Whatever happened to Ted Strickland?
No, not Ohio's current governor, but the elderly photographer on staff here at The Marietta Times back in the late 1970s and earlier, who had the same name.
One of my first introductions into journalism was serving as a general assignment reporting intern at The Times in the summer of 1978, and one of the most poignant memories I have is the sad day when Strickland was cut loose with little fanfare.
Of course, it was a different era in newspaper journalism back then. One of the hot technological advancements back then was a scanner that read what had been typed on IBM Selectrics and automatically printed out the data in column form ready to be cut and pasted onto a mock-up page. It would even recognize hand-written editing or style commands, the code of the profession in that day.
And one of the quirkiest directives for the scanner, as I vaguely recall, went way back to the days of molten lead and type-setting by hand. All reporters, when they came to the end of the story, would sign off with a "-30-" before moving on to the next task.
Life has a funny way of turning around on you. In the mid-1990s, Tom Perry, acting as the sports editor of The Times, asked if I'd be interested in covering sporting events on a part-time basis. Later, I settled into a full-time position on the sports staff under Scott Long and a succession of sports editors, including Scott Roscovious, Kerry Patrick and, currently, Ron Johnston.
In April of 2006, the C-8 health screening process revealed a sever case of kidney dysfunction, automatically making me "a good candidate for dialysis," according to Dr. Mahyar Tahbaz, my attending nephrologist. Up until then, I just attributed the general malaise in my life to natural procrastination.
Anyway, I had been able to cover sporting events on a part-time basis over the past three years, occassionally, ruffling some feathers. A few years ago, one of my feeble attempts to add humor in my reporting went awry, resulting in a scathing piece of e-mail directed my way from former Marietta High School volleyball player Alyssa Sturm.
Ms. Sturm made it clear that her critique on my writing style that her assessment "Was Not For Publication."
I'll just say it was particularly enlightening.
I must say that over the last 30 or so years, I have managed to stay away from of becoming part of the story. Early on, there was one memorable dust up with one-time Marietta College head football coach Tom Mulligan, who compiled a dismal 1-25-1 record in three years. It was handled privately face-to-face in a small nook in Don Drumm Stadium.
Later, I learned that when you drew the wrath of legendary Pioneer baseball coach Don Schaly, you have arrived.
One evening, I had made a quick call into the MC baseball office to see if I could ascertain the probable starting pitchers for the following day's game. I fully expected Dan Rose, Schaly's trusty student-manager at the time, to answer, but got the main man instead. I simply blurted out my question, and Schaly responded in his typical no-nonsense manner, "Who is this?"
There may have been a tremble in my voice when I responded, "Who is this?"
This was a game that Schaly didn't want to play.
"Let me teach you something about telephone etiquette, big guy," Schaly began, and the conversation continued in a one-sided fashion for what seemed to be a very long time.
Gradually, I have found that sports writing is a young person's game. This realization has crystallized since late January.
Continual shortness of breathe prompted by a deteriorating heart condition has slowed me considerably on several fronts.
At the suggestion of Dr. Stanley Pamfilis, a Parkersburg cardiologist, I underwent a heart catheterization procedure. Complications arose while I was in recovery, and I awoke from a state of unconsciousness in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph's Hospital. Although my thought patterns were seriously disjointed, I slowly realized that missing the televised broadcast of the Pro Bowl, which had been played a day or two earlier, was the least of my concerns now... No, not with a breathing tube lodged down my throat and my wrists effectively restrained to the bed railings on each side.
The scariest part, even more than the impending colonoscopy on standby, was not being able to think clearly enough to work a crossword puzzle, read a newspaper or follow the narrative on television without jumping ahead.
A team of four doctors - by my count - along with a gaggle of nurses, respiratory therapists, X-ray techs and other hospital personnel attended to my immediate needs night and day for nearly the entire month of February. Meanwhile, my brother, Paul, and Fred Wagenheim, a friend since our high school days, kept me abreast of what was going on the outside. Mostly, it snowed.
At the beginning of March, I got my introduction into senior citizenship and took up residence at The Arbors of Marietta. There, the physical therapy staff, mainly "Angie," helped me regain some strength in my legs and a sense of balance. After about two weeks, I was pronounced fit enough to return home.
Over the last three months, I have regained some strength and steadiness, but I'm still somewhat frail.
My breathing is very measured, so I can't see myself chasing down 15-year-old kids to get their perspective on standout individual play. I also have memory lapses, especially when I try to retrieve a name from the past.
Thus, it is with regret that I resign my writing duties. I wish sports staffers Kevin Pierson, Jim Markley and Ron Johnston the best of luck as well as the strength and good health to carry on.
Wait, I feel there's something I'm forgetting. Oh yeah...
- 30 -
Joe Davis is a former Marietta Times sports writer.