Brady Anderson stood at his locker before an Orioles game many years ago, checked out my new haircut – buzzed on the sides, much shorter on the top than how I had previously worn it – and said, “Dude, you need a little gel on that moss.”
I once approached Scott Erickson and asked if he had a few seconds, and he replied: “Not for you.”
You can’t put a price on memories like that.
I’ve been in a reflective mood lately, and with good reason. I’m leaving The Sun -- taking a voluntary buyout -- after 21 years (I started my internship in pre-school). The timing just seemed right. The business is changing, I’m changing. . .
Well, I’m not changing THAT much. But everyone needs to re-invent themselves at least once in a lifetime. And Adam Loewen already stole my idea of becoming a position player.
I’m not leaving the area. I’m just leaving a paper that rescued me from unemployment one year out of college and threw me into the preps pit.
I managed to fight my way out of it and climb all the way to the Orioles beat – along the way working with some remarkable people. And I’m talking friends as well as reporters: Peter Schmuck, Ken Rosenthal, John Eisenberg, Joe Strauss, Joe Christensen, Jeff Zrebiec, Dan Connolly, just to name a few. I learned a lot from them, though not as much as I did from Brady (but I’m all about the hair!).
I’m a better writer and reporter because of them. Most important, I’d like to think I’m a better person. They’d line up to dispute that fact, but I’m running with it anyway.
Thank you, Andy Ratner, for hiring me as a sports clerk for the Anne Arundel County bureau in Pasadena. Thank you, Chris Kaltenbach, for always using a delicate touch when editing my raw copy back in those days – and for not talking too much about death, because you know how that freaks me out. Thank you, Jack Gibbons and Molly Dunham, for putting me on the Orioles beat full-time in 1997 and trusting me to not screw up. Thank you, Randy Harvey, for giving me Roch Around the Clock – after defining the word “blog” for me and explaining that, no, it wasn’t something that required a prescription ointment.
I’ve been blessed by my friendships with the “competition,” guys like David Ginsburg, Dave Sheinin (brilliant writer, brilliant musician), Jorge Arangure, Marc Carig, Kevin Seifert, Mark Zuckerman, Gary Washburn, Spencer Fordin . . . the list could go on and on, but I’d rather exclude a few people and have them wonder if it was intentional.
They haven’t seen the last of me. I’m not moving to Vermont and making my own maple syrup. I’m just won’t be working at The Sun anymore. But I’ll still be reading it every day – and I mean the print version, too. Some people still like to get ink on their fingers. And I’ll always been grateful to all of you for making my blog so darned popular that I can’t cross the street without someone yelling out my name.
And for a change, they’re not trying to serve me papers.
We’ll talk again soon. In the meantime, thanks for the memories. And for whatever hair gel you can send my way.-- Roch Kubatko