Friday, July 29, 2011

Meadowbrook Coach Bill Blocker

Anyone who attended Meadowbrook Jr. Hi. in the 1950s and later would recall Coach Blocker, a fixture in the PE department. His cousin was Dan Blocker, Hoss Cartwright in the TV series, Bonanza. Blocker was an expansive figure who had played baseball and/or managed with the 1950 UT National Baseball Championship team. I knew him as the assistant coach of the Meadowbrook football teams where he tagged me with a nickname I was never quite able to shake off. Some of you were still calling me that nickname when we graduated, 5-years after my first encounter with Blocker. Not sure what that says about our relative influences. 

Memories of Blocker from a ('64): CJ64-The assistant coach for everything was Bill Blocker, an emotional, outgoing sort of guy who tended to fat, had squinty eyes, a very upturned nose, and was naturally nicknamed “Piggy” (but never to his face!). Coach Blocker was a UT graduate and had been the manager and part-time player for the UT baseball national champions of 1950. He became the head coach in our 9th grade when Mr. Morrow took over as principal.

He was famous for giving out nicknames to his players. For example, Al Lewis became Alkali, Ted Moberg was Titty-rump, Roby Morris was Robo, I was “Johnny” (but I think because he couldn’t remember my name and probably thought it was Johnny), and so forth. When we were seniors at Eastern Hills, Al and Ted came out as co-captains for the coin toss against Poly High. The referee was none other than Coach Blocker, and he greeted them with “Alkali, Titty-rump, how you boys doin’?” -- much to the consternation of the Poly captains.

I played third-string center for him. In 9th grade I weighed about 120 pounds and was about 5’4”, and I wasn’t very fast or very good. Years later my wife and I went down to Austin to see Texas Tech play Texas. We checked into the old Alamo Hotel before the game and there in the lobby was Coach Blocker. By this time I was 6’2” and weighed about 185. I introduced myself, and very much to my surprise, he beamed and said “Johnny, you played center for me!” I was stunned that he could remember a very non-memorable player, but that is the kind of guy he was. Unfortunately, he died young not too many years after that from a heart attack.

The Target back to school ad below is a pretty good illustration of how I recall Coach Blocker...a kind of drill sergeant in PE whites. He was a conspicuous figure and yes, we climbed that damned rope to the top of the gym ceiling, maybe 30-ft up, a lot. Little, strong guys like Glen Brandon were best at it...for bigger guys it was tougher--more to haul up there..



Scott Blocker said...

I just stumbled upon this. Bill Blocker was my dad. I thought it was pretty interesting. If you have any more stories about my dad I would love to hear them.
Scott Blocker

Gus said...

Hi Scott - I'm pleased that you checked in. Your Dad cut a wide swath in a lot of young lives at Meadowbrook Junior High and casual memory swapping about him does occur pretty frequently between individuals on Facebook. I'll be pleased to put out a call for more stories in a few places I frequent. In the meantime, if you have any early life pictures or stories about him, they would be welcome for inclusion in this article.