I want to thank Eagle Sports Writer Edwin Stanton for the column he wrote Feb. 11, on my father Dick Meckley. Thanks for the time you spent on this story finding the facts, and I really appreciate your courage in writing the facts, which always reveal truth.
As any son would be, I'm very hurt and offended that certain members of the Wiregrass Hall of Fame selection committee would vote down my father because of his alcohol problem. Their judgment and rejection of my father makes me ask the obvious, is this a true Hall of Fame or a "Good Ole Boy Club?"
My father served his country in World War II (Philippines) and also served in the Korean War. Dad loved Dothan and the many memories here, which included his radio show in the '50s; His baseball TV show on channel 4; broadcasting Dothan High football and basketball on the radio; and calling Tiger football on the PA system at Rip Hewes.
I answered the phone in the press box and was very proud of my Dad. I always sat by Mr. Doug Bradford, the Eagle sports editor at that time. Mr. Bradford would travel with Dad to games and when he couldn't make the trip, he would sit in the Eagle newsroom, listen to Dad call the game on radio and write his game story. I do believe Dad could announce a beauty pageant on the radio.
Dad loved to tell me about refereeing basketball and football in the Wiregrass. He always told me about the Dothan-Eufaula "Big Itch Mathis Game" he refereed. He talked about the game-winning shot from just inside half court. We loved to talk about the Tigers dribbling on the court as Dad played "Sweet Georgia Brown."
Dad announced the Dothan Cardinals minor league baseball games at Wiregrass Stadium. The batboy was very cute (my brother Shannon). Dad sure loved Mr. E.G. Pitman of Dothan Glass. He owned Dothan's first pro baseball team. But better than that, Mr. Pitman would always come up to Dad at church or the ballpark and say, "Dick, you are a great man ... one day, you're gonna whip this stuff... Hang in there Dick." Mr. E.G. Pitman, a great encourager to my Dad, was right.
In November 1971, my Dad took his last drink. He had 29 years of sobriety; in his eyes, his greatest accomplishment! My dad got offered a job at WABC-TV in New York in 1972. He turned em down. He told me, "Son, I've been sober for 6 months and that means more to me than that job in New York."
My father announced on the PGA tour and worked with Cleveland Golf on tour for many years. He retired and mowed greens at the TPC Sawgrass where he was a founding member. Many young people would stop by his table in the TPC Clubhouse and he would give them advice and share the Lord with them. He always had time for people.
That was so obvious the last month of his life as hundreds of people sat by his bed for hours just to talk with him. The cart boys, the golf course crew, the waiters and waitresses, the Masters Champion Vijay Singh and his wife, the director of the TPC, Pete Davison, and Fred Klauk, TPC Greens Superintendent. They were all the same to Dad. Two nights before his death, Amy, a 20-year-old server from the TPC told me to get some rest. She stayed all night with Dad and left the next morning and went to school. You give love ... You get love.
On July 11, 2000, they paid tribute to my father by having his memorial service on the 17th green at the TPC. Sixty-five golf course crew members lined the ramp to the 17th as my Dad's golf bags were walked up onto the green by Shannon and me. Jim Kearce and John McKay sang Dad's favorite in acappella, "Amazing Grace." Pete Davison, Fred Klauk, Bobby Clampett and I spoke.
My Dad's hat sat on top of his greens mower, beside a cross of red and white flowers from Javy Lopez. Both flags on the green, regular pin and Sunday Championship pin were at half-staff. Dad's golf bags were walked down the ramp and driven off in a cart around the 17th tee and down the 16th fairway as the song T-I-M-E was played. Mr. Klauk spread his ashes on his favorite green to mow - the 17th.The flags were at half-staff in front of the TPC Clubhouse. A luncheon was given by the TPC in the clubhouse in honor of Dad.My brother and I drove off two proud sons.
What a Dad! What a testimony! What a legacy! My father's accomplishments in sports are many, but his greatest legacy is the trophies he left here on earth ... the lives he touched. He can take that with him and he did.Life is not a 100-yard dash. It's a marathon. My Dad finished the race and won. He birdied the back nine.
My Dad loved Dothan. Al Roberts of channel 4 did a story on my Dad's cancer and his career in Dothan. I played it for Dad and he wept. He played it for his friends at the TPC and wept. He was very proud of his life and his many friendships in Dothan. My Dad was a winner in the game and "The Game of Life."
This just in ... Dick Meckley made the real "Hall" ... God's Hall of Fame where the score lasts forever. No one can take that legacy from my father or his two proud sons.Thanks Dad for leaving me a great name, Mr. Meckley's Son - David.
Thanks Mr. Stanton for paying tribute to my Dad. I'll end this column with a letter from Dad's friend, Ben Crenshaw, who called me and talked for 30 minutes about my Dad, and asked me to read this tribute at Dad's memorial service. Mr. Crenshaw wrote, "We lost a friend a short while ago, a friend to us all who loved golf, Mr. Dick Meckley. I so enjoyed my conversations with him over the years as we shared observations about the people we have met through golf, the people who work within the industry, about golf equipment, golf swings and especially golf courses and their upkeep. We shared a lot. I looked forward to talks with him because they were so soothing, so genuine and so entertaining. "I looked to him as a sort of surrogate father. We shared a lot of things, but that's what friends do. I think everyone was enriched by knowing Dick Meckley. God Bless him and his family."
David Meckley is a resident of Dothan. He can be reached by e-mail at TheMeck@TheMeck.com
Pictures of Mr. Meckley, his memorial service, and his obituary