Citizen Staff Writer
THE FINAL EDITION
So we’re closing. The Big C. We’re done for. The whistle is blowing. The horn is sounding. We’ve run out of extra time. Just took a called third strike.
I’d like to think you will miss us here in Citizen sports, but I don’t want to be presumptuous.
But even if you think that only once a month we nailed a story, a scoop, a column, a feature – and I think our batting average was much higher – well, that’s one story, scoop, column, feature you won’t be getting any more.
That’s not good for anybody.
I asked Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood in February about the Citizen’s impeding demise and how it might affect his department.
“For a great number of years, we’ve had the ability to have things balanced, and all of a sudden you lose that,” Livengood said of this turning into a one-newspaper town.
“It also has an impact on the outside world, about the perception of Tucson when you lose an institution like this. There is an impression that we’re not going forward; we’re moving backward.”
Certainly, Livengood was telling me what I wanted to hear, but he also lamented a financial aspect to the closing and a potential loss of sponsorship/advertising dollars from a reconfigured Tucson Newspapers.
I guess that’s now a story for our pals at the Arizona Daily Star to track down.
I got my start in this crazy business at the Star, back in the fall of 1986. My first byline was on a high school football game, featuring a flash of a running back from Flowing Wells. His name escapes me now.
There have been a blur of running backs, point guards, pitchers and catchers in the years since then.
It was a pleasure to chronicle the Arizona football team through most of the 1990s – the Fiesta Bowl victory over Miami, the Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska. Waldrop. Bruschi. Bouie. McAlister. Keith and Ortege, the tag-team quarterbacks.
One of my favorite stories: Back in the early 1990s, UA football coach Dick Tomey, upset over something I had written that day, went ballistic on me after practice as the players were leaving the field.
I have never heard someone so copiously and creatively use another term for horse manure.
We agreed to disagree that day, and I feared that a good working relationship would be damaged. Football coaches have been known to hold a grudge.
But the next time I saw Tomey, it was as if nothing had happened. That was his style. Say what you have to say, and then let it go. It’s a life lesson I have never forgotten.
Elsewhere, I covered seven of Arizona’s eight national championships in softball, and had access to the mind of coach Mike Candrea for two decades. Sometimes, this job is so worth it.
No complaints here.
I had a chance to work with, travel with and learn from the twin towers of local sports columnists – retired Corky Simpson of the Citizen and Greg Hansen of the Star. Tucson was lucky to have two such voices for all those years.
So, yeah, it’s been a good ride.
It hit me a while ago, though, that the best part of this job at the Citizen for the past four and a half years had nothing to do with newspapers or journalism.
Recently, for no other reason than boredom, I reached into the closet and pulled out a box I hadn’t opened in years. It was filled with various items from college days.
Two things caught my eye.
One was a 20-year-old edition of the Tombstone Epitaph. A journalism class at the University of Arizona produced – and still does – the newspaper for the Town Too Tough To Die.
In this particular edition, I shared a few bylines with a guy named John Moredich.
As I dug deeper in the box, I found an old address book – the kind of thing we used before we all had cell phones. Thumbing through, I saw I had the old phone number of a guy named Steve Rivera.
Point is, the two writers I have worked most closely with at the Citizen since the start of 2005 – Moredich covering football, Rivera covering basketball – have been friends for more than two decades.
Working with them has been the rewarding part of the job.
Whatever you do for work, I hope you have been as lucky.