Saturday, March 22, 2008
Now, let's cloud up and rain all over 'em
Baldwyn's "Babe" McCarthy was affectionately known as 'Ol Magnolia Mouth because of his so-called "honey-dew Mississippi drawl." In fact, Babe could always be counted on to come up with appropriate "Babe-isms" during games to motivate his players. "Babe-isms" were short funny phrases that earned McCarthy his nickname. A few of the more famous (and often used) Babe-isms were:
"Boy, I gotta tell you, you gotta come out at 'em like a bitin' sow,"
"My old pappy used to tell me the sun don't shine on the same dog's butt every day,"
"Why panic at five in the mornin' because it's still dark out?" and
"Now, let's cloud up and rain all over 'em."
McCarthy may best be remembered for his team crossing the color line in the segregated south of the 1960s. Even before it was certain that Mississippi State would face Loyola of Chicago and their four black starters, racist elements in the Mississippi media got into the act. On Thursday, March 7, 1963 the Jackson Daily News printed a picture of Loyola's starters to show that four of them were African Americans. As a caption to the picture, Daily News editor Jimmy Ward wrote that "readers may desire to clip the photo of the Loyola team and mail it today to the board of trustees of the institution of higher learning" to prevent the game from taking place. State got the invitation. A temporary injunction against the team leaving the state was drafted and sent to the campus by state police.
The team's original plan was to leave Starkville at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. But learning that the Hinds County sheriffs would be expected to arrive in town at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night to enforce the injunction, MSU put their sophisticated contingency plan into effect.
Coach McCarthy, the athletic director, and the assistant athletic director drove to Memphis, and then flew to Nashville. The team itself sent the freshman squad to the airport as scheduled-posing as the varsity team. The real varsity team hid in a dorm on campus. The next morning, they boarded a private plane at the airport and flew to Nashville to meet up with the coach and team officials. From Nashville, the whole group took a commercial flight to the game at East Lansing, Michigan.
State lost that game, but the deceptive tactics used to get to the game is still talked about when Babe's name is mentioned.
Posted by Carl Houston at 10:27 PM