If I’m having a bad day here at the museum, there’s one sure way to turn things around and lift my spirits.
I just go out into the museum, step up to one of the kiosks and touch the screen to hear another great story from another great Mississippi legend.
One of my favorites follows. Mississippi State’s late, great Shorty McWilliams, the only four-time All-SEC football player in history, tells about his first game at Tiger Stadium. The Bulldogs were in their pregame warmups and Shorty Mac was punting out of the end of the end zone. We’ll let Shorty take it from there:
“Unbeknownst to me, they rolled up Mike the Tiger in that cage right behind me. I didn’t know he was there and that 500-pound tiger roared. Oh he roared at the top of his lungs. It scared me so bad. It scared the (beep) out of me. I ruined myself. I had to play the whole game in those pants.”
My daddy used to take me up to Shorty’s Weidmann’s restaurant in Meridian. The food was great, but what was better was listening to Shorty Mac tell his stories.
And by the way, there’ll never be another four-time All-SEC player. Anybody that good these days will take the money and run to the NFL for his senior season.
The late Dick Smith, a sports writer and later a newspaper owner, told me about one of Shorty’s games at Meridian High in 1943.
“Meridian was playing Tupelo for the Big Eight Championship,” Smith said. “First seven times Shorty touched the ball, he scored. Short runs, long runs, kick returns, didn’t matter. Every time he got the ball, he scored.
“The eighth time he touched it, he ran 70 yards until he pulled his hamstring and went down on the two-yard line. Of course, by then, Meridian was so far ahead, they didn’t need him.”