Dateline: …who brung us here.
“We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past, and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.”
I ask, humbly that for the next 6 or 8 minutes it takes to read this very personal essay, I ask that all of us here at the 50th Bassmaster Classic, and all of you fans out there to take these short few moments in your life, to put aside the rigors of the day to simply remember all those who got us to this week, this event.
And to wish them peace.
And to wish them comfort.
And to pray for all those gone.
And to pray for all those to come.
Take these 6 or 8 minutes to reflect, that amongst us in this game there isn’t a “them” or a “we,” but “just us.” Those who love the sport as fans, those who work within the sport, those who own it, those who cover it and those who take to the water and play it.
I write this because each and every day I’m here I have to walk through this hotel lobby and when I do I am filled with the spirit and the memories of those whom I sat with down there in that atrium.
There is the wooden bench I walk by where I sat with Jerry McKinnis for a half-hour listening to not an owner talking about the sport, but a fan. Listening to his dreams, his heartfelt dreams of this game.
To me, that old Sheraton bench is hallowed ground.
Over there at a four-top table in the restaurant I sat with Ray Scott for 40 mins, he told me later that’s how long we talked, listened as he told me with pride how all this came about, and then, in a semi-rare moment of no showmanship, he told me of how many days and nights, how worried he was, how scared he was that “this thing of mine…” would never make it.
To me, that old Sheraton 4-top table is hallowed ground.
At that tall table for two over there in that bar, I sat with Joe Higgins, the sales guy for B.A.S.S., and great friend who recently passed, and listened as he gave me a lesson in how to sell, “if you ain’t selling something you love, sure you can believe in the product, but if you don’t love what it is you are selling, get out, find what you love and trust me it won’t be a sales job anymore.”
To me, that tall table in that bar is hallowed ground.
I’ve signed autographs down there, stood for selfies down there, held babies down there, heard of dads and grandfathers now passed who so much loved this game and who passed that love on to the person standing in front of me.
To me, that walkway is hallowed ground.
So please as you sit in your office and read this, stand on the corner and read this on your phone or forward it to a friend, please take a moment to remember and to thank those who got us here.
Those who have sadly passed.
Those who are still with us and whom are working so hard to keep this game alive.
And especially pray for those who will come after us, pray that we’ve left this thing in better shape than when we found it, pray that the game in the future will continue to make you smile, make you laugh, make you choke up with emotion.
Pray that out there in the far future they will remember all of us in this game, especially those fans who supported it, and they will take 6 or 8 minutes to think of us…and you.
Remember those who took to the water this week.
Remember those who stood on the shore and cared for those in the boats
Remember those of us who brought the game to you.
And to those in the stands who love and support this game be it this week or all the weeks this game has been played.
To me, those seats you sit in are hallowed ground as well.
“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”
– Lionel Hampton