Friday, April 28, 2006

My Column About the Standout Basketball Career That Never Happened Hits Home With Mark Robinson, Who Has Been There, Done That At Marshalltown High

The column about my teen-age basketball exploits, or lack of them, has been the subject of considerable e-mail in the past week.

Indeed, the column brought more attention from readers now than it did when it first appeared as a Sunday newspaper feature 29 years ago.

The first e-mail is from Mark Robinson [right], a native Iowan who now lives in California:

"Great story, Ron.

"Thought I would share this with you.

"We had a hoop at our house in Marshalltown, and kids on the block played there every day. No matter the weather. I recall looking out the side door and seeing Rod and Tom and Steve and others going at it. None of them high school material, and it was December; the ball was hard as a rock.

"I did manage to do well as a freshman at Anson [Middle School], averaging 23 points per game. Your story hit home with me when I recall my high school years. I was supposed to be the next star. At least, that was what of expected of me. I didn't grow beyond my 6-foot frame and I didn't seem to fit the inside game that George Funk preached to us. As a junior, we got to the championship game against Kennedy, and I played a whole minute and got 1 point on a free throw.

"My senior year at Marshalltown, I started two games, only because the junior starters were ill. I managed to score 10 points (high scorer) against Des Moines North.

"Ames, with Terry Carroll and Scott Berguson, kicked our butts in the semifinals my senior year. We Anson kids beat those boys in overtime when I was a freshman (32 points from yours truly), but these kids had come a long way and had added a gigantic player named Schneider along the way. He was the difference. Ames won it all that year and we came in fourth.

"Guess who won the consolation? Yeah, Kennedy...again, with the younger brother of the great Enright in the middle.

"Now, about Murray Wier, whom you mentioned in your article.

"I worked for Lennox Corporate in Marshalltown before they sent us all to Dallas in 1978. While there, they hired Marcia Wier, Murray's daughter. She was absolutely gorgeous. I recalled Murray, in my high school days, coaching East Waterloo when I was a player at Marshalltown. And I asked myself; How did this beautiful creature come from the Ross Perot-looking Murray Wier? She told us a few stories about her dad. Wish I had written them down.

"She hooked up with a Lennox employee named Barr Prichard, who was 10 years her elder with a pickup truck that had a sound system that would knock your ears off.

"I always wondered what happened to Marcia Wier."

Mark Robinson

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Most kids are dreamers. I was a dreamer, and evidently so was Mark Robinson. As kids, we think we're going to be the next Murray Wier [left], the next Greg Brunner, the next Fred Hoiberg. It's tough when reality shows its ugly face -- whether that happens when your 7th-grade coach tells you [well, told me] that you'll alternate wearing jersey No. 32 in games with another kid [the other kid way back then was named Clark Looney]. There was only one Murray Wier. Only one 5-9, 155-pound red-haired whirlwind would set a Big Ten scoring record in his senior season for Pops Harrison's Hawkeyes with 272 points, and 399 points overall. Mark Robinson is pictured on the right, and I thank him for documenting his career. I know how he feels. By the way, Mark, I don't know what happened to Marcia Wier, either. If I hear, I'll let you know].

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On the same subject, Gordy Scoles wrote:


"That was a great story about your experience with basketball in 7th grade. Very
common, I would imagine..... Thanks again for a great story."

Gordy Scoles
Bennettsville, S.C.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Great hearing from you, Gordy. And good luck on your next book].

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Former Iowan Richard Hayman sent this e-mail:

"Mr. Maly,

"Your (literary) shots still go swish! Thanks for the article. (BTW, is
that a recent picture of you?)"

Richard Hayman

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Thank you, Richard. The photo was taken on the field after a football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City in 2004].

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[Ron Maly is a four-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year and also is the best-selling author of "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," which is in its second printing as both a hardback and softback book. The book is about the rich football tradition at the University of Iowa. Maly has a heck of a lot of fun doing what he's doing. Ron's columns about sports, newspapers, his family, medicine, travel, the people he knows, the people he doesn't know, a few people he'd like to know better, a few people he once knew and is trying to forget, a few people he has already forgotten, and anything else that trips his trigger appear regularly at and When you call 515-201-5495, either Maly or the person who recorded the message on his answering machine will respond].