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Spurrier (no, not that one) writes a book about aging athletes

From Staff ReportsDecember 20, 2013 

John D. Spurrier, a retired USC professor, has written a book, "Am I Too Old To Play."

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

If your spouse peruses your will as you leave for the game, you might be too old to play.

If your teammates talk about trick plays and you talk about trick knees, you might be too old to play.

You’ll get plenty more of those in John Spurrier’s new book “Am I Too Old To Play? Comic Views of Sports and Aging.”

Spurrier, a retired Professor of Statistics at USC and a self-described “aging athlete and stand-up comedian,” answered several questions for The State in a recent interview.

Question: How’d you come up with the idea for the book?

Answer: I always liked Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck jokes. However, as a highly educated guy, who doesn’t chew tobacco, doesn’t own hunting dogs, and doesn’t spray-paint overpasses, they did not apply to me. I needed to develop tests to see if I was too old to continue playing softball and basketball. I started including some of these tests in a stand-up routine that I occasionally do, and people loved them.

Q: Are you to over-the-hill jocks what Jeff Foxworthy is to rednecks?

A: My banker would like for people to think so.

Q: What was the highlight of your athletics career?

A: Playing town team ball in Missouri, I had one at-bat against a former major league pitcher, Johnny Gabler, and got a hit. He had been out of the bigs for about 6 or 7 years then. Also, Mickey Mantle and I played on the same field — but not on the same day.

Q: How about your coaching career?

A: I have coached baseball, softball, basketball, and soccer in the youth leagues. As with most coaches, I looked good when I happened to have really good players.

Q: As the “other” Spurrier in town and the only one listed in the phone book, do you get calls from Gamecocks fans?

A: Steve Spurrier and I are sixth cousins once removed but have never met. The common ancestor was born in 1703. Some people call me looking for Steve. My answering machine states that Steve does not live here.

Q: Which one (or ones) in the book best fit best fit you — when you figured out you might be too old to play?

A: Many of the one-liners and cartoons are slight exaggerations of my later playing days. In reading my mail before going to a game a couple of years ago, I did actually receive an advertisement for an assisted living facility. In my last year of church basketball, my biggest contribution was giving high-fives.

Q: How can someone buy the book?

A: It is available on Amazon.com.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: There are several people in their 60s who continue to compete in the area. While most of us don’t play as well as we used to, almost all of us were once good. We are all glad that the younger guys let us be part of the team and love every minute of it.

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