GUNS N’ BOGARTS

Another layer of the onion has peeled away and (gulp), I owe Snyder an apology. It seems he did NOT cost me my basketball career—it was something entirely different.

Conventional wisdom (ok, my wisdom) has always been that when Bobby didn’t pass the ball back in 8th grade tryouts it gave Coach Lautenschlager pause. I never survived that final cut. Turns out it had nothing to do with my friend. It was, rather, the fact that I didn’t carry a gun.

Who’d have thunk it?

It all came to light just this week with the revelation that pistols were brandished in Washington’s NBA locker room. Indeed, the New York Post headlined an article “3 out of 4 players pack heat.” (January 2, 2010).

What chance did I have? Heck, the only self-defense my father knew was to, when playing hearts, pass the queen of spades “with protection.” ( two other spades).

So…I’m sorry, Bob. And…I understand now why neither my brother (who, to this day holds Greenview Junior High School’s career scoring mark), nor I played pro hoops. Consider:

We didn’t grow up with guns. Not even cap guns. ‘Twas no part of our family’s culture. Heck, in an era when westerns dominated network TV, the only cowboy show on our lone home screen was “Maverick;” our dad thought it was about poker.

I suppose this presaged my checkered career in the army. It was the first week of January, 1972 when, (you talk about a fish out of water), I entered Basic Training. You think a Jew on a pontoon is unique? Picture this innocent picking the pork off his plate, watching the road for snakes, and marching rhythmically in Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Being a “B,” I drew KP (Kitchen Police) that first day and was not with the unit as M-16 rifles were distributed; I had to wait.

My first mistake was when, following directions, I went to pick it up. I’d asked for my “gun” and, before they gave it to me, some redneck with the IQ of an ashtray screamed at me, admonishing that “It’s not a gun, troup, it’s a weapon!” (On her best day my ultimate wife never got that loud). When I stopped trembling the guy made me do twenty push-ups, the last several of which were performed only through divine intervention.

I had that weapon eight weeks. During this time we were taught to properly care, clean and protect our rifles like we would a newborn child. I wasn’t ready, however, to have children.

The Super Bowl that year featured somewhat of a hometown Dallas team against the Don Shula’s still-blossoming Dolphins. The day after was a Monday, and a scheduled “white glove inspection.” This meant the powers-that-be would be wearing white gloves and massaging the insides of our guns. If visible grease or oil surfaced….well, there were all kinds of threats, the biggest being we wouldn’t go home.

The drill instructor came by during the first half, screaming that we’d better be sure our weapons could pass the next day’s scrutiny. This Jewish Steve Urkel was intimidated. With a few others, I got my weapon and spent the next hour scrubbing like Lady Macbeth.

The next morning, bright and early, they had the inspection. You should have seen the goyim show off their rifles. Strutting, beaming, they were not unlike proud parents at a child’s Bar Mitzvah. Me? I just wanted to slide through, which I did.

By the end of February I was putting down my gun for good. It was off to Texas to be a medic. Dad urged my brother to enlist and join me, but Father didn’t always know best; there was a war going on and Hal stayed home.

And so it is that H never once picked up a rifle. As such, his basketball career ended early. The record, however, stands. My brother made every shot he ever took from the floor—both of them. His lifetime shooting percentage, 1.000 says it all:

With or without a gun, Hal Bogart never misfired.

2 Responses to “GUNS N’ BOGARTS”

  1. John Steadman says:

    Bruce:

    We had a great team when Hal was in the 9th grade at Greenview. We went 11-3.

    If we had more uniforms your brother might have seen more game time.

    To this day, that is my main regret about that year. Not that he should have played more. Just that we didn’t have more uniforms.

  2. bob says:

    For the record, I made the 9′th grade team as well with a different coach. Besides, you were a power forward and I was a guard. I always knew you and Weed held that agianst me but because of our other close ties we overcame it. I did have a cap gun growing up. Probably because I played with goim at my end of South Euclid. Never did hold or shoot the real thing.

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