As Sam Sees It
Sports fans will forgive me if I measure a "year" as starting in September with the high school, college and professional football seasons and ending in the fall of the next year with the Major League Baseball World Series. Most, but by no means all, of my sports coverage deals with Winslow High School athletic teams.
My career as a sports writer has been blessed as it has fallen my lot to attend many high school championship tournaments in football, basketball, softball and baseball. The Arizona Diamondbacks provided me with credentials to cover as many regular season games as feasible, and all of their home playoff and World Series games. My most memorable sports event ever was the 2001 World Series that resulted in a World Championship for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Arizona Cardinals have also provided credentials for many of their regular season home games. In fact, the Cardinals have one of the better half-time meals provided for the press by any organization in my limited experience. Inclement weather and other commitments have kept me from attending many Cardinals games recently.
Arizona State University also has provided credentials for many years and the school sports department has been very helpful and cooperative.
One of the most memorable football games I ever had the pleasure to see was the Sun Devils' 19-0 conquest of then top-ranked Nebraska at Sun Devil Stadium in the mid-90s. That team featured two of the most notable Sun Devil gridders of all time, Pat Tillman and Jake Plummer. This may have been the most important Arizona State win ever, though I would argue that the 1975 Fiesta Bowl victory over those same Nebraska Cornhuskers was.
In approximately two weeks, I will have the opportunity to attend another unique sporting event. The first round of the World Baseball Classic will be played in Phoenix and Scottsdale beginning on March 7. Teams representing the United States, Mexico, Canada and South Africa will play a round robin tournament. The winner will move on to the next round to meet winners from similar tournaments to be held in Tokyo, Orlando, and Puerto Rico.
In April, the Arizona Diamondbacks will open their home schedule against the Colorado Rockies. It is my hope to spend a fair amount of time enjoying my favorite professional sport at Chase Field in Phoenix.
This column has turned out to be about my personal sports experiences. Not all of them have been seen through the eyes of a reporter.
My first professional championship game occurred over 50 years ago when I was in the air force and stationed at Syracuse, New York. The Syracuse Nationals played the Fort Wayne Pistons for the NBA Championship in Syracuse in 1955. Believe it or not, I was able to attend that final game of that memorable series on a U.S.O. pass.
Later that summer, I was assigned to a school at NSA in Washington, D.C. and got into many Washington Senators games on such passes.
The Senators were far from the best baseball had to offer, but we got to see such future Hall of Famers as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Harmon Killabrew, Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio.
Somewhere not long after that time, I experienced the event that served as the basis for a recent memorable event. The event in question was written up and submitted to The Reader's Digest "Humor in Uniform" section. It was published in the March edition of that magazine.