The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 10, 2014

A Don McCormack column: A couple long-distance dedications

Sports Editor

Paying another visit to the variety store...

Philling it up

The centerpiece of Monday’s sports section that featured longtime basketball and football official Phil Garcia prompted a couple of nice messages from Loyal Readers.

They were moved to send some thoughts after reading about Garcia, whose “real” job is owning and operating his own business, Phil’s Catering.

Joe Miller, who served as the second sports editor in Star Beacon history, wrote from his home in Hilton, N.Y.

“As a former sports editor of the Star Beacon, my years as a teacher at Ashtabula High School (1959-64) and having been born and raised in Ashtabula, I manage to click on the Star Beacon online and just read articles about the ‘old home town,’” he said. “I just finished reading your fine article on Phil Garcia and as I read it, I wondered if Phil was related to my former good friend, Andy Garcia of Conneaut High School fame and his wonderful wife, Rose.

“When I came across the references to them, I was even more pleased with your article.”

Miller remembered a pair of Conneaut legends.

 “Andy and his fellow coaching great, Elmer Peaspanen, were two of my favorite ‘greats’ because at that time I worked on the Conneaut News-Herald,” he said. “They both made me a better sports writer.

 “Thank you for the memories!”

The other letter that showed up in my inbox came from Bill Fails, the retired Conneaut athletic director, now spending the winter in Clearwater Beach, with his wife, Linda.

“Great article about Phil Garcia,” Fails wrote. “He really helped me out, many times, back in the day!”

Fails appreciates Garcia’s 41 years as a basketball official.

“He’s been a tireless worker for years,” he said. “He was due some credit.”

He mentioned the recent cold spell we survived here hit the Sunshine State, as well.

“(It was) cold here, too... (in the) 30’s for two nights,” he said. “But, it will be 75 to 80 this weekend.”

At the helm

Back to Miller, who had had titanic shoes to fill during his tenure as sports editor of the Star Beacon.

He took over for Milton Alfred, a member of the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame, who was the first Star Beacon sports editor, tipping off his tenure and serving in his role for 25 years before resigning in 1946.

Miller was named the second sports editor in this newspaper’s history n June 1948 and held the position until Sept. 10, 1949, when he resigned and was position was next filled by Bill “Slants” Reynard.

Alfred’s 25-year run as sports editor here is the longest in this newspaper’s history.

The second-longest tenure belongs to the current hack at the helm, whose been in charge for 16 years, now.

Radio waves

The Lakeside Dragons will be on center stage the next two nights on ESPN 970 WFUN.

The games played this weekend by coach Jim Hood’s Dragons will be carried by the station, according to station Man About Town, David Hatfield.

He and his tag-team partner, Brad Ellis, will call the Dragons’ Premier Athletic Conference clash against North — coached by Ashtabula’s own Joe Montanaro — tonight from Lakeside Gymnasium, then return their Saturday night when first-year coach Steve French’s Jefferson Falcons come calling.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at