Long-time correspondent recounts his gateway to sports

As a newspaper carrier during my formative years to the times when I would tote my daughters around after grade school so they could perform their duties as a Vindicator carrier, I cannot remember a day when The Vindicator wasn’t a part of my daily routine.

My parents were married in 1950 and they immediately subscribed. I, on the other hand, started in 1980 and will receive my last delivery today.

Sports has been my whole life and I have had this fascination with the media ever since I can remember.

I grew up in Campbell, played baseball for the late Mike Kish then majored in speech and drama at Youngstown State University, playing the diamond sport for legendary Penguins head coach Dom Rosselli.

I always thought that my calling was as a broadcaster, playing Class B and AA baseball while pretending to broadcast the games under my breath as they were taking place.

In the summer of 1976, that all changed for me for no longer did I think broadcasting was my calling. I wanted to be a writer.

That summer, the Class AA season was in jeopardy because only three teams were set to participate.

The late Steve Graf, a YSU psychology professor, coached the East Side Civics at the time and was a Rosselli confidant. He approached me and asked if I would put together a team so the league would have four teams, hoping to salvage the league and season.

He fronted me the entrance fee, I held a lottery raffle to pay him back and thus was born a bunch of vagabonds without the same uniform shirt, pants or cap. The only thing we had in common was a love for the game of baseball.

We had no sponsor so I took my last name, spelled it backwards and came up with the Salug Gang, hardly a team that scared the other three bona-fide squads already assembled.

We started slow, but caught fire and when we did, it was always up to the winning team to report the results. I hand carried my reports to the sports desk, added a few notes about the game and got to meet and know the person I still call my mentor in the business, the late Vindicator sports editor Chuck Perazich.

We ended up winning the league, participated in the Connie Mack and NABF postseason tournaments and I kept reporting my results.

I always loved to write, but I became hooked when Chuck asked if I would like to serve as a correspondent to the paper, covering games and writing a feature or two that would come up.

In the fall of 1979, while in graduate school at Ohio University, the YSU sports information position opened and it was Perazich who called me in Athens, suggesting that I write a story on Bobcat quarterback Sammy Shon, the former Rayen Tigers quarterback, so he could run it in the paper and get my name out there to the selection committee.

I wrote the story, got the job and stayed in athletics until 1997, moved over to Student Activities then closed the curtain on my four-decade career as a Penguin in 2012.

I’ve been a Vindicator sports correspondent for the past 43 years, knowing full well none of this ever happens if Chuck Perazich didn’t nurture me as a writer, guide me in the seat that he once occupied at then Youngstown College and simply took an interest in a scrawny little kid who asked far too many questions because he wanted to be like Chuck.

I’ve cherished the friendships that I was able to forge over the years at The Vindicator.

I’ve made friends and met people I would ordinarily not have met or made. I’ve embraced every single assignment I was given by Chuck and the sports editors that succeeded him.

Guys like Rob Todor, the late Matt Arnold and now Ed Puskas have become great friends, and to them I say thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your staff, and for letting me express myself in writing.

Most of all, thank you, Chuck, because my professional career doesn’t happen if it weren’t for your help and friendship.

Greg Gulas is a long-time sports correspondent for The Vindicator.