A couple of weeks ago a good friend told me I needed a new photo to run with my Fielder’s Choice column.
“It doesn’t even look like you,” he said.
“But I look so young” was my reply.
I’m not sure how long I had used the photo of myself that had been running on this page for many years.
I think a former newspaper colleague of mine may have taken that prior to my move to Laurel in 1999. That was 20 years ago. My hair was dark then.
Last week, I received a copy of my hometown newspaper, The Journal-Record, in the mail. My good friend, editor Les Walters, ran my column about the recent 40-year reunion of the 1978-99 high school basketball team.
With it, he included the photo above.
I sent him a text and asked, “Where did you get that?”
He said he had taken it the afternoon before the reunion while I was sitting in his office talking to him. I did not even know he had snapped the picture.
I asked him to e-mail it to me. I decided, with my wife’s approval, to use it for now with my column, until someone takes another one, or quite possibly for the next 20 years.
That same good friend, who wanted me to update my photo, asked, “Where did you come up with the name for your column?”
Here’s the short version.
I moved to Fulton in 1986 to become sports editor of The Itawamba County Times, “The Only Newspaper In The World That Cares Anything About Itawamba County.”
Rubye Del Harden, owner and publisher, told me I had to start writing a weekly sports column. She also said I needed to come up with a name for my column. Nothing struck my mind immediately. I wanted something different.
I wanted a baseball term. I was a lot better fielder than hitter during my playing days.
That’s when I suddenly thought, “Fielder’s Choice.” I worked hard to be a good “fielder” on the diamond, and it would be my “choice” as far as what I would write about each week.
For those of you who do not have much knowledge of baseball terms, Fielder’s Choice, as defined by Wikipedia, is “the act of a fielder who handles a fair grounder and, instead of throwing to first base to put out the batter-runner, throws to another base in an attempt to put out a preceding runner.”
A few years later, at The Itawamba County Times, Rubye Del promoted me to managing editor of the newspaper. And she still wanted me to write a weekly column, but not always about sports.
“Do I have to change the name of my column?” I asked.
She thought about it and almost said yes. But I talked her out of it.
And from that point on – The Itawamba County Times to The Aberdeen Examiner to the Laurel Leader-Call to The South Reporter, I carried “Fielder’s Choice” with me.
Writing a column each week is one of my toughest tasks – as you can tell by what I’m writing about this week.
I know I’ve repeated some things the past 33 years. But maybe I’ve refined the writing and made it better.
I’ve written more than 900 columns since I moved to Holly Springs – never missed a week. And I’ve aged, too.