30 for 30


ESPN’s “30 for 30” show may have originated in Scottsburg. They just don’t know it.

The picture is a recent photo of Eddie Taylor (on the left) and myself (on the right). But back in 1975, we looked a lot different, and that’s when we were teammates on the Austin Eagles basketball team, and that’s the year we set a world record along with Keith Sexton. I’m talking a world record … and here’s the story.

Things just sort of happened on and off the court when I ran with Keith and Eddie during the 1975-76 basketball season, and this is one of those things that just sort of happened on a fall night in October 1975.

At basketball practice that afternoon, we didn’t feel like anything special was going to happen. It was a long, hard practice, like most practices were under coach Dale Crafton.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

When practice was over, the three of us decided to go to Scottsburg and grab something to eat at the A&W root beer stand. Our hearts and stomachs were set on coney dogs and root beer. It was, after all, Tuesday night, which was 5-cent root beer frozen mug night, and lately, we had been there a couple of times taking advantage of the special.

Even though A&W was more of a park-and-eat restaurant, we always went inside. The girls that worked there seemed to enjoy our shenanigans.

Even as we walked inside, we still didn’t feel like anything special was going to happen. We were just three teenage basketball players looking for a good supper and something to drink because we sure were thirsty. We immediately pulled our money together and started ordering drinks, and before our coney dogs were served, we had already killed about four root beers each.

After we gulped down our dogs, Sexton came up with the idea of seeing how many root beers we could drink as a team. Keith always came up with best ideas, and it sure sounded good to Ed and me. So away we drank, and for the next several minutes, the waitresses couldn’t bring them fast enough.

I can’t really remember who said it or how it was said, but someone said we were going to break a three-man team record for root beers in 30 minutes. We never knew there was such a record. It may have been made up right there on the spot, but that didn’t matter to us. After all, we loved root beer.

With the encouragement of the carhop girls, we kept on drinking. By now, they had told some other teenage customers sitting out in their cars what was going on, and since history was being made, some of them decided to come inside and watch it. After all, it’s not every day you get a chance to see history.

Finally, and I’m not sure who the official timer was, but in 30 minutes, we had drank 30 root beers (30 for 30), and then we drank three more just for fun. Even the manager was proud of us, and she promised to put our names on the billboard outside. Let’s face it, it’s not every day you witness a world record.

The next day at school was interesting. We didn’t feel like celebrities. Actually, we felt pretty lousy. It was like we had the flu, spending a lot of time in the bathroom. But we still had basketball practice to go to, so come 3:30, we were at the gym. At least Ed and I were. Coach Crafton sent Keith home because, well, Keith had the flu.

For some odd reason that night, we did a lot of running in practice, and as Ed and I got sicker and sicker, the new world record didn’t seem so great anymore.

Well, a couple of days later, the A&W manager kept her promise, and our names were on the billboard for one whole day: “Congratulations Keith, Eddie and Mike — 33 root beers.”

I can honestly say I probably haven’t drank 10 root beers in the last 40 years of my life. But when I do, I think back to the night in 1975 when a world record was set, and as far as we know, we still hold it.

Mike Barrett is a local resident with an interest in history. Send comments to [email protected].

No posts to display