Starstruck: My less than ideal encounters with athletes
By Marv Kohlbeck
Conversations in an emergency room generally revolve around a patient’s condition and treatment. Recently, I was visiting a relative in the ER at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield. While waiting for a doctor to arrive for consultation, our conversation with a nurse turned to what we do in retirement.
With the usual response of having morning coffee with friends at the local café, I also touched on some of the volunteer work done with local organizations and that I have written news stories for the Pittsville Record since 1999 and recently began writing columns for Hub City Times. That must have hit a vein of interest as the nurse quickly responded, “The Hub City News is the only paper I get.” She apparently is a sports enthusiast as she then asked if I write sports stories.
I told her I would write a sports story in the next issue and hoped that she would notice the article.
My first reference goes back to the early 60s. Being a Packer fan, I would attend a lot of home games with some of my buddies who also lived in Wisconsin Rapids at that time. We would often drive up on Saturdays to take in the nightlife and hang out at a lively spot called Speeds with the other young guys and gals. Packer players also frequented the bar, and that may have generated the crowd.
Our group of four guys was having a good time when Paul Hornung entered the place. He immediately was surrounded by young women. Never shy of meeting a challenge, I was willing to approach Hornung and ask if he would be interested in attending a party in our motel room after closing time. In short terms, he “brushed me off like a cheap suit.”
Two episodes in Hawaii in 1983 were added to my list of downers. My wife and I were hosting a tour group, and it took place when the Pro Bowl was being played in Hawaii. Staying in the same hotel as some of the football players generated excitement. I met Packer player James Lofton in the lobby, and after some conversation I asked him for his autograph. His quick response was, “Just a moment, I have to go to my room and check on my wife and kids.” He never returned. He “stiffed” me.
The next morning my wife and I decided to have an early breakfast in the hotel. When we arrived in the dining area we noticed a portion of the room had been roped off. The waitress indicated that management decided this would provide some privacy for the players. Surprisingly the waitress said, “It is early, and there are few people around. So if you wish to sit near the players, you may do so.” Wow, was I surprised when we noticed three famous quarterbacks sitting in one booth near us: Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, and Terry Bradshaw.
I suggested to my wife that those football players would be more receptive to have their picture taken by an attractive lady than an old duffer like me. I was right. They willingly posed for pictures and even responded to her request for autographs. I was hyped. Where or when could you ever find three Pro Bowl quarterbacks sitting together and willing to pose for pictures? Priceless. A slam dunk.
We were anxious to have the film developed to show friends the pictures we had captured, but in all the excitement we were not aware that one of us inadvertently placed the same roll of film back in the camera and ended up with double exposures on the beauty of Hawaii and pictures of football players. All we could do was talk about it. Without pictures it was hard to convince people of our breakfast experience.