When I was growing up I was a big fan of the "The White Shadow".
Man, did I love watching Thorpe and Salami play some hoop
for Carver High School. But there was nobody like Coolidge.
He was the "aircraft carrier" long before Dick Vitale tagged every
big man in college with that moniker. Coolidge dominated in
high school and he was cool. He had the high white socks, the
gold chain, and that afro. Coolidge was listed at 6'8" in the program
but that was before he let the 'fro grow out. I'm convinced he
was a 7-footer when got his 'fro to sprout out like a Chia Pet.
That was the mid-70's, a time when people experimented with sex,
drugs, and style. Bell bottom jeans and elevator shoes were in, while
Afro's were trying to get there. I was a big sports fan back then and
I saw this fascinating athlete with a magical nickname show up with
the New York Nets with an afro that was majestic.
Dr. J, was Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan and I found him
to be way cooler than Coolidge. The guy could jump out the gym,
but I always worried about him scraping his head on the ceiling
because of his afro. It was awesome. I tried to grow an afro, but
it just didn't work out. I could grow it long, but I could never get it
to stand straight up for some reason. The 'fro was really growing on
me, though. When the Yankees traded for a guy named Oscar Gamble,
I found myself watching every Yankee game, even though the Mets
were my favorite team.
Nobody who watched the Yankees could ever take their eyes off
Oscar Gamble and his afro. Many people thought he was just going
to fly away, his afro parted into what seemed like a pair of wings.
It was never, "Oscar Gamble has great power and can hit some home
runs", but rather, "Look at that dude, that afro is awwwwww-some!"
When Oscar Gamble retired in the late 70's, so did the afro. It seemed
like it was extinct. I'd watch "Yankees Classic" every once in awhile
with the hope that I'd see Oscar and his afro one more time. But I
never did, it was gone, never to be seen again. But the afro tried to
make its way back in sports over the last 5 years or so. I guess it's
like everything in fashion, if you're around long enough, things eventually
come back around----and afro's did, for a little while.
Coco Crisp, in what seemed to be a tribute to Oscar Gamble brought
back the big 'fro last year with the Oakland A's. But to be honest with
you, it seemed kind of forced and silly. Why was Oscar Gamble's 'fro
so intriguing? Perhaps, because he was really the first and most recognizable
player to have one. Coco's fro seemed to be a bad imitation of Oscar
Gamble. (And I know I'm being repetitive but you can't just say Oscar
or Gamble, they belong together.)
When Dimitri Young played with the Detroit Tigers five years ago,
"The Meat Hook" let his hair down and out and up. At least it was
original, but if you're a pitcher facing Young, how could you really
keep a straight face. That afro could best be described as "electric",
as in Young stuck his finger in an electric socket and got that.
Phil Spector had the best afro of any white man in the history of
the world. The former record producer who worked with Tina Turner
along with other legends on his way to 25 top 40 songs in his career.
I can guarantee Spector is not looking like the above pictures. He's serving
19 years in prison for murder. Must've been the hair. Had to be the hair.
Randy Moss did a lot of unusual things during his career, but the
afro he wore in his first stint with the Minnesota Vikings, was, um,
interesting to stay the least. It sure made for some great conversation
at the watercooler, didn't? I think the afro, unfortunately, is just like
Moss, gone forever. Man, but Oscar Gamble sure had a cool one.