The Pride of St. Louis

A Midsummer Tale ~ Honorable Mention
Toriano L. Porter

An Excerpt from “The Pride of St. Louis”

The trip to Texas to take on the Dallas Diesel in a semi-pro football game had all the makings of a bonding outing for the St. Louis Bulldogs. St. Louis’s winningest minor league football team ever had struggled with their early pre-season games in 2005, losing the first three to opponents deemed very mediocre by Bulldog standards. The team was in the midst of a rebuilding process, having lost key members from the previous year’s 8-4 club, including the star quarterback, running back, and wide receiver.

The dwindling out of players and coaches caused a ripple effect for St. Louis, leaving them struggling to stay competitive in a fledgling semi-pro league.

Feeling a lack of cohesion on the part of the 2005 squad, Bulldog coach Greg Moore reserved a charter bus for the 12-hour ride to Dallas. The plan was to meet Friday, June 10 at 11:00 PM in the North Oaks Shopping Plaza, a local strip mall with retail stores and a bowling alley, and leave for the trip at midnight. St. Louis would then arrive to its destination by noon Saturday and have a few hours to eat a pre-game meal and maybe watch a movie at a local theater in Dallas. In typical St. Louis fashion, most of the team’s players didn’t arrive until well after midnight and Moore was peeved.

“Listen up guys,” Moore ordered as players milled around the parking lot for a team meeting prior to boarding. The chief of the Northwoods, Missouri police department, Moore was used to giving orders. What ticked him off were guys not following the procedure he’d laid out for them.

“Some of you guys don’t know the meaning of what it is to be a St. Louis Bulldog,” continued Moore, the Bulldogs’ veteran coach of thirteen years and minor league football Hall of Fame member.

Moore, all of five feet, six inches of him, was appalled. The three losses, even though preseason games, weighed heavily on him. He had scheduled the game against the Diesel thinking he’d have a squad that would compete for a national championship. Never did he imagine he’d have to go to Dallas with practically a rebuilt offense and minus several key defensive reserve players. He let the team know his feelings.

“We’re going down here to play one of the better teams in our league,” Moore scolded, “and we’ve only got thirty-something guys here.”

“Thirty-one, Chief,” tight end and captain Wendell Mosley informed.

“Thirty-one,” Moore corrected.

“Chief,” Mosley chimed in again, “we ain’t got to sit here and wait on none of these cats.” Mosley, along with Moore, offensive tackle Stan Johnson, and defensive end Fred Robinson, were the faces of the St. Louis Bulldogs. They represented St. Louis at most of the NAFL’s league functions, including all-star games and award banquets. Moore gave them a certain leeway other players couldn’t quite grasp. “Fuck ’em, let’s go. One monkey don’t stop no show.”

“Yeah, Wendell, you’re right,” Moore agreed, “but I hate to go down there with thirty-one players. We want to make an impression. We need all fifty of our guys—there’s power in numbers, boy.”

“Guys,” Moore said to his team, “get on the phone, call your buddies whose not here and tell ’em to get here. We need bodies. We need numbers, baby. Tell ’em if they’re having problems with the sixty dollar boarding fee, don’t worry about it, we’ll get it from later. Tell ’em to just come on.”

At 1:40 AM, St. Louis headed for Dallas with just thirty-three players.


E-mail: torianoporter[at]