FOX Sports Ohio to teach an old dog new tricks

By Hal McCoy
FOX Sports Ohio
March 1, 2010

The saying is that one canít teach an old dog new tricks, but in this case it may be a matter of Fox Sports Ohio teaching an old fox new tricks.

After 37 years of covering the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Daily News, this olí fox is hitching up with Fox Sports Ohio to do some things Iíve never done before, some interactive/internet work with the fans, some television work, some column-writing for the web-site Ė whatever they can find for me to do.

And Iím looking forward to it and Iím excited about it, a gigantic step for an old guy who started in this business with a typewriter, a pencil, a notebook and passionate love affair with baseball.

It has evolved to the internet and Iíll continue that, doing three columns a week for the new Fox Sports Ohio web-site.

It begins March 2 when I report, a little later than the pitchers and catchers, for spring training in Goodyear, Ariz., a three-week stop that coincides with the start of exhibition games.

And how apropos is it that I start a new part of my professional life at a new venue, the new spring training complex in Goodyear.

It all began in 1973 at old Al Lopez Field in Tampa, Fla., the long-time spring home of the Reds, an old ball park with a tin roof that clattered like hail stones on a cheap carís roof when foul balls clanked off it.

We sat in a dusty press box at a wooden table fraught with inch-long splinters and typed our stories on portable typewriters.

A Western Union operator with a teletype machine sat in the press box to wire our stories back to the paper. If you were close to deadline, it migh help to slip the operator a ten-spot so he or she would send your story first.

Then we were equipped with cumbersome word processors, starting with something called a Porta-Bubble. The problem with a Porta-
Bubble was that if your electrical cord was accidentally kicked out, you lost your entire story and had to retype it.

More than once a writer was working on his last paragraph when his cord was kicked out and sometimes the kicker was an opposing writer and, well, maybe it wasnít an accident.

Then there was the Radio Shack and the Texas Instrument. The Shack had rubber ears to fit around a telephoneís receiver to transmit your story, but it was so ssensitive to noise that you had to tightly squeeze the rubber cups tight around the telephone with both hands or it would cut out and you would have to re-send and re-send and re-send.

And even that didnít work at times and it often took four or five times before you successfully sent your story, with appropriate epithets.

The Texas Instrument had no screen and worked like a typewriter. You typed your story on paper, then hooked a phone to the machine and hit a couple of buttons. Your story printed on the paper as you sent it and you prayed the paper didnít jam. It always did.

Earl Lawson of the old Cincinnati Post & Times-Star, my mentor in the early 70ís, had one of those electronic monsters. He was having difficulty sending from his hotel room in St. Louis one night and finally called me, of all persons, for help. I walked into his room to a disaster scene Ė curtains torn away from the windows, chairs turned upside down, bed torn up. He had quite the temper.

Later, he was involved in an accident while riding in a taxi and his machine, sitting on the front seat without a belt, hit the floor and was destroyed.

Lawson called his office and without preamble said, ďThe monster is dead.Ē

Then came laptop computers and the internet, making the job so easy, except when the laptop blows or the internet goes down.

Now Iím getting into unfamiliar territory with interactive stuff and TV stuff. Being pretty much an internet idiot, Iíll need a lot of help with this interactive stuff, but Fox promises me plenty of help. Iíll need it.

But I am so looking forward to this new opportunity, a chance for me to continue seeing baseball, feeling baseball and writing baseball.

It has been my life and my passion for my entire life and Iím not ready for the retirement Barca-Lounger. Somebody once asked me when I would retire and I said, ďWhen my head hits the laptop.Ē

Hopefully, FOX will furnish me with a cushioned computer.

-- Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy covered the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Daily News for 37 years.


Hal McCoy will be in Goodyear, Arizona covering the Reds for from March 2-23. Below is a list of what to expect during his time at spring training:

ē Daily columns and notebooks surrounding the team.

ē 2 video updates (one in the morning, one in the evening).

ē Player and coach video interviews.

ē One interactive chat with Hal from Goodyear per week where fans can submit question to be answered in real time. (Check back this week for an updated chat schedule).

ē In-game chats from every Reds Cactus League game.

ē Watch Hal on FOX Sports Ohio's telecast against the Indians on March 5 at 3:05 pm ET. Hal will join the broadcast team during the contest.

ē Plus much, much more!