I had a special request of Larry LaRue when we asked him to come down from the sports department to the news end of the newsroom and be a local columnist.
“Bring more humanity to the paper,” I said.
A local newspaper as focused as this one on hard news runs the risk of being overly serious, overly intense and overly focused on keeping track of public figures. Those are all important, but so are simple, sweet stories about regular people doing sometimes extraordinary things.
Larry introduced us to dozens of them over the past few years.
Next week is Larry’s last at The News Tribune, as he moves on to the next chapter in his life. He leaves having set an expectation among our readers that we will regularly share those very human stories.
He also leaves a wonderful legacy as our Seattle Mariners beat writer for more than two decades before becoming a columnist.
Larry came to the TNT in 1988 having covered the Los Angeles Angels, Lakers and Rams for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. TNT managing editor Dale Phelps worked closely with him as the senior sports editor here for years.
Like many others, Phelps refers to LaRue as “Lash,” a nickname taken from the Western movie actor of the 1940s and ’50s.
“Lash’s first season covering the Mariners was the club’s 12th,” Phelps shared with me. “The team had not recorded a winning record in its existence and wouldn’t until 1991.
“His time coincided with the rise of the team from a league doormat playing in a dreary and nearly empty indoor stadium into a competitive franchise capable of filling a state-of-the-art ballpark.
“He covered the epic 1995 season that saw the Mariners rally from 13 games back in the standings in early August to earn their first postseason berth. He also covered the historic 2001 season in which the Mariners won a major league record-tying 116 games.
“Along the way he wrote hundreds of game stories, features, news stories, tweets and blog posts about the team. He received multiple awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors, including top game story in the 2009 contest for the 100,000-250,000 circulation category.
“He also was an important figure in The News Tribune becoming a sports section worthy of national recognition. The management here decided in the mid-’80s to make sports a priority. Lash was part of a wave of talent brought on board to compete against the Seattle papers and establish us as ‘the best sports section in the Northwest.’
“That last part is probably as big as anything he’s done here. The man and the moment lined up perfectly.
“A generation of fans got started following the Mariners through his words in The News Tribune, and he and the paper gained a national reputation for excellence in sports journalism.
“If we were to start a Hall of Fame for the newsroom, he’d have to be in it.”
Thank you, Larry, for your significant contribution as a storyteller on both ends of the newsroom.
HOW DOROTHY STOLE PAGE 2
You gotta watch that woman.
Several weeks ago, in writing about upcoming changes to the paper, I noted that Page 2A would become the home each day for our local columnists.
Dorothy Wilhelm, our delightful once-a-month Sunday columnist, normally appears inside our local news section. She read my column and wrote me, leading to this email back and forth.
Dorothy: “After 25 years, nobody is more local than I am ... so I just want to let you know that I’d be really happy to be included in plans for this coveted spot.
Me: “Thank you, Dorothy. For now, I’m the guy on Page 2 on Sundays, but let me think about that.”
Dorothy: “Oh, shame on me. What was I thinking?”
I kept thinking about it. Dorothy would be great on Page 2A the first Sunday of each month. And that might have fringe benefits for me (a week off every month).
I wrote her days before her inaugural appearance two weeks ago: “On Sunday, you’re the Page 2 girl. I’m proud to share my space with you.”
Dorothy: “Thank you. I’ll try to make you proud — and I’ll try not die anytime soon so you can enjoy plenty of days off. ... I’m proud to be shared with.”
She offered to have a full-length picture taken, a la the new style, and sent me one she had at the ready. In it, she looks glamorous.
Dorothy: “You’ve got to admit, for 82 this is not bad.”
Me: “I wanna grow up to be you. :)”
TNT 2016 CALENDARS
Hopefully it spilled out onto your counter on Thursday. That’s the day home delivery subscribers to the TNT received our annual photo calendar inside their regular newspaper.
This year’s edition includes photographs taken throughout the year by our staff photographers, many of them really cute pictures of kids from across our coverage area.
If you like to buy another 2016 calendar (they make nice Christmas gifts), they are available in our lobby for $5 each.