Monday, October 18, 2010

Mrs. Cleaver And A Huge Almost

TigerBlog was listening to the news in the car yesterday morning when a story about some politician who blames the coming opponent for every ill on the planet and whose opponent does likewise in return was followed not by the announcer but instead by a woman's voice who was immediately familiar.

Of course, there could only be one reason for Barbara Billingsley's voice to be coming through the radio on a Sunday morning: The 94-year-old actress had obviously passed away.

As an aside, when older actors/actresses die, the announcers never seem to say so first; they always play a clip of the person from one of his or her most famous roles and then say that they died. The only time TB can remember it differently was when the announcer said: "This voice will sing no more" and then played "White Christmas" back in 1977, when Bing Crosby died.

As for Barbara Billingsley, while her career spanned many decades in many different roles - including a hugely funny moment in the movie "Airplane" - the clip that was played on the day of her death had to be from her most famous character, June Cleaver, from the perfectly charming sitcom "Leave It To Beaver," a show of which TB has seen every episode multiple times despite the fact that it ended its six-year, 234-episode run back when he was still Babyblog.

If you're looking for pure Americana nostalgia, go no further than "Leave It To Beaver." If you're looking for something more dramatic than how, say, a broken chair can get fixed without having the parents find out, then you've come to the wrong place.

The show was about the Cleaver family of Mayfield, with its father Ward, mother June and sons Wally and Theodore, who is nicknamed "Beaver" after the way Wally said "Theodore" when the Beaver was a baby.

During the course of the show, Wally and Beaver grow from being little boys into high school kids. They are constantly getting into trouble, but simple stuff, and they always make it worse by trying to hide the damage from their parents.

Ah, and what parents they were. Ward was a solid hard-working businessman who never forgot what it was like to be a pre-teen or teenage boy. June - famous for doing housework in a dress and pearls - was a tad overprotective, but you would have been fine with her as your mother.

She was a bit naive at times about what the boys were going through, but she was sharp enough to know that Eddie Haskell was a complete phony. And, of course, there was always a well-balanced, nutritious meal for the whole family at dinnertime.

The boys themselves were good athletes, though Wally was better than Beaver. In fact, TigerBlog is pretty sure Wally went on to play football and run track at an Ivy League college; at least he's seen a million pictures of athletes in team photos from that era who look just like him. And who knows, maybe it worked out in the end for Wally and Mary Ellen Rogers.

Wally's best friends were Eddie and Lumpy Rutherford. Beaver had friends named Whitey and Gilbert and Larry and of course the old firefighter Gus.

Beaver's best sport was football, and there are many episodes where he is playing the game either on a formal team or just on the sandlot (back then, not everything was about signing up for the sport and then trying to make the travel team; kids just played, and where they played was called "the sandlot").

Beaver was always trying to think up great trick plays, and every now and then they came up with some great ones, like "ol' 99."

None of them had anything on what Princeton almost pulled off against Brown Saturday afternoon. Had the play that the Tigers dusted off worked, it would have been the equal of any football ending ever, including The Immaculate Reception and the Stanford Band, though without the historical significance.

With 31 seconds remaining, Princeton trailed Brown 17-13 and had the ball first-and-10 at its 21. Expanding on the situation, Princeton needed to go 79 yards, needed a touchdown, had no timeouts to work with and was without its injured starting quarterback.

The first play of the drive saw backup quarterback Andrew Dixon throw a short pass to Shane Wilkinson, who then pitched it back to Trey Peacock on what looked like a standard hook-and-lateral.

Instead, Peacock flipped it back to Dixon, who was two yards in front of the line of scrimmage at this point. Of course, that was irrelevant, since there had already been one forward pass on the play, so another would have been illegal.

Dixon then threw the ball all the way across the field, to in front of the Brown bench, right to Wilkinson, who caught the ball after it went over the head of Meko McCray.

Wilkinson then began to sprint up the sideline. Had Brown's defense been all scattered to the far side chasing the ball, Wilkinson would have possibly scored. With McCray as a blocker, Wilkinson still managed to go 35 yards to the Brown 45 before he was brought down. Perhaps if McCray had caught the ball, he would have had Wilkinson to pitch it to.

It was a great play, well-designed and well-executed, and it almost pulled out the win for Princeton.

As for Wilkinson, he now has been involved in two near-misses, as he was the one who caught the 43-yard Hail Mary at the end of the first half against Colgate that came up short of the end zone.

In case you're wondering how to score that play, there can only be one reception on any play, but all the yards are receiving yards. Therefore, Wilkinson gets credit for the original six-yard catch, and he gets 35 more receiving yards but no other reception.

Peacock was credited with no catch and minus-2 yards, and so was Dixon. In Peacock's case, it'll hardly be noticed. In Dixon's, his season receiving stats now read zero receptions for minus-2 yards.

The Princeton-Brown game saw the Tigers lose quarterback Tommy Wornham for the season with a broken collarbone and top running backs and captains Jordan Culbreath and Matt Zimmerman for the second half.

Still, the Tigers came really, really, really close to pulling it out - with what have been one of the greatest endings in football history.

1 comment:

CAZ said...

It takes real talent to correlate the death of Mrs. Cleaver to the failed final play of last Saturday’s Princeton football team. Kudos my friend… kudos!