Mark Clark: A little self-pity and some memories of the past

Mark Clark: A little self-pity and some memories of the past

First, allow me a moment here to express some self-pity. I am going stir crazy staying at home wishing I was anywhere else most of the time. However, it is a pain to go anywhere else right now. I am recovering from Charcot foot surgery. I will not bother to explain the procedure in detail, but two things about the surgery, it ain’t fun and it ain’t pretty.

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook have probably seen the photos of my foot after surgery and again after three weeks. I may post more today, if I think about taking some while I am at my doctor’s office to have the first of my hard casts sawed off. I guess I will have more x-rays taken and then have my hard cast replaced. I probably have four to six more weeks before I will be able to walk on the foot again instead of riding it around on a knee bike, or whatever they call the contraption.

That may be my biggest complaint about the surgery – having to ride the knee bike around. Sometimes the knee bike decides to be the boss and throws me off, which makes me put my foot on the ground to keep from falling and that hurts – a lot. I have a wheelchair, but I have not used it except to get in the house after the surgery. The wheelchair is much more comfortable than the knee bike but inconvenient when trying to move around the house.

The reason I brought up my self-pity is not because of the actual surgery, but rather the things it has prevented me from doing. I have not been able to attend the sporting events I usually attend at this time of the year. Thank goodness for cooperating coaches and Game Changer. Because of them, I have been able to write the stories of how well the teams I follow have done. I have not attended a sports event since Central and Smiths Station played the second game of their three-game series at Darnell-Nelson Field. That game was just before I had the surgery while I was wearing a temporary cast. I stood for the entire game in the Central dugout with my foot on the knee bike while taking photos – over 300 photos, which I posted on Facebook for the players and parents to see.

I paid dearly for the next four days because of that. From my knee down, I hurt. I could tell then that I was done for high school baseball and softball season. I am hoping to get well enough to attend the Central spring game coming up. I am hopeful that I will be well enough to attend football games this fall. Right now, I would not be able to walk the side-line. Since Central’s first game is against Hoover High in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl, I can attend that one because I sit in the Press box there. There is an elevator there so I do not have to climb stairs which I cannot do with the foot problem.

Enough of the self-pity stuff. Now, on to a different subject – old Kellogg’s games.

While cleaning up in my Man Cave room, I came across some old Kellogg’s games that come in Pop Tarts back in 1970 and 1971. The ones I found were from 1970. I have a basketball game, a football game and a hockey game from those days. You used a deck of cards to determine what happened in each game.

I remember playing these games – especially basketball – with my friend Dean Hicks. Dean was very progressive and decided we should make some changes to the game to include a three-point shot that was popular in the old American Basketball Association. The National Basketball Association did not have the shot back then. So, we adapted the game to include the shot by taking out a play from each position which would have resulted in a foul. There were enough fouls to mimic a real game even after we removed one.

We would play the game for hours at a time. Dean always seemed to win. 

We tried to play the other games we had, but they were not as fun as playing the basketball game. We both liked hockey, but did not know enough about it to enjoy playing the card game. Football was more difficult to play because you had to keep up with too much stuff.

I think Dean had the baseball game. If he did not, I lost the thing some time over the years. We both like baseball a lot, but not the Kellogg’s game so much. We invented our own game which we could play with a die or by guessing a number between one and six. We made 10 to 12 lists of three outs, a single, a double and a home run. We intentionally left out the triple as it was unusual to get a triple in baseball.

We would move from column of plays to the next column of plays until one of us got three outs and then the other took his turn. It was fun to play, just like the basketball game when you could not go outside or you were playing over the telephone – which we did a lot. Back then, we trusted each other to tell the truth when we were playing those games. That is how it was between good friends – and Dean was one of my best friends back then.

We do not see much of each other now. The last time I saw him was at the Alabama Sports Writers Association banquet last year. We both attended to see his brother Tommy inducted into the ASWA Hall of Fame. I sat with him and his family and we talked about things that had happened since the last time we saw each other. 

The next time I see Dean, I may bring up the old Kellogg’s games and the baseball game we invented. Maybe we will challenge each other to another game of each. With my luck, he will probably win. But, that is okay with me. You see, friends stay friends no matter which one wins a game. Friendship is far more important than any game could ever be.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.