I admit it. I’m a stat guy.

  When I was growing up in South Texas and grabbed the Corpus Christi Caller-Times I immediately turned to the sports section of the daily newspaper and then went straight to the box scores. I wanted to see how my favorite New York Yankees did at the plate in the baseball game played the previous day or night. How many homers did Mickey Mantle hit? How many runs did he drive in? What about first baseman Moose Skowron or shortstop Tony Kubek? How were their stats? And pitcher Whitey Ford, how many strikeouts did he record?

  I also glanced quickly over to the stats of the Houston Colt 45s, later to become the Astros. How did Bob Aspromonte do at the plate? How many homers did the Toy Cannon Jimmy Wynn hit? And Larry Dierker, did he pick up another win? How many earned runs did he give up?

  I made sure to check the baseball standings every day. How far ahead were the Yankees? How close to second place were the Astros?

  In football season I’d check the box scores of the Cowboys’ games, plus those of the college teams at Texas A&I, the University of Texas and the Houston Cougars and I kept a close watch on the NFL standings.

  In the spring time, my favorite sports list to check was the state’s best list for high school track and field. Did the local area have anybody in the top 10? I’d see the names of sprinters George Aldridge from Highland Park and Warren McVea of San Antonio Brackenridge and made a point to go see them run at the Little State Meet that Corpus Christi would hold at Buccaneer Stadium.

  And how about that high jumper from San Antonio St. Peter Claver, Clarence Johnson?

   Some of the top athletes from the state would compete in that meet because their head coach wanted to win a new watch from Taylor Brothers Jewelers.

Johnson cleared 7 feet, 1/4 inch in the jump at the Little State Meet, setting a new national record while I watched. I found out later that he led his high school basketball team to two state titles and was a standout basketball player and high jumper in college at Cal in California. Johnson later went on to coach basketball in Nigeria, working with a young player named Akeem Olajuwon.

  And now as a sportswriter I like to keep stats at high school football games and high school baseball games. I keep up with a play-by-play on a legal pad for the football games and track rushing and passing yards, etc. on a stat sheet.

  I also enjoy keeping a scorebook at high school baseball and softball games, in between snaps of the camera.

  This stat guy really enjoys watching the ESPN Command Center on ESPN2, when the sports network is broadcasting a top college football game. Not only does the screen show shots from four cameras at the same time but also keeps up with the stats, right down the middle of the screen.

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  My condolences to the family of former Greenville Lions’ basketball coach Dub Raper, who died on Jan. 3 at the age of 83. Raper was living in Moore, Okla.

Raper coached the Lions for seven seasons from 1991-99 after piling up more than 400 wins as a head basketball coach in his native state of Oklahoma.

  Raper was inducted into two Oklahoma halls of fame and coached a Carl Albert team to a state runner-up finish in Oklahoma in 1989.

  Raper was known to be tough on his players. I saw his intensity on the sidelines and when he’d call a timeout.

  But he was a nice guy once the game was over. Always easy to talk to.

  Even nicer was his wife Jackie, who survives him along with sons Greg, Scott and Roger and a daughter Misty.

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  I just had to ask Greenville Lady Lions’ goalkeeper Sistinas Stretch about her unique first name.

  She was named for the song “Sistinas” by the rock band Danzig. Turns out her father’s a big fan of hard rock music.

  The song starts off “Take my hand, you’ll never find, another quite like mine.”

  David Claybourn is sports editor of the Herald-Banner.

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