Monday, August 8, 2011

He Was Thinking

Whenever he goes to one of those events where everyone is wearing a name tag, TigerBlog rarely puts his on.

What is wrong with walking up to someone you don't know and, instead of glancing at a tag safety-pinned to his or her chest, actually introducing yourself?

As for the tags themselves, when someone is wearing one, the natural tendency is to look at it, even if the person wearing it is somebody TB has known for years.

TigerBlog is great with numbers. He can remember scores from games played 20 or more years ago, not to mention details, a skill that has more than once frightened people he's worked with.

When it comes to faces, it's not as clear cut. Maybe it's because TB meets so many people from the same basic demographic, such as "alums" or "administrators from other schools" or "media" that it's not easy to quickly place who is who.

Take the media category, for instance.

TB meets all kinds of media people, from local newspaper reporters to online writers to radio and TV broadcasters. Often, intros are "hi, how's it going," and it becomes very difficult to remember everyone's name when they are all herded together in some big press box.

It was worse back when TB was the football and basketball contact and there were way more media people.

When Princeton would go to, say, the NCAA men's basketball tournament in the 1990s, there'd be a huge stream of people around. TigerBlog could probably get most of the names and most of the faces, but matching them together wasn't always easy.

Then there were the media people TB would see when he'd travel to another Ivy school.

In this category, he could get a higher grade on matching the name to the face, though these were people he'd see maybe two or three times a year.

One of those faces that TB could match a name to was Dave Solomon of the New Haven Register, who was killed over the weekend in a car accident on I-91 as he returned home from the first UConn football practice of the year.

If any area still has the link to the years when the daily newspaper still was a vibrant necessity for most people, it's Connecticut, where there are so many daily papers that TB could never really keep track. There is a huge media following for UConn, and it trickles down nicely to the other colleges in the state, including Yale.

In many ways, a paper like the Register takes TB back to his days the Trenton Times.

It took TB a few years to put Solomon's name to the face, but he figured it out long ago. Solomon wasn't someone that TB knew well or saw all the time, but TB did know him to be a professional, old-style sportswriter, someone who would cover games and write columns the way TB did.

He came across as a good guy. He also came across as someone who respected Princeton while clearly wanting Yale to win, though his actions or writings would never reflect that.

Solomon was 59 at the time of his death, which made him much younger than Bus Saidt and Harvey Yavener, two Trenton Times legends who were in their primes when TB first started there. Still, TB saw a lot of those two in Solomon and Solomon's writing.

In fact, when TB read one of the many stories about Solomon, he saw that one person called him "the star of the staff" and that Solomon's car had 210,000 miles on it. Both are very Yav- and Bus-like.

Solomon passed away driving on a stretch of highway that TB has been on a bunch of times. Any trip to and from Dartmouth went through there, as did most trips to Harvard.

At no point did TB ever think that it could all end so abruptly, and yet that's how it is. What does the future hold? There's no way to say, no way to know. Yav is still going strong in his 80s; Bus and now Dave Solomon passed away much younger.

One thing TB never realized about Solomon is that he wrote a Sunday column called "I was Thinking," which is one of TB's favorite kind of columns, a bunch of different topics with a thought or two about each.

His last version of the column ran in yesterday's paper, after he had already died. His wife Judy requested it.

Had TB known about it, he would have read it every Sunday.

Now, that opportunity is gone, sadly, destroyed in a deadly accident on a Connecticut highway.

It took the life of someone who was by all accounts a good family man, a serious sportswriter and a pretty good guy.

TigerBlog didn't know him all that well. Still, that didn't stop him from being saddened by the news.

No comments: