Baton Rouge flashback
I’m off to another late start on Monday, bu then again, not really. I had my column done before 6 a.m, and then I went back to bed for a couple of hours. I’m trying to get out so I can go back to Kansas City, but the good news is I’m already packed except for the computer, and I have all of my crib notes ready for tonight’s edition of The Pulse.
The top score in The Pulse last week was 29,894, which is 106 points short of perfect. However, I discovered the high score had help; the next three scores came from the same Buffalo Wild Wings in Minneapolis. And then four of the next six were from the famous Walsh’s Sports Bar and Grill near Chicago, where it seems like there are always large groups playing together. There was a group of three last week trying to take me down. Not a chance.
Today is Bill Franques’ 51st birthday. Bill was my mentor when I worked in the sports information office at LSU. I helped him out with publicity for the Bayou Bengals’ baseball team during my undergraduate years, and I came back after my graduation to do it on a volunteer basis while I was doing freelance work with The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s daily newspaper.
Bill deserves sainthood for putting up with me all those years. He saw me at my very worst much of the time, and I’m sure he was frustrated with me on at least 500 different occasions. He could have easily cut me off and told me to hit the bricks, but he didn’t. I think he realized I needed LSU baseball badly, and there a lot of things I could do really well he would miss without me.
I came in very handy for Bill during my second stint working with him at LSU. He does not like to be away from his family, and since I was driving to all of the away game, he often rode with me so he didn’t have to leave until Friday morning. We would get to our destination a few hours before game time, and then would make the return trip Sunday night. We made it from Baton Rouge to Gainesville and back in under nine hours each way in 2002.
Bill and I spent an awful lot of days at Ivar’s, the great sports bar one mile from the LSU campus. Ivar’s is located on a corner of Perkins Road, with Interstate 10 rumbling along only a few feet to the west. I worried sometimes if an 18-wheeler lost control, it would flip and ram into Ivar’s. Bill and I spent many an afternoon before an LSU baseball game munching buffalo wings before getting back to the business of the day. Most of the time, we were joined by assistant baseball coach Jim Schawnke, and we would have a spirited discussion of college baseball and whatever else was on our mind.
By 2001, Jim was living in the Dallas area and Bill was married with a family, but I continued to spend an awful lot of time at Ivar’s, albeit alone, although on many occasions, I would run into someone I knew. There were weeks where I would go to Ivar’s four days a week for lunch, playing the jukebox and reading The Advocate while watching TV. The wings at Ivar’s are still the best I’ve ever eaten. They were coated with this bright orange sauce which is somewhere between Buffalo Wild Wings’ medium and hot. My fingers would be coated in the sauce by time I was done, and before I ate anything else, I had to run to the restroom to wash my hands.
Another great thing about Ivar’s was it served Barq’s root beer in the glass bottles and with frozen mugs. The only bad thing was no free refills, which meant I was mostly drinking Dr. Pepper in those days. Today, it would be Diet Coke.
The funny thing is I never played Buzztime trivia at Ivar’s. There was this one patron, Steve, who would come in and play during his lunch break. Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t play Buzztime at Ivar’s. I might have spent an inordinate number of 13-hour days (11 a.m.-2 a.m.) there. I really miss Ivar’s, so much so that when I went back to Baton Rouge in 2010, I went there four times.
Okay, enough about the past. I’ve got to get a move on it. Next post will be from Kansas City.