Marion, AL—The Brothers Hazewinkel, the diminutive 5'5" duo that has headed the Marion Military Institute (MMI) wrestling program for the past decade, are set to retire their whistles and singlets at the close of the current academic year in May, thus ending their five decades-plus storied Hall-of-Fame wrestling and coaching careers.
Twin brothers Jim and Dave Hazewinkel, the spry septuagenarians with outsized and outrageous senses of humor, could have sprung straight from the pages of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
Recently, during lunch at Lottie's, a local Marion restaurant renowned not only for its menu but also for the mirror that stretches across its back wall, the eternally youthful Hazewinkels were asked by the friendly waitress if they were twins. Their Hazewinkelesque response was: "Yes, we are, but so are you."
Mouth agape, the bewildered waitress stood there, speechless.
Pointing at the mirror across the room, the Hazewinkels cleared up her confusion by saying, in unison, "There's your twin over there."
We didn't see our waitress for a fair stretch of time after that exchange, so the Hazewinkels were able to launch into the delicious story of how they became wrestlers—by playing baseball.
It so happens that the Hazewinkels' first foray into the world of sports came via baseball. Jim and Dave decided to join their high school's baseball team in their freshman year. They thought that baseball could accommodate their smallish stature. But they were dead wrong. The year dragged on and on, with both boys endlessly riding the pine.
And then, miraculously, after nearly a season's worth of games had come and gone, they finally had their shot at baseball immortality. It was the last game of the season. It was the bottom of the ninth with two outs, the bases loaded, and their team down by two runs when the coach's cry for help rang loud and clear throughout the dugout: "Hey, Hazewinkel!" And then the same cry was heard again: "Hey, Hazewinkel!"
The coach's cries of "Hey, Hazewinkel!" fell on deaf Hazewinkel ears. Finally, one of the other players alerted the Hazewinkels to the coach's unheard pleas.
Dave bounded off the pine and raced down the dugout to the coach. The coach uttered the following immortal words of instruction: "Hazewinkel, get out there and crouch down as low as you can. Whatever you do, don't swing at the ball. You got that?"
"Yes, sir!" said an excited Dave as he hurried toward the batter's box.
"And one more thing: Take a bat with you!" screamed the coach.
As an aside to his story and as an explanation as to why he didn't take a bat to the plate with him in the first place, Dave chuckled and said, "You know, I didn't think I needed a bat since I wasn't going to take a swing at the ball."
Dave took four straight balls and walked. The team was now within one run of tying the game up.
The coach cried for help once more: "Hey, Hazewinkel!" And then he yelled again: "Hey, Hazewinkel!" Finally, one of the other players alerted the remaining Hazewinkel to the coach's unheard pleas.
Jim bounded off the pine and raced down the dugout to the coach. The coach reuttered the same immortal words of instruction that he had just given to Dave, with one addendum: "Hazewinkel, get out there and crouch down as low as you can. Whatever you do, don't swing at the ball. You got that? And one more thing: Take a bat with you!"
With a full count of three balls and two strikes, Jim crouched ever lower in the batter's box.
"Ball four!" yelled the umpire.
The game was now tied. A base hit by the next batter produced the game-winning run. And the rest, as they say, is history—wrestling history.