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Biz & Grace on Facing Pages

If there were a hall of fame for hall of faming Tina Grace & Elizabeth “Biz” Richmann Leonard would be first ballot guarantees.

On a recent crescent mooned Friday the former basketball teammates formally joined the Oglethorpe University Athletic Hall of Fame. If induction attendees opened their hall of fame programs to the right spread it could have been the 2008 Stormy Petrel basketball program. There they were, side by side, smiling profiles of Biz and Grace on facing pages.

Sharing an awards program spread and entering the Hall together, one teammate after the other, was no accident. It seemed fitting. As the night progressed this order of operations would take on atmospheric significance. Everything before Tina Grace’s induction went according to plan. What happened next could have been a laboratory experiment isolating bio-electric magnetism undiminished between teammates a decade later.

Moments after Grace’s induction sudden clouds crowded Lupton Auditorium, a thickening fog heavy with ceremonial peril.

By the time Biz left the podium to pose for a photo with Grace the atmosphere of Lupton was not merely restored, but made magical by a volley of galvanic lightning between teammates. It was in the nearly disastrous interval between Grace’s induction and Biz’ introduction that the former teammates sparked synergistic synaptic paths unmapped to save the day as they stepped together into the hall of fame.

Their improvised orchestration showed assurance and precision akin to stagecraft.

Grace and Biz -- unstaged in Lupton Auditorium -- delivered a spontaneous feat of hall of famery with no precedent in Canton nor Cooperstown. Like an expertly missed foul shot collected and put back before the buzzer to cheat defeat, their timely brilliance invited mystical appreciation. The Class of ’09 grads stepped up to preserve institutional prestige and to narrowly avert symbolic catastrophe. It was Santana Moss’ mantra on display in Lupton: big time players making big time plays

It was the closest I’ve felt to the ghost of Wendell Brown since 1997.

Photo of Wendell Brown stolen by the '98 Yamacraw from the '66 Yamacraw. The Yamacraw is the yearbook of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia

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