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Who Got Game? Major Coincidence For SC Primaries

February 11th, 2016 · Tags:Airports · Cities · Satire · Sports

 

Major and Ping

 

Decades ago, I was offered a position at a daily newspaper in a mid-sized Texas city.  I was very appreciative.  Print journalism jobs were not that easy to find.  However, the paper — although a Pulitzer Prize winner “in my own backyard” — was not my first choice.  I, of course, wanted to write for Rolling Stone Magazine or Esquire or something like that.  They didn’t return my calls. I thought I would even “settle” for SPIN, Guccionne Jr.’s music “rag.” One of the SPIN editors read some of my stuff and offered to let me freelance … which pretty much means nothing to a starving college grad.

It seems the college journalism awards I had won and the three years at the college paper didn’t mean much and didn’t open doors like I expected.

But you know what opened doors?  How do you think I finally got an interview and was hired by a daily newspaper?  It was probably not the way most writers got their start.  I interviewed with the newspaper’s editor, a Missouri grad named Garet Von Netzer.  (Missouri was considered to be the best J school in the country, btw.  My college was not … )  So many of the young reporters who got their first break at the paper were Mizzou grads.  There were several from Southern Illinois too (yes Salukis) … a few from Baylor … and me from Texas Tech.  I never heard what Von Netzer thought of Texas Tech journalism.  We didn’t discuss it.  During the one job interview, the editor and I sat in his office and talked Texas Panhandle sports … specifically, Vega Longhorn basketball.

As luck would have it, back when Von Netzer was the sports editor at The Amarillo Globe News, he covered some of my basketball team’s games. To this day, I still have some of the basketball clips, written by GVN, with lines my mom highlighted, reporting my total points in the games.  Von Netzer said he remembered my jumpshot, and he remembered he had called me Vega’s “outside gunner” in one of the articles.

No it wasn’t my way with words that got me the job … It seems The Amarillo Globe News had a basketball team, and they offered a reporter position to a new shooting guard that day.

The paper was lots of fun.  Starting out though, I was on the night shift as a general assignments reporter.  But wait.  The newspaper’s basketball games were at night too … so in my first reporter job, at night, I was unavailable for the team.  But soon, a regular daytime beat was offered to me … and the word on the street was, the editor/coach was ready for me to join the team.

Well … in addition to  being a former player and a green journalist, I was a newlywed and soon had one of the best surprises of my life … I found out I was going to be a dad.  That ended my newspaper career.  Journalism grads don’t make a lot of money.  So, with a growing family, I shut down what I always wanted to do and took a job in public relations for more salary.  I never played a game for the Globe News team … Globe Trotters … or whatever they were called.

I wonder if I could have been a contributor to the basketball team.  I don’t know, but despite my basketball moves getting me the job, I actually held my own at the paper with my writing.  I heard from time to time that several of the newspaper’s team didn’t know if I could make the cut — as a writer or a player.  Several of the guys were pretty cocky — both on the court and on the page.

Of the guys on the team and in the newsroom, none were more confident, more ambitious … perhaps more vocal than the young regional reporter/editor.  I heard he was a big deal on the court too, but I will never know.

The guy did an excellent impression of Amarillo sports page legend Putt Powell, I might add.  We were all so young …

I can remember times when all of the reporters would come in to work and head straight to the group mail boxes.  Everyone used to rush in to see if they had a note in their box from the editor.  He used to clip our articles that he liked, and stick a note with them, and stuff it in the box.  We called it a

“GaretGram,” and we all considered it to be a big deal.  It was really competitive to see who could get the most GaretGrams.  When a reporter got one, everyone else knew it, because you could see the editor’s note protruding from the mail slot.

I got several of the notes in my short career at the paper.  One friend told me that it would upset the really ambitious guy whenever I got a GaretGram … or when anyone else got a note, other than him.  He was so, so competitive.  I don’t think anyone “loved him” … but everyone respected him … and we all knew he would go somewhere, someday … or die trying.

Fast forward 30 years … I landed in Greenville, S.C. this morning, for the next installment of the PingWi-Fi blog.  I landed in the city because of a “Dirty Gig” assignment. (That’s the disaster recovery work I do to keep the travel blog … and my journalism dream alive.)

I was one of the first people off the small commuter plane, so there weren’t many people headed to the baggage claim area ahead of me.  Actually, there was pretty much an empty corridor in front of me … except one lone traveler, standing about 20 yards in front of me.  No one else was in the area.  It was him and me … face to face. He looked a little bewildered at first when I got a big smile on my face.  He did that look that just expresses, “What?”  He didn’t recognize me at first, but I knew him immediately.

Guess who it was?

It was him.  The former regional reporter for The Amarillo Globe News … the guy who will never know I could have helped him out on the basketball team … the guy who used to sit at a reporter’s desk in The Texas Panhandle, just a few chairs away.

I introduced myself and we caught up real quick.  I couldn’t resist and asked some woman to take our photos.

Ha … I explained to her that we worked together thirty years ago … and this was a total random meeting   “… And that although ‘I am extremely successful,’… ‘this guy’ really hadn’t done much with himself.” He laughed and thought it was funny.  I knew what a joke it was and really thought it was funny.

So what a coincidence!  I get off the plane ready to go clean up a mess in a factory … so that I can write some blogs later …

… And Major Garrett was in South Carolina to cover the primaries, the candidates and their campaigns for CBS Network News. I hadn’t seen him in all these years …  Major, the cocky point guard of The Amarillo Globe News basketball team — you may know — now is the Chief White House Correspondent for the network.  He’s worked with FOX Network too.  Anyone who is anyone in politics — in The United States or abroad — has been interviewed by this old colleague. It was great to see him.  He asked about the blog … and hopefully soon we will both be following each other on Twitter … after all, isn’t that what old teammates do?

 

Repost: FOX’s Major Garrett Weighs In For Gameday

OH … Major also reminded me to look for him in some of the remaining presidential debates.  I am not sure.  He may be moderating … but for sure, he is alway in The White House press corps at all major (pun) presidential press conferences … Ha … of course, I told him I would send him a PingWi-Fi t-shirt to wear on his next flight with the press corps on Air Force One.

Lastly …. Major may have not gotten his first break because of his basketball game … I think his interview from a few years ago on this blog —  PingWi-Fi — truly showed the world that Major got game.

Know what I sayin?