A baseball writing superstar exits

The economy and demise of newspapers around the country has claimed another victim.

This time, Hall of Fame  baseball writer Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News is retiring “early”  because his employer informed him that the paper would not be covering the Reds on the road beginning next season. Too expensive. So Hal, inducted into the Hall of Fame seven years ago, decided that this will be his final year on the beat.

“The hammer fell today,” he wrote, “and it hurts like hell. My run is over– 37 years of bliss, doing a job that wan’t a job. It was pure joy and fun.”

I’m not the only one feeling bummed about the news.

Ken Griffey Jr. heard about it prior to Thursday’s game against the Royals. “It wasn’t  voluntary, and that’s too bad,” said Griffey, who lists McCoy on his short list of good writers, good person, an oxymoron in far too many cases these days of blogs, twitters and what have you.

McCoy, 68, came from the old school of journalism, where “Me, myself and I” were words never used. Nowadays, far more than a Baker’s dozen disguised as baseball reporters use the word “I” more times than they use the word “and”. Arghhhh!!

McCoy covered Junior for nearly 10 years with the Reds, and before that his father, Ken Griffey Sr. during the Big Red Machine era during the 1970s.

When it was announced at the Baseball Winter Meetings in December 2001 that McCoy had been selected as the winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award and would be inducted into the Hall of Fame the following July, the first congratulatory phone call he received was from Junior. That  call probably meant as much to McCoy as the honor itself. If not, why would he call me over to his working space in the press room at the hotel and say, “You’ll never guess who just called me.”

Griffey must have some kind of speed-dial on his phone.

About one year after his induction, McCoy had a stroke that left him legally blind. But, with his newspaper’s assistance, he hasn’t missed a beat since.

Anyway, from one old codger to another, here’s a high-five to one of the best baseball writers of all-time. Salute.

— Jim Street

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