Fun stories used to come from Gallatin County

| July 13, 2011

Until the big NASCAR doings at Kentucky Speedway, formerly sleepy Gallatin County had been most noted for Courier-Journal columnists who passed along two stories that got national and international attention.

Joe Creason was the first C-J writer who wrote a story early in World War II. A Gallatin County codger had been listening to the news on radio. He rushed out of his home and down the streets of Warsaw, the county seat of Gallatin County.

“It said on the radio that the Nazis are on the outskirts of Warsaw. Tell everyone you see to run for their lives!”

The Warsaw the German army was threatening was, of course, Warsaw, Poland.

Jock’s story

One morning at the C-J I got a call from Jock Sutherland, the Gallatin County basketball coach and one of the funniest men I have ever known.

Said Jock, “My team was playing last night and the official made a terrible call. I rushed out to the foul line to protest.

“The ref told me that every step I took back to the bench was going to cost me a technical.

“I didn’t say a thing. I just motioned for two of my strongest boys to come and pick me up and carry me back to the bench.”

The Associated Press picked up my column and so did Readers Digest.

In case you don’t know, Gallatin County is bordered by the Ohio River and the counties of Carroll, Owen, Grant and Boone.

Warsaw is on the western side of Gallatin County. Sparta, site of the big NASCAR race, is just east of I-71. It’s about 17 miles from Warsaw to Sparta

Just one Bobby

When World War II ended, returning members of the National Guard in my home county (Estill) had such terrible experiences that few of them wanted to return to Company H.

Some of the GIs who did want to keep a Guard company visited our high school and talked several of us (who needed the money) into signing up. An old doctor told us to line up, take a piece of paper and hold it over one eye. He asked us to read lines on the chart. Then he would tell us to change eyes.

Bob Hester was a fun-loving guard on our football team. He had lost an eye when a boyhood friend shot him with a BB gun. But Bob wanted to join the National Guard. When the old doc told him to switch the paper to his other eye, he just switched it to his other hand and returned it to his good eye!

He passed and may be the only one-eyed member in the history of the National Guard.

During one of Irvine High’s football games, an opposing lineman rushed to the referee and said, “One of those @%$* Irvine linemen is biting me!” The referee told our captain, Donald “Brandy” Brandenburg, to take care of the situation. Everybody knew that Bob Hester was the guilty Golden Eagle, but nobody snitched on him. Brandy just told the ref that he would see that the biter didn’t take another chomp.

Bob was fun-loving – and he got that naturally from his dad, who was a barber.

Customer’s turn

Only one of his customers ever got the best of his dad.

While cutting a bald L&N railroader’s hair, Edd Hester rubbed his hand over the customer’s head and said, “That feels just like my wife’s rear end.”

The customer rubbed his own head and told the barber, “Damned if it don’t.”

Well, here’s the bad news: Bob passed away July 6 in Georgetown, where he and Betty, his wife of 63 years, lived with their daughter, Carrie.

Bob followed in his father’s profession. Several of his friends told him that he should charge extra for laughs in addition to providing haircuts.

He was extremely active in his churches, businesses, civics, golf, politics and community affairs in Lexington, Burgin, Harrodsburg and Danville.

One of Bob’s brothers-in-law was Bill Masters, one of Berea College’s all-time best basketball guards.

Pete Rose best

With so much attention paid to Derek Jeter’s quest for his 3,000th base hit, I thought that the baseball-loving fans among my loyal readers would enjoy a deeper look at the all-time leaders in the hitting department.

I’m sure that you know that two men stand alone at the top of the list of best hitters in the history of baseball: Pete Rose with 4,256 hits and Ty Cobb with 4,189.

Now here’s a statement that is going to cause some of you to squirm: Pete isn’t in the Hall of Fame because he bet on his own team when he managed the Cincinnati Reds. I’m cool with that.

But it is grossly unfair that an out-and-out racist, Cobb, is in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.

I think that both of them belong in the Hall of Fame with ever-how-many asterisks you want to attach to their names. It simply distorts history to have one of them and not both.

Here’s the list of leaders:

Player - Hits

  1. Pete Rose – 4,256
  2. Ty Cobb – 4,189
  3. Hank Aaron – 3,771
  4. Stan Musial – 3,630
  5. Tris Speaker – 3,514
  6. Cap Anson – 3,435
  7. Honus Wagner – 3,420
  8. Carl Yastrzemski – 3,419
  9. Paul Molitor – 3,319
  10. Eddie Collins – 3,315
  11. Willie Mays – 3,283
  12. Eddie Murray – 3,255
  13. Nap Lajoie -  3,242
  14. Cal Ripken – 3,184
  15. George Brett – 3,154
  16. Paul Waner – 3,152
  17. Robin Yount – 3,142
  18. Tony Gwynn – 3,141
  19. Dave Winfield – 3,110
  20. Craig Biggio – 3,060
  21. Rickey Henderson – 3,055
  22. Rod Carew – 3,053
  23. Lou Brock – 3,023
  24. Rafael Palmeiro – 3,020
  25. Wade Boggs – 3,010
  26. Al Kaline – 3,007
  27. Derek Jeter – 3,004
  28. Roberto Clemente – 3,000

Note: Pete Rose missed a few games for Army duty. While he was at Fort Knox he could be seen just about every night at Fairgrounds Stadium watching Louisville’s Triple A Colonels. That’s how much he loved baseball.

Stan Musial missed all of 1946 while he was in the service.

Willie Mays was in the Army the same two years I was. He played in just 34 games in 1952 and missed all of 1953. While I was stationed at Fort Meade, Md., I saw Willie play for Fort Lee, Va., against Fort Meade. Every Fort Lee starter was a Major Leaguer, although a pitcher did have to play first base.

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Category: Sports

About the Author (Author Profile)

Earl Cox, Sports Columnist

Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.

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