Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Opportunity of a Lifetime

What is the best way to approach one of the greatest athletes in University of Georgia history? You tell him you are a Lambda Chi from the University of Georgia. He might just tell you to pull up a chair.

I have already written about attending the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame banquet in Atlanta a couple or so weekends ago. The room was full of the greatest sports figures in the state of Georgia. But when I found out Charlie Trippi was in the house, I just had to go meet him.

I found out about Charlie Trippi soon after I pledged Lambda Chi in 1972. He was undoubtedly the most famous of all my fraternity brothers. And as part of the initiation process, I learned all about this famous athlete.

To give you a little background, Trippi ran in the same backfield in 1942 with Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich. Georgia won the Rose Bowl that year and Charlie Trippi won the outstanding player award in that game. Trippi finished second himself for the Heisman Trophy in 1946. And he is one of four football players who have their football jerseys retired at UGA. Trippi also went on to enjoy an illustrious career in professional football and won the world championship his rookie season.

I should also note that Charlie batted .331 for the Atlanta Crackers in 1947. He decided against a pro baseball career because of the time away from his family. And not only is Charlie Trippi a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame but he is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

So I walked up to his table in awe and introduced myself to him and his wife as one of his fraternity brothers. He quickly asked me a very interesting question: “Do they still drink as much beer at the Lambda Chi house as they used to?”

I think I know the answer to that question but I am over 30 years removed from the Lambda Chi house. But I could tell him they certainly don’t produce athletes like they did 55 years ago.

Charlie Trippi is definitely a great one. And it was an opportunity of a lifetime to get to meet him.

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