Register columnist Steve Bisheff announced his retirement from the paper in today's column. Bisheff goes back to the Herald Examiner days and used his last column to conclude that sportswriting is a pretty decent gig.
I was there for all of it. I covered Wooden and Auerbach. Koufax and Gibson. Ali and Frazier. Unitas and Montana.
From the best seat in the house, I watched Reggie Jackson and Reggie Bush. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Gary Beban and Matt Leinart. Bruce Jenner and Greg Louganis. Affirmed and Barbaro.
There have been too many great moments to count. From Kirk Gibson's limp-off home run to Montana's clutch drive in the Super Bowl. From Wooden's final-game, national title victory to the Angels' seventh-game World Series triumph. From Kareem's 88-2 college run to Magic over Bird in the NCAA Finals.
For all the athletes who were jerks, who grew to be mindless megliomaniacs [sic], there was also a core of good guys such as Jim Abbott and Ronnie Lott, Tony Gwynn and Jack Snow, Elton Brand and Tim Salmon, Tom Watson and Steve Young, just to name a few.
My job wasn't to immortalize them. It was to tell the truth about them, to dig past the score and try to find more to the story.
There was a segment of my sportswriting colleagues who used to turn their noses up at fans, believing they were above them. Some of the more self-absorbed considered themselves too literate for the sports page.
They were wrong. I always felt my mission was to be the fan's conduit, having access to clubhouses and locker rooms they couldn't visit. It was my job to ask the questions they'd want to ask, to probe the issues they were talking and thinking about.
Trying to write for the fans didn't mean you weren't trying to write well. On the contrary, the best people in this profession are those who have managed to do both. And I'm happy to report there are still plenty of those around. But it's not easy. You have to constantly work at it.
As the years have gone by for me, the deadlines and travel burdens have become tiresome and tedious. But how can you grouse when you've felt the electricity in Yankee Stadium, the drama at old Boston Garden, the thrill of a fourth quarter in the Rose Bowl, the excitement at the finish line of the Kentucky Derby?
Hat tip: Fishbowl LA
Photo: Orange County Register