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Epilogue | Harry "Jughead" Hancock

Star catcher Jughead Hancock was a rock on the field and at home

CLEARWATER — Harry "Jughead" Hancock lived between straight lines.

He laid block in perfect rows through hundreds of buildings, including his own house. He could get a proper crease with an iron. Because he didn't think his wife or children could, Mr. Hancock did all the ironing. He even used a level to hang a picture.

A star catcher for several Clearwater Bombers championship softball teams, Mr. Hancock also threw in a straight line — a cannon shot to second base when a runner tried to steal.

Mr. Hancock died May 10 of cancer. He was 85.

He was a creature of routine, the tried and true, and saw no reason to fix what wasn't broken. That included his pronunciations of certain words.

A jacuzzi was a "yahoozie." He took "Booth McMullen" road to get to "K-Mark."

He gave his children the same birthday present every year: brand new $1 bills, as many as their age.

Every Saturday, he pulled up to a McDonald's restaurant to give away citrus from his property. Though his owned 4 acres, he gave away more citrus than he sold.

Nobody knows why a football coach at Clearwater High School decided to refer to Mr. Hancock during practice one day as Jughead. But the name stuck.

Mr. Hancock served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, and flew 35 missions over Japan. He lettered in three sports at Rollins College.

He taught history for a year before going into construction. "He had Popeye forearms," said Sally Barrett, his daughter. "He had that weathered look on his skin."

One pinkie was bent, the likely result of a Herb Dudley fastball. Mr. Hancock caught for Dudley, an Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame pitcher, through the 1940s and 1950s.

Pitcher and catcher knew each other so well, they did not use signals. "He didn't know whether it was going to be a riseball or a drop or a change-up or whatever. He just caught it," said Bombers hall-of-famer Doug Mason, 78. "He could recognize the pitch by the time it got there."

The pair played together through at least six of the Bombers' 10 world championship. For a couple of summers, Dudley and Mr. Hancock also played together for the Zollner Pistons softball team in Detroit.

In 1964, Mr. Hancock moved his family into the house he had built with friends. He coached Little League baseball when his son played, and started a Junior Miss Softball league in 1972, his family said.

Once, an umpire ejected Mr. Hancock from the dugout at Woodlawn Park for yelling at him about a call. Mr. Hancock dutifully retreated to the other side of the park fence and resumed his tirade.

Since his death, family and friends have reminisced about Mr. Hancock and his regular habits: the beanie weenies he always ate, the gifts of $1 bills and boxes of rolled coins.

His children and grandchildren are already thinking about their next birthdays, and feeling the absence.

They are also thinking about the consistency of his character. "He always said, 'Treat your friends the way you like to be treated,' " his daughter recalled. " 'And be who you are. Don't hide behind the mask.' "

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

>>Biography

Harry "Jughead" Hancock

Born: Sept. 9, 1924.

Died: May 10, 2010.

Survivors: Wife Mary; daughters Sally Barrett and her husband Ray, Jane Farina, and Molly Rodnite and her husband Andrew; son William and his wife Sandra; brother Frank; and eight grandchildren.

Star catcher Jughead Hancock was a rock on the field and at home 05/18/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 9:50pm]
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