Punching out after a 45-year run
Thursday is the last day I'll punch the clock at the Portland Tribune. It's the end of a 45-year run in the newspaper sportswriting business.
To say I'm "old-school" is a vast understatement. When I started as an intern with the Oregon Journal in 1975, we'd bang out our game stories on an electric typewriter, then call the office to dictate it to someone who, in turn, would type it and get it ready for the hot type typesetter and the next day's paper. For you young folks, this was shortly after the dinosaur last roamed the earth. Today, we write our story on a laptop and either email it to an editor or post the story on a website, to be (or not to be) used in a future print product.
In the early years, I covered a variety of fare, from the U.S. Hang-Gliding Championships on Dog Mountain, to motocross Hall-of-Famer Chuck Sun, to the first season of the Timbers and the Winterhawks (and the only season of the World Team Tennis Sea-Port Cascades) to plenty of subjects I can't remember.
I caught passes from Neil Lomax over a week of spring practice under Mouse Davis at Portland State (at age 24), flew a Cessna 172 (and barfed afterward) with PSU wrestling coach Len Kauffman and visited the San Diego home of Bill Walton to write a story on the ex-Blazers center and his four young sons.
I have a framed copy of the early-edition Journal game story I wrote about Game 6 of the 1977 NBA Finals. I was turned down for a story about pro wrestling legend Dutch Savage, who told me in no uncertain terms over the phone that he'd better not catch me snooping around his place in Yacolt, Washington, or he'd throttle me with the Coal Miner's Glove.
There was a decade in the 1990s covering the Blazers and the NBA, the latter a meaty beat that allowed me to write features, takeouts and enterprise articles about the likes of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Shaquille O'Neal, Dennis Rodman and the league's officiating crew.
Over the past 20 years at the Trib, it's been a bit of everything, from writing columns to covering the Blazers and Oregon State football to touching on a smorgasbord of subjects, most of them worthy of news coverage.
I've covered just about everything I could have dreamed of, from Olympic Games to Super Bowls to World Series to NBA Finals to the College World Series to the Final Four and college football championship games. I've been just as happy to write about the high school and college athletes who get little exposure. I've enjoyed doing the human interest story and uncovering the hidden gems that are truly worth writing about, and reading.
I'll miss a lot of things. Certainly, the chance to see my fellow denizens of the press box — well, some of them, anyway. I've made so many great friends in the business. I'm hopeful I can keep many of those relationships in retirement. A salute to all of you.
Two comrades deserve special thanks.
Dwight Jaynes preceded me by a year at the Oregon Journal. We worked together for three decades, but "The Godfather" has been more than a co-worker. He's been a mentor (he's old enough, for sure), a close friend, a boss (for a while at the Trib), and a peer I could also bounce ideas off of. Thanks, buddy.
I preceded Steve Brandon by a year at the Journal, and we've been together ever since. He is a terrific writer who covered the Blazers for a decade at The Oregonian before moving over to the Trib as sports editor in 2001. If there's an unsung hero at the paper, it's Steve. His guidance, news judgment, even hand, patience, editing sense and diligence — all behind the scenes — have been the key to making the Trib sports section a good read through the years.
Most of all, thanks to you readers who have hung in with me through the years. I've enjoyed the opportunity to inform, to entertain, to make you laugh, to provide opinions for you to chew on.
To my grave, I'll carry my card representing the Fourth Estate. It's been a privilege.
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