I’ve always said I’m the world’s luckiest person. That has once again been proven true.
After a 30-year career in teaching, I’ve returned to a profession I love: journalism.
Before becoming a teacher I was a sports writer for a dozen years, mainly for newspapers in Alabama and Georgia. Yes, I knew Paul Finebaum. No comment. I left full-time journalism a couple of years after my wife, Susan, and I married. It was too hard for a pair of journalists to find work at the same newspaper. Since she was much more talented than I was, I decided to switch.
Teaching has been a fun career and I will miss the kids, but I’m very happy now.
In the past 30 years, I’ve written for some newspapers and magazines. My favorite story during that time was an interview with legendary boxing referee Mills Lane. He had forgotten that I set up the interview, and he was about to go to the airport in Las Vegas. I said I’d drive him, and taped the interview as we drove.
As a student, I was the sports editor of the campus paper at Auburn University in Alabama. That might not sound impressive, but the newspaper, at that time, was rated one of the best in the country for several consecutive years. The sports section the year I was editor was mentioned as one of the strong points of the paper.
That was a fun year. The basketball team had a freshman named Charles Barkley, a 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound center. And, yes, I have stories, and they’re all true.
After graduating, I worked at the local newspaper. One of my assignments was covering the first scrimmage in the fall of 1982. Auburn had signed about six or seven running backs with the top one being a guy named Alan Evans.
But we started hearing about a guy named Vincent Jackson. Apparently, he went by the nickname Bo. In that scrimmage, Bo ran for about 115 yards on eight carries.
I asked coach Pat Dye if that meant Jackson was the starter, and his answer was classic.
“No. The only reason he’s playing is that (he named five running backs) are hurt.”
Jackson didn’t start until late in the season. A guy named Willie Howell would start, get in a play or two, and Bo would come in.
In my time, I was intimidated twice, not from actions, but from the presence of the person. The first time was with Paul “Bear” Bryant. He was huge and a legend in the state. It’s a long story, but he was extremely gracious, doing an interview after a long practice in cold weather.
The other time was interviewing The Big Dipper, Wilt Chamberlain. I used to have a photo of me interviewing him, and I swear my head only came up to just past his belt buckle. He, too, was extremely gracious and easy to interview.
One of the questions I asked was his top-five centers of all time. He listed five. I noted he didn’t list himself, and he said, “I won’t do that. If someone else thinks that, that’s their choice. I’m not going to rate myself that way.”
Since I officially started Jan. 3, I’ve met a number of people in the cities I’m covering (Fairview Park and Westlake), plus some others. Everyone I’ve met has been wonderful. This is going to be enjoyable.
If you have any stories or features or just want to talk, please get in touch with me.
Now, about that luck thing: If I could just get it to work with Powerball.
Contact this reporter at email@example.com or 440-871-5797.