This story tells of the beginning of the tale of “Pops and Los Tres Hermanos”….which is about a father’s gift of a lifetime love of sports to his three sons….as the sage known as Pops (Bone Daddy’s Dad) would always say “There are far more lessons to be learned while pulling oneself up by the bootstraps with grace and dignity…..wiping oneself off and anxious to get back into the fray of the competition….than there is to be learned from winning…..for the lessons of winning are at best less than half of what there is to be learned….when some the most useful of life’s lessons come from competing to the best of one’s ability….and to revel in the joy of having played the game to the best of one’s abilities while competing on the fields of play in sports.“In 2011, Los Tres Hermanos (the three brothers) of Little W, Bone Daddy and Runt were asked by their 85 year old Mother before her return to her home to Ft Worth, TX after her visit to see her three sons in Austin…. as Granny wanted “her three boys” to take her to see her three sons’ pictures on The Wall of Fame at the University of Texas Rec Center…..as ironically, her fourth “boy” didn’t qualify to be memorialized in those old black and white pictures permanently affixed to the walls throughout the halls of Texas University Recreation Center showing the UT Intramural Champions teams and athletes …..while the influence of Granny’s “4th boy” was what drove Los Tres Hermanos toward a life long love affair with sports. From 1963 – 1971……Little W, Bone Daddy and Runt…..pursued college degrees on the side…. while majoring in Intramural Sports as members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity…..as each participated in 6-10 sports per year during their college careers….while winning multiple all university championships which resulted in their pictures being on the “University of Texas Intramural Wall of Fame”….and Granny wanted to view those photos and reminisce about her lifelong companion Pops….who had passed on the year before after 64 years of marriage.
During their years at the University of Texas…..Delta Tau Delta fraternity would finish 1st or 2nd each year covering an 8 year span at UT from 1963 to 1971 after winning the Fraternity All Intramural Championship 5 of the 8 years….and coming in 2nd the other three…..while one, two or all three of Los Tres Hermanos played on a total of 13 championship teams……which included football, basketball, softball, volleyball and bowling University titles. While functioning as their fraternity’s Intramural Chairmen for Delta Tau Delta….Bone Daddy directed the Delts to two All University All Around Championship Titles and Runt led the Delts to one……as Little W was chosen Best All Around Intramural Athlete in 1966/67. After graduation, Los Tres Hermanos formed the infamous Over the Hill Gang….as a team which played Austin City League football, basketball, softball and volleyball until their late 30’s and early 40’s…..winning multiple City Championships. What I like most about this story….is that while playing City League….worked part time as multiple sports officials/referees…..plus they also coached youth sports for many years. Additionally, a substantial portion of their working lives was spent in sports related businesses….when for 16 years Little W & Runt owned Ski International (national snow ski tour operators)…..Bone Daddy was co-owner of Madison Square Garden. The Sports Place….which was a legendary 6th Street sports bar for 17 years…..and Runt was a founding partner in Pleasant Valley Sportsplex, which was an adult softball and recreation complex for 18 years. But thi“4th Boy” who never played a minute of UT Rec Sports….but had he, we here at ImaSportsphile are quite sure his picture would also appear on “The Wall of Fame”….for Big W….known by almost everyone as Pops…..who grew up in the mountains of Colorado and Utah and endured the Great Depression….while playing multiple sports in high school…..and joined the Navy at 17 to ease the load on his widowed mother…..only to be thrust into a World War at 18 as a participant in the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war and a brief stint at TCU as a 165 lb guard for Coach Abe Martin’s Horned Frogs….family economics forced him to quit college and start a career as a Corporate Pilot. The first thing you saw walking in the back door of the family house in Midland, TX was a sports rack full of bats, balls, gloves, and sports paraphernalia…..as these were some of the teaching tools Pops used while introducing his boys to all the sports…..from basketball, baseball, football, handball, bowling to tennis…..as well as fly fishing during vacations in Colorado. With the High School sports complex fields residing across the street from their home at 1807 Louisiana Street…..many pick up game were played with Pops as the