Before heading out to cool the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, I had a decision to make as the Tribune’s sports editor.
I needed to update the talented Phil Richards on my staff after he had taken a job with the Indianapolis Star. But I did what plenty of leaders do while facing a tough choice. I procrastinated — despite the fact that I had a handful of worthy applicants. I left for L.A. Without creating a rent.
Just as properly I did. A few days after I again from my three-week absence, I got a name from Al Lesar over in Elkhart. “Hey, you still have that beginning over there?” he drawled.
Yeah, I did. No greater “eeny, meany, miny, moe” for my selection. I changed into clever sufficient to offer Al the job. And over the following 33 years, he has made me seem like I knew what I turned into doing.
Al has become perhaps the maximum versatile sportswriter I have ever known — reporting on everything from T-ball to ND football … from notable subs to Super Bowls … from fresh-faced children to grizzled vintage pros. During the remaining decade, he additionally has served because of the face of the Tribune sports department as the columnist.
He in all likelihood has written approximately someone you recognize — a family member, a schoolmate, a kid down the road. He has shared sentimental, sensational and even a few delightfully silly memories at some point of his career at the same time as always staying authentic to one point: Sports is meant to be fun.
And for Al, it changed into always greater approximately the people than the games they played.
Al retired a few days in the past, seeking to sneak out the returned door without all people noticing. Fat hazard. We will, ultimately, all recognize that something wealthy is missing from our morning workouts. No Al Lesar column to pore over, dissect and revel in.
Both he and Jack Walkden, who is also retiring after placing the zing lower back into the Michigan Sports activities coverage, may be sorely overlooked.
The Olympics gave me the threat to lease Al. And all of us have been rewarded with a gold medalist in writing.
A man in a Chicago Cubs shirt got here into the garden middle in which I every now and then flow around trees and experience over houses even as watering the vegetation.
So I without delay rolled up my right sleeve and showed him the Cubs tattoo on my shoulder. (Someday, I promise to develop up.) But he had a larger one, making mine look like infant’s play.
His call is Andy Makris and he has been a Cubs fan all his life. And get this: His dad became true buddies with Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas, a fellow Greek, and Pappas could get tickets for Andy and his dad at the back of the Cubs’ dugout. “Then Milt could get different games to autograph balls and roll them over the dugout roof to me,” Andy says.
Like lots of Cubs lovers, Andy is a touch antsy with the manner the Cubs have played the primary half of-of the season. But then he has any person else to cheer nowadays: His son, Michael, lately received the Indiana Amateur Golf Championship and also certified for the North & South Amateur in Pinehurst, N.C.
So Andy is having a ball watching every other form of massive hitter this summer season.
I visited my friend, ninety four-12 months-antique Helen Ruth Wiegand, the other day. Although she now could be on oxygen, it doesn’t keep her from showing the same enthusiasm she had as a cheerleader at Greene Township High School back within the early 1940s.
Helen Ruth — now not Helen, no longer Ruth, but Helen Ruth — is a bigger Cubs fan than I am and might speak a Cubbie blue streak approximately their latest struggles.
Her nephew, retired Bethel College basketball train, Mike Lightfoot, confirmed me a photograph of a younger and beautiful Helen Ruth sauntering toward Wrigley Field together with her mother for a sport in 1945.