Final reflections of a Nevada sports writer
By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
Change is always a time of excitement and sadness, so it is with mixed feelings that I write this, my final regular column as a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal.
I am moving on to a new position as sports editor for The Union in Grass Valley, another member of the Swift Newspapers family that serves a community about 100 miles across the Sierra in California’s foothill country. I am excited about having the opportunity to work in a community where sports and recreation are a big deal – particularly the three high schools in that area (Nevada Union, Bear River and Forest Lake Christian).
At the same time, I am sad to be leaving after some 10 years in Carson City and 25 years as a sports writer in Nevada overall at the Appeal and The Record-Courier in Gardnerville. Throw in the eight years I spent at the Tahoe Daily Tribune – and the years I went to school in South Lake Tahoe – you can see I have been involved with sports in these parts for the better part of my lifetime.
Yet, it doesn’t seem so long.
I vividly remember the first high school basketball games I watched in Nevada. It was the 1969 Stewart Letterman’s Tournament. I remember walking into the old Stewart Indian School gym, seeing the old boiler room located adjacent to the locker rooms, as well as the balcony that stretched three-quarters of the way around the old court.
I remember the first game I watched that night involved Pershing County losing to a Virginia City squad that was coached by Tom Andreasen, who coached state championship teams for the Muckers and also at Carson High in 1975. That V.C. team featured an all-sophomore backcourt of Bob Gallagher and Bob Rudnick, a duo known as the Gold Dust Twins. I also remember the second game that night. Stewart beat a South Tahoe team that included junior forward Ric Garcia – now the head coach of Carson High’s girls basketball program (he also coached Dayton’s boys to a state tournament appearance).
Baseball? There’s no way I can forget the experience of spending summer days and nights watching coach Ron McNutt and the Carson Capitols, a program that produced a list of major league players, Matt Williams among others. It’s a list that continues to grow, the most recent additions being Darrell Rasner and Dusty Bergman, who spent short stints with the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels.
Another experience that brought back some old memories was watching the races at Champion Speedway – aka Silver State Raceway and Tahoe-Carson Speedway – which closed in September after a 42-year run in Carson City. It was fun covering the final season of racing and sharing all the memories with the many drivers, some of whom were second and even third generation drivers at the old track.
All of this merely scratches the surface of my memories, and unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough time or space in this newspaper to tell all those stories or mention all of the people I’d like.
I would like to mention one last news item that is a little overdue … Rex Patterson, 59, of Indian Hills shot his first hole-in-one on Oct. 17 at Genoa Resorts, using a 5-wood from the gold tee on the 210-yard 11th hole to highlight a round in which he shot 1-under par 71. Rex also won the Genoa Lakes Men’s Club championship, so it was a good year.
I would like to mention one more story I still have never had the chance to write … Babe Jensen, a long-time Carson City resident and former South Lake Tahoe coach, who has so many great baseball stories to tell about the days in the 1940s when he played minor league ball in the New York Yankees organization (his brother, Bob Jensen, was a pitcher who set a Western International League record with 295 strikeouts in one season).
Finally, I would like to point out a fitting parallel to the final sporting event I covered during my run as a Nevada sports writer … the Sierra Nevada Classic wrestling tournament in Reno last week, where I had a chance to see two local kids win individual championships – Kyle Banko became the first Carson wrestler to achieve the feat since 1986 and Shane Miller became the first for Douglas since 1981. The fitting parallel is that Miller is now coached by Lamont McCann. And on Oct. 3, 1980, McCann rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore running back to help the Douglas Tigers beat Hug 34-22 for the first Northern 3A (now 4A) football victory in school history … the first event I ever covered as a Nevada sports writer for The Record-Courier.
This really is a small world, isn’t it?
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.