Wondering will have to wait a week

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

It was my plan to write about another &8220;Whatever happened to?&8221; athlete this week, but I have been unable to reach either of my next two subjects, James Berry and Perry Lee Dunn, to fill in details of their lives after Natchez.

Though I did find a phone number for James Berry, all I have gotten is the message that his voice mailbox is full. I was told Perry Lee lives in Brandon, but there is no listing for him. If Robert or anybody else close to him could help, I would appreciate it very much.

Meanwhile, I pulled out some of my old SEC football official&8217;s records and found an interesting tidbit or two. Looking at a partial schedule of games I observed in 1992, I found that of the 35 different officials who worked those games, only four remained active for the 2005 season.

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The 2006 roster has not been finalized. Two of those four were Mississippians Stan Murray of Columbus and George Ranager of Meridian. Realize that those 35 were only a part of the active roster that season, which probably contained 62 names.

The full 1995 roster showed 62 active officials. Of those, 13 remained active for the 2005 season. Retention after 1996 was a little better, as 19 officiated in 2005.

Two men who officiated in the SEC in 1996 have had their careers interrupted by illness or injury but plan to return to the field. Nine officials who were on the supplemental roster moved up to full status.

Two who were on the supplemental list in 1996 later moved up to the active roster but have since dropped out of officiating. Two members of the active 1996 roster are now officiating in the NFL, and one officiates in the NBA.

There were seven men listed as observers in 1996. Four, including myself, have retired. One other has died, while the other two remain on the staff as replay officials. Seven officials from that 1996 list are now working for the conference as part of the instant replay system. One official who was active in 1996, Rogers Redding, is now supervisor of football officials.

Side judge Don Shanks, who lives at Deerfield in Canton, has announced that this season, his 28th, will be his last as an active official. Interestingly, Don&8217;s first varsity game as an on-field official was when LSU visited North Carolina. Shanks, Butch Lambert Jr., and I were the SEC part of a split crew with the ACC for that game.

Thinking of that split crew reminded me of another game. Umpire Jim Pratt, line judge Tommy Lorino and I were sent by the SEC to officiate Georgia Tech against Navy at Annapolis.

Then-President Jimmy Carter, who attended both schools, was in attendance and at the halftime crossed the field to sit on the other side. We officials were still on the field, and as he passed us he waved and said &8220;Good job, fellows.&8221;

Sorry I could never say the same to him. And that&8217;s official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. Reach him at