Harry Chaykun was a copy editor at the Trenton Times on the day nearly 30 years ago when TigerBlog wrote his first-ever story in the newspaper business.
He knew very little about what he was doing, and he mostly tied to imitate what he had read in the past and what he thought worked. It was a very basic, simple story about a high school football game that even the people who played in it probably don't remember.
Anyway, TB wrote his story on the little word processor that they had in the newsroom back then, and after submitting it, he went up to Chaykun, the copy editor who was reading it.
TB asked Chaykun what he thought, hoping for some nice, encouraging, positive feedback.
Chaykun never looked up, never even paused what he was doing. Without ever glancing in TB's direction, he uttered these words, seared into TB's memory long ago, words that continue to inspire him all these decades later:
"I'm still awake."
Chaykun, known as "the Hawk" in the newsroom, is one of TB's all-time favorite people. TB learned much of what he knows about sarcasm from the Hawk, which means he had to have been a pretty good teacher.
Even now, TB can't help but laugh when he thinks about to so many nights in that newsroom and so many hilarious offerings from Chaykun, usually at the expense of someone there, mostly Harvey Yavener.
TB remembers one time when he was covering high school tennis and he made, egads an error. In the newspaper business, this leads to a correction, or at least is supposed to, and these corrections usually end with something like "the newspaper regrets the error."
Chaykun wrote a very simple correction that day: "The Times regrets the tennis coverage." Ah, it still makes TB laugh.
Speaking of corrections, there is the little matter of the story TB put up Saturday about Princeton's finish in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup.
In the original version, TB mentioned that Princeton received spring points in women's water polo, men's and women's track and field, men's golf and women's lacrosse.
It omitted women's open rowing, which finished third nationally and accounted for 85 Directors' Cup points.
TB went back and added it, and he is sorry for making the mistake in the first place. Lori Dauphiny, Princeton's women's open rowing coach, was her customary gracious and classy about it all.
Meanwhile, Princeton finished 35th for the year, after finishing 39th last year and 38th the year before. In the 20 years there has been a Directors' Cup, Princeton has been in the top 40 15 times.
Princeton has also never finished lower than 63rd and has only been out of the Top 50 three times in 20 years. Princeton was again the top Ivy finisher (17th time in 20 years) and the highest ranking non-BCS school, as well as the only FCS school in the top 56.
To TB, those numbers are extraordinary.
The Directors' Cup awards points based on NCAA championship participation and success. You could make the case that Princeton benefits from the fact that the points structure doesn't really recognize a difference between winning men's basketball and co-ed fencing and that there really is an emphasis on broadbased athletic programs, which is certainly applicable to Princeton.
On the other hand, Princeton is competing against schools whose athletic budgets dwarf its own. And if you look at the schools that Princeton defeated for NCAA championships this year, they were names like North Carolina and Maryland in field hockey, Penn State, Ohio State and Notre Dame in fencing and Arkansas, Texas A&M and others in track and field.
Much was made this year of Louisville's great athletic success, which included the NCAA championship in men's basketball, NCAA runner-up in women's basketball, a BCS bowl win and a spot in the Colleg World Series.
For its efforts, Louisville finished 38th, three spots behind Princeton.
Stanford won the Cup again. The Cardinal didn't win the first one but have won the last 19. The top five was Stanford, Florida, UCLA, Michigan and Texas A&M. The next five: Penn State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Georgia.
In other words, those are the real heavyweights of college athletics.
For Princeton, a 35th place finish is definitely worth celebrating.