Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Beginning Of A Journey


Sports has been a part of my life ever since I was a little boy and being raised in Detroit, MI., I’ve been fortunate enough to have grown up in a town with four major teams. Watching my father play softball in Oak Park and later open up a sporting goods store named All Pro Sporting Goods in the same town was just the beginning of a passion.
     Thanks to his involvement, as a youngster, I was fortunate enough to have played baseball for six years, basketball and hockey each one season. Being a youngster, I always enjoyed watching these games and my Aunt Tina Caplan was an inspiration to pursue a dream as a Play-By-Play announcer. I would turn the volume off and do the Red Wings play-by-play. I idolized Tigers legendary announcer Ernie Harwell and Red Wings great Bruce Martyn. I’d go to Tigers games alone and did play-by-play in the bleachers at Tiger Stadium.
     But the transformation from being a fan to getting involved in the media began in 1979 when Sam Greenblatt, who was the manager of my father’s sporting good store. used to be a frequent guest on WXYZ’s Sports Talk with Ron Cameron. 
     Sam and Ron used to discuss amateur hockey which was huge in Michigan. My father and Sam asked me if I wanted to visit the station and watch the show in person. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity.
     The star of this show turned out to be my best friend George Eichorn. We formed an incredible bond that has now lasted 30 years and our work with the Detroit Monitor has led to unbelievable memories together.
     Both of us are members of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association. We’ve covered the Detroit Pistons, Lions, Red Wings and Tigers. This has allowed me to create other friendships as well including one with Harwell and the late Joe Falls of the Detroit News and Free Press.
     While it would take me forever to list all the great sports assignments,  some which stand out are three Super Bowls, the Final Game at Tiger Stadium in 1999, the NBA Finals, 1984 USFL Championship Game, Spring Training, numerous Auto Races at Michigan International Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Miami/Homstead Speedway, an NHL All-Star Game, a few Orange Bowls in addition to writing about the Lions during the Barry Sanders era and the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” Championship Years.
     When Eichorn and I pursued other radio opportunities together and I moved to Florida to do remote reports, the 1981 Lynda Carter Maybelline Tennis Tournament in Deerfield Beach, and Baseball Winter Meetings in Hollywood, began a new journey in my sports career. 
     My first major interview was with Tom Lasorda of the World Champion LA Dodgers. Former New York Daily News Columnist Phil Pepe helped me prepare for it. My late uncle Fred Cullen gave me the time off from his roofing company to cover this event at the Diplomat Hotel.
     In Florida, Eichorn introduced me to Tony DeMarco. Early in my journalism career, DeMarco took me under his wing and was a big mentor. DeMarco worked for the Hollywood Sun Tattler and the Miami Herald.
     In addition to radio, I have been affiliated with the following organizations.
      I was Sports Editor for the Broward Community College South, Pembroke Pines, Fla., “The New Horizons” for three years. I worked at the Hallandale Digest, Tampa Tribune, Reds Vue Magazine in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently work with the Deerfield Beach Observer. 
     In 1984, the same year the Tigers won the World Series against the San Diego Padres, I won an award for Best Sports Reporter for Junior College Newspapers. My adviser Betty Owen informed me in Tampa.
     At the Digest, I worked with one of the greatest people I’ve ever known in Peter Bluesten. Peter was more than an employer; he was a father figure, mentor, who was loved by all those whom he came in contact with. 
     When I couldn’t go back home to Detroit, Peter treated me as family and invited me for Thanksgiving Dinner as well as other holidays. He supported all of my educational endeavors and we can all hope to meet a man of his caliber. 
      If there were more Bluesten’s in todays “work force,” employee loyalty would be much higher because he treated everybody as family!
     My first editor at the Deerfield Beach Observer Ric Green created a position to cover Florida Atlantic University and I’ve been reunited with former Miami Hurricanes Coach Howard Schnellenberger. If FAU’s academic program had been further developed, I might have been an Owls alumnus in 1986. Instead I graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa and had a blast covering sports events for the Tribune.
     The photos which will be posted on here are just proud memories of the great people I’ve come in contact with.
     The purpose of this Blog is to write about subjects which I have passion for. I’m not here to sensationalize or slander individuals reputations.  Back in 1982 another former colleague named Andy Liscano, who worked for NBC’s Channel 7 in Miami taught me two valuable things.
     First, work as hard as you can and out work your opponent or competition.
     Second, always be different. The things we took pride in at Channel 7 is since our sports cast was before the competition, we worked harder to find different story lines by being creative. I repeat different story lines! That’s my goal here in this Blog is to take far fetched ideas and make you readers think and perhaps learn something. 
     Liscano’s philosophy would enable him to get promoted to the No. 2 media market in the country Los Angeles and he was one of the main reporters for the 1984 Olympics.
     While I don’t expect everybody to agree with everything I say, I certainly encourage any feedback and will reply back ASAP.  Your ideas are welcome.
Things you might want to know and how it all began.

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