The Wit and Wisdom of the Great Q.R. Zedd

Originally published in the October 1982 C&E.

The opening of the football season brings to mind the fact that Oklahoma’s premier DXer, the great Q.R. Zedd, was also a great sports star in his younger days, and remains today one of the Most brilliant analytical minds in the sports world.

This should not surprise us. When you are great — as Zedd himself is wont to remind his pals — you are great.

“I predict that it is going to be a great season for the Sooners as well as for the Cowboys of Stillwater,” Zedd, his booted feet propped up comfortably in the den of his home at Honor Roll Ranch, told us recently. “I expect OU to mop up on everybody and OSU to be close behind.”

Zedd, who was an all-American in four college sports — football, basketball, baseball and DXing — made a number of cogent gridiron predictions, among them the following:

Oklahoma will change its offense, putting the ball in the air at least fifty times, ten or fifteen of these times on purpose.

Oklahoma State will back away from its plan to redshirt Pistol Pete, and Pete will be out there as usual.

Tom Osborne will figure out still another way to lose a couple of games (including Oklahoma, of course), and will write a book about it.

Texas will go 2-9 for the year, winning only over Oklahoma and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Notre Dame will lose a game, starting a fan campaign to bring back Terry Brennan.

Ohio State will lose a game, starting a fan campaign to bring back Woody.

Northwestern will lose a game… and then another game… and then another game….

Sportswriters will write a lot about having college football playoffs again. This will give them something to put in their Thursday columns, between the Wednesday columns about the latest football ratings and the Friday columns about how stupid the ratings are.

“Actually,” said Zedd, “my favorite sport aside from DXing is basketball. It is little known, but I helped Billy Tubbs a whole lot-with his team last year. You might say I taught him everything he knows.

“We had a great team my senior year in college,” Zedd went on, waxing nostalgic. “We played firewagon basketball. We tried playing defense in my junior year, but nobody liked it much. So in my senior year we just let you score as fast as you could so we could get the ball and go score on you. It usually worked great, as everyone knows.

“We had a play in my junior year, too,” Zedd went on. “We would come down and throw the ball into the post. Only we all kept forgetting how it went so we gave up on that, too.

“What we would do is, our point guard would hold up one or two fingers as he brought the ball upcourt, and people would think we had plays. It confused everybody, a little like when you call out of turn in a list operation and then act so innocent and apologetic that the MC decides to be a good guy too and lets you in after you missed the list.

“As history records, we had a truly great team. I think we would have won the NCAA if our center hadn’t been showing off for the cheerleaders and jumped up and fractured his skull on the backboard one night, which came right after our best-coordinated forward fell off the bench while tying his shoelaces and twisted his knee.,.”

Baseball was wonderful also, Zedd reminisced. “I used to love it when the big, fat guys were finished with football and the tall skinny ones were through with basketball and only us supremely gifted and well-rounded athletes were left, cavorting around out there on the diamond,” he said.

Zedd pitched for his team, recording seven no-hitters and a dozen one-hitters in his illustrious career. When not on the mound he played center field, and was an all-American at both positions as a junior and senior, He batted 722 as a senior, with 42 home runs in 39 games, including the College World Series in Omaha where he beat Southern California with a no-hitter, 4.-0, and went four for four at the plate, including three triples and a double, and four runs batted in. He was offered a job with the New York Yankees, as is well known, but declined because he preferred DX and did not want to put his pal Mickey Mantle out of work,

It was at this time that Zedd went to Hollywood for a few months, playing Ronald Reagan in three chimpanzee epics.

Zedd is also a superlative Frisbie player. He used to be a common sight on the University of Oklahoma’s South Oval, frolicking with the unspayed faculty dogs and student weirdos, but he had to quit when some lesser Frisbie players grew so discouraged after watching his excellence that they took the extreme way out and went to class,

“There is, however, no sport as great as DXing,” Zedd opined. “No other sport – not even Monday Night Football — is so demanding of great endurance and steadiness under pressure. Howard Cosell may think it’s tough to be an NFL quarterback, but that’s nothing compared to trying to crack a pileup with only a few kilowatts and a wide-spaced monobander. Why, only the other night I heard a horrendous pileup and recognized that it was for my good friend Randi in New Delhi, As I had not spoken with Randi for two days, naturally I tried to break in. Would you believe that even with my equipment and great natural talent on the airwaves, it took THREE calls to get him? I was nearly a nervous wreck!

“I am reminded of the time I was operating alone from high mountains in Tibet. The native bearers had deserted me, Even Ronald Coleman had gone home. I pluckily stuck it out, working the key with alternate hands while warming the other one with an ice cube. I worked 13,500 in two days, and was later given the Legion of Merit award by a grateful French government for my brave exploits when it developed that a lost regiment of the Foreign Legion saved itself from certain death in a desert sandstorm by setting their bearings on the steady, unfailing note of my distant CW transmitter, Or consider the time I went to Russia and saved a wrecked train by sending CW signals from the site with torn telegraph wires I held in my teeth, Why, son, it is possible to have sport and adventure in DXing even in your own home. No baseball team can say that.

Naturally we longed to hear more from the great man. But there was a contest on 40 meters, and Zedd said he felt an obligation to get on and allow a few hundred lucky stations to work him before bedtime.

“You mean,” we said, aghast, “that there are actually stations out there you have not yet worked?”

New stations are licensed every day,” Zedd pointed out to us, “And others are reinstated. I feel I have obligations, you know, and miles to go before I sleep.”

With that, he headed for the west wing of his modest shack. Soon we heard the howl of the generators and saw the artificial aurora effects caused by Zedd’s antennas, His voice sounded a bit tired on the mobile rig as we listened to him work the lucky ones on our way back to town. But he did not complain. Such are the burdens of greatness.

— KU5B