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Nowadays it's quite lonely in the office
October 7, 2013 - Michael Palmer
I am sitting here all alone in the office, not the first time, second shift covering sports tends to create some late nights. Tonight I am missing my friend Hoot Gibson, We would have been discussing the Pirates after he had driven back from PNC Park this afternoon.
Late night was our time in the office and over the last year our conversations had become more philosophical. I got to now Hoot better than most co-workers and there is a void when I look down the office for his desk.
He would man the phones in the office and gather the scores from local coaches calling them in to the paper. He had a real gift for making each coach feel like they were talking with a friend rather than just reporting a score. Naturally, he did know most of them from his decades of covering the OVAC and they seemed to feel right at home discussing sports, music or some random subject matter which our diverse Mr. Gibson would converse about with expertise.
This office is all there is left to remember him by, his OVAC Hall of Fame plaque and certificate adorn the wall outside his long-time friend Bubba Kapral's office. His spirit lives on in memories of coaches and players from local high schools that remember his collection of sports and music t-shirts that he wore to sporting events. As long as they remember he has a legacy anyone would be proud of.
I guess it seems harder for me to close that chapter because there were no calling hours or funeral services for all of us to say our goodbyes. I remember calling and asking if he wanted to go and listen to The Rust Belt Kings with me his final weekend in St. Clairsville. He declined saying he just did not feel up to the trip. Just a few days later he was gone.
I can hear him now, coming in from some stinker of a game he covered announcing in his ever up beat tone, “Well fans, that one set the sport back 20 years.” or “If you had the home team and 50 points …. you still lost!” Then the familiar laughter, there it is, I have isolated it, his laughter, that is the ingredient that has disappeared from the office. His infectious laughter.
I do wish I had a video of his speech at Beallsville when he spoke at the Rally for Life Assembly, that was a great speech. It truly was inspirational and spoke volumes about the man and his life.
“A short life and a merry one,” he would shout in his best British accent. Then he would go into his rendition of a song one of his favorite Brit bands.
I'm Henry, the VIII, I am Henry, the VIII, I am, I am I got married to the widow next door She's been married seven times before
And every one was an Henry (Henry) She wouldn't have a Willy or a Sam (Nor a Sam) I'm her VIII old man, I'm Henry Henry, the VIII, I am
Second verse same as the first
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