It's a shade before 8 a.m. on a rainy, tournament Tuesday, three-plus hours into a Grunt Crew member's day. A two-person sit-down has turned into a nine-person trip down memory lane.
That's OK. It's the Grunt-Crew way.
As it gracefully strides through its fifth decade, one man -- save for one tournament -- has volunteered for every John Deere Classic. Through the ups, downs, name changes and weather of all varieties, Moline's Stan Leach has been there.
A labor of love, if you will.
"I was not at the first (Quad City Open) at Crow Valley, but I had friends talk me into going over and being a ball-spotter (marshal) for the second one,'' said the former Moline mayor, who is working his 40th John Deere Classic.
Leach proudly serves on the best operations crew on the PGA Tout, the world-famous Grunt Crew.
"I wanted to see Lee Trevino play and I did, but I got talked into volunteering and then it sort of carried over.''
There are few behind-the-scenes jobs Leach has not been involved with during his JDC tenure. While there are specific jobs for the 60-person Grunt Crew, they/Leach answer any call.
"I've had a chance to do just about everything,'' said Leach, who taught 30 years in the Moline school system and was the longest-tenured mayor in the history of Moline. "Foods, caddies, on the board, been vice chair of operations. Grunt Crew is my favorite. Why? They tell me you cannot fire a volunteer.''
One job, though, eluded Leach. One he knew he could not devote the time needed to do right.
"Former tournament chairman Tom Robinson asked me to be chairman,'' Leach said. "It's hard to do one job right and darn-near impossible to do two jobs and do them well. I loved teaching and loved being mayor. I didn't feel it would be fair to all three if I said yes. That's stayed with me.''
Leach, and the large gathering assembled to rib him during this interview, laugh when recalling how far things have come for the Grunts.
"We started at Oakwood Country Club with a mobile home with holes in the floor,'' Leach said. "We had another one full of wasps. In the old days, we couldn't get on Oakwood until 4 p.m. the Sunday of tournament week out of respect to the membership.
"I get that, but we had a lot of 24-hour shifts back then. Today, we are here six weeks before and six weeks after the tournament.''
And long, long after that.
"I do this because it's a family setting and we give back to our community,'' Leach said. "It's an honor to be a Grunt and wear the shirt, but you just don't get the shirt, you work like everyone else involved. I'm just one guy of the 1,200 who make this tournament go.
"The volunteers allow the John Deere Classic to give millions back each year to a great community. It just so happened that I was the last one standing when they announced number of years at the banquet recently. I hope that's good, it sure was embarrassing.''
It's good. Whether it's five days or 40 years, it's all good.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is Thursday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2013. There are 19 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Two boys who haul coal from Coal Valley to Davenport were arrested yesterday for running their teams through the city street at a furious rate. 1888 -- 125 years ago: E.H. Barker dislocated his left wrist and suffered a compound fracture of the right wrist when he fell from the roof of his icehouse. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Lou Harris was elected county superintendent of schools to fill the unexpired term of the late S.J. Ferguson. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a state must give equality in educational privileges to white and Negro law students. 1963 -- 50 years ago: About 300 employees of the Augustana Book Concern, staff members of the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America, as well as friends of the community and out-of-town guests honored Dr. Birger Swenson at the annual Christmas dinner of the Augustana Book Concern last night in Westerlin Hall on the Augustana College campus. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The Christmas shopping season began early this year and continues to bring out shoppers in record numbers, according to Quad-Cities retailers interviewed today.