Nothing Down: The Short Baseball Life of Homer Newbody

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I received a note from the author saying this book would be free through November 6th. He was in his eighth NBA season.


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He made an All-Star team. The previous four years, he had been a point scorer. In —80, he averaged He was not a young, insecure second-round pick from small Guilford College outside of Greensboro, N. But that changed when he arrived in Cleveland at the age of He was not the World who could dunk with ease.

He was a polished pro, a jump shooter from long range with 3-point accuracy. Free was serious. He explained how defenses were set up to stop players like him, scorers on bad teams. The goal was to keep the ball out of his hands.

Nothing Down - The Short Baseball Life of Homer Newbody

And when he did have the ball, he often faced two defenders. It took strength, energy and ingenuity to get off 20 decent shots a game. After three years with the Philadelphia 76ers, Free was traded from bad team to bad team. In his first full season as the starting shooting guard, those teams showed an average improvement of 15 victories. It happened in Cleveland where the Cavs were when he finally played and after that. In —85, the Cavs started the season at under rookie coach George Karl.

He was trying to run a share-the-ball, passing game style offense. Those guys were more defensive-oriented players and not strong outside shooters—Free being the exception. When Karl allowed Free to control the offense, the team began to win. The Cavs finished with a record— once Karl turned Free loose. They made the playoffs and lost to Boston in the best-of-5 first round series.

Their three defeats were by a combined seven points. Free averaged Karl had two years left on his contract, but wanted a new deal as a reward for making the playoffs. Weltman did offer to change his contract a bit, but Karl wanted more. In the draft, Weltman had a chance to pick Karl Malone. He had the future Hall of Famer in town for nearly two days.

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But right before the draft, Weltman instead selected Keith Lee. Karl dueled again with Free about playing more defense and having him share the ball more on offense. Karl was 34 and immature as a coach. Free was 32 and had little respect for Karl. The two had played against each other in the late s. Karl was a journeyman, a 6. Free remembers having little problem scoring against the man who now was his coach.

By the end of the —86 season, Karl and Weltman had been fired. The Cavs had drafted Ron Harper as shooting guard. His career with Cleveland ended at the age of 33—despite averaging He played two seasons after that with little success. It was almost as if the rejection by the Cavaliers broke his basketball heart. He has often said Cleveland was the favorite time of his career.

The attendance rose from 3, to 9, per game in his four seasons. You had to experience it.

And Cavalier fans had the best version of Free from to In games, he averaged 23 points, shooting. His No. He was that good and that important to the Cavaliers.

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Perryton is in the Texas Panhandle, 7 miles south of the Oklahoma state line, on the other side of which is the Oklahoma Panhandle. Perryton is about as far away from professional sports as a town in Texas can be. None of them, including a future American League Rookie of the Year, played baseball for the school, because the school had no baseball team. He also played football and basketball, and excelled at both. High school football in the Panhandle in those days meant long bus rides to play teams from colorfully named high schools.

They were miles from Perryton, but they were in our conference.


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So, while Hargrove was starring on the gridiron in the fall and on the basketball court in the winter, when spring rolled around and high school baseball players were playing high school baseball everywhere else, Hargrove was golfing. At a younger age he played Little League ball.

But that was it. The town had no American Legion team. The high school had no baseball team. So, he golfed. My dad was on the team. My dad was a really good player. He was very fast. He was a really good baseball player and softball player. The team consisted of men, ages 25 to 40, who would play games as far away as Colorado and New Mexico.

Dudley got seen by scouts and, legend has it, was invited to go to spring training with the Dodgers one year. But then came softball, when again he was the star of his team—as was his precocious son. I hit third and Dad hit fourth. That was pretty cool. He was the third baseman and I played first. A left-handed shortstop. My dad was right-handed.

The only thing in life he did left-handed was golf. And the kid more than held his own.