Mad Dog's thought for the day: Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything --- author unknown

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Former basketball great Ed O'Bannon loves Las Vegas and the car business at Findlay Toyota

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Former basketball great Ed O’Bannon, left, found a home with Findlay Toyota nearly ten years ago. He is shown with dealership General Manager Rich Abajian.
Former UCLA All-American and pro basketball player Ed O’Bannon and his wife, Rosa, knew his playing days were over in 2004. One year earlier, the couple and their three children had moved to Las Vegas from Southern California.
Now in sales at Findlay Toyota, Ed O’Bannon carefully made the transition from standout athlete to that of a car salesman without a flinch. He is relaxed, down-to-earth and happy with his new life.
You might say that O’Bannon has followed the same path as many other former athletes who have found a home at a Findlay Automotive Group dealership after their career have has been concluded. Starting with company chairman Cliff Findlay – a former NSU basketball star – the list of former athletes with the company is long and O’Bannon fits in well.

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The day we forgot the hole-in-one insurance for the Par-3 third hole at Muni Golf Course
Date: October 24, 2014

third hole at Muni Golf CourseAutomobile dealerships all over the nation are continually reaching out for name recognition. If the event merits community involvement – and most do – smart car dealers are in line to get their product recognized.

And one of the most popular ways to showcase a particular vehicle is by placing it on the T-box offering it as the grand prize for anyone who hits an ace.

About ten years ago, the call came to Saturn of Las Vegas seeking a new Saturn for the third hole at Las Vegas Golf Club, a historic course situated only a few miles from downtown Las Vegas.

Muni, as us old-timers know the course, is a classic 18-hole layout for the common folk. Vegas Golfer Magazine said ‘For a casual, relaxing round on a traditional course that won’t strain the budget, Las Vegas Golf Club is as good as it gets.”

Formerly a fish hatchery, Muni is perfect for most everyone, so we jumped at the opportunity to get exposure for the Saturn. I got the car from Saturn of West Sahara and eagerly reported to the course the day before the tournament to make certain we found good placement near the third hole T-box on the 98-yard shot that features a large lake between the T-box and the green.

For the record, hole-in-one promotions can and should be covered by one of various insurance companies that cover the cost of the car should someone is lucky enough to hit the hole-in-one. For a few hundred bucks, the dealership gets great exposure and the golfers love the possibility of hitting the ace while getting the keys to the vehicle.

Two of us -- the other was long-time Saturn sales consultant John Taylor – headed for Muni thinking the other had secured the insurance for the third hole promotion. The agreement usually includes signage promoting the dealership in what is perfect way to generate interest.

Not long before the start of the tournament, we someone discovered that neither of us had secured the insurance for what might be one of the easiest Par 3s in the country. While I’m not sure how many vehicles have been won on the hole, I have to believe this particular shot has strong odds especially for those who play golf often.

Worse yet, this particular golf tournament featured several Major League Baseball players and as is usually the case, most baseball players also know how to play golf.

While I don’t recall many of the tournament’s entries, I do recall that one of them was Marty Barrett, the likeable native of North Las Vegas native whose 10-year career in the Major Leagues included playing for the Boston Red Sox and the San Diego Padres where he played in his final season in 1991.

During his career, Barrett had an average of .278 highlighted by a career-high .303 during his first full season in 1984. In 1986, he had 179 hits, 60 RBIs in 168 games. Then in 1986, he set a major league record with 24 hits 14 postseason games and was named the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player.

During the 1986 World Series, Barrett continued an excellent season by collecting 13 hits in 30 at bats (.433 average).

However, what I actually remember most of all was when Barrett played second base for Rancho High School in North Las Vegas before going on to play for Arizona State University – itself a hotbed for great baseball players.

When Barrett arrived to try out for Rancho’s baseball team, his coach Tex Anthony told me he that he was thoroughly impressed with the little future star. In particular, Anthony said Barrett had a floppy old glove, but that didn’t make any difference because he so talented that he could handle a ground ball with his bare hands.

In other words, Barrett was good with his hands and he undoubtedly can play golf, too.

Even with the players that also included Major League pitchers and fellow former Las Vegas high school baseball players Mike Maddux and his brother, Greg, a four-time Cy Young Award winner.

The Maddux brothers undoubtedly represented another pair of top-notch baseball players who could also hit a golf ball with accuracy; and would also look very good in a new Saturn, compliments of a hole-in-one.

As it turned out, nobody hit the ace on that frightening day under glorious skis at Muni, but I’ll never forget the talented Barrett coming only a few inches short. As I watched the ball roll close to the hole, I kept trying to find something good about him winning the new Saturn.

At the very least, both of us are graduates of Rancho, or so I quickly analyzed. Combined with the fact that Barrett’s also a great representative of Nevada and I nervously tried to dig myself out of a hole that never materialized for the brand new Saturn that almost went home with someone other than an employee of Findlay Automotive Group.

Details. Details – and you can bet that if I am ever involved in sponsoring a golf tournament again, I’ll first check to see who’s playing and if the hole-in-one insurance has been handled long before the first competitor plants his or her feet on the T-box of the Par-3.


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