Larry Larson: Professional human being
I don’t get very serious on here very often, mostly because sports are supposed to be an escape from all the serious stuff we run up against every day. But, fresh off a delicious breakfast with my parents, I feel like I’m in the proper mindset and felt compelled to write because this is important.
We value people who are great athletes or musicians or accountants or whatever. But way more important than any of those things (and sometimes the toughest thing to be) is being a great human being. Larry Larson is that, times about a million. He’s maybe the best person I’ve ever met.
Here’s a story for you: It was November 2005. I worked part-time at WTVN radio in Columbus, Ohio. I worked the midnight-5 a.m. shift anchoring newscasts on weekends.
So here I was at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning, running on fumes because, well, I was a 21-year-old college student, it was 5 a.m. and I hadn’t napped properly the night before. It happened to be the day of the Ohio State-Michigan game. Ohio State was good, Michigan was (believe it or not) still good, relatively speaking. It was “The Game.” But, hey… I was still tired. And ready to go home. As I was sleepwalking around the station getting ready for my last newscast of the shift, this goofy old guy named Larry Larson came rolling into the newsroom like a tornado wearing Chuck Taylors, no socks, cargo shorts and a T-shirt from 1975. He was wired and ready to go for his morning sportscasts. We were already homeboys by that point, but I still got a kick out of him like everyone else did. The girl who was coming in to relieve me saw Larry and asked him, “Hey, Larry! Are you excited for today or what?” Then something happened that I’ll never forget:
Larry Larson raised his arms as if he was an Olympic champion, did some sort of leg shimmy (which drives the women in Columbus crazy) and said, “Shannon, when you’re 61 years old like I am, you’re excited about every damn day there is.”
That’s Larry: He’s enthusiastic, he loves sports, but more important than that, he loves people. He’s a retired a high-school teacher and football coach, a former marathoner and now he’s a retired radio broadcaster. He’s leaving Columbus and moving to California where a lot of his family now lives. He misses his wife/best friend, who passed away a few years back, and from the conversations we had within the last year, he just wanted to go somewhere new. He’s earned every bit of it. In addition to his teaching, coaching and radio careers, he toured Central Ohio with some of the best athletes in the area, speaking to kids about the value of character and hard work. If you were ever lucky enough to come into contact with him, you probably came away energized by how positive he is.
The moral of this story is this: We all love sports (sometimes to a fault) and we all get too caught up in career/politics/whatever else bogs us down, but the most important thing is the people around us, our family and friends. Larry gets that and makes everybody feel valuable. If everyone (myself included) could become half the human being Larry Larson is, we’ll be doing pretty well.
Columbus will be a poorer place for losing him. California, you’ve been warned: Get ready for bow ties, Chuck Taylors and the most energetic senior citizen you’ve ever seen.
And that’s my ode to Larry Larson, one of the best people I’ve ever met.
- Aside from the cold, wind and rain, it was a pretty good night on the field for the TinCaps. RHP Keyvius Sampson looked good. Rarely needed anything other than his fastball as he struck out ten over six perfect innings. I had him down for 87 pitches, which is over his limit, but they were not high-stress pitches. OF Donavan Tate’s base hit was a liner over the second baseman’s head, which is a good sign.
- Troy Tulowitzki has Beiber fever. He’s on fire since switching his walk-up music from Katy Perry to “Baby.”
- Tony LaRussa heard enough from St. Louis reporters with the Cardinals struggling out of the gate. So he walked out on a news conference.
- An Orioles prospect may not be in the minors for long.
- Giants closer Brian Wilson now has a Noah-esque staff to go with his flowing beard. You know, just in case he needs to part the Red Sea.
- One notable non-Buzzcut on the Wisconsin basketball team is now a buzzcut. And there’s video to prove it.
I’m a little short today because, well… It’s the season.
Musical guest… A Larry Larson favorite, Warren Zevon!