Brian VanderBeek

April 30, 2014

Beek’s Blog: At least some of us remember the Ruston Rifle

As if I needed to be reminded that the people in the press box get younger every year

Beek's Blog

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We’re playing a little game in the broadcast booth these days, and we’re calling it “Generation Gap Trivia,” since Nuts’ play-by-play voice Keaton Gillogly is less than half my age.

So when the topic of Ben Alsup came up, with the Nuts’ righty a product of Ruston, La., I had to ask Gillogly if he ever had heard of the “Ruston Rifle.”

Chalk one up for the gap, because Gillogly whiffed. Came up a complete blank.

And Alsup was mortified.

“It’s pretty rare that somebody wouldn’t know that name, because everybody’s reference when I tell them I’m from Ruston, Louisiana is the Ruston Rifle,” Alsup said.

Of course, the Ruston Rifle is former NFL quarterback Bert Jones, who happened to follow the same athletic/academic path as Alsup, attending Ruston High School and Louisiana State University.

Jones finished fourth in the 1973 Heisman vote and was the second pick overall in that year’s draft, going to the Baltimore Colts as the heir to the quarterback position held for so many years by Johnny Unitas.

The Colts won three straight AFC East titles (1975-77) with Jones at the helm, but lost in the first round every year. The 1977 playoff loss was to the Oakland Raiders in the famous “Ghost to the Post” game.

So naturally I had to ask Gillogly if the phrase “Ghost to the Post” rang a bell.

Strike two.

Alsup played quarterback at Ruston High, and set several passing records. He attibutes that partly to Jones’ RHS Bearcats teams being ground-oriented. But with Ruston still being a small town (about 21,000), and with Jones still living there, does Alsup know him?

“His son is my brother’s best friend, so I see him all the time in the offseason,” Alsup said. “He owns a lumber company in Ruston - a lumber distributor - and my dad has an Ace Hardware with lumber in it, so they do a lot of business together. We go fishing all the time at his camp - me, my brother and his (Jones’) son. He gives a lot back to the community.”

So, with Ruston being the home of Louisiana Tech University, could Gillogly come up with the names of the NFL quarterback (Terry Bradshaw) and NBA power forward (Karl Malone) who went to that school en route to each sport’s hall of fame?

He knew Brasdshaw, but not Malone.

Strike three.

The old guy wins.

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