After more than 30 years of working for major newspapers, I’ve had several claims to fame. They go beyond the national, state and local awards I’ve won — including those from the Associated Press, the San Francisco Press Club, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Sporting News and various Georgia sportswriting associations.
I wrote the first story ever about future baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., the almost-Braves player, who went back to the future with the Seattle Mariners.
Let’s return to the mid-1970s, when I worked at the Cincinnati Enquirer, and when Griffey was an 8-year-old megastar for his Knothole League team. He played every position, but he primarily was a pitcher. Opponents regularly sobbed when they headed toward home plate with Griffey on the mound.
Griffey’s parents have a copy of the article in their respective homes right now, and the same goes for the younger Griffey, who isn’t that little kid anymore that I wrote about way back then.
Guess he’s getting old.
In addition to the Enquirer, I worked at the San Francisco Examiner covering the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco Giants before I began writing a sports opinion column. I came to the AJC in December 1984.
Along the way, I’ve covered 20-something Super Bowls, along with a slew of World Series games, Indianapolis and Daytona 500s, major prize fights, Olympic Games, NCAA basketball tournaments, huge college football matchups, etc. I’ve also had exclusive interviews with everybody from Pete Rose to Muhammad Ali.
Here’s the biggest thing: I’ve covered three of the six coldest games in NFL history. The worst was the Freezer Bowl in Cincinnati between the Bengals and the San Diego Chargers for the American Football Conference title in 1981. The temperature was minus-9 with a wind-chill factor of minus-59.
I’m still shivering.