Before heading out to cool the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, I had a decision to make as the Tribune’s sports editor. After taking a job with the Indianapolis Star, is Star, I needed to update the talented Phil Richards on my staff. But I did what plenty of leaders do while facing a tough choice. I procrastinated — even though 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 N.D. football … from notable subs to Super Bowls, from fresh-faced children to grizzled vintage pros. During the remaining decade, he additionally served because of the face of the Tribune sports department as the columnist.
In all likelihood, he 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 in his career while 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 ago, seeking to sneak out the returned door without anyone 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.
He and Jack Walkden, retiring after placing the Zing lower back into the Michigan Sports activities coverage, may be 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, where I now and then flow around trees and experience over houses, even 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; 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 many Cubs lovers, Andy is a touch antsy with how the Cubs have played the season’s primary half. 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 a massive hitter this summer. The other day, I visited my friend, ninety-four-12 months-antique Helen Ruth Wiegand. Although she could now be on oxygen, it doesn’t keep her from showing the same enthusiasm she had as a cheerleader at Greene Township High School in 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 a photograph of a younger and beautiful Helen Ruth sauntering toward Wrigley Field with her mother for a sport in 1945.
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