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BY TOM MITSOFF
My father was a tough, dedicated community newspaper editor and publisher who loved his work. It meant more to him than anything other than his family. It was his passion.
By his early 70s, right around the time of the new Millennium, he had stepped back from that job at the newspaper into a less time- and labor-intensive role as a page compositor. But he still loved coming in to work every day and helping to put a newspaper together. He was in his element-the element that he loved.
However, health problems and age were beginning to rob him of his skills. He was losing dexterity and was unable to move a computer mouse precisely enough to design pages the way he wanted them. His eyesight was also failing, making it more and more difficult to see the computer screen.
By this time, a corporation had bought the family newspaper. I was now working for the corporation as editor of the paper, and therefore, was my father's supervisor. As time passed, the quality of my father's work noticeably diminished, but I knew how much being a part of the daily newspaper operation meant to him. So I spent extra time fixing his mistakes so it wouldn't be noticeable to readers or newsroom co-workers.
But the time came when I realized that if I was out of the office or on vacation, there would be no way to hide my father's declining skills, and the proud former community newspaper publisher could face the ignominy of having a corporate manager tell him that he could no longer work for the newspaper that he had started in the early 1960s.
So finally, I had the unenviable and heartbreaking task of telling my father that it was time to retire, knowing that in doing so I was taking away his true passion.
My stubborn and dedicated father, God rest his soul, never believed he should retire. His passion for his work blinded him to the reality of the situation.
The Local Pastime
I am led to believe by people who know Joe Nuxhall that he has a burning passion for his work and for the Cincinnati Reds. Hearing the thrill in his voice when calling a game-winning hit on Reds radio only confirms that belief. If there is a Mr. Cincinnati Reds, other than perhaps Pete Rose, it's Nuxhall, who has spent 60 years with the organization as a player and a radio announcer.
I'm also told he is a stubborn and proud man, which he has every right to be. He's someone whose professional life has been devoted to the Cincinnati Reds. It is no surprise that he was deeply hurt when someone in the Reds organization told him that it is time to retire.
It's fair to say that I was raised in part by Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall. As a young man, I went eight years without missing a single Reds game in person, on television, but mostly on the radio. I bleed Cincinnati Red, just like Marty and Joe. And as a former student of radio broadcasting, I appreciate the unique talents that both men bring to their calls of the games.
After 30 years of listening to Joe Nuxhall, it became painfully apparent in the past couple of years that he has seriously struggled at times. There have been times that he forgets the name of the person he is interviewing. This year, there has been more than one occasion when Joe has been unable to come up with a name or the proper words to call a play and you can hear him express disgust with himself. But proud people recover and keep doing their jobs.
It is too harsh for the Reds management to ask Joe to completely step out of the booth. This year's arrangement of Joe calling about half of the games seems to have worked well. Some of his best calls in recent years have been this season, perhaps because at age 76 he no longer has to make all of the grueling road trips. By cutting back his work load, the Reds have done him a favor, whether he and the fans realize it or not.
Someone in the Reds organization, whose identity has not been made public, had the heartbreaking task of deciding that the time had arrived. And despite the protests of Joe and most of the fans, that person was right. Hopefully, further details will stay within the Reds family, where they belong.
This column was published August 8, 2004, in The Sunday Challenger, serving Northern Kentucky.
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