Sign of the Times

It is happening all over the country, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

But I am.

The newspaper is dying, so I shouldn’t be disappointed.

But I am.

He is a legend, but still innovative and at the top of his game, so he shouldn’t be retired.

But he is.

After 37 years, Hall of Fame Baseball writer Hal McCoy is retiring at the end of this year, and not by his own choice.  Most of you might not know who McCoy is, considering that he writes for the Dayton Daily News.  He is a legendary baseball writer famous for coining the term “The Big Red Machine”.  He writes the best daily baseball blog imaginable.  Every day, he fills the screen with insights, memories, and observations that are simultaneously funny, poignant, and insightful.  The man is 69 years old and almost blind, but he blogs (BLOGS!) daily as part of his job with a local paper.  Today, McCoy writes:

The newspaper told me today that it will no longer cover the Cincinnati Reds the same way it has in the past, beginning next season. And don’t blame the paper. It is the economic times and we’re all suffering. They just can’t afford the more than a quarter of a million dollars a year to send me coast-to-coast.

So it is off to retirement after this season ends. It isn’t early retirement. I’m 68, soon to be 69. But it isn’t something I want to do. I feel like I still have my fastball at the keyboard and can deal with the curves thrown my way.

I feel as if my fingers have been cut off, but the economic times are harsh and I understand and I’m not angry. I just feel as if something good has ended prematurely, something I’m not completely ready to accept, but must.

I know that Dayton is not a big town, but I have to imagine that McCoy is one of the paper’s primary assets.  I would never have visited their site if not for the Great One, and because of him I visit daily.  Until we began 18to88.com, Demond and I would avoid the papers when our teams lost.  It was too painful to read the recriminations and finger pointing.  It was the same with the Hoosiers, as with the Pacers, as with the Colts, as with the Reds.

Once I discovered McCoy’s musings on-line, however, I made it a point to visit no matter what.  The Reds recently dropped off the face of the earth (which I believe I predicted weeks ago).  There was no need to read game recaps to know what was wrong.  Still, I read Hal McCoy.  He is funny.  He is harsh.  He is honest.

I don’t know if McCoy would be interested in another job or not, but I would hope some entity would see fit to use him.  He’s a treasure, a blessing to fans.  If there was ever a trial over how much the death of the newspaper will cost sports fans, the retirement of Hal McCoy would be exhibit A.  Now we’ve come the test.  McCoy is the best.  He’s venerable and innovative.  He’s embraced blogging in an era when men far younger still criticize it.  If someone in the new media can come up with a profitable way to employ him to cover the Reds, hope will remain alive.

If the death of the paper means a banishment of the best and brightest, then perhaps hope is lost.

My miniature schnauzer, Barkley, is looking at me wondering why his old man is sniffling. Well, it’s time to get out the old scrapbooks and read of better times.

So many times over the year, I’ve dealt with surly ballplayers who never saw hello until it’s time to say goodbye.

I’ll finish the season covering the Reds and baseball, the last hurrah, then say my final goodbyes. They’re putting me out to pasture. I only wish it was center field.

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