Put Rodney In!" they proclaimed. Now, I am not sure what caused Hinkle to put Rodney into the game, but late in the fourth quarter, much to everyone's amazement including his own, the Coach did just that. With great confidence and abilitiy (well confidence anyway) Rod strode out onto the floor. On his first trip down the floor, he noticed the signs. "Take Rodney Out!" they now read...
Rodney is now a devoted reader of "Out of Bounds," one of the original recipients. He manages Maverick Mortgage in Longview and Tyler and resides in Longview. And, he could beat you in "H-O-R-S-E," provided you start with "H-O-R."
Another of these talents was Greg King (kneeling, 3rd from left #34). Now, Greg plays all sports the same way. Throw or hit the ball as hard as you can. Period. Sometimes, Greg would actually get into the game in the FIRST half. You know, if several people were mortally wounded or something. On one occasion, he sent a pass into the paint where a cutter was headed. As the ball flew past the other 9 players on the court and dented the pad under the goal, Coach Hinkle just shook his head. Later in the locker room, he would hollar at King. "What are you thinking, King? You're out there trying to throw the ball through the %$&*@$% wall, pardonmyfrench..."
Greg is now a devoted reader of "Out of Bounds," and is also one of the original recipients. Should you meet him on a court or field one day, heed some advice. GET OUT OF THE WAY. Greg now works as controller for the New Orleans-Oklahoma City Hornets and resides in Oklahoma City.
And the third guy? That fuzzy headed, bespectacled fella in the back wearing #44? Why that would be yours truly, editor of OOB, Joshua Best. I scored some 366 points that season. Now, it was all in Pre-game, but I scored none-the-less (Malone holds the Pre-game record with over 500 points). I think I got in the game once or twice, but suffice it to say I am still picking the splinters out of my behind to this day.
There could be many reasons for our pine-riding fates, but I trace the root of the problem back to "the socializing." You see, sometimes during practice this particular JV squad could become rather talkative. Hinkle didn't care for this at all, and one day, he'd had enough. He stopped the practice down for a series of "killers" - or what I think they now call "running lines." But before inflicting our punishment, the Coach gave us another of his trademark lectures, one that we would repeat throughout our time in high school.
"This is all about socializing to you people, ain't it? Well lemme tell you this: P*SS ON THE SOCIALIZING! You got... three killers. Readygo!"
All during those killers, we were reminded of our sin, and exactly what we could do with it: "P*SS ON IT! P*SS ON THE SOCIALIZING!"
But the season would not be without value for us -- we did learn the true meaning of respect that season. After a rare win versus Kilgore, Coach Hinkle approached his counterpart, Coach Young. Hinkle extended a hand for the customary handshake, but Coach Young simply yelled, "You Turd!"
A few weeks later, during the season finale, as Malone, King, and Best sat, once again on the bench in Carthage, TX, a lone man high in the stands stood. He was wearing a leather jacket from which he pulled a large sign. It read:
"Coach Young Was Right"
That man is the one you all now know as "The Old Coach." He suffered with that team all season, but he was there to the bitter end. I don't know if we beat Carthage -- I doubt it. But the Old Coach was there to let us know it wasn't in vain. At least we had Coach Young to respect.
UPDATE: During the 2005 season, I saw, much to my surprise, one Ronnie Hinke on the basketball court at Pirate Gymnasium. This time, he was the ref. I guess he figured he, like all coaches, had spent so long dishing it out, it was time to take the wrath for a change! PT mainstay B Lee, longtime official book keeper for the Pirates thought it would be amusing to point me out to Hinke after the game. "Isn't this nice," she said, "Now you can say whatever you want to your former coach and there's nothing he can do about it." Much to my surprise, Hinkle responded, "He doesn't have to. I've seen his website," and walked off...
TO BE CONTINUED... (?)