The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 1, 2014

A Don McCormack column: He’s retired, but he’s still got it

By DON McCORMACK - donmac@suite224.net
Sports Editor

— To people such as yours truly, who attempt to put words together in an interesting and/or entertaining manner, there’s not much better than a good story.

And when it comes to Chris Larick, they don’t come much better as a teller of stories.

For the past several weeks, we’ve all had the pleasure of reading his work on what has become an annual tradition on these pages — his series on the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame inductees.

This piggybacks his efforts in chronicling the tales of the guys inducted each year into the Ashtabula County Football Hall of Fame.

For a guy who is supposedly retired, that amounts to a heck of a lot of work!

For more than three decades, Chris was a sports writer, first, for the Geneva Free Press and then, of course, here at the Star Beacon.

He, along with the late Karl Pearson, covered me when I was a high school basketball player. I remember us always being able to gauge how big or important our game was that night, based on which sports writer was covering it.

If then-sports editor Darrell Lowe, Karl or Chris was on assignment in a game in which we were involved, we knew it was an important contest.

I distinctly recall a game Chris covered my senior year against then-Grand River Conference rival Perry in the old Falcon Gym.

In his game story the next day, he wrote, “Despite the lopsided score in favor of the Falcons, it was an extremely physical game, one which saw Jefferson’s Don McCormack and Perry’s Rick Flack almost come to blows.”

My buddies got quite a kick out of that sentence, for some reason.

What a thrill it was for me, six years after playing my final basketball game, to join Karl, by then the sports editor, here, Chris and Darrell, who was managing editor, by that point, on the sports staff of this newspaper, Nov. 9, 1986, to be exact.

When I was named sports editor in February 1998, one of my first acts was to get Chris moved from part-time status (as in anything less than 40 hours) to full-time.

An English teacher at Chardon for his “real job,” Chris was a true wordsmith. He would spend hour upon hour attempting to educate me (I never went to college) and answer all my silly questions about sentence structure, word usage and the dreaded “who or whom” dilemma.

For more than 21 years, Chris — a mamber of the ACBF Hall of Fame, himself — and I sat directly across from each other, which probably accounts for him having to wear glasses or contacts.

He retired as a staff member here in 2007, but thankfully, he has continued to make contributions to these pages.

With Karl’s stunning death on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, Chris began to contribute even more than he had previous, taking over the stories that comprised both Hall of Fame series we’ve done for years.

When Karl died, a small part of all of us who worked with him died, too. I’ve never asked him, but I believe Chris recognized, me having been the person to find Karl and having also found my mom on Sept. 28, 1998, that I needed him more than ever.

He was — and remains — correct.

And when I read his words wrapped around the goosebump-enducing quotes from Nadine Cox in a story that appears elsewhere on this page today, I’m reminded just how special his talents were... and are.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.