No, the column today is not going to be about stories regarding the Minnesota baseball franchise. The stories in question today all revolve around two of my best high school friends: Floyd and Lloyd Harris. Let me give you a little background first on how the stories were told to me and how I originally got to know these guys.
I grew up in the heart of southeast Atlanta where I-20 crosses Maynard Terrace. If you’re not familiar with that street, you might recognize Moreland Avenue or Boulevard Drive. That’s where the Atlanta Zoo and The Cyclorama are located. I attended Murphy High School (we were the War Eagles) and graduated in (gulp!) 1965.
A neat tradition was begun awhile back and that is we get together, as many as can show up, the last Saturday of each month in a very nice little restaurant in East Atlanta, the area where most of us hung out when we were kids. We sit around telling lies, reliving the past, and looking through our old yearbooks trying to remember how we could have possibly looked so young.
We have a pretty regular crowd that generally attends. There is always Harriet. She has been the primary one responsible for starting these get-togethers. She keeps us all informed of the dates and she does all the planning. We couldn’t get along without her and I just want to say here how much I appreciate what she does. Her older brother Steve/Tom is also in attendance. Tom, self-admittedly, can’t remember to put on his underwear half the time but he can tell you the whereabouts of just about every classmate that graduated with us.
The Blissett girls usually show up. They didn’t last Saturday because Jackie is going through some health situations that have us all concerned but we sure are praying for her. Lynn, the ex-majorette and bona fide crazy person, Sue, Jerry, and, oh yeah, the old trumpeter/ jock- me. And then there are the twins.
Floyd and Lloyd moved to Murphy from Tennessee when we were in the ninth grade and my high school years after that were never the same. Both of them were excellent baseball and basketball players; in fact, both played baseball at Tech (for which I have never forgiven them) after graduation. They were a part of five guys who were pretty close: the twins, myself, Ken, and Dick. We did pretty much everything together and man, do I have some great memories of those times with those guys.
Now, Floyd and Lloyd’s given names are James Floyd and William Lloyd and this past Saturday I was asking Lloyd why his parents didn’t call them Jim and Bill instead of Floyd and Lloyd. He said, “Let me tell you why.” So he did.
The twins had four older brothers and their parents were desperately trying for a girl. When they were born, it was a double surprise. You have to remember that back in 1947 parents didn’t find out the sex of the baby nor did they often know when the births were multiple so you can imagine their surprise when not only wasn’t it a girl, but two more boys.
Their dad was a preacher and the boys were born early one Sunday morning so after checking on them, Rev. Harris went to his church to preach. The congregation asked if he had any news and from the pulpit he told them he had some good news and some bad news. The bad news was that they didn’t have a girl. The good news was that it was TWO boys. A deacon approached Rev. Harris after church and told him, “Preacher, I’ll give you $20 if you’ll name them boys Floyd and Lloyd.” The $20 bill went in his pocket and they’ve been Floyd and Lloyd ever since.
The girls in our high school had great difficulty in telling the twins apart. This made for some rather interesting double-dating situations later. I would go to their house before we went to pick up our dates expecting Lloyd to come out and there would be Floyd instead, or vice versa. They’d explain that the other was tired or had been grounded or something and so the other twin would take their place and the girls never knew.
The guys, especially those of us who played sports with them, never had a problem for one major reason. Floyd was right-handed and Lloyd was a lefty. In baseball, Floyd played shortstop and Lloyd was our first baseman. This oddity made for another great story from Lloyd.
They had just moved to a town and wanted to try out for the local Little League organization. One of the men who was going to coach a team in this league had seen the boys play in another town and knew how good they were. I don’t know if this is still the way youth teams are selected now but back then there was a massive tryout day. Even if you had played the year before, you had to try out again with all the coaches watching while grading the skills of the players. They would then evaluate the kids and have a draft.
This man decided he would use a little trickery on the other coaches in an effort to get the twins. He told Floyd (the right-hander remember) to bat and throw left-handed. He, of course, told Lloyd to do the opposite; bat and throw with his right hand. They were horrible. Lloyd said they both threw like girls (sorry ladies, his word not mine) and they couldn’t have hit a pumpkin. None of the other coaches graded them high at all so on draft day, nobody wanted them except the conniving coach who smugly drafted both boys. Lloyd adds that the team went on to win the league championship. He didn’t know if the trick his coach pulled was ever discovered or not.
I always find it hard to understand when people don’t care anything about going back to their reunions. I wouldn’t give up one of these friends and my high school memories for anything. They remind me of great times. Thanks guys and gals for being such an important part of my life.
Randy Blalock is a columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.