This job is all about memories, so maybe Barbra Streisand should sing in the background while you read this, because beginning today, all I have of the Bradenton Herald are memories.
My desk is empty. My company-issued laptop has been returned.
After 11 years and two months, I have filed my last story.
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It is time for me to move on, to accept a too-good-to-be-true offer.
Time to move forward and time to look back.
It’s been a heck of a ride.
My first day of work here I walked into a pep-rally in the back of the newsroom led by the managing editor who was excited over something I can no longer remember.
My first company-issued laptop didn’t work. I was told I wore out the next one. And the one after that.
I lugged them to Tropicana Field and Florida Field. To Doak Campbell Stadium and the Orange Bowl.
To national championship games and Super Bowls.
To San Diego for the biggest win in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history and to Calgary for the Stanley Cup Finals.
And to the 2008 World Series, the most unbelievable story I ever covered for this paper.
I will always remember Akinori Iwamura jumping on second base for the final out of the 2008 American League Championship Series just as I will never forget Peter Warrick’s incredible touchdown catch that iced Florida State’s last national title.
I arrived in time in the fall of 1998 to catch a ride on the Southeast Seminoles’ last run toward a state football title.
There are some of us who can still hear the homemade air horn, constructed of six truck horns and powered by four scuba tanks, that was blown non-stop by a Vero Beach fan and provided the sound track to the Seminoles’ win in the region final that December.
Some stories you just can’t make up.
Like the Rays going to the World Series and the Stanley Cup coming to Tampa Bay.
Like the night I had dinner with a handful of members from Palmetto High’s 1975 state championship football team for a story on their 25th anniversary. Of all the high school football teams I’ve written about, that’s the one team I wished I actually covered.
Or the night I met Jim Thorpe’s daughter and granddaughter in a condo on Perico Island for a story on their campaign to have Thorpe voted the best athlete of the last century.
Or the lunch I had with Ron Necciai, the only pro baseball player to strike out 27 batters in one game.
You see, while the events are sometimes huge, it’s the people you meet in this business who leave the biggest impression.
And it’s not the big-name stars, either.
It’s people like Maggie Miller of Bradenton, who ran 52 races in 2002.
And Joe Fisher of Ellenton, whose impressive autograph collection included two hand-written letters from Hall of Famer Ty Cobb.
They were everyday people with extraordinary stories.
I can’t begin to tell you how fortunate I was to have held this job for the past 11 years. Friends at other newspapers would tell me how lucky I was to cover the sports I covered and attend the events I attended, and I never argued.
I loved every minute, too, from watching the Manatee High girls soccer team win their first-ever district championship to watching Florida roll over Ohio State for the BCS national title.
The best part of this job is the writing, and I enjoyed starting a new file and getting to work.
I hope you enjoyed it, too.
Thanks for reading.