only non-kid invited…..then as Los Tres Hermanos moved into high school….no distance was too great to drive to see one of his boy’s games. And later when his three boys came home from college for holidays…..regular pick up basketball games were formed at the High School gym….with Pops darting around with a bunch of flat bellies…..letting the kids shoot…..while infrequently launching his patented 2 handed set shot.Pops preferred coaching and playing with his boys versus participating in anything outside of work….. and to tell the truth….the three boys didn’t really know what Pops loved more…..flying an airplane or playing ball with his boys….and as his boys went off to college, he developed a love affair with tennis…..making friends and playing partners out of strangers on courts at home or wherever he flew….as his tennis racket was a standard traveling companion…and when you would ask him if he won or lost a match…..that is when his typical response would always be the same, “I don’t know….but we got in 3 great sets”. The tennis racquet or fly rod accompanied him to Alaska’s North Shore…..the Queen’s Jubilee in England….Brazil and countless other destinations while flying for Shell Oil and Atlantic Richfield. The fact is that after an invigorating tennis match during his late 60’s…..he told his playing partner….”you know, I think I may be having a heart attack”….whereupon he drove himself to the hospital to have his diagnosis confirmed. Pops played tennis and walked 5 miles a day until he was 78….when one of his tennis buddies performed the knee surgery that ended his tennis career. Los Tres Hermanos lost Pops February 20, 2008, at age 84….after he lost a tie breaker to an insidious opponent, Alzheimer’s. I have posted this music video by Austin singer/songwriter Steve Goodman….as a musical tribute to all those sons who no longer have their Pops around…..and simply wish that they could simply sit one more time with their Pops and watch a ballgame or a tennis match on television.
This story does not presume your interest in Pops and Los Tres Hermanos lives….but to those of you who grew up in the 50’s….I know you have a smile on your face remembering experiences with your Dad or a friend’s father…..cuz you see, the boys of this time and generation, grew up in the heyday of sports when they still played with their arms & legs….not your thumbs….a time when sports were only on TV once a week…..so kids made due in the hot sun, on cold blustery days and under backyard flood lights playing whiffle ball…flies and skinners….workup….and homerun derby….horse….21 and 2-below or tackle football….and even creating games like yard hockey…..for the same hours spent playing video games now…..they played the real thing with broken bats held together by 3 nails and 2 rolls of tape…..and partially deflated basketballs and footballs. They didn’t specialize at an early age…as all boys like Los Tres Hermanos played the sport in season….just as Pops had taught them. And they played on their own….gone for hours on summer days…..guided by 2 simple rules: be where you said you’d be…..and be home by dinner at 6:30 pm.
Los Tres Hermanos and all boys like them were the sons of fathers who had to grow up quick and young…. while learning difficult lessons and facing hard times…..with a youth that was shaped by the deprivation of the Great Depression…. then spending their late teens and early 20’s by fighting for their lives in the Pacific and in Europe in an “ultimate competition” where winning or losing had horrific results with a finality that was hard to imagine. Los Tres Hermanos and their buddies might get a black eye or twisted ankle while playing ball before they went to war…..after which many of their friends didn’t come home….and the survivors who did, spent the rest of their lifetime trying to bury harsh memories ….and wondering why they survived….while forever trying to prove that their life had value and being spared.
Armed with this harsh education…..the dads of the Baby Boomer generation mentored and coached them….for the lessons to be taught were far too important to be left to private, paid coaches with no vested interest in Los Tres Hermanos guidance toward manhood. The tenants of code of conduct…sportsmanship….teammate camaraderie….and playing by the rules….were taught above winning. Trash talking….showboating….and beat downs were simply not allowed. Make no mistake….you were to play to win with grit and toughened determination….without whining or complaining….but to win with honor or lose with grace was far more important than the trappings of winning alone. You played for fun and competition….and if you worked hard and gave back as musch as you took…..the future would take care of itself….even in terms of making high school teams or earning scholarships to college or future pro careers.
