Normally at this time of the year – and this summer is no exception – I cherish going home after work and fixing a little something to eat while waiting for the Texas Rangers baseball game.
Summer is the time for us community newspaper sports writers to cool our heels and take time off from the two-to-three-nights a week grind we experience during the school sports year, and of course, our load is not one-tenth of what we experience August through May.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love covering games – but after 10 months of a high school sports beat it is time to take a break.
But there was one summer almost a decade ago where not only was the time off an exception, but I “worked” almost every night from early June to the second week of August.
I was sports editor at the Graham Leader at the time, and the summer I am referring to was the summer of 2004.
Ring a bell?
That’s right. In June of 2004, the Texas Collegiate League enjoyed its first year of existence and had a franchise not only in Graham, but here in Mineral Wells as well. Other TCL teams that inaugural year included Weatherford, Granbury, Colleyville, Coppell, McKinney and Highland Park.
The Graham Roughnecks and Mineral Wells Steam were proximity rivals in that first TCL season, and in that unique summer of ‘04 I enjoyed an experience of a lifetime.
As sports editor of The Leader I was also employed as a sports broadcaster on the Graham radio station (then owned by the newspaper), and my job for the summer was broadcasting all 54 regular season games (and what would be an addition six playoff games) for the local FM radio station (which could also be heard here).
I had always wondered what it would be like to be Eric Nadel, the longtime, Hall of Fame radio broadcaster for the Texas Rangers, who gets to go on the radio every single night for six months describing the action of our local MLB boys of summer.
When I was told about the job I was excited, then terrified wondering how I would be able to make it for two-and-half months knowing I also had to put out two sports sections every week in addition to the nightly assignment of broadcasting the games.