Gonna miss my buddies in Dillon

Tedd Stanisich had just read a study detailing just how bad drinking alcohol is for a person. Or, at least he said he did.

Stanisich even reeled off a couple stats that he picked up from the study as we stood on the side of Vigilante Field in Dillon as the eventual state champion Beavers warmed up for a football game one Friday night last fall.

“That’s it,” Stanisich said. “I’m giving it up.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You’re quitting drinking?”

Stanisich, who is one of three people in Beaverhead County who isn’t convinced that Barack Obama is trying to take away his hunting rifle, looked at me as if I had just told him I decided to vote Republican.

“No,” he said. “I’m done reading studies.”

The last six falls I was on the sideline of nearly every Beavers home football game. It was one of the highlights of my job at the newspaper.

Stanisich was usually the first person I’d see when I got to the field. Twenty yards before I even got to the sideline I’d start laughing in anticipation of what Stanisich was going to say.

Stanny, as they call him, has a million stories. Some of them I probably shouldn’t share until the statute of limitations has expired. I will anyway.

For instance, in the pre-Sept. 11 days, Stanny used to somehow get a press pass to NCAA tournament games when they were within driving distance. He’d say he was from a newspaper that covered one of the far-away schools, and it worked because Stanny just has the distinguished look about him. He just looks like somebody important.

Sometimes he’d work ahead to get a press pass. Other times he’d go to will call and act appalled that the incompetent folks didn’t have his pass.

As legend has it, Stanny had a great seat for Bobby Knight’s press conference meltdown about “game faces.”

Also, as legend has it, he once chewed out the manager of the hospitality room because tacos weren’t a high-class enough lunch for professional newspaper men. The manager apologized and assured the imposter writer that prime rib was on the menu for dinner.

Another time Stanny sat next to a reporter who had a laptop computer and was writing down everything that happened on the court. He noticed Stanny was just watching the game when everyone else was documenting the action.

Stanny had his elbows on the table and his chin rested on his folded hands.

“You don’t take notes?” the puzzled sports reporter asked.

Stanny turned, looked at the guy and tapped his own temple with is index finger a couple of times. As serious as a judge, Stanny said, “photographic memory.”

All of this happened while Stanny’s buddies from Dillon looked on from the nose-bleed seats, sure they were going to have to come up with bail money. Somehow, they never did.

The closest Stanny probably ever got to getting in trouble for any of his antics was last fall on the Dillon sideline.

At about the 15-yard line, Stanny, like usual, was caught up in conversation when a referee bumped into him during a kickoff.

The ref, who wasn’t amused, told head coach Terry Thomas the Beavers would be penalized if it happened again.

Thomas glared at Stanny, who is one of two or three people in the state who wouldn’t cower from such a cold stair from Thomas.

“Hey,” Stanny said. “That’s my seat.”

I’ve known Stanny, a Butte native, since I was 11 or 12 and first went to the district junior golf tournament he used to run in Dillon, and catching up with him was one of the highlights of covering Dillon Beavers football games.

It wasn’t the only one, though.

I started writing about Dillon in 2006 when Bruce Sayler took back the Butte Central beat at the paper. Pat Ryan covered Butte High and Sean Eamon wrote about Anaconda.

So, I headed to Dillon where I got to become friends the likes of Donnie Keltz and Flint McCullough, the world’s oldest yet still not the best ball boys.

Now that we’ve started this website, I won’t be heading down to Dillon any more, and I’m going to miss those guys.

I’m going to miss visiting with my buddy Wally Feldt, stat keeper Jim Eisenzimmer, the team doctor and a coaching staff that should be in the NFL.

I’m also going to miss watching such great football played by so many great kids.

Bryce Carver, a former Beaver who is on the verge of lighting it up for the Grizzlies this fall, used to tell me to “drive home safely” after a post-game interview. How many 17-year-old boys have you met that talk like that?

I’m even going to miss my “Dillon office” — McDonalds, where workers often delivered my order to the table because they knew I was writing on deadline after the games.

This story, though, is a bitter-sweet one story because now I get to cover Butte High games every Friday night. I’ll even have time to watch Butte Central again.

Saturday I took my boy and sat in the crowd at a BC game for the first time since 1996.

The night before I watched just my second Butte High football since Josh Paffausen was the quarterback in 1992, the fall of my senior year at the school.

It was the first time I saw a game at Naranche Stadium since Bob O’Billovich’s fourth quarter touchdown run gave Butte High a 13-7 win over Butte Central on Oct. 12, 1956. What a game that was.

(This would be a good time to note that in my past life I was a Butte miner and wannabe union boss named Willie McCoy. I was killed by Anaconda Company goons because of my left-wing views on restroom breaks. It was a tragic tale. I was only 22.)

The new-and-improved Naranche Stadium is, hands down, the best place I’ve ever watched a football game. Of course, the night was enhanced by a performance that rivaled those great games by Paffer in ’91 and ’92 by Dallas Cook and a Butte High team full of burning weapons.

That stadium is well worth the price tag of the $3.1 billion facility the school district will have to pay for the softball complex it will have to build the girls to avoid a Title IX lawsuit.

The only way Naranche would be better is if they’d let Butte Central play there, too. Sure, an extra four or five games there would be hard on the grass.

But, come on, we’re talking about Naranche, a stadium made famous by its dirt, glass and nails.

It’s a shame that players from Billings, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Missoula and Bozeman get to play in the legendary stadium, but Butte Central players do not.

Still, getting to see at least one Butte team there is pretty awesome.

Even though I’m really going to miss those trips to Dillon, I’m looking forward to the remainder of this football season like no other.

No matter how many games are won by the home teams, the 2012 football season is shaping up to be one of the best on record for yours truly.

The only way it could be better is if the boys from Dillon would come up for a visit once in a while.

I’ll save Stanny his seat on the 15-yard line.


— Sportswriter Bill Foley, who was also a playwright, carnival worker and minor league baseball mascot in past lives, writes a column that will appear in ButteSports.com every Tuesday. Twitter.com/Foles74