So, here I am. Some of you have heard of me. Those of you who have had your USC blinders on these past six years probably don’t know who I am.
I’m Patrick Obley. Failed shortstop, hopeless baseball junkie. Hopefully, I’m a perfect match for you and USC baseball.
I’ve been with The State since 2002. Joe Person and I arrived the same week, but while he became entrenched as your go-to guy for USC football, I bounced around the department, doing virtually everything else … including for a time, designing pages, if you can believe it.
In my time here, I’ve done some amazing things. Stories that never in my wildest dreams I imagined I would do. Two series on sudden cardiac death in high school athletes. An in-depth look at obesity and football. I took part in what might have been the most thorough study of race and sports in South Carolina (Blurring the Lines). High school sports. State college sports. Also: NASCAR, WTA tennis, the Carolina Panthers, Clemson sports (kept the seat warm while we worked to bring Paul Strelow aboard) and the occasional USC baseball, basketball or football game.
But the most fun I’ve had here has always involved baseball. In 2004, I did a week-long series on Textile League Baseball. In talking with amazing former players such as Lou Brissie, Rosele Williams, Joe Anders, Red Barbary, Earl Wooten, Bill Voiselle and Tommy Lasorda, I developed a deep appreciation for South Carolina’s contribution to America’s Pastime.
Later, upon the 2006 announcement of former Negro League player Ben Taylor’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I brought you a pair of stories concerning Taylor’s remarkable family and a forgotten star of the Negro Leagues, Chino Smith.
I won’t bore you with my personal baseball-playing exploits other than to say my first home run also was my last. I was a punch-and-judy sort with a decent glove. When I yanked a fastball from a future Wichita State pitcher over the trees in left field that day, I was so stunned I stood at home plate admiring the shot.
That hurler rightfully tagged me in the earhole the next time up.
So, my career cratered as I entered Cowley County Community College, which would go on to become a giant in Juco baseball, turning out the likes of Junior Spivey and Travis Hafner while winning a couple Juco World Series titles during the mid-1990s.
At Kansas State, the team was scraggly and so was its field. I went to just one game in my time there … to watch that same pitcher who brained me lose a game to the Wildcats thanks to a bad hop that nearly KO’d the third baseman. (Things are much better there these days).
During the course of my career, I’ve covered a lot of baseball, from the Texas Rangers’ annual spring training to three years of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays as they found increasingly obscure ways to lose games. I’ve got stories to tell. Track me down sometime and toss a Guinness in my hand and I’ll regale you with feats that belong lost to fable and song.
So now it’s on to Ray Tanner and his magnificent new digs off Blossom Street. I don’t know what this journey will hold for myself or you, but I bet it won’t be boring. Most of what I offer here will be USC-related, but I’ll also keep you up to date on the exploits of other players with South Carolina ties.
Talk to ya soon, PO