By BUCKY DENT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
ST. LOUIS —
Just like the athletes they cover, sportswriters have goals, too.
Over 30 years ago, when it was obvious I wasn't talented enough to play, I figured it was time to find another way to stay in the game. So I started writing and announcing, hoping that one day, I could start climbing those ladders.
From Richlands to Bristol, Bristol to Greeneville and Greeneville to southern Illinois, my journey's taken me a lot of places the average fan doesn't get to see. Or, in some cases, doesn't always want to see.
And Saturday afternoon, when I drive about two hours from Johnston City, Ill. northwest to St. Louis, one of the prime dreams of my professional life will be realized.
Game 3 of the World Series. At Busch Stadium. With yours truly sitting in the auxiliary press box down the right field line, chronicling all the action for The Sports Xchange.
Yeah, it's going to be cold that night, and yeah, I'll probably end up in one of the luxury suites to keep my fingers warm enough to type. But considering the alternatives, I think I'll be able to deal.
Like a good official, a sportswriter is unbiased, able to filter emotional influences to deliver the facts in a straight-forward manner. But a sportswriter should also have some fan in him/her.
It's been the fan in me that's helped keep my dreams alive. Even while driving over mountains to get to a game in Hurley or Haysi, I always looked forward to the future, because sports are the best reality show going.
You never know when you're going to see some kid bust out with the game of their life, or if you'll see an unexpected upset out of nowhere. And if you didn't, you just write it, head for the car and make your way home until the next time.
If you do it long enough, you might go from doing it in Bluefield and Tazewell to doing it in places like Nashville, St. Louis, Louisville, Indianapolis and Memphis. You go from the roar of the crowd at Ernie Hicks Stadium or the Stone Castle, the iconic home of the Tennessee High Vikings, to fans pitching catfish on the Bridgestone Arena ice when the Nashville Predators score in the playoffs.
You go from interviewing Greg Mance or Roger Rife, two of my favorite people ever in coaching, to querying Mike Matheny about Shelby Miller's newly-developed cutter. Instead of talking about raw prospects with Dennis Holmberg, you're asking Chris Long about chasing Robert Griffin III all over the Edward Jones Dome.
One year, you're covering the Richlands-Tazewell football rivalry and the sign at Claypool Hill might say, "Last one out of town turn out the lights." Last week, when I left the parking lot at Busch Stadium following the Cardinals' 9-0 hammering of the Dodgers to wrap up the National League Championship Series, a cold autumn rain was falling and many fans were enjoying a postgame tailgate as the clock approached 12:30 a.m.
The ride home was long and rainy. But the fan in me had no trouble getting home that early morning. The World Series was beckoning. And in my first year of covering MLB, this 47-year old rookie is going.
Talk about realizing your goals.