With April Fools Day approaching, we can all look back at some of the pranks where we’ve been on the receiving end and those we’ve committed.
One I never considered funny occurred decades ago when I was a college student.
My roommate knew I had a big exam at 7:40 a.m. the following April 1 morning.
To prepare, I set my alarm clock and went to bed early.
Much to my chagrin, he decided to prank me by turning off the electricity to our apartment for an hour.
Which meant that when my alarm clock rang signaling time to rise at 7 a.m., it was actually 8 a.m.
I arrived at class late and missed the test, which I wasn’t allowed to make up.
A month later, I found a new roommate.
While April Fools jokes in newspapers are pretty much a no-no, former Payson High baseball coach Teddy Pettet and I managed to sneak one into the Payson Roundup about 20 years ago.
Together, we contrived a joke in which I would write a story about a big-time major league baseball prospect moving to Payson from his former home in Florida to avoid excessive media attention.
We named him Billy Bob (Billy Bob Hoyt wasn’t then at Payson High) and gave him a fictitious slate of credentials that would render him a sports agent’s dream.
He could run from home to first in record time, belt 500-foot home runs, throw 100 mph fastballs and carried a .600 batting average at this former school.
I even quoted his former Florida High School baseball coach — who Teddy and I named Loof Lirpa — April Fool spelled backwards.
Lirpa was quoted in the story as saying Billy Bob had movie star good looks, was the most popular student among girls, in his former school had been homecoming king and was a certain first pick in the next professional baseball draft.
We went so far as to photograph Teddy outside the PHS weight room with bat in hand holding the door shot with his foot.
After concocting the façade, we agreed it was so far-fetched no one would fall for it.
But lo and behold, they were hooked much like a largemouth bass going after a lure.
While having dinner at Mormon Lake Steak House, a man approached, commenting about the PHS shirt I was wearing and then he inquired about the Longhorns’ new baseball player. “He’s must be really great,” I recall the man saying. “Payson was lucky to get him away from Florida… I wish our school would have gotten him.”
I immediately realized this fan had genuinely fallen for a story Teddy and I thought was unbelievable.
Although the story came out just before spring break, Teddy and I learned that during the school recess, there were teenage girls circling the PHS campus hoping to get a glimpse of Billy Bob. A few of the baseball players also admitted they were anxious to see their new teammate in action. When school resumed, Teddy and I let the cat out of the bag, telling all it was actually an April Fools joke.
But, dang, it was a good one.
The caption read he was keeping over-zealous fans, agents and recruiters at bay so Billy Bob could work out.