BACK IN THE “BUS”

     I used to live in Columbus, Ohio.  Just before I moved back to R.I in 2003, the capitol of Ohio was my home.  I don’t have particularly fond memories of my time here.  It was not an especially good time in my life.  I do however, look forward to the trip, simply because my daughters live there.  I was walking down memory lane by myself earlier today and I did remember a couple of laughs I had here.  Before I begin, just let me say that I was very disappointed with the ten thousand plus fans at Huntington Park on Saturday night.  When former Clipper and World Series MVP Mike Lowell was introduced, he was barely acknowledged by the fans in Ohio.  How about a little baseball knowledge, people?  A thank you for his work as a Yankees farmhand in the late nineties?  Or just a round of applause for the 1500 Major League games he’s played since?  Lowell went 4-4, with three doubles and when he was lifted for pinchrunner Tug Hulett, he did get a more fitting tribute, yet nothing to write home about.  Don’t ever take for granted the loyal and extremely smart baseball fans of New England.

     When I was a resident of Columbus, I hosted the morning show on the all sports radio station, WBNS, known as “the Fan”.  My co-host was a teriffic guy named Raymont Harris.  Harris, the former Buckeye running back, played in the NFL for the Bears.  He also was a member of the Patriots for a very brief time, but never played a game for the Pats.  In football-crazy Columbus, we spent the brunt of the time talking OSU football.  We had a good chemistry and worked together well.  A lot of our relationship was based upon busting each others chops, both on and off the air.  Raymont was a worthy friend/foe.  As a former Buckeye, he was very in tune with the program.  Other hosts on the “Fan” included Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman, both ex- Buckeye stars.  There was a running gag among us.  They teased me to no end when they found that I never played football.  They turned it up several notches when they found out I was in the band.  I was truly fascinated by everything to do with the Ohio State football program.  The year I was there,  OSU won the National Championship.

     I was even caught up with the Buckeye Marching Band.  My favorite moment each Saturday was when the tuba player would prance out onto the field and “dot the i”.  It is a ritual in Columbus.  I talked about it every week, partly because I thought it was so cool and partly to get Raymonts’ goat.  One week, we heard from the director of the OSU band.  He invited us to come to rehearsal and was going to let us “dot the i” in practice.  Raymont wanted no part of it, so I didn’t go either.  I will always regret that. 

     He and I would attend the games together, and with our credentials, we were allowed on the field before the game.  One Saturday, as we were walking down the sideline, he wasn’t paying attention.  Raymont, who still holds the alltime rushing record in the Holiday Bowl, was yapping at me as the Drum Major raised both his hands to start a song.  As he did, Raymont walked into his right hand and it caught him in the jaw.  He didn’t expect it and it buckled him.  Caught him flush in the face and it brought him to his knees.  I nearly died laughing.  He got up slowly, looked at me sheepishly and he knew that he was mine.  I could not wait for the rest of the weekend to pass so I could torture him on Monday morning.  “The big running back got ko’ed by a scrawny drum major, while I, the ex-trumpet player laughed hysterically.”  Word spread as I absolutely lambasted him for a couple of days.  Tuesdays at noon, we would go to Coach Jim Tressels’ weekly news conference/luncheon.  That week, as we were preparing to tape some interviews, Coach Tressel, a buttoned down, no nonsense type approached us.  “Raymont” he said.  “Yes Coach?” Harris replied.  “You OK?” countered Tressel.  Raymont had a puzzled look on his face.  “Sure, I’m OK, why?”  With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the coach said simply.  “No reason.  Heard you got knocked out by a drum major.” Tressel winked at me and just walked away.  As I picked myself up off the floor, shaking with laughter, I knew that I had won that round.

     Raymont and I shared many good laughs over the years, but none was better for me than that one.  The moral of the story is simple.  Respect the Band Geeks!!! 

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