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Texas Relays, Longhorns Softball, Coleen Grant Hardin and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

SPORTS 1: Our guests deserve a welcome. And visitors to the 87th Texas Relays got one at Austin City Hall on Wednesday. Some readers might remember that fans of the revered track meet, often African American, felt less than utmost respect and hospitality in our entertainment districts and shopping centers. Let’s hope those days have passed. Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and City Manager Marc Ott were among the dignitaries to salute some area athletes. There to cheer them on were University of Texas sports bigwigs like Jody Conradt, Chris Plonsky, Deloss Dodds and Steve Patterson. Gregory Vincent, Victoria Cumberbatch and Erica Saenz were among the UT hosts. (A host of smartly dressed folks filled the hall’s atrium for drinks, snacks, chat and very short speeches.)

SPORTS 2: First time at McCombs Field. First, newsroom buddy Addie Broyles and I were shocked to find we could park right at the entrance of the Red and Charline McCombs Field, home to the Longhorns softball team. We were pleased, too, by the ticket prices ($5), the intimate, open seating and unfussy practice of general admission. Right away, it was clear that fans could be divided between the hardcore old-timers, always up front at UT games, and kids. Not UT students. Kids, who were having a heck of a time at this inexpensive, safe and wholesome social event. Coach Connie Clark’s team encountered no major obstacles defeating Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in a 8-0 game that ended with the mercy ruling. (Beautiful game that included an arcing home run. Glad former player Addie was there to fend off errant fouls.)

HISTORY: A many-chaptered life: From my story in the Statesman: “In 1943, Coleen Grant Hardin first met Tennessee Williams. “He was very shy,” says the Austin writer and performer about the great American playwright. “He had one eye that wouldn’t track. It was later corrected.” Williams paid the striking former University of Texas drama student to type his scripts at $5 a pop. That helped out with the rent, then only $15 a month. “I should have kept those scripts,” jokes Hardin, still quite active at age 91, taking a break from work in the upstairs office of her formal Old Enfield home. “After I typed one, I gave him some advice. I said the third act in ‘Stairs to the Roof’ wouldn’t work. Years later, when he came to lecture at UT, I asked if he remembered me. ‘I sure do,’ he said. I asked about that play, and he confessed he never could finish it.” http://shar.es/BtbZJ(I cherish my time with this lovely woman.)