Chuck asked an interesting question concerning my last blog “Case of the phantom death” and I said I would tell him about a retraction I had to print while I was sports editor at the Kilgore News-Herald the next time I saw him. Well, I thought why not make it my next blog instead? I won’t have to wait until I see him again to relate my experiences. After all, I can laugh about it now. Maybe you can, too.
In 1973, I had to cover a game versus Big Sandy and Leverett’s Chapel, a pair of at the time Class B schools. Leverett’s Chapel was within our coverage area although Big Sandy wasn’t. Still, I did an advance of the game, covered it on a Thursday night and had the game story on Friday afternoon. The game was on a Thursday night, so the Big Sandy coaches could scout their next opponent on Friday night. Big Sandy was in the midst of winning three consecutive state championships and was a heavy favorite over Leverett’s Chapel. Big Sandy had David Overstreet, who later was recruited by Oklahoma . Overstreet returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and by halftime it was 35-0. The finale was something like 72-0. So, I interviewed the coach at Levertett’s Chapel, Dan Chadwick, afterwards and he said Big Sandy has a “helluva team.” I swear to this day that’s what he said. That game story came out Friday afternoon.
Well, come Monday morning my general manager J.P. Jones came over to my desk in the corner of the newsroom and said, and I can still hear it, “John, Dan Chadwick got up in church yesterday morning and said you had misquoted him. Did you?” I really didn’t know what to say. Mr. Jones said I should print a retraction in the next issue, Monday afternoon. Kilgore was a very small afternoon daily and didn’t have a Saturday issue. I called Coach Chadwick and asked him about the quote. To save face in church, or whatever, he said, “No, I didn’t curse and you should not have said I did.” Mr. Jones insisted I print a retraction. So, I did, with his quote that I was wrong and what he actually said was, “Big Sandy has a heck of a team …”
Coach Chadwick and I run into each other from time to time and we still have a little chuckle over it. Whether he or I was correct is neither hear nor there, but I knew what he had said and I couldn’t stay at the Kilgore News-Herald after that. I moved to the Longview New-Journal shortly thereafter, which, incidentally, reminds me of another blog idea which I will share with you in my next blog.