Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, November 7, 2015, 12:30 p.m.
Last night I got home late from writing about the high school football game between Laurens and Greenwood, won by the former, 17-14, and ending a long losing streak by the Raiders to the Eagles, and I couldn’t go to sleep, which is common for me after I’ve been out on assignment.
I watched Brigham Young play San Jose State for no apparent reason. I did more thinking than watching.
Laurens is 6-5 overall, 4-0 when I’ve written about their games. It is merely a coincidence, though not one I’m likely to volunteer freely while walking the streets of Clinton.
Greenwood — a team that had knocked Westside from the ranks of the unbeatens a week earlier, and won by the “I don’t care who you got it from, that score’s got to be backward” score of 55-7 — barely budged against the Raiders on this Friday night.
It’s what has inspired many a devoted coach to stand at attention, put his cap over his heart, and say, solemnly, “That’s just the game of football.”
But I wrote about the game already, and you can read what I wrote here: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22145
At Greenwood High School’s J.W. Babb Stadium — I worked at the newspaper in that town when Babb, known as “Pinky” everywhere but the sign on the stadium scoreboard, was winding down his legendary career in 1981 — I sat in the row behind the Laurens District 55 High School broadcast crew, consisting of Doug Holliday, whom I’ve known for 30 years, and King Dixon, whose exploits have been repeated to me all my life.
Dixon was the star of the Laurens Tigers — they started “raiding” when they took on the district in the early 1970s — while my late father played at Clinton in the 1950s. Dixon went on to the University of South Carolina, the Marine Corps and, for a time, served as athletic director at his alma mater.
He is as pleasant a man as I have known. My mother says he was that way when he was singlehandedly, to hear the stories, burying my father’s Red Devils. By the time I came along, Laurens didn’t have a King Dixon. It was apparently the only reason we won.
Listening to Dixon announce a Raider game is unique. Imagine the late Larry Munson as an analyst. Holliday is his straight man, mainly just the facts, pickup of three, down and distance. It’s as if Holliday is playing chords so that Dixon can riff.
And now I’m laughing at the image of King Dixon playing a Stratocaster.
He spells a lot. “P-R-I-D-E. That’s pride. The Raiders are playing with a lot of pride, Doug.”
Occasionally, when a play is really important, Dixon will blurt something like, oh, “Miss it!”
He regularly calls for the manly virtues of hard work, valor, integrity and character, and cites them as vital ingredients in every Laurens first down. Dixon is more than old school. He had already graduated when the old school was built.
Many years ago, the Gamecock beat reporter of a major South Carolina daily was driving through Georgia listening to the radio when he suddenly pulled off the highway and called the office. Being the USC man didn’t mean the writer was immune to covering high school games on Friday nights.
The scribe was unaware of Dixon’s past as a schoolboy hero, a Gamecock hero, a military hero.
“Hey,” he said, “I just heard that USC named King Dixon athletic director.”
“Yeah. When you get back, we need you to get right on that story.”
“Wait a minute,” he said. “The only King Dixon I ever heard of is that crazy man who announces Laurens games on the radio.”
Standing in a small group at a local function some months back, I told that story. King was in the group.
He laughed twice as hard as everyone else.
I would have taken a photo to accompany this blog, but, at the time, I had no idea this was what I was going to write. It happens a lot.
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