So, in the mid-1960’s to the early 1970’s, off to the University of Texas at Austin went Los Tres Hermanos ….as they steamrolled onto the Intramural Fields with a zest that may have never been seen before or thereafter. They reveled in the endless variety of competitive sports available…..with incredible levels of competition….for even in the “Mullet Division” (C Class), the competition was keen….with just a little more fun thrown in…..for to a large part, this was the “heaven on earth” experience of youth that many of the Baby Boomer’s fathers had wished that they could have lived….but like Pops, they didn’t begrudge their sons from enjoying the fun of it all….since that is really what they had prepared them for. Bone Daddy says you could see Pops sitting on the top bleacher of the Intramural Fields…..while watching his three boys play ball with a great big grin on his face….while observing the creations that he had helped foster.
That gift of the love of sports carried his sons into the rest of their lives…..while never having the flame that fueled their love never burned out….for they only grew older….so, on this Father’s Day….this story is dedicated to the “Men of the Greatest Generation”….and the influence they had on their children’s lives…. as the Big Wally’s, the Big Kenny’s and the Big Ed’s of Midland, Texas, were the role models and mentors of the Baby Boomer Generation….and they deserve to have special mention on our Wall of Fame here at ImaSportsphile….cuz without them, Los Tres Hermanos and so many more son’e pictures would not now be seen on the University of Texas Intramural Wall of Fame.As each year passes, we have fewer of these icons with us…..as they all are 90 to 105 years old now in 2020…..so, if you are a Babby Boomer….and your Dad is still with us….just give hima big bear hug of thanks from the sons of these men.
In closing this salute to Pops and Los Tres Hermanos…..I know this for a fact, that Lil Wally, Bone Daddy and Runt would give the world to play catch with Pops just one more time. .HAPPY FATHERS DAY POPS
Today’s story was published in the University of Texas Rec monthly newsletter on June 19,2011….and was written by Bone Daddy’s younger brother, Runt….which is what BD still calls him today….as Runt is an accredited Sportsphile in his own right…..as is the 1st of Los Tres Hermanos, Lil Wally…..long before I coined the word…..so, when I did…he and Lil W became charter accredited Sportsphiles.
In this writer’s opinion….Runt is one hell of a writer in his own right….almost dang near as good as me….and that’s saying a awful lot…….but I’ve got to give credit where credit is due…..for I couldn’t have told this story any better myself. Now I know that is hard to believe….that a devilish bitch like myself could ever give such high credit to someone else. Oh look, a mirror….am I beautiful or what? Say What?….Well, your ugly Mother too…..and by the way, don’t you dare turn your back on me and walk away….and give me a shot at your ankles…if you think this is over? Anyway, ole Runt can write another story for me again anytime….on any subject that he might choose….cuz he’s a chop off the ole Pops block….just like Bone Daddy and Lil Wally are too. Also, I hope Runt won’t mind that I added a few needed touches to the story….you know…..to protect the innocent….OK….and sometimes the not so innocent….so, I hope Runt won’t mind the ole Chiweenie touch too much.On a serious note…..this is my tribute to Pops and Los Tres Hermanos….as I want to thank Hermano #3 for telling the story so eloquently…..but most of all…I want to thank Pops for the gift of a lifetime love of sports that he gave to my Bone Daddy specifically…..for that gift is still alive and well today in 2020….and is has never faded the least bit in any of Los Tres Hermanos….a love which has manifested itself into this virtual sports museum and video library that we share with you today. And people say God Dog doesn’t have a plan. I just know this….when I lay my head down tonight….I’m gonna ask God Dog to say “hola y muchas gracias” the next time He sees Pops out on his walk along the streets of gold. I also thought it would be a great day to share with you some of the oldest Yankee baseball cards in our ImaSportsphile memorabilia collection….as I have selected the years from 1949 to 1954……cuz that was when Pops was first tossing a ball to Los Tres Hermanos….while teaching them the game of baseball…. for those same joyful times have carried over to today as I tell Bone Daddy’s stories…..a mere 64 years later…..and it was all because of a father’s gift.