David StaleyComment

Carolina Collectibles: Hutch Football

David StaleyComment
Carolina Collectibles: Hutch Football

I'm not much for discussing politics, mostly because the list of people that respect the views of a Libertarian is pretty short. But today, we'll take a deep dive into my illustrious political past as a campaign manager (of sorts).

The Story Behind the Object
In 1996 my dad ran for Iredell County Commissioner. Despite growing up in Wilkes County, in which 75.89% of all 2016 Presidential Election ballots were cast for Donald Trump, my father somehow departed the county as a registered Democrat. Unfortunately, 66.31% of all 2016 Presidential Election ballots in Iredell County were cast for Donald Trump. So, in a County Commissioner race featuring three Republicans and two Democrats vying for three available seats, how do you think it played out?

Despite the ultimate loss, being a part of the election process was neat for me personally - though I'm not sure how my dad feels. I got to spend a lot of time at various events that weren't necessarily a lot of fun, but I was at just the right age to think it was cool that my dad was a part of them.

We once went to what my grandparents referred to as a "chicken que" (think of a fundraiser where the "Baptist Men's Group" sells barbecue chicken in a gas station parking lot on Saturday morning) out in rural Iredell County. I don't know who the event was supporting - probably the Iredell County Democratic Party. I believe it was held in the parking lot of a fire station or volunteer fire station. And I'm positive that Tommy Burleson was there. Burleson played on N.C. State's first National Championship team in 1974, and I know it was cool for my dad to meet him. It would be like me meeting Eric Montross (actually I have, but we'll save that post for basketball season, which, mercifully, is right around the corner). At that point in my life I had never heard of Burleson and am honestly not even sure I had heard of Phil Ford, but I do remember that I literally came up to his belt buckle. I mean, he's 7'2", so I probably only come up to his belly button now. But at age 12 he was the tallest person I'd ever met in my life - a fact that I think remained true until April, 2016, when I met Ralph Sampson, which is another post for another day.

We went to a few events at the Iredell County Democratic Headquarters, one of which landed me in the newspaper. My dad is in a suit. I'm in a t-shirt and baseball cap. That picture may be the beginning of what has been one of the ambitions of my adult life. I always aim to be the second most casually dressed person at every event I attend. You show up and most people are wearing a tie, but you're wearing khakis and a polo. With a little luck, there's that one guy wearing jeans and a polo, so if anyone says anything to you about not wearing a tie, you just say "yeah, but look at that guy!" and point at jeans dude. Boom. You've deflected the negative attention AND been able to dress comfortably. The problem is there is little room for error in this strategy. One wrong move, and you become "that guy" that the second most casually dressed guy is pointing out. It's a fine line, but I've become fairly adept at walking it.

We also went all over creation (or at least to the very outskirts of the county) putting up yard signs. Drive a stake into the ground. Use a staple gun to attach a sign to each side of the stake. Rinse. Repeat. Man, I loved putting putting up those signs. Nothing makes a sixth grader feel more cool than getting to use a mallet and a staple gun on a regular basis.

Now, I should say that despite being 100% behind putting signs up for my dad back then, I have grown into a staunch anti-yard sign adult. I'm talking adamantly opposed. I just don't believe in them. I've never driven past a yard sign and thought "wow, that design...that text...I'm changing my vote to that candidate!" Yard signs are a scourge and an eyesore and always wind up littering the right of way for weeks after elections and at this stage in my life each one that I see actually makes me less likely to support whatever is written on it. If I had a way to protest them, I would, but it's not like I can put up a yard sign to oppose them. I'm in a bit of a pickle when it comes to expressing my opinion about them. But back then I was completely in favor and on board.

That being said, when the election ended, we still had quite a few stakes in our shed. Probably 100 or so. And since dad had no use for them anymore, my brother and I basically had a big pile of wood that served as a new form of entertainment. So my first order of business was to build a set if goal posts out of these stakes. Given their size (maybe two to three feet long), these goal posts were relatively tiny. But they were probably proportional to the size of the "field" that our yard made. Oh man, I should really tell the story of my dad almost killing himself playing football with me, my brother, and our neighbors, but I'll save that one for another post too. But seriously, remind me to cover that - it's a great story. Actually, you know what? I've already teased you on two stories, so I'll just tell this one right quick...

I was outside playing football with my brother and our neighbors when my dad came home from work one day. We had basically gone oldest vs. youngest on that particular day, so needless to say my team (I was the oldest) was destroying the others. My dad sees this and comes out to the rescue of the little ones. At some point, I believe on a kickoff return, he took it to the house. The end zone was our driveway, and somehow in the transition from grass to concrete (and he was tight-roping the sideline, so he also had to navigate the incline of the driveway) he lost his footing and took a spill. He basically barrel rolled into the middle of our cul-de-sac. Despite the fact that there was no "crowd" watching our game, somehow four different neighbors witnessed the entire incident. He got up like nothing was wrong. Ten minutes later, pleased with his role in mounting a comeback, he returned inside, where he showed my mom his leg. It was torn up. Bloody and mangled and basically just being held together by one thing little piece of skin if you hear him tell the story now. But seriously, it did look bad, and within days it was bruised from his ankle to above his knee - no exaggeration. At one point my grandma insisted he go get fluid drained off of it because, and I quote, "Judge such and such had similar swelling and bruising on an injury and wound up dying from it." This story freaked out my mom, though Dad calmed her down by filling in the minor detail that Judge such and such was 94 years old. At any rate, Dad still refers to that as his old football injury and the story is often a source of great entertainment at family gatherings.

Anyway, back to the goal posts built out of county commissioner yard sign stakes. I kicked on these things a ton, with a dream of one day growing up to become Jeff Reed. Spoiler alert: I didn't. I thought kicking on tiny goal posts would make it easier to hit a wider goalpost, kind of like Shammond Williams practicing free throws by shooting three pointers from the top of the key flat footed after performing his free throw routine. This apparently did not help me. However, their slight undersizedness (not a real word, don't care) made these goal posts the perfect size for my UNC football.

Carolina Collectibles Description:
Measuring approximately 9" long and 16" around, this football is great for allowing 10 year old hands to throw a perfect spiral. An added bonus, given that my hands are still the size of those of a 10 year old, is that it's just the right size for me still.

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The ball is Carolina blue and has "UNC" written above a script "Tarheels" beside a strutting ram. And yes, they spelled it "Tarheels." A mistake I never noticed until now. So, that's strike one, College Classics by Hutch (which is the brand written on the back of the ball).

Carolina Collectibles Comparison: Ryan Switzer
This football is far smaller than a regulation sized football just like Ryan Switzer is far smaller than a regular sized wide receiver. But when your target demographic is eight to 12 year olds, being undersized is an asset for a football. And somehow, when you're Ryan Switzer, being undersized gives you amazing quickness and elusiveness, which is a huge asset for a wide receiver and punt returner.

Carolina Collectibles Rating: 4 Stars
This football got a ton of great use and then I somehow kept it for years and years despite not playing with it anymore. It probably would have gotten the full five star treatment if I hadn't noticed the nearly unforgivable Tarheels instead of Tar Heels error. For shame, College Classics by Hutch...for shame!