Race, Class & G-Mac Redux

In a recent post I ruminated over the amazing local popularity of Gerry McNamara, a hero worship that I think is fueled by the overwhelmingly white S.U. fan base pining for a star of their own.

Now comes word that G-Mac has been awarded the 2006 Chip Hilton Award. The award goes to the athlete who best exemplifies the traits of Chip Hilton, a fictional high school sports star featured in a series of books for young adults written by former college basketball coach Claire Bee in the 1960’s.

What was Chip Hilton like? According to Ken Garfield, the religion editor at The Charlotte Observer:
” He was the straight-A, high school sports star who hit the homer, dated the homecoming queen and valued sportsmanship at all times. He was a hero to kids with stars in their eyes. He was the guy we wished we could be. And even though he was fictional, he was as real as the hope we carried in our heart. Play fair, work hard and listen to your parents and you, too, could grow up to be as straight and tall and happy as Chip Hilton.”

You can’t make this stuff up.


One thought on “Race, Class & G-Mac Redux

Add yours

  1. phil – your post made me remember a favorite post-standard story, in which frank brieaddy described how the creator of “gil thorp” (most chip hiltonesque) had a bad guy losing a bet he actually won:April 15, 1995BET YOU KNEW THAT THORP VILLAIN WON WAGERBY: Frank BrieaddyIn this world, which seems of late to be too much filled with strife, greed and all other sorts of nastiness, it’s nice to have a friendly, simple place to go like Milford – even if you can only get there vicariously by reading the comics.Ah, Milford, that marvelous town where Gil Thorp – that Dick Clark look-alike who never seems to age either – presides over season after season of small-town, high school football, basketball and baseball and all the wholesome lessons in life learned by fresh-faced young athletes.Sure, Thorp has had to deal with some tricky issues over the years, like teen pregnancy, drugs and unscrupulous college recruiters. But how tough can a town be where a gambler puts the fix in for a high school basketball game but is so inept he thinks he lost a bet that he won? Gil Thorp fans who know a little bit about betting (yes, I confess, the shoe fits) have been scratching their heads for about a week trying to figure out what the problem is with a lowdown character by the name of Doc, who tried to persuade Milford sharpshooter Mickey Scagg to shave points.Mickey had an attack of conscience and feigned a stomach ache to miss the game, which his team lost.Now, if you bet a favored team to win by less than the point spread and that team loses, you still win the bet.But in the comic strip, Doc was moaning about losing his bet.Jack Berrill, creator of Gil Thorp, said calls started coming in immediately from Chicago, the town where his syndicate is (that is, his publishing syndicate) and where the strip appears on the sports page.“Those who were following it said Doc didn’t lose. What’s he going after his money for?” Berrill reported.I wondered the same thing, and so did much of the rest of Thorp’s local following.Years back, I became Syracuse’s unofficial liaison to Berrill, so I called him last week for an explanation.What does Berrill know about betting? Not much, he admitted.“I just know it’s out there,” he said. “You read Sports Illustrated. You read your regular paper. Everything has a line. And I’m not familiar with that line, as is obvious.”Berrill isn’t rigid about the subject. “There’s office pools. That’s a fun thing,” he said.Indeed, the first time I called him was a decade ago on behalf of the guys at Steve’s, a West End tavern, where they ran a lottery board on a Milford-Tilden football game.Berrill had failed to put the game’s final tally in the strip, so the board had no winner until I called him, and he made up a score. He thought the whole thing was pretty funny at the time.That said, the artist is still concerned about the growth of gambling.“Everybody’s betting,” he said. “And I don’t know how wise that is.”And because evil never triumphs in Milford, Doc lost his bet, even though Berrill handled it wrong in the story line.“I should have called a person like yourself and got it all straightened out, not that you’re making book,” said Berrill.Perhaps Berrill should know a little more about gambling if he’s going to combat it in his comic strip, but I prefer to think it’s rather charming that he is so naive about such matters.“I always labored under the illusion that high school sports were probably the truest,” said Berrill. “It has an innocence.”And if Berrill shares that innocence, well, that’s all right, too.LOAD-DATE: February 7, 2003 Document 9 of 20


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: