Q&A with 40-year South Hills Record sports reporter Ray Fisher

Friday, October 4, 2019 | 6:53 PM

The 2018-19 school year marked my 40th year covering high school sports at the South Hills Record.

Where did the time go?

Over the years, I’ve done my fair share of Q&A interviews with local sports figures, ranging from grandparents, parents, children (student-athletes) and now grandchildren. Recently, it was suggested it may be interesting to conduct my own Q&A.

So, as a “tribute” to my four decades at the paper, here it is:

What are some of your fondest memories working at the South Hills Record?

Friday Night Lights; covering championship seasons; developing long-lasting relationships with coaches and athletes; using an electric typewriter; driving to the office; working with the numerous staff members at the paper.

Plus, the many, many telephone interviews — sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night.

What have you enjoyed the most?

Learning how to use a computer. Without that, there would be no Fisher’s Files, etc. I was taught the intricacies of operating a computer by production staff members on many Wednesday late nights.

Also, working most recently with correspondents Brian Knavish and Jennifer Goga. I may be biased, but I believe we made a great team.

And establishing relationships with past and present athletic directors, athletic secretaries and the many statisticians.

What were some of the challenging aspects?

Snow and cold weather; and the many, many telephone interviews — sometimes early in the morning, sometimes late at night.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

While covering the Bishop Boyle basketball team in the late 1970s, I dubbed the Lancers with the nickname “Iron Five” because coach Fran Mannion rarely substituted. Bishop Boyle was known as the Iron Five at the state playoffs.

Covering all seven WPIAL and three PIAA championship football teams at TJ. Yes, I did cover the first WPIAL championship football team at TJ in 1980. Bap Manzini was coach.

Being on the sideline and covering the Super Bowl in 1979. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 35-31, and carried coach Chuck Noll off the field on their shoulders after the victory.

Covering the Pittsburgh Pirates “We Are Family” team in 1979.

With help from Scott Breisinger and Dave Alderson, putting together the TJ “Finest Fifty at 50” football feature a few years ago.

Never missing a deadline.

Do you have an athletic background?

I played basketball at West Mifflin South High School and for two years at Penn State McKeesport. I was listed as a 6-foot-2 guard, tall for a backcourt player in those days. One of the teams in our section was Braddock, led by Billy Knight. We played a few games at the Civic Arena. In college, we played preliminary games before some ABA contests.

Growing up, my favorite sport was baseball. We played just about every sport in our neighborhood, including handball and boxball.

Who have been some of the influences in your journalistic career?

Many years ago, I had a brief chat with Myron Cope while at an airport, which proved interesting. Two others were Tom Donahue, back when he was football coach at Seton LaSalle, and Dave Warner, former girls basketball coach at Brentwood.

Also, covering the Baldwin football program under the direction of coach Don Yannessa was riveting, as was writing about all the great softball and girls volleyball and softball teams coached by Paul Hindes, the all-time winningest coach at Baldwin.

More recently, it’s been the positive outlook of coach Bill Cherpak, the all-time winningest football coach at TJ.

My first sports editing job was in the late 1970s with the Homestead Daily Messenger, which covered the Steel Valley area. I succeeded Dennis Fuga, who helped launch my writing career.

Since I’ve been married, it’s been my darling wife, Shirley (she’s quite the proof-reader).

I’m sure there are others, I just can’t remember all of them. Sorry!

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