I imagine it’s normal to look back to the beginning when you reach the end of something you enjoy so much.
That’s where I am today. I’ve written my final words as an employee of The Herald, where I’ve worked 27-plus years, including the past 13 years covering the Seattle Mariners.
I’m leaving for reasons both personal and professional. There’s family to spend more time with, fish to catch, golf balls to hit straight.
I’m blessed to have worked for The Herald, a company that made me realize the moment I walked in the door in 1984 how much it cares about its people and good journalism. And I’m privileged to have covered the Mariners, an organization comprised of good people and, for the sake of them and all their fans, hopefully better results in the future.
I can’t emphasize how much I appreciate those of you who followed this blog over the years. It grew from an experiment several years ago (before anyone else on this beat had a blog) to one of The Herald’s most-read online elements. Thanks so much for reading and responding.
And thanks to those from other baseball-relate sites who included my writing alongside Larry LaRue, Larry Stone, Greg Johns, Geoff Baker, John Hickey, Shannon Drayer, Mike Curto and others in their online discussions of the Mariners. Whether it was MarinerCentral.com, USSMariner.com, LookoutLanding.com, ProBallNW.com, ProspectInsider.com or others, you all treaded me well and taught me the value of advanced statistical analysis.
I don’t know what I’ll do next. I’d like to stay connected with baseball in some way, and I joked with one of the Mariners’ minor league instructors that I’d be happy just to roll out L screens if it meant staying in touch with the game.
For now, though, I can only reflect on how it started.
Fifty-some years ago, I sat in the upper deck at old Busch Stadium in St. Louis idolizing Stan Musial and dreaming of playing for the Cardinals. There’s nothing I wanted more than to play major league baseball and no uniform I wanted to wear but the Cardinals’.
I also remember looking up at the roof of the stadium behind home plate and seeing a booth full of men. I asked my dad what those guys were doing up there.
“That’s the press box,” Dad said. “Those are the people who write the stories about the Cardinals for the newspapers.”
“So,” I said, “those guys work here? At the ballpark?”
“Yes,” Dad said.
“And they get to see all of the games?”
“Every game,” Dad said.
I held onto that image — those lucky writers in the press box, getting to see the Cardinals every day — as I continued to pursue my dream of playing baseball. I knew that if playing baseball didn’t work out, then I wanted a job that allowed me to work at the ballpark every day.
I played until my sophomore year at Southwest Missouri State University, when I realized that if a soft-tossing left-hander couldn’t make it on the jayvee team, chances were pretty good he’d better shift to Plan B on the career path.
Luckily, I’d already been working a few years at my hometown newspaper, The Rolla Daily News in Missouri, writing youth sports stories and feeling absolutely wealthy with minimum wage.
“Here’s the deal,” my first managing editor said. “I’m paying you a dollar-and-a-quarter an hour, and only for the time you’re actually writing. And I’m not paying you for the time you’re at a game enjoying yourself.”
That was 42 years ago. Since then, I’ve worked as an editor and writer for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri and, since 1984, The Herald in Everett. I could have made more money and worked much better hours doing something else. But I couldn’t have enjoyed it more, especially the past 13 years covering the Mariners.
It’s time, however, to shut it down. This blog will go dark, although I’ll probably keep tossing out thoughts and re-tweets on Twitter (@kirbyarnold)
Thanks to all of you for reading my work in The Herald and following this blog. I’ve truly been blessed, and I wish you all the best in health and happiness.