We used to hang around together on the road – Stanley Cups in Montreal and the Garden, that Italian restaurant in Nagano, the shot-put in Ancient Olympia, and insane nights at Fenway and Yankee Stadium and the Kingdome.
I could be deep in thought in the press box, composing my early-edition column, when a voice would screech right behind my head: “Pop!!!” Everybody in the press box would stop what they were doing.
If we were in Boston, she would deposit a roll of Necco Wafers on my desk. She always had a stash.
My daughter Laura Vecsey was a sports columnist in Albany and Seattle and Baltimore for more than a decade. I marvelled at her big-sister insight into Junior and Alex and Pedro. One day Jim Palmer, on the air, praised her throwing arm.
Life on the road was never the same on the road after she became a political columnist in Harrisburg, Pa., keeping an eye on chicanery and obtuseness in the real world.
After she got out of the newspaper business, I realized what a good job she had been doing when I met former Gov. Ed Rendell on a live television show. His first words were, “I miss your daughter.” I bet he does.
Last month the editors at the Harrisburg Patriot-News asked her to write a personal tribute to Title IX, to go along with their impressive package on the 1972 legislation.
Laura wrote a lovely memory about being a 10-year-old who wanted to play ball, but the only way was with the local Police Athletic League boys’ hardball team.
Her entire essay can be accessed via this link:
Laura then told how competition for women got better mostly because of Title IX. My big thrill was when my daughter made the basketball varsity as a sophomore. I was playing on Monday nights in adult recreation up at the high school, and the scoreboard contained the roster of the girls’ varsity. How cool was that, to see the family name up there.
In her essay, Laura recalls her responsibility, as the point guard, to set up the star of the team, Debbie Beckford. And if the team got off message, Mr. Beckford, in his lilting Caribbean accent, would shout: “Get the ball to Debbie!” Quite right, too. Debbie became as a Big East star for St. John’s and is now a success in business.
The lives and working careers of women have been enriched by varsity sports in the age of Title IX – including my colleague who supplied me with Necco Wafers and screeched “Pop!!!”
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.