Yes, that’s a long time to spend in the same job working with the same people in a great environment.
By the time you read this column, I’ll have already retired from The Vindicator and I can honestly say that I’m going to miss my job. I’m not going to miss working, but I will miss my job and the people I’ve worked with over the years.
There have been so many changes in the newspaper business over these 33 years and I’m proud to say they have all been good for the profession.
I’ve spent 33 years here, but my sportswriting career began much earlier — right after I graduated from Niles McKinley High in 1962.
To say that I started from the bottom would be putting it mildly. My first newspaper job was at the Niles Daily Times where I was hired to do janitorial duties. That led to my first writing job.
I was sweeping the sports department floors one evening when Times sports editor Milan Zban called me over and asked me if I knew how to type.
It’s funny that he asked because when I was in high school, the secretarial school was in another building from the high school and us guys were always trying to figure out how to get over there where all the good-looking girls were.
Thus, I discovered Personal Use Typing Class. Passed it with flying colors. I could type 60 words a minute in high school.
When I told Zban I could type, he asked if I’d be interested in helping him out on weekends covering high school games. And that’s how my career began.
Also with the help of Zban and former Vindicator Sports Editor Chuck Perazich, I landed my first real full-time job with the New Castle News where I spent 13 years, the first six under a great sports editor by the name of Bob Vosburg, who really taught me a lot about the profession.
When Vosburg moved up to Managing Editor, I became sports editor in 1970 and worked there until 1977.
Perazich, who I had known for a long time when I played Class B League baseball, became sports editor in 1977 at The Vindicator. He called me and asked me if I’d like to work for him and that’s how I ended up here in Youngstown.
I started covering Youngstown State that same year and my first experience was a classic.
Perazich asked me if I’d like to cover the Penguins’ season opener at Villanova University. Since I was covering the game, I thought it would be good to take in a YSU practice before the game.
I went out to their Liberty Township practice field and walked out with my pen and pad. Before I was there five minutes, several managers came over to ask me who I was scouting for and what I was doing there. Later, then-head coach Bill Narduzzi came over and told me that no Vindicator reporter had ever been to one of their practices.
The first game was an experience.
Perazich gave me a plane ticket to Philadelphia and $25 in cash.
“There should be enough money for a cab to and from the stadium and to get something to eat,” he told me. What did I know?
When I got to Philadelphia, I got a cab and said I wanted to go to Villanova’s stadium. He looked at me funny and said OK.
Well, it cost $24.50 one way for a cab. And when the game ended, there wasn’t a cab to be found anywhere. Luckily I got a ride back to the airport.
Things got nothing but better after that and once I started traveling to the away games with the YSU team it was really a pleasure.
I’ve had so much fun over the years, not only covering the Penguins, but high school and professional sports also. We are so fortunate to have the outstanding schools and teams in our area.
People ask me what are some of the greatest events that I’ve covered over the years.
I tell them that every one was great, but they don’t always buy that.
The 15 seasons I spent covering Jim Tressel and the Penguins will always be special. The four national championships and the six trips to the title game were unbelievable. But I also had the pleasure of covering YSU’s first national title game back in 1979 when the Penguins played Delaware in the Zia Bowl in Albuquerque, N.M.
The YSU women’s basketball teams of Eddie DiGregorio in the 1990s and their two trips to the NCAA Tournament were also a great time.
But those were just games and events. The real pleasure came from the people that I’ve come in contact with while covering those games.
I’ve met so many great coaches over my years here, but the people I enjoyed most were the athletes. Traveling with YSU, I got to know the players very well and enjoyed talking and spending time with them when we were on the road.
At YSU, the two people that really helped when I was starting out were former athletic director Joe Malmisur and former sport information director Greg Gulas. They led me in the right direction and to this day they are still close and dear friends.
I’m going to miss the people the most, because that’s really what this job is all about.
I’ve worked under five different sports editors over my 33 years here and I enjoyed all of them, but without a doubt I can say the last one, Rob Todor, is the best I’ve ever worked for. He’s helped make my job enjoyable, yet he runs the department the way it’s suppose to be run.
I’ve told you what I’m going to miss by retiring, but what I’m not going to miss is this great Northeastern Ohio winter weather. I hate the cold and the snow and in a few days my wife and I will be heading south for a couple of months, hopefully to play some golf and just relax and do whatever.
People ask me what I’m going to do now that I’m retired. I think that my wife kind of summed up that answer for me:
“You’ve always been good at doing nothing, so retirement should come very easy for you.”
Thank you all for 33 wonderful years.