On Your Marc 2/9/16

Marc Katz introduces the good ol’ days of sports journalism

By Marc Katz

You learn a lot of stuff when you become a sports writer. Some of it isn’t even related to sports.

The late, revered sports editor Si Burick used to insist on leaving the tip if he also paid for the meal.

“If your guest leaves the tip, he thinks he’s even,” Burick said. “And, he’s not.”

I wasn’t very old when I first heard that, but young and rambunctious enough to want to test the theory.

I was with Burick when we had to stop for lunch. He said he was paying. I grinned and offered to leave the tip.

He repeated his advice—I mean the whole story.

I think he may also have given examples.

I joined the Dayton Daily News in 1970, which doesn’t seem so long ago to me, but I guess it was.

What music I listened to—and it wasn’t much—was on vinyl records. I used a typewriter for my stories. Telephones were mostly rotary-dial. Cars had crank down windows, and some didn’t have air conditioners.

There was also no Internet, at least not the one we use today. If you wanted a score or to settle a bet on sports trivia night at the bar, you called the newspaper.

On Saturday night, our busiest, the phone hardly ever stopped ringing.

At times, if the caller was particularly obnoxious or drunk, we’d still give out the score, but sometimes the caller would want us to tell his buddy, too.

By the time the second guy reached the phone, copy was piling up on the desk and we were getting annoyed.

That’s when sometimes we’d change the score for the second guy on the line.

Then we’d hang up … and tell the metro desk to watch out for any brawls at such-and-such a bar.

Our Dave Long was particularly good at this.

There certainly was no telephone ID in those days, so you had no idea who was calling.

One particular night, Long became playful and answered the phone, “Chin’s Laundry. Chin speaking.”

He did it in a Chinese accent.

Burick was on the other end, and I could hear his response from across the room.

“Who is this?” he screamed.

“So sorry, sir,” Long deadpanned. “You must have wrong number.”

Then he hung up.

The phone rang again almost immediately.

It was Burick, and Long somehow convinced him he had dialed the wrong number the first time.

You could get in trouble playing around. Belmont High School and Ohio State basketball great Bill Hosket told me a story about his time with the New York Knicks, in 1970, when that team won it’s first NBA championship.

Donnie May, also of Belmont, and the University of Dayton, was on that team, too.

The Knicks had a game in Seattle and were supposed to play the Supersonics again the next night, only in Vancouver, B.C.

There were no NBA teams as yet in Canada, and this game was going to be used as sort of an introduction.

Even though it was a short trip, most teams flew. But Hosket remembers bad weather or something, so the team took a bus.

Coach Red Holzman told his players not to mess around when the bus reached the border, so the team could get through as quickly as possible.

At about 2 a.m., when the bus was at the border, a Canadian police officer boarded, looked around at the mostly sleeping bodies and asked, “Are you all Americans?”

Reserve guard Mike Riordan was a bit of a prankster, and he couldn’t let the line pass.

“The rest of these guys are,” Riordan said. “I only made second team All-East.”

Border patrol didn’t laugh, and everyone had to get off the bus, not happily.

Sometimes, though, a joke can make things easier.

I always thought John Cooper would have been more embraced during his Ohio State football coaching tenure if he told some of his little stories a little more often.

I was stunned to hear this one from him one day, which made him more human than ever.

In the mid-1960s, he was an assistant coach at UCLA and was scouting a game at Washington State.

In order to make his flight home, he rushed out of the press box while the elevator was still available, and jumped into a black-and-white vehicle waiting in the parking lot.

He was wearing his UCLA gear, making him recognizable as a coach.

“To the airport, “ Cooper commanded.

“Coach,” the ‘cabbie’ said, “I’ll be glad to take you to the airport, but I’m a policeman, and this is my cruiser.”

A few more stories like that and better results against Michigan would have gone a long way.

Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at katzcopsnsports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@daytoncitypaper.com. 

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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