MIDWEST CITY — Jimmy Long played in a lot of meaningful football and baseball games during his athletic career, but he can't remember a single one he enjoyed as much as any of the games he's been able to watch his three daughters play.
Long was an All-State receiver at Midwest City in 1981 with more than 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, though he preferred baseball, playing at Oklahoma State, then two years in the Angels organization.
In observance of the 100th edition of The Oklahoman's All-State football team, to be announced Dec. 23, the newspaper will recognize players from the previous 99 teams.
Long earned his All-State honor during the glory years of Midwest City football, but don't bother asking him about any details from the games he played as a Bomber.
“I remember the coaches and my teammates and the relationships we had,” Long said. “I remember hanging out in the locker room, and riding the bus to games. But I don't think I can tell you about one play from one game.
“Not that long ago, I was talking with an old teammate about the backyard Wiffle ball games and football games we all had. Those are the memories that stay with you.”
Long and his wife, Kari — the older sister of Mike and Cale Gundy — had three daughters, Savannah, Karolyne and Madisyn, who have all been successful softball players, and Long played a big role in that.
“Last year was the first year I haven't coached softball during the summer with one of my daughters involved since Savannah was in T-ball — and she's 27 now,” Long said. “I've had more fun watching my girls do what they've done at the level they've done it more than any game I ever played in, football or baseball.”
Long is a financial planner now, and has been for about 22 years. But that wasn't the path he was on after his baseball career ended in the late 1980s.
He and Kari spent nearly two years in Tyler, Texas, where he worked as a food and beverage director at a country club. That's where Karolyne was born.
“I was working about 110 hours a week,” he said. “We decided to come back up here, because we thought there had to be something we could do to make a living and not kill ourselves.”
That choice gave him the opportunity to stick with his daughters through their softball careers.
Savannah and Karolyne both played at Oklahoma, and Madisyn recently signed with OSU. Jimmy and Kari haven't missed a game along the way.
“The thing I always appreciated about sports is that you do it on your own,” he said. “I've watched them strike out with the bases loaded to end the game, and I've watched them hit walk-off home runs.
“I know how it feels, because I've had those feelings. All the money in the world can't buy those feelings. They're earned. Blood, sweat and tears buy those feelings, and they're feelings you'll use all throughout your life. It's difficult, but it's very rewarding, and I'm glad I was able to be there for my kids.”