• HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG? — I always circle today, Aug. 13, on the calendar in red.
That’s because it’s a special day. On Aug. 13, 1979, an unknown and extremely nervous Southeast Kansas transplant began his first day of employment in McPherson, Kansas, a town he knew next to nothing about beforehand.
My plan, of course, was to spend about two years getting my feet wet and moving on to make a big splash in the sports writing world. I think we all know how that turned out.
I wound up spending better than 33 years here in the newspaper business before deciding that a career change needed to be made. I transitioned into the online world, writing for Midkansasonline.com and publishing Mid Kansas Sports Magazine four times a year. I am also dabbling here at the radio station, KNGL, with a twice-daily sports commentary graciously sponsored by Freddy’s Frozen Custard and assisting on sports broadcasts, trying to offer an honest view of what I witness, even if at times it's somewhat brutally honest.
Never in my wildest dreams in 1979 did I imagine all the amazing sports accomplishments that I was about to report on.
I have witnessed state championships at McPherson High School in about every sport and covered many of the 52 teams that have raised banners in the Roundhouse, which itself is a special story.
I’ve also been fortunate to cover our area schools’ state championship successes as well, as they have been numerous. In addition, I’ve reported on some of the greatest moments in McPherson College, Central Christian College and Bethany College history. I have covered some of the greatest athletes in Kansas history and some of the best teams in the state annals.
Most of all, though, I have forged friendships with some of the best coaches a reporter could ever work with as well as athletes who have kept in touch long after they graduate from high school.
My final thanks goes to McPherson for allowing me to call it home. I can't imagine living in a better place.
• ROYALS STILL IN FIRST — When the Kansas City Royals moved into first place in the American League Central back in June, they immediately fell off the planet while the Detroit Tigers took off and seemingly ran away.
But my, how times have changed.
On Tuesday, the Royals began defense of their latest first-place standing. Awaiting them was KC-killer Jon Lester, formerly of Boston and now of Oakland.
While the Royals weren’t their usual putty in Lester’s hands, he did continue his mastery of Kansas City with plenty of help from his offense, 10-3. Death, taxes and Jon Lester owning the Royals are the three surest bets in life.
Fortunately this time, the Royals received some help from Pittsburgh, which kept Detroit on its slide. At least Kansas City gets to enjoy a couple of days at the top.
I was curious to see what kind of move the Royals were going to make when they picked up designated hitter Josh Willingham from Minnesota. It turned out to be reliever Scott Downs going to the disabled list with an alleged stiff neck. I really thought it might be the release of Raul Ibanez, who hasn’t really supplied the team with much sock since his signing. The placing of Downs on the disabled list means the Royals’ bullpen will operate with seven relievers, but given how their starters have pitched recently, they should be able to get by. When was the last time Aaron Crow or Francisley Bueno pitched in a game? Those guys are starting to rust.
• BIG NUMBERS AT ANDALE — Andale, which ended McPherson High's football season in 2013 by handing the Bullpups a 36-7 second-round playoff loss, reportedly is going to have huge numbers this season.
The Indians come to McPherson Stadium Sept. 12 in the first regular-season meeting between the teams. They have met twice in the playoffs, with each owning a victory.
Andale, which has won 11 games each of the last three seasons and was 4A champ in 2006 and 2007, is going to report more than 100 players when practices begin next week, according to The Wichita Eagle. The Indians have some terrific skill position players returning in All-State running back Hunter Knoblauch, fullback Anthony Capul and mammoth (6-5, 260) tight end Jeff Ast.
Andale will find out just how good it is on the opening night of the season when it hosts Buhler in a matchup of 4A titans, though they're in different divisions.
I'll find out more about Andale on Thursday when the AVCTL conducts its first-ever Media Day.