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Farewll to the B Team
July 3, 2013 - Michael Palmer
Our good friend Rich 'Hoot ' Gibson was a well known sports writer and his knowledge of sports was legendary. He may not have been as well known for his knowledge of music. He had a ticket stub collection from 40 years of attending concerts all over the world. An aficionado and a virtual encyclopedia of the music world from the early 1960s on, he was known in the office as 'The guru.'
On Friday nights after football games while we proofed pages and wrapped up the Saturday sports section, we would often try and stump him in a game of name that tune, I said try. From the top 40 to obscure, he never missed.
He also had some modern era favorites and recognized quality, which he most notably appreciated in local talent. This was apparent as local artist Joe Zelek came to his bedside Tuesday night while he was in the hospital clinging to life. I know Joe would not share this on his own, but to me this was huge and speaks volumes about both him and Hoot.
I had the privilege of spending many al ate night in the office with Rich and we often went on road trips to far flung tournament games together. I recall many occasions when we would visit the Forum restaurant in Cambridge where he would always order the Chicken Parmesan and an iced tea. He never failed to regale the table with tales of his many trips to concerts or sporting events or take some tea with him in his “To Go” cup.
Coaches began to notice we were often assigned together, he with the reporting and I with the photography. We became known as the 'B Team" and it was an honor to be associated with him professionally. He was well respected and revered throughout the sporting community.
Professional yes, but occasionally we were a bit tardy to sporting events when we dined together. He often told of a time when he and legendary TL Sports Editor Cal Pokas had some slow service on their way to a volleyball tournament game. As the story goes they arrived just as the last volley went over the net. Hoot never missed a beat, he calmly strode over to the coach and began the post game interview.
It was just a year ago he began to feel ill and I stayed late many a night while he was enduring Chermo to just sit and chat with him about life and of course music. We shared a love for the classics, enjoyed listening to old tunes and new artists with style. We also shared many a laugh. Hoot had a very sharp wit and never missed an opportunity to turn a phrase or get everyone laughing with his humor.
If there is a rock and roll heaven, I know Mr. Gibson is standing in the crowd with his lighter in the air cheering on the band.
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This photo of Hoot and Willie Nelson was taken by Reed Tychonski at Jamboree in the Hills after he interviewed the country music legend.