Discover more from Bald Faced Truth by John Canzano
Canzano: Nothing wrong with a little blind faith
Nothing to see this season? Look again.
Fred Hogg was an offensive lineman at Washington State in 1960. He lived in the dorms and one day he noticed a photograph of a girl on the wall of his resident advisor’s office.
“Who,” he asked, “is that?!?”
That — was Diane. She happened to be the niece of the resident advisor. Fred sat down and wrote her a letter. The aunt arranged a blind date. Three months later the couple was engaged.
I think about Fred and Diane now and then. I met them years ago, long after they had children, grandchildren and built a successful manufacturing business. They were in their 60s by then. And one of the first things Diane told me was, “Life is a bunch of adjustments.”
I met the Hoggs at a Trail Blazers game. They had season tickets — 10th row — and showed up every game night like it was a first date. Fred would drive the car in from their home in Parkdale, lead his wife to their seats, and put his arm around Diane. Then, he’d lean in and explain what was happening on the court. Or sometimes his wife would listen to the games on a transistor radio.
Glaucoma took her sight.
First, her right eye. Then, her left. Diane could make out shapes on the court, but couldn’t discern individual players or recognize her own husband’s face. By the time I encountered her, Diane was legally blind. But she could see so much.
The college football season is in Week 5. The NFL is off to a fun start, too. And the Trail Blazers held their annual Media Day on Monday, before departing for training camp in Santa Barbara. We’re about to be knee-deep in the sports calendar and I can’t help but think about how much Diane loved this time of year.
Late September is a basket of hope.
Fred died in 2015. Diane passed away five years later. But their legacy rolls on. Their children have donated money to a variety of charities in their name, supported educational endeavors, and created scholarships for young people.
Blind faith in her teams?
You bet. Diane had it — literally. I marveled one evening as I observed her husband leading her down the Rose Garden Arena concourse. Fred saw me and told her I was standing off to the side. The Blazers were struggling on the court. But Diane insisted on stopping to tell me how excited she was to see the team play that night.
Yes. Diane used that word. Because just being there is enough sometimes. Diane had surgeries on her eyes at OHSU. There were a few peculiar and hopeful moments, too. Once, she was in the ophthalmologist’s office and briefly made out part of the large letter “E” on the eye chart with her left eye.
Then, just like that, it disappeared.
Another time, during the 2005 World Series, she flipped on the television. Watching alone, Diane suddenly thought she saw the teletype scrolling across the bottom of the television broadcast. She just sat there, straining and peering.
“I couldn’t hardly see anything,” she told me, “but I watched the whole game.”
What’s that you say?
You’re not hopeful about the Blazers’ season? You don’t think your college team will make the College Football Playoff? What’s there to see? I think plenty. If you can channel your inner Diane Hogg, that is.
I wrote a column about Diane and Fred more than 15 years ago. Portland center Joel Przybilla read it and telephoned her to talk basketball. So did former Blazers radio broadcasters Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey. Diane got a big kick out of that. Also, after a few surgeries, she got a tiny bit of her vision back in that one good eye of hers.
“You gotta make the best out of a situation,” she told me.
They went on that first date, then got married. Fred joined the Army after college. He served in Vietnam and rose to the rank of First Lieutenant. He worked in counter-terrorism and intelligence. But I’ve never been more impressed with the guy than I was in watching him care for his wife.
“She's my best friend,” he told me. “If she needs me, I’m there.”
Fred cooked and cleaned. He fed their animals and drove Diane to doctor’s appointments. Then, he settled in beside her and they watched their sports teams — together. The Blazers, Washington State, and a few others, too.
I look out from my press box seat all the time and see fans sitting in the stadium seats. The games weren’t the same without you there. The cheering, smiling, and rooting are as much a part of it as the football.
I asked Fred once what he thought when he noticed Diane’s photograph on the wall. He told me, “I thought she was awful good looking.” The best part of that story was Diane’s reaction. She was standing beside him, beaming, as she heard it.
I glanced back at Fred.
His eyes were glassy.
Like Diane always said: “Life is a bunch of adjustments.”
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