George Guido: After 50 years, wishing a fond farewell

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Saturday, January 7, 2023 | 12:59 PM


Well, my dear readers, it’s time to say goodbye.

After 34 years with the Valley News Dispatch/Tribune-Review, tack on 16 more with the former Westmoreland Cable 3 and WKPA Radio, I’ve done what I love to do for a half-century.

I could go on for another 50 thanking all the people who have helped me and enriched my life.

I started out working with broadcast legends Bob Tatrn and Joe Falsetti and began looking for something else when I was covering the same game one night with Valley News Dispatch Sports Editor Rick Starr.

It turned out to be the shortest job interview of all time. I told Starr that I heard he was looking for someone to cover local games and do columns. He asked if I had anybody in mind. I told him “me,” and he said how soon can you start?

When Kevin Smith took over after Starr was moved to the Steelers beat, Kevin told me to do columns as if I’m speaking directly to the reader. It worked. People would come up to me and speak to me as if they had known me for years.

And for the last decade-plus, the sports department has been run by editor Bill Hartlep, whose organizational skills are simply off the charts.

It was his idea to list the top games I’ve covered these past 34 years, so here goes:

1. Nov. 12, 1994, the “Miracle at the Park.” Top-seeded Riverview trailed No. 8 Jefferson-Morgan the entire game and needed just to run out the clock at the Riverview 8. Instead, the Raiders recovered a fumble and scored on a 94-yard pass from Jeff Cappa to Ben Erdeljac to tie the game, then win it on overtime. What sticks with me is the people leaving early, then discovering Riverview tied the game and getting back into Riverside Park, forming a glob of humanity at the gate.

2. Feb. 26, 2004, the Lance Jeter Game. Beaver Falls was playing Aliquippa for the Class 2A basketball crown. Beaver Falls guard Lance Jeter fired in a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. Aliquippa looked like it had it wrapped up in the third overtime, but Jeter’s 45-footer at the buzzer gave the Tigers a 79-78 victory at then-A.J. Palumbo Center.

The tightly contested game was tied 15 times, and there were 14 lead changes.

3. Jan. 29, 1993, Valley’s Tom Pipkins sets the all-time WPIAL record for boys basketball scoring. As usual, Pipkins did it with a flourish, a memorable slam-dunk. Now it appears Aquinas Academy’s Vinnie Cugini is on track to break Pipkins’ mark of 2,838 points within the month. What stands out 30 years later is all the out-of-state license plates that dotted the Valley High School parking lot that night.

4. Nov. 14, 2003, Springdale ends Rochester’s Class A football reign with a scintillating, triple-overtime win at Golden Rams Stadium. The Rams took a 23-17 lead in the third overtime. After a missed PAT, the Dynamos came back with a 1-yard sneak by Jon Molnar, the extra point by Andrew Bosman and a 24-23 semifinal win, preceding Springdale’s WPIAL title victory over Sto-Rox the following week.

5. June 3, 2010, Valley defeats Burrell, 5-4, in 12 innings for the WPIAL Class 2A softball title. Although the schools are just three miles apart, fans traveled 65 miles to pack Cal (Pa.)’s Lilley Field to watch a classic. It was 1-1 in regulation. Burrell scored twice in the top of the ninth, but Valley tied it to make it 3-3. The Bucs again scored in the top of the 12th to take a 4-3 lead, but the Vikings tied it and won it all on Maureen Pallone’s single.

I should have kept track of the number of games I’ve covered. I did keep track of the venues — 126 different high school football stadiums and 108 different gyms.

Figuring an average of 25 football games over 50 years equals 1,250 games; an average of 40 basketball games equals 2,000. Combine that with about 30 times a year for baseball, softball, soccer, wrestling and volleyball — that’s another 1,500.

High school columns and dateline columns equal about 2,200 more.

Starting in 2007, the news department sent me out to about 10 municipal and school board meetings per month, so that’s about 1,800 more.

That’s at least 8,750 bylines. I need a nap.

Trib Managing Editor Rob Amen figured I’ve totaled enough miles strictly on newspaper assignments to go around the world at least once. Take that, Nellie Bly.

I want to sincerely thank all my editors, newsroom colleagues, athletic directors, principals, coaches, the thousands of athletes and don’t forget the various night-time custodians at local schools that gave me off-the-record info on what’s going on at their schools.

But most of all, my readers. About 20 years ago, there was an elderly lady in the Mt. Vernon section of New Kensington whose husband was a major high school sports fan. As his health worsened and he eventually became blind, he insisted she read my weekly column to him.

It really meant so much how important things are to people.

Now I can go to games, sit in the stands and not worry about deadlines and whether Mr. Wi-Fi is acting up.

But first, a fond farewell and that nap.

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