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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Strange in Obits: Jack Mildren

I've mentioned before that I grew up as a military brat so it shouldn't come as a shock that, in addition to the places I have visited courtesy of my own military service, I got to attend a number of schools in several states courtesy of my Dad's military service. If you haven't experienced making new friends every few years, I think you are missing an opportunity. And I mean that.

Anyway, aside from new schools and new homes and new friends, I also learned to adopt new sports teams. The very first team of any sport that I have any real memory of liking was The Sooners of OU.

I know, I've probably violated several Texas laws by even posting this information from such a close proximity to Austin and admitting to having once been a Sooner fan, but please consider that I was in the second or third grade. And this is back when the TV only came in CBS, ABC, NBC or PBS.

The thing is, I have vivid memories of incredible athletes from that period in about 1970 or so. We were stationed at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City and I suppose rooting for the Sooners was what one did in Oklahoma City (perhaps Bob will confirm this for us - he is a freind who comments from time to time on the Blog, and now lives in Oklahoma City).

There were these incredible players on the team back then - The Selmon Brothers: Leroy, Lucius, Dewey and Octavio (not real sure about the last one), Tinkerbell Owens, Joe Wylie, Greg Pruitt and my hero, Jack Mildren.

Jack Mildren was an awesome quarterback and though I have no memory of the team's particular stats or record at the time, I just knew that he was the greatest quarterback to ever play football. There was a time that in between John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, if asked, I was sure that my hero was Jack Mildren.

Later, we moved to Ohio and Jack Mildren moved on to the NFL. Our loyalties moved with us and we became fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes, but I continued to follow Jack Mildren. I simply could not understand how such a great quarterback could be relegated to playing cornerback for a few years with a few different teams then tossed aside. Of course, I was in the third or fourth grade - not necessarily ready for the anchor desk on ESPN.

So today I was looking at the obituaries - something I do often for no explainable reason other than I like to read about people I don't know, and lo and behold, I see the name of 58 year old, former Sooner QB Jack Mildren. It turns out that Larry Jack Mildren went on to have a successful career as a banker, a broadcaster and was even the Lt. Governor of Oklahoma. Who knew?

I read Jack's Wikipedia page and I also learned something else about the man I had idolized for so many years; his real last name.

The strange thing is, as a kid, I thought his name was Jack Mildred and I guess, it just stuck. I think back now, to all the times that I met someone who was from Oklahoma or was a Sooner fan and asked them about Jack Mildred and can suddenly appreciate why they looked at me like I was a real dumbass.

Well rest in peace Gov. Mildren, best quarterback of my memories, and a hero to a little kid. Perhaps now, in your beloved memory, I'll try to figure out the name of that other Selmon brother.


1 comment:

RocketJam said...

You may be interested to know that Jack did his daily radio show up to the day before he died! I'm an OKC suburb resident, and heard him pretty regularly on the radio. I guess he kept the fact that he had cancer pretty quiet except among close acquaintances. I didn't know he had it until his death was announced on the local news.

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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