Tacoma lost an icon last week with the passing of Stan Naccarato, the man credited with saving minor-league baseball in the city.
News Tribune managing editor Dale Phelps knew Naccarato better than most in our room. As a student of sports history, Phelps understood the important role Naccarato played in our community and offered the following thoughts:
When local sports historian Marc Blau was working on the book “Playgrounds to the Pros: An Illustrated History of Sports in Tacoma-Pierce County” a decade ago, he identified five men he thought of as the “fab five” of Tacoma-Pierce County sports history.
The five — Ben Cheney, Tom Cross, Clay Huntington, Doug McArthur and Stan Naccarato — were civic-minded businessmen, public officials and promoters whose passion and hard work lifted sports in this region to a new level in the years and decades following World War II.
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Naccarato’s death last week at 88 is a reminder, as the expression goes, that they don’t make them like that any more. (McArthur is last living member of the five.)
As sports interest surged in post-war America, boosters all across the country hustled to promote sports, attract events and draw attention and teams to their towns. Tacoma was lucky to have people who excelled at doing all of those things.
“They got things done, and could get things done,” Blau said recently.
In one way or another Naccarato and others had a hand in sponsoring teams that represented this area in national and international competitions. They made possible all sorts of athletic venues, from small playfields to the Tacoma Dome. They acquired and helped finance professional sports franchises. They arranged performances by the Harlem Globetrotters and the All American Red Heads. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships were held here. So were the Goodwill Games. Golden Gloves boxing became an annual local event. They helped form the Tacoma Athletic Commission. The list is almost endless.
Times and sports have changed since the heyday of the fab five. People have different priorities and interests. The sports and entertainment landscape has been forever altered by money, cable television, the Internet, etc.
Things get done in different ways. And civic forces like Naccarato and his colleagues don’t seem as common. The legacy of what they accomplished in their time, however, lives on for all of us to enjoy.
NEW JOURNALISTS COMING ABOARD
Candice Ruud begins work Tuesday as our Tacoma City Hall reporter.
This will be a homecoming, of sorts, for Ruud. She hails from Woodinville, got her education at Oregon State University, and worked the past four years at Newsday on New York’s Long Island.
While at Newsday, she covered cops and crime, and the Town of Islip. (With a population of 335,000, it is bigger than it sounds.) She reported from Superstorm Sandy, the Sandy Hook school shootings and Belmont Park when American Pharoah won horse racing’s Triple Crown. Most recently, she has been the paper’s aviation reporter, covering the industry and the New York City airports.
“I have a great job, but the Pacific Northwest still calls,” she wrote us in seeking the job, “and Tacoma seems like an incredibly interesting place to do serious journalism.”
We’ve also selected this year’s crop of TNT college interns:
▪ Andy Buhler started last week as our sports reporting intern. Buhler is from Portland, Oregon. He just finished his junior year at Gonzaga University, where he’s studying journalism and sports management. He has served as sports editor and managing editor of the Gonzaga Bulletin. He’s done some sports writing for The Associated Press and is co-founder of a blog covering Gonzaga basketball.
▪ Hannah Shirley starts June 6 as a local news intern. She’s a junior at the University of Idaho, studying journalism and political science. Shirley was news editor of the Argonaut, Idaho’s student newspaper, and has written for The Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Already, she has produced award-winning stories about the legalization of same-sex marriage in Idaho and the local impacts of the Affordable Care Act.
▪ Manola Secaira, a Bellarmine Prep grad from University Place, joins us in mid-June, also as a news intern. She’s finishing her sophomore year at Seattle Pacific University, studying English and journalism. Secaira is assistant news editor at the student paper, The Falcon. She has had three columns published in the TNT as one of our editorial page community columnists for 2016. She has written about growing up Latina and also her love of boxing — not watching it, but doing it.
▪ Brett Jacobsen, of Gig Harbor, is finishing his degree at Northwest College of Art and Design in Poulsbo, with majors in graphic design and motion design. He also studied business at Pacific Lutheran University. Jacobsen has designed Web and print materials for a handful of local companies. As part of his application process, we asked him to design a story board marketing the TNT to young readers. His designs persuaded us to offer him an internship.
Watch these bylines in the coming months. TNT interns frequently turn into TNT staffers.