Roy Exum: Please Stop, Roscoe Tanner

Sunday, April 7, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I guess the last time I saw my old playground schoolmate, Roscoe Tanner, was when I – and millions of others – watched him take Bjorn Borg to five sets in the very first time the Wimbledon Tennis Championships finals was broadcast live in the United States. The telecast was hailed as “Breakfast at Wimbledon” and, for my money, there has never again been such a game, Borg finally winning the thriller, 7–6, 1–6, 6–3, 3–6, 4–6.

At the time – this was in 1979 – Roscoe, a native son of Lookout Mountain, was ranked No. 4 in the world and, a couple of months later, he avenged his loss by whipping Borg in four sets during the U.S. Open, which was made all the more notable when his rocket serve literally knocked down the net in the fourth and final set. Once in Palm Springs his left-handed serve was clocked at 153 miles per hour, if you can imagine such a feat, and he won a total of 16 pro tournaments, including the Australian Open in 1977.

But somewhere it all went wrong, the dream shattered in a catastrophic way, and this week in Florida one of the greatest athletes I have ever seen in my life will once again be hauled before a Indian River County judge to answer for a misdemeanor – Failure To Appear – and a felony – Third Degree Grand Theft. What is unbelievable is that he did the same thing – wrote a worthless check -- about this time last year. What is this guy thinking?

If you look up the former Baylor School hero on Wikipedia, here is what you will read about his personal life, this after his autobiography “Double Fault: My Rise And Fall, And My Road Back,” was published in 2005. You may need a piece of Kleenex:

* * *

“Tanner has an extensive record of conflicts with the law. He was first arrested in 1997 for failure to pay child support to Connie Romano, with whom he fathered a child in the early 1990s. Tanner was arrested again in Karlsruhe (Germany) in June 2003 on a fugitive warrant. (This was about a week after he boasted in a Sports Illustrated article that Federal agents ‘will never come get me.”)

“He had fled from Florida after felony charges were filed against him. In this case, the charges related to passing a bad check to purchase a yacht in 2000 and to further nonpayment of child support to Romano. He pled guilty and received an initial sentence of probation.

“After violating the terms of his probation, Tanner was arrested again on Fugitive and Probation Violation warrants and was convicted and sentenced to two years in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections. He was released one year early for "good behavior" and extradited to Orange County California (in 2006) where he was jailed there on an outstanding warrant for Contempt of Court on a charge of refusal to pay child support.

“In May 2008, Roscoe Tanner was arrested in Knoxville, TN, for the felony of writing $72,000 in worthless checks as payment for two Toyota Highlanders. The felony charge was dismissed on August 14, 2008 after the dealership obtained return of the vehicles, which were taken out of town, and upon Tanner's payment of $5,000 in restitution to the dealership for the reduced value of the vehicles after their recovery. Several years before, Tanner had been arrested in Knoxville for violating probation resulting from his guilty pleas in Florida relating to felony worthless checks and grand theft.

“In April 2010, Tanner was evicted from his residence in Florida, and was in hiding from another warrant for his arrest from July 2010 until he was arrested in January 2012, on charges of writing a worthless $1,200 check for boat repairs.

“Tanner now lives in Vero Beach, FL, with his third wife, Margaret, and their 8-year old daughter, Lacey. Tanner teaches tennis and says that he is trying to turn his life around.

“On March 13, 2013 Tanner was arrested in Indian River County Florida on additional warrants, including a warrant for Worthless Check/ Failure to Appear and a Felony 3rd degree Grand Theft warrant from St Lucie County Florida. Tanner was released from jail on a $5000 bond and is awaiting trial.

“Additionally, Tanner is wanted in Georgia for Contempt of Court according to the Clerk of Court of Dade County, Georgia as of March 29, 2013. Tanner has been evading service of that warrant since July 23, 2009, according to the Sheriff of that county, where Tanner used to reside.”

* * *

My gracious, Roscoe had it all and now he’s still passing bad paper. Some blame his overbearing father but I don’t buy that, not with how much he was influenced with a Baylor School and Stanford education. There has got to be a lot more to the story but I’ll guarantee you this: back when I watched him bang up John  McEnroe and Jimmy Connors and Brian Gottfried, he was one of the best in the world.

Instead, at age 60, he is ranked among the greatest embarrassments in all of sports. For 20 years people have tried to help him climb out of his pit of troubles but Roscoe, using his tennis past to con his way out of one courtroom to the next, still hasn’t learned the more his failures mount, the easier it is to commit more transgressions.

Yeah, that special morning when we were glued to the TV sets 24 years ago was magical but now the only left-handed kid to ever play shortstop at the Lookout Mountain Commons needs a bigger miracle.

royexum@aol.com

Roscoe Tanner, March 13, 2013
Roscoe Tanner, March 13, 2013

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com; Include Your Full Name, Address, Phone Number For Verification

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to  news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. This includes your home address and phone number. We do not post the contact information, but need it for verification. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more ... (click for more)

Oversight Needed In CVB And Chamber Of Commerce Spending

The Hamilton County Commission adopted a resolution that requires that all taxpayer-supported agencies receiving 25 percent or more of their annual operating income to adhere to Hamilton County purchasing policies.  For the commissioners that voted to protect the public tax dollars, you get an A plus in elected representation.  It is about time that the CVB and Chamber ... (click for more)

Public Markets To Manage And Operate Finley Stadium

The Stadium Corporation board of directors, at a special board meeting Thursday, gave approval for Public Markets, Inc., (PMI) the entity that oversees the Chattanooga Market, the River Market, the Collegedale Market and Cambridge Square Market, to handle the management, operations and administration of the stadium. Executive Director of PMI Chris Thomas and his staff stepped ... (click for more)

Man Charged In North Chattanooga Murder Says "Wrong Number" Led To Drug Deal That Went Bad

A man charged in a North Chattanooga murder said a "wrong number" led to his chance meeting with victim Charles "Chas" Holsey and a drug deal that led to the March 2, 2015, slaying. Briston "B.J." Smith Jr. told investigators he thought he was dialing a friend named "Clack" who he said sells marijuana. By getting one digit wrong, he wound up texting with Holsey, who by chance ... (click for more)

Inclement Weather Forces Cancellation Of Thursday Night's Lookouts Game

Not only was Tropical Storm Cindy responsible for the cancellation of Tuesday's Southern League All-Star Game, but now the storm has also resulted in the cancellation of Thursday night's game at AT&T Field with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The First Half North Division Champion Lookouts announced that Thursday's (6/22) game has been postponed due ... (click for more)

Cleveland High School Selects Joey Knox As Head Wrestling Coach

Cleveland High School has selected Joey Knox as the next head coach for the Blue Raider Wrestling program.  Coach Knox has been with the wrestling program as an assistant since 2013.  During his assistant coaching tenure, the team has secured six Team State Championships, including five individual State Champions and 20 State Medalists.    Cleveland High ... (click for more)