Frank Giardina: Hard Times, Raw Beef, Chop Chop and other sports nicknames

Last week, southern West Virginia lost one of our all-time great sports nicknames with the passing of longtime NFL assistant coach Jim “Raw Beef” Myers.

The son of a Boone County farmer, “Raw Beef” starred at Scott High School, went on Tennessee and played in the Sugar and Orange bowls. After college, he became a coach and was an assistant at Wofford, Vanderbilt and UCLA (the 1954 Bruins won the national championship). He was also the head coach at Iowa State (1957) and Texas A & M (1958-61).

In 1970, Myers joined Tom Landry’s staff with the Dallas Cowboys as the offensive line coach and coached in five Super Bowls, winning two.

After his coaching career, Myers was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Boys Clubs of Dallas and Special Olympics. Even though he has been gone from our state for many years, he remained close to family and friends.

Another great nickname in our state’s history was that of Pratt native Clyde “Hard Times” Green, a basketball star at East Bank who went on to play at WVU from 1946-49. His teams were 78-12 during his playing career and won 43 straight home games.

He was known for his defensive prowess, thus making it “hard times” for those trying to score on him. Green later coached high school basketball at Romney, where his 1960 team went 27-0 and defeated Oceana in the Class AA state title game.

Green then coached at Morgantown High, where his 1975 team, led by guard Kevin Claudio, lost to a Tex Williams-coached St. Albans team in the state semifinals at the old Charleston Civic Center.

Many of our best state sports heroes have nicknames. We all know Jerry West as “Mr. Clutch” and “The Logo,” Randy Moss as “The Freak,” Robert Alexander “The Great” and “Hot” Rod Hundley.

But, you may have forgotten these:

Danny “Lightning” Buggs: Clever and fitting nickname for the speedy WVU receiver of the early 1970s.

John “Fuzzy” Filliez: The New Martinsville native was Marshall’s first true football star after the 1970 plane crash.

Stuart “Chop Chop” Jackson: A former track star for Keith Pritt at Charleston High, I always thought this was one of our area’s coolest nicknames. Who wouldn’t want to be called “Chop Chop?”

Bill “Golden Delicious” Maphis: A high school basketball star from Romney, Maphis played at WVU from 1963-65 and averaged 13.3 points as a senior.

Gold Dust Twins: This was the creative nickname given in the 1950s to South Charleston High stars Cebe Price and Paul Underwood. They continued their success as childhood friends and teammates at Marshall under Cam Henderson.

“King” Curtis Price: The former Charleston High basketball legend had this regal nickname on the basketball court and as a musician.

Tommy “Gun” Pritchett: The former Bluefield High and Bluefield State star brought excitement to gyms all over the southern coalfields in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

White Chocolate: One of the great NBA nicknames of all time went to former DuPont star Jason Williams, who became a national celebrity during his career. He helped lead the Miami Heat to a title in 2006.

There were others such as multi-sport star Vernell “Bimbo” Coles from Greenbrier East, Anthony “String” Harris of Northfork basketball fame and Charleston High basketball great Mike “Twig” Jones.

One of my all-time favorite nicknames was the one given for the office of longtime Magnolia coaching legend Dave Cisar. According to WVU historian John Antonik, a New Martinsville native, Cisar’s office was called, you guessed it, Cisar’s Palace.

All of these nicknames are a part of the colorful sports fabric of our state’s sports history.

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