This will be my final column and my last edition of the Montevideo American-News.
It all began for me as a parttime sports writing job in 1985 or ’86 (the exact date fails me).
Over the years I’ve gotten to see a number of sporting events I wouldn’t have without a press credential. Getting to play Hazeltine before the PGA Tournament and going to Gophers basketball games at Williams Arena are a couple of my special memories.
Perhaps my favorite sports memory is walking inside the ropes within 10 feet of Arnold Palmer at one of King’s last competitive appearances on the Champions Tour. Arnie won’t go down in history as the world’s greatest golfer, but he did more to make golf the popular sport it is today than Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods combined.
One of my earliest and long-lasting sports memories came when I was in grade school in Milan and attended a Minnesota Twins Clinic in Montevideo.
The late, great Billy Martin was one of the clinicians at that time, after his playing days and prior to his managerial stints with the Twins, Tigers, Rangers, Yankees, Yankees again, A’s, and Yankees yet again.
Billy was teaching us kids how to turn a double play, and I was playing second base. I fielded the ball Billy rolled to me and flipped a perfect backhanded toss to the shortstop. Hold it! Billy proceeded to tell me to always make the more fundamentally sound overhand throw to the shortstop.
I’ll always consider myself in good company, along with Dave Boswell, Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner and countless umpires who have been chewed out by the fiery Billy Martin.
I’ve been lucky to have watched and written about some great high school teams and individual athletes in Montevideo and the surrounding area.
You won’t see me in the press box of the Montevideo High School gym any more, but you will see me at games as a fan. I hear they’ve got a thing called a golden oldies pass.
You’ll also find me in the Fine Arts Center at band and choir concerts listening to our talented high school musicians who I’ve always thought were among the best in the state.
I thank the many coaches I’ve worked with over the years for their cooperation. Several moms of athletes have also been a huge help since the advent of the digital age, sending me photos from events out of town.
Some of my favorite and most rewarding stories I’ve written have been about veterans from Montevideo who served in World War II. Whoever coined the phrase “the Greatest Generation” couldn’t have said it better.
Page 2 of 2 - I never had any designs on being a small-market Sid Hartman, doing this until my 90s. I think it first hit me that I’ve been doing this a long time when I started covering second generation athletes — kids of kids I wrote about 25 years ago. Names like Diggins, Feldhake and Kranz come to mind.
Without a doubt, the best part of this job has been the friendships I’ve made with some of the student-athletes and with their parents while doing stories and taking photos of their kids. You know who you are.