Fortunato turnout fantastic

Published 12:15 am Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I was pleased to note that 150 or more golfers had signed up to play in last weekend’s Joe Fortunato Celebrity Golf Tournament. I had always thought that 160 golfers were the maximum number that Duncan Park could comfortably hold. Maybe a few more could be squeezed in if more carts were available. I do recall that one year a few extra carts were borrowed (or rented) from Belwood. Duncan Park at that time did not have the number of carts that they have now.

Speaking of Joe Fortunato, no one is more deserving than Joe for membership in the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. Though Joe (because he played on losing teams at Mississippi State) did not make one of the recognized All American teams, his play at State, his play for the Chicago Bears, and his post-football life more than qualify him for that Hall of Fame. I had thought that Joe’s time had passed, but this year Arnold Tucker, who played quarterback at Army in the 1940s, was inducted. Tucker missed out on All American status because he played at the same time as former Notre Dame great Johnny Lujack. Tucker was the quarterback in the Army backfield with Glen Davis, Doc Blanchard (who prepped at St. Stanislaus) and Meridian’s Shorty McWilliams.

I was fortunate to attend a summer camp in the Smokys when two members of those great Army teams were counselors. Tackle Tex Coulter and end Hank Foldberg, along with Army assistant coach Herman Hickman worked at the camp. Years later, while officiating a freshman football game at LSU, an end on the Florida freshman team was Hank Foldberg Jr. Foldberg married a Knoxville girl he met while working at the camp that summer. They were several years older than I was, so I did not know the future Mrs. Foldberg while I was being reared in Knoxville. In those days my friends and I all bled Tennessee Orange, but I did secretly admire those Army teams.

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The NCAA is trying to figure out why Division I (Football Bowl Division) players are not all making sound academic progress. In my opinion, there are two major reasons. Too many of those kids think they will make a living playing professionally, and too many have been passed through high school (and earlier) and have never paid the academic price to succeed. However, I only have the questions, not the answers.

I read Sunday about the ultimate example of sportsmanship. Girls softball teams from two small colleges were playing an important game. One girl hit the ball over the fence for a home run. After passing first base, the player thought she might have missed the base. As she turned back to touch first base, she severely twisted her knee. Unable to even walk, she would have only earned a single had she not continued and touched all of the bases. Rules prohibited her teammates from helping her. Two infielders from the other team picked the girl up and carried her to each base and home plate. I don’t recall which team won the game, but the score was close enough that the home run was important. In this day and time you won’t see many examples of sportsmanship to rival that one.

And, That’s Official

Al Graning can be reached by e-mail at