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By Frank Aceto | Record Publishing Company
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared the pressbox with reporters from the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and many other media organizations.
My job is to keep pace with those guys as best I can.
I also want to do everything in my power to beat them to the punch when it comes to scoops or breaking news.
But I think it’s important to make something very clear about how we reporters operate. And I’m sure just about all of us feel the same way.
We’re all in this together.
Sure, I want to write a better story than say, the reporter from the Plain Dealer. Better yet, if I know a certain player from a certain team I’m covering is going for a school record, well, I may be a bit hesitant to share this information with a certain reporter who wears a Beacon Journal name tag.
Nevertheless, I like to think that many of these reporters, past and present, are people that I can call good friends.
Most of these so-called “rivals” have always been very helpful and kind to me. I like to think I’ve got their backs too.
Sometimes, though, these situations can be a little ... how can I put this ... messy.
Several years ago, I covered a Hudson boys soccer game at Lavelli Field. I happened to bump into Tim Rogers, who was a sports writer for the Plain Dealer at the time.
I’ve known Tim for a number of years. I would probably need a calculator to figure out how many games we’ve covered together since the turn of the millennium.
Tim is sort of a rock star in this area. In fact, I jokingly once referred to him as a “celebrity.”
Wherever Tim goes, whether it’s Hudson, Stow, Tallmadge or heck, probably even Timbuktu, Mr. Rogers is like Norm Peterson on “Cheers.”
Everyone knows his name.
On this particular day, Tim and I decided to watch the game from the sideline. It was a relatively pleasant evening and we enjoyed each other’s company.
Being somewhat of a newbie to this business and to Northeast Ohio (I grew up about 115 miles South of Akron in Steubenville), I wasn’t fully aware of the “Lake Erie effect.”
I’m guessing the temperatures were in the low to mid 60s when the game began.
As the sun went down and the moon appeared, well, lets just say it was considerably colder.
Wearing just a light jacket, I was shivering nonstop. Tim, on the other hand, was wearing at least a few layers of clothing and looked perfectly comfortable.
I’m sure as Tim saw me rattling my teeth uncontrollably, he probably had somewhat of a devilish grin and thought to himself: “Rookie!”
Being the nice guy that he is, Tim had an extra sweatshirt in his bag and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Hey Frank, do you want to wear this?”
Although I was kind of embarrassed, I gladly accepted the piece of clothing.
I felt much better, but during halftime, I decided to make a trip to the concession stand for a cup of hot chocolate.
Thanks to Tim’s sweatshirt and a couple large gulps from a cup of cocoa, I felt I like I was on a beach again.
At that point, Tim and I we’re having a great conversation when I decided to take another sip of my hot chocolate.
I have a hunch you know what’s coming.
I got a few drops toward my lips, but the rest of it traveled to — you guessed it — all over the sweatshirt.
I remembered watching Tim’s facial expressions as he examined the situation.
He had a a rather peculiar look on his face that showed a slight hint of disapproval.
I couldn’t tell if he was irritated or befuddled, so I did what any normal, rational person would do in that situation.
I must have apologized to him 27 times.
After babbling how sorry I was for several minutes, Tim didn’t say anything for what seemed like an eternity.
And then, all of a sudden, he began laughing hysterically.
I don’t know what happened to that sweatshirt.
I have a hunch that I didn’t give it back to him that night. I can’t tell you if I took it home, washed it and then returned it to him the next time I saw him.
Now that I think about it, he might have let me keep it.
At least I didn’t spill it on my notes.
Now that would have been a real tragedy!