Tony Hinkle: Coach for All Seasons

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Today's book; "Tony Hinkle is a Hoosier legend, a man of the 19th century who played it his way, an uncomplicated old-fashioned way, until 1970. In an era of televised college sports, big dollars, and professionalized college athletics, when the athletic departments of major schools are run like corporations, it is startling to think that Hinkle served from 1934 to 1970 as the head coach of the three major sports - basketball, baseball, and football - and was also Butler's athletic director, a post he held continuously from 1932 until his retirement."

Today's book was suggested by my Uncle Andy, who never misses a chance to bring Butler into the conversation. So naturally, he suggested I read a Butler-related book. Uncle Andy was a lineman for Butler in the year. . . well I won't tell you the year because I have a birthday coming in a few months and I don't want the quality of my gift to suffer (Note to Andy: The previous joke was in no way meant to imply that people would assume you were old if they knew the year, it was merely meant to be cute and clever. Love you.) Uncle Andy is a teensy bit obsessed with Butler, and he has made it his life's mission to convince as many of his relatives to attend as possible. When we were children he started what I like to call "The Butler Indoctrination Program," which consists of stories about how great Butler was, tuition related bribery, offering to give us Butler sweatshirts for birthday and Christmas gifts, finishing sentences that started with, "I want. . . " with ". . . to go to Butler. Yeah." And then there was the biggest attempt of all, when he took us on the trip that my sister refers to as "The Great Propaganda Tour of '97." The Propaganda Tour involved what we were told would be a day of shopping in Indianapolis, and a brief stop to the Butler campus. In this case brief should be translated to mean 3 hours in which we were forced to go on a nature walk through the campus, tour a few buildings (read: sneak into a few buildings and peek into the classrooms while trying not to get caught and thrown out), and stand and stare at the empty football field for what felt like an hour but was probably more like 20 minutes. I was always surprised when I would meet someone who had never heard of Butler, and then I had to remind myself that constant references to Butler weren't woven into the fabric of most people's childhoods.
I'm going to put up a few pictures now so you can feel like you've been on the Propaganda Tour as well:

I call this postcard, "Wow, we're looking at an empty building. Can we go now."

I call this picture, "Nature hike? No one told me this brief trip to the Butler campus was going to include a nature hike."

And I call this picture, "I'm bored. I'm going to go sit in the car. I'm really glad I brought a book along for this brief trip to campus."

As you can see from the picture captions, I was not as swept up in the magic as Andy had hoped I would be (not that it matters since I dropped out of the college that I did attend about 40 days after starting). But, all was not lost, the Propaganda Tour was 50% successful because my sister did end up going to Butler.

Like I said in a previous entry, the sounds of sports makes me feel like I'm losing the will to live. So I enjoyed today's book about as much as a person who hates sports could enjoy it. I didn't hate the book or anything, but the parts that talked directly about sports registered in my brain like, "Blah, blah, blah." Actually is registered more like "wahwahwah," like the way the adults talk in Charlie Brown.


"What's that you say? The rules of basketball were different in the 20's than they are now."


"The center jump was required after every point was scored."

I'm sure that information would have been fascinating to me if I had any idea how basketball is played now. But since I don't, I'm going to have to take the author's word for it that the whole center jump thing is different now. (If anyone would like to explain what the heck that means to me in the comments section, feel free, although I do have to request that you explain it to me the way you would a four year old because that's about the level I'm on when it comes to understanding sports.)

Fun facts about Tony Hinkle and basketball:

  • His real name is not Tony Hinkle - his real name is Paul. (I think the name Tony was a definite improvement. Although I probably shouldn't say that on a blog because every time I say I dislike a name there seems to be someone sitting very nearby who has that name or named their kid that. So, apologies to anyone named Paul. It is not the intent of this blog to emotionally harm anyone by the name of Paul. And for those of you who may have named your child Paul, all I have to say is: Paul? Really? Was that really the best you could do?)

  • Basketball was invented in December 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, by Dr. James Naismith. (And, because I never trust something just because I read it in a book once, I looked this up and discovered another fun fact: The first game was played using peach baskets as the basketball hoops, but since the baskets still contained bottoms, the basketball had to be retrieved manually every time a point was scored.)

So, dear readers, I leave you with this final thought, if you want to have a happy life, go to Butler. (I hope that last comment was enough to make up for the old age slip I almost made earlier in the entry. I guess I'll find out when my birthday rolls around).