Gary Church: Greenspace

Retired now, Gary Church is a former grower at a local greenhouse.

Like everyone else, I've had some unpleasant moments in my life — just not very many.

Seeing Eddie Pagley at The Cedars brings up one of the darkest moments I will never forget.

I was a huge fan of the New Castle Red Hurricane basketball team back in the late 1990s.

Eddie, along with Desmond Whetzel, David Young, and Pat Cain never played a game without me sitting in the stands cheering them on.

Yes, I still have my box of cereal with the team’s photo on it.

I was there at the Pitt’s Fitzgerald Field House when the ’Canes played Erie McDowell for the chance to go to Hershey for the PIAA championship.

I was jumping for joy when they were leading by 19 points.

That's when I got out my wallet and gave Larry Blews $100 to drive to Erie to get us extra tickets for Hershey.

Then they lost the lead — and the game. That was the worst moment in my life.

Larry gave me the money back, and I have moaned over this event ever since.

Since Hershey allotted only so many tickets to a school, getting extra ones took a little creativity.

The previous year, when the team made it to Hershey, we didn't have enough tickets either.

Getting tickets is somewhat of a specialty of mine.

I noticed that there was a championship girls game in Hershey, just before our game. I was hoping they would not have as many fans as New Castle, and might have some extra tickets to sell.

I called the school, and they had them, but they said I would have to pick them up.

I don't remember the name of the city, but it was in the upper northeast part of the state, way too far to drive.

Since I didn't know a soul there, I called the local Nazarene Church to talk to the pastor.

He wasn't in, but I did get the church secretary.

I proceeded to tell her my problem.

To convince her I was a fellow Nazarene, I, along with my friend Jim Campbell, sang a few Nazarene hymns for her over the phone.

I was able to convinced her to stop off on her way home from work and pick up 10 tickets at the school.

She actually did that, paid for them with her own money, and had them sent to me.

Before you ask, I did send her a check, with a little extra in it, for her and her husband to go out on a dinner date.

My days of attending basketball games are now over. My knees just don't care to walk up the bleacher steps anymore.

After talking to Eddie, and several other fans, I think we should start a therapy group for those who witnessed the loss at Pitt.

Perhaps we could have a rematch with McDowell.

That certainly would make my wife happy.

She always liked Eddie Pagley's legs, and would like a glimpse of them just one last time.


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