Garret Mathews / Lifestyle & Retirement

Flingin’ the ‘Ole Shot Put

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I don’t know what you did last night, but I had a track and field tournament.

Well, field.

I have a 16-pound shot put that I fling to keep fit, and in hope one of the neighbors will call the cops to report Paul Bunyan is loose.

My only competition was a second-grader up the street whose heave could be measured in inches, and a squirrel that chose not to participate even after I offered to pay its entry fee.

Ah, winning. The good feeling never goes away.

I’ll take your questions.

Isn’t a shot put a strange toy for an adult?

Not really. I look at the thing as a marble that received too much human growth hormone.

Is there a secret to flipping the shot put farther than a little neighbor kid?

Yes. You must have a good grunt, one that is uniquely your own. I favor “HARRUMGOOSBUH,” but “PUCKAPUCAAWHOOSH” works just as well.

So that’s why a shot-putter’s face always looks like he’s being Tasered?

Yes. You must also have the proper swagger, the stiffer the legs the better. Our role model is Frankenstein’s monster.

Do you practice safe shot put?

Not always. Some almost grown-ups who were on my kids’ baseball teams years ago came over and we played catch with it. One guy dropped the thing on his foot. We laughed hysterically. I can honestly say that’s the highest level of guyness ever achieved in my yard.

Is there some other reason to throw a heavy weight other than for the amusement of tiny male minds?

Yes. I do not own a gun. Prowlers to our abode will receive a face full of shot put. It should make for an interesting mug shot down at the station.

You sound anxious for this to happen.

I’m leaving the light on.

Is there any credence to the rumor that shot-putters lack intelligence?

I prefer to think we are sneaky smart. You buy expensive products to kill your grass. We throw the shot put.

   Is there some sort of inner peace a shot-putter achieves after a particularly good hurl?

I don’t know about Zen, but the moles hate the round ball and that’s good enough for me.

   One last question: What’s the best thing that can happen when throwing the shot put?

A moon landing.

Editor’s Notes:  Garret Mathews tells us:   I’m retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. In a 39-year career, I penned more than 6,500 pieces on every subject from moonshiners to murderers. You can read some of my work by going to and clicking on the Favorites icon.  For information on other projects, click on Coming Together and FolksAreTalking on the Plugger site.” Also, go to, and, for even MORE great articles from Garret, click here!  Email Garret at He’d love to hear from you!

Garret Mathews is retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. He penned more than 6,500 pieces on every subject from moonshiners to murderers and Appalachian snake handlers to mail-order brides. His legacy website ( contains links to columns – his (“Favorites”) and those mostly written by others (“Columnists: While We’re Still Around”). At “Coming Together,” you can access interviews Mathews conducted with civil rights volunteers who went South in the ‘60s to register voters and desegregate schools and businesses. At “Folks Are Talking,” you can read several dozen feature stories and columns (early United Mine Workers organizers, early coal hand loaders and a female furrier who dissected muskrats while eating peanut butter sandwiches) that Mathews wrote during the ‘70s when he worked in Southern West Virginia. He and his wife MaryAnne moved to Carmel in 2013 to dote on their grandchildren, Gavin and Ben.

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