Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In the tank for school supplies and Tom Seaver

You can’t let Tigers fans get too cocky, and you absolutely must stand up for “The Franchise” when people attempt to besmirch his good name.

That’s what I took away from my time in the dunk tank on Friday.

The school district I cover hosted a carnival for employees to thank them for meeting their United Way donation goals. One of the highlights was a dunk tank, and after a school board meeting the president showed me the flier and asked if I’d volunteer to sit in the hot seat – or wet seat, in this case.

“Sure,” I quickly replied. I think she might have been kidding. But I wasn’t. Proceeds went to buy schools supplies. I think the newspaper is a member of the community and it’s OK to participate in such things. There has been a string of rough stories in recent months, and I thought it might be nice for all to see the education writer in another light once in a while.

I showed up in my swim suit, Mets towel and a change of clothes and found a number of school administrators patiently awaiting my scheduled appearance.

“It’s Murray’s turn. Get him in there,” one high-ranking school staffer said. She was seriously intent on getting me wet.

After a couple tosses that missed wildly, she moved closer and closer, standing about a foot from the lever.
I showed up in my swim suit, Mets towel and a change of clothes and found a number of school administrators patiently awaiting my scheduled appearance.


The tank was filled with hot water – a place in heaven awaits whomever made that decision – and it was actually kind of nice.

And that’s good because this administrator kept sinking me again and again and again until I was waterlogged.

I decided that this exercise was a form of therapy for her and I would not take it personally. I was also grateful that a friend had e-mailed me a tip about sitting on the edge of the bench and leaning forward so you don’t bang your head on the seat on the way down.

Several other administrators, staff members, school board members and their children took turns dunking me, and I happily gave way to the superintendent when he arrived to take his turn.

I learned that hitting the target is more difficult than you would think.

None of the administrators wanted to sink the boss, and one called me over to be a relief pitcher.

Alas, like Kenny Rogers, I narrowly missed every time.

Later, the board president took the seat. She’s an avid Tigers fan, and started talking trash from behind the bars.

“Oh, he’s a Mets fan. Let’s see you pitch.”

I missed the first two.

“Whoa! Just like Dwight Gooden.”

Now, I don’t like it when people make cracks about Doc, who has certainly seen his share of tough times and seems to get loose with a Sharpie in inappropriate places.

I missed again.

“Ha! You’re like that other Mets pitcher. What’s his name? Tom Seaver.”

OK, I’ll take a lot of abuse from these people. I’ll let them stand too close when they throw and I’ll let them and their kids run up and smack the lever with their hand.

But I will not – no, cannot – allow the name of Tom Seaver to be bandied about in some taunt.

I took one more throw.

I hope she was leaning forward on the seat.

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