Bill Hastings sat down on time for Thanksgiving dinner last year.
That wasn't the case for the Westminster resident the previous sevenyears, as the annual Thanksgiving Day football rivalry, Poly High School vs. City at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, kept him away from the table.
For Poly's former athletic director, Thanksgiving Day was one of his busiest.
The typical Thanksgiving Day saw Hastings at Poly at 11 a.m., to the stadium by 12:30, with the game starting at 2:30. He usually headed home around 6.
That didn't leave much time for afternoon turkey and stuffing.
"It's like carrying on tradition, and you just get used to it," said Hastings, now a supervisor with the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection.
The long-running holiday event has seen Poly win 50 times and City, 46. Six gameshave ended in ties.
"It's a pretty big event for a high school athletic director," Hastings said.
"We (athletic directors of both schools) form committees and make up all the assignments to plan the festivities for the game. We also had to meet with a lot of different departments.
"You have to deal with police security, stadium employees and transportation people, along with making the program for thegame," Hastings said.
Hastings retired from Poly in June 1990 after serving 25 years there as a physical education and health teacher.Along with his duties as athletic director from 1983-1990, he coached the wrestling team for 25 years and the soccer team for 20.
He has attended every Thanksgiving Day game since first joining Poly in 1965. Over the years, he has seen attendance at the game at its highest and lowest.
"We used to get as many as 25,000 to 30,000 people. But through the years it has dwindled some," Hastings said.
"Winning and losing has a lot to do with it. If both are in contention (forthe Maryland Scholastic Association title), you can expect around 10,000.
"If the two teams are close to one another, maybe seven or eight thousand."
The most memorable matchup in recent years was in 1988, Hastings said, the 100th game between the two rivals.
"It was a big one. City won, Poly went in flat and found a way to lose," hesaid. "We had around 13,000 people for that game."
Poly has sincemade up for that loss, earning the past two MSA championships.
Hastings said he enjoyed last year's game -- as an interested spectator.
"Last year was nice. I got to the game 15 minutes before kickoffand sat back and enjoyed it," Hastings said.
"I got to see everyone and the game, and didn't have to run around like a busy beaver," he said. "My wife couldn't believe how soon I got home."
Doubtless,Hastings will be back at the stadium tomorrow. He'll be looking for the upset this year.