It was during the 1990s, you see, when I carried the burden and misfortune of being sports editor at the Winnipeg Sun. Actually, upon reflection, I suppose it wasn’t all that bad, because I had young Eddie and a couple of other good foot soldiers on my staff, but it was a burden, nonetheless.
Anyway, I had dispatched Young Eddie to North Dakota (the specific assignment escapes me, but I believe it was either high school or college hockey). It was a weekend gig, and his first road trip. Ever. He was geeked up, understandly so because this is a significant and signature moment in the life of a greenhorn sports scribe. I don’t recall giving him extravagant or detailed directives, other than to get the story, enjoy himself and come home safely.
“And keep your receipts,” I emphasized. “You’ll need them for your expense report.”
So I’m sitting at the desk in the closet-sized cubbyhole that passed for my office on the second floor of the Sun building when Young Eddie returned from the fray.
“How did it go?” I asked.
“Great,” he answered with the enthusiasm and innocence of freshly scrubbed youth and his boyish charm. “Had loads of fun.”
“Nice. Very nice. You did a great job. We’ll have to get you on the road again. When you’ve got time, fill out your expense form and make sure you include your receipts.”
He left and, scant seconds later, Young Eddie was back in my bunker.
“Here,” he said, handing me the lid from a pizza box.
“What’s this?” I said as I stared at a rumpled piece of cardboard with the tomato sauce stains.
“That’s what I ate.”
“That’s it? That’s all you ate for the entire weekend? One pizza?”
“How much did it cost?”
“You spent $10 for the entire weekend? Just $10?”
To this day, I have no notion what else Young Eddie shoved down his throat that weekend, but I have my suspicions that a few bags of chips and Big Gulps were on the menu. He probably splurged on two or three packs of bubblegum, too.
“I remember,” he told me in an email exhange this morning. “My expense reports have changed since then. Steve (Freep sports editor Lyons) has told me I don’t need to put in the receipts from 7-11 for all the Doritos, Gobstoppers, etc.”
I don’t tell this story to bring any level of embarrassment to Young Eddie. I loved working with him. He made my two tours of duty as sports editor palatable and, on those occasions when we collaborated on out-of-town assignments, he was an absolute joy and a boffo traveling companion. We had a great many guffaws.
If there’s a more respected sports scribe in Winnipeg than Young Eddie, I don’t know who it might be. He’s the best of the best, whether he’s writing about the Winnipeg Jets, the Blue Bombers or something on the periphery. No one in Pegtown does it better than Young Eddie. And I’ll tell you something else about him: As good a sports scribe as he is, he’s even a better person. I’m sure his bride, Kathi, and their lads, Wyatt and Finn, would agree.
So you want to read his terrific piece in today’s Freep about Matt Dunigan’s 713-yard passing game with the Blue Bombers 20 years ago. Like Dunigan in that match vs. the Edmonton Eskimos, Young Eddie is at the top of his game.
Dunigan, of course, is the centrepiece of the article, but Eddie tracked down some of the QB’s accomplices and he includes a delightful anecdote from Chris Walby, who was honored for participating in his 200th Canadian Football League game in Bombers linen that night at the ol’ ballyard on Maroons Road.
It’s the sort of feature stuff I’d like to see more often in both the Freep and the Winnipeg Sun.
(FOOTNOTE: I invite your comments. I do not, however, welcome some of your comments. If you believe what I’ve written is the natterings of a nincompoop and belongs at the bottom of a bird cage, let ‘er rip. Tell me why. I enjoy healthy debate. That can be fun. If, on the other hand, your idea of a critique is to attack/insult me about my gender or sexual orientation, then we aren’t going to get along. Let’s put it this way: It is permissible to question the size of my IQ, but not the size of my boobs. Bottom line: I don’t get paid to write this crap, so play nice, kids.)