At my beginnings, my grandmother would slip into my room late at night to remove the earphone still stuck to the side of my face.
The Yankees game ... OK, yes, the Yankees ... would have gone to extra innings, much too late for an 8-year-old who was headed to school the next morning.
I guess you could say I was consumed early by the love of sports.
We won’t dwell on the fact that the earphone was connected to a transistor radio (those of you who haven’t lived a little can look that one up on the Internet). Let’s just say it was quite some time ago when the Yankees stunk.
From those times in New York’s dairy farm country, past a couple of million bouncing balls, several hundred championship boxing matches, a whole lot of wins and losses and the emotional highs and lows that the sporting world provides, I have arrived at your Columbus doorstep.
This is my first full week on the job as The Republic’s sports editor, and at the very least, I hope I can provide you with a passion about your local sports world that you find entertaining.
Like any sports fan who finds the thrill of the U.S. Open, golf or tennis, the drama of a pennant race, and the grandeur of the NFL as the cornerstone of my interest, it was long ago that I got a good wake-up call about the nature of my business.
During a summer’s parade in Pinole, a little town up in the Bay Area, I watched a float moving slowly down the street with a woman screaming to those watching the procession. Never mind the float was a flat-bed truck covered in feathers. I seem to remember it had something to do with the Eagles club. This woman wasn’t trying to get people to sign up for a six-month, trial membership.
No, she had a copy of the local newspaper in her hand, waving it until she made eye contact.
“Did you see that Sissy won the 200 IM on Saturday,” the woman would say, proudly. “And she won two relays, too.”
Now this was a time when my knees still were intact (10 years after disco), so I kind of placed the professional sports world about 10 notches above anything that would happen at the local pool. If professional sports was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the local swim team was Spud Webb.
At that moment, though, it came crashing down upon me. Little Sissy’s big day really didn’t make much of an impact on me, and that was wrong. You see, to that mother, her family and her friends, that was as important as anything that happened in the grandest stadiums of America. It was something to keep in mind.
So as we proceed forward, I think you will find that I will embrace your stories, whether they originate from the football field, the bowling alley or the golf course. I want to get to know you, and I hope you enjoy getting to know me.
Once after a series of columns in a town in Idaho, one of my readers called me and read me the riot act. He told me that he was sick and tired of reading my biography in his newspaper.
He never did understand that the column wasn’t about me so much as it was about him, and the guy down the street, and the lady watching her three kids from the porch. Hopefully in telling stories that I have experienced over my travels, something in a column will connect with the readers here that stirs memories of their past, or thoughts about something they will do in the near future.
My past has been a long, strange, but interesting ride. I covered college football and basketball in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 20 years. I wrote a boxing column for even longer and traveled the country covering the world’s top fighters of the past 30 years. When the sport was still rolling along, I did the horse racing handicap each day for my newspaper and covered the ponies. Mixed through everything, I covered just about every youth sport known to mankind.
As a point of information, I have worked for newspapers in Arizona, California, Indiana and Idaho. I was managing editor of the newspaper in Crawfordsville as well.
As far as the future, I want to tell your stories. I’m a people person, not a numbers-on-the-scoreboard guy. So please let me know when there is an interesting story in your household, and down the street.
I can’t promise that every story will make its way on to our pages. I can promise that I will listen and be accessible.
So the gates have swung open and away we go. I hope we all will enjoy the ride.
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