Lutz Blog

Memories of a sports writer (reunion edition)

Good afternoon, everyone.I haven’t been very consistent with my blogging of late, but that’s about to change. In a couple of weeks. Next week, I’m kind of on vacation, though I will be working some. Then it’s full steam ahead for college football season. Can’t wait.

Anyway, my 40-year Derby High School reunion is coming up this weekend, starting tomorrow evening with a get-together at a bar. Me and many of my classmates have conducted much of our business at bars since we graduated from high school many, many years ago.

Our big dinner/dance event Saturday night is not at a bar. I think it’s important to mention that bars aren’t always in the mix for us. However, there will be a cash bar. So there’s that.

At past reunions, few have been excited to see me. I believe it’s because I have remained in the public eye since high school because of my work at the newspaper and, subsequently, my radio gig. There is a theory that few have been excited to see me because of my immense unpopularity, but I’m not buying it.

I was a pretty cool kid, if I say so myself. I hung around with a lot of different people, from the jocks to the semi-jocks. I had some friends who were in the choir, but none from the Future Farmers of America. I’m not sure why, maybe because they grew things.

I’m not the same guy I was in high school. I’m losing my memory and, honestly, I’m not 100 percent sure I even graduated. But most of these people believe I did, so that’s good enough for me.

I played basketball and baseball in high school and I wrote for the school newspaper, at least until I was kicked off the staff just days into my senior year for reasons that I’m still not sure of. I was more or less a class clown, with emphasis on “more.” And some teachers, believe it or not, just didn’t get it. They thought it was actually more important for students to learn than to feign laughter at whatever ridiculous thing I was doing.

Through my antagonizing antics, though, I learned tremendous charm. When I was booted from the paper, me and my friend Ron Keller transferred to drama class. I was even in a couple of plays, including the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” I forget what part I had, but I’m sure it was crucial.

My academic career was a mixed bag. I was generally pretty awful at the important subjects, but my knowledge of baseball and sports was superior to most. When we took bus trips to various games, I impressed my friends by being able to tell my friends which players played for which teams in major league baseball. They would peruse the box scores, pulling out obscure names, and I would almost always be right.

Yet the principal never seemed all that impressed when he called me to his office. Nor did my parents, when my principal called them.

I noticed even in high school that I refused to take that many things seriously and I’m still working on it 40 years later. I’m looking forward to introducing my wife, Debbie, to my classmates this weekend. I was voted most likely to be a ridiculously bad husband and for many years it looked like those high school voters were going to be right.

But no more. I have a ridiculously fantastic wife and it will be my pleasure this weekend to strut into these events with her on my arm.

Even though my experience on the Panther’s Tale, the school newspaper, didn’t go that well, I did go ahead and pursue a career in journalism. I ran into the teacher who banished me a couple of years ago, believe it or not. Her name is Sue Holsapple and we didn’t really talk about what happened way back then. We didn’t really talk about much of anything.

Things turned out fine for me. Being a sports writer has been a great career. But at the 40-year reunion, it’s not about what any of us have done. It’s about being in the moment, 40 years after high school and still going.

Those of us who gather this weekend have been through many of life’s ups and downs. We’ve endured happy times and unhappy times. We’ve experienced glee and remorse.

I have known many of these people most of my life. I will sit down this weekend with guys I went to Kindergarten with at Pleasantview Elementary in 1960. I remember walking home from school and watching the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees play in the World Series while my mother fixed my lunch.

Some people don’t like high school reunions. I have been to every one we’ve had, even though I wouldn’t classify myself as the most social guy in the world. But these are people I share experiences with. We grew up in a simpler time and a great town. Derby was small in those days. There was a strong bond.

We all have had our children. Now we’re about our grandchildren. We’ve most likely gone as far as we’re going in our careers, although I’m still holding out the hope of a Pulitzer.

This weekend will be a lot of fun. Exciting, even. I’m looking forward to seeing (most) of these people.