May No Acquaintance Be Forgot.
By Tom Danehy
DUE TO MY unabashed arrogance and more than a small dose of stupidity, there aren't many people in this business (or any other, for that matter) whom I look up to. I respect a lot of people as equals, but rarely have I met anyone that I wanted to be like.
At one time in my life, I wanted to be like Dave Adam. He was the first person who ever showed me that someone could write about sports with style, flair, humor, and most of all, integrity. He was also one of the nicest people I've ever met.
I stumbled into sports writing (don't say it) back when I was playing ball at Cochise College. I did things backwards, getting a job as sports editor of a daily paper (the Douglas Daily Dispatch) and then deciding that might be something I'd like to do for a living.
After I left Cochise, I went to the UA, where I was sports editor of the campus paper, The Daily Wildcat. Since I was a walk-on on the football team, I decided to cover Fred Snowden's basketball team as my beat.
Dave Adam was covering the basketball team for The Arizona Daily Star and he and I hit it off immediately. He had a smooth, easygoing sense of humor and a great way of getting along with everybody.
He brought character and dedication to his work. He wasn't afraid of a story, but neither was he going to make one up. It was on the latter point that he and I (as well as he and most everybody else) diverged.
He was knowledgeable about sports and never turned in a perfunctory performance. He got all the facts, organized them in 10 seconds, then reported them in an enjoyable, informative manner. What impressed me the most was the cool manner with which he went about his business. He never seemed hurried, never got excited. Of all the beat reporters, he was always the first to finish, and his work was still the best.
He was like the Remington Steele of sports beat writers.
Dave took me under his wing on the road trips through the old Western Athletic Conference and then the following year in the new Pac-10. He knew all the ins and outs and made the trips fun and, if not profitable, at least they weren't a financial drain.
I had a per diem meal allowance of $15, but since the team generally ate in restaurants where dinner alone cost that much, I had to make some changes. Dave convinced me to skip dinner or just have a salad and then pig out in the hospitality room that superfan George Kalil would set up in the hotel after the game. The only thing that tastes better than fried chicken is free fried chicken.
On the first road swing, we went through Ft. Collins, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. (And to think that the UA gave that up for the likes of L.A. and the Bay Area.)
Dave knew that I could play a little ball and that I was in decent shape (as was he), so he set up an afternoon basketball game among the beat writers when we got to Laramie. In the old Wyoming arena, the basketball court actually sat atop an indoor rodeo arena, which smelled just like an indoor rodeo arena. Add to that the 7,000-foot altitude of Laramie and you had the double whammy of sucking for air after the slightest exertion and then not wanting to breathe in the air. Dave and I whupped the guys from the Tucson Citizen and the Arizona Republic, took their money and went to get something to eat.
He showed me which Holiday Inn in Laramie had heaters that worked. He let me tag along in his rental car on the trip to Ft. Collins. We talked sports and politics and science. He could have written about anything and done it well.
He showed me how to write the middle of the game story during halftime, even though I didn't generally have a deadline like he did. He'd have his game story done and dictated over the phone within a half hour of game's end and then we were off to wherever (after stopping at Mr. Kalil's room, of course).
Dave picked up the check for dinner in Albuquerque and showed me the Chamizal in El Paso. He let me sleep on his floor in Seattle when the hotel lost my reservation and all they had left was a room with a price that would have made a drug dealer flinch.
We weren't the best of friends because we didn't see each other that often and our paths only crossed in the vicinity of Wildcat basketball, but he always treated me cool and never copped a superior attitude.
Dave up and quit one day in the early '80s. His wife was a lawyer (now a judge) and Dave wasn't having fun anymore at the Star. The paper had gone through a change in management (and style and content and dedication to journalism and...) and Dave didn't want any part of it.
He set up a travel agency and took care of the kids that he and wife Karen had had.
I lost touch with him for a while and wondered what had become of him. A couple years ago, I ran into him at the store. He told me he always read the column I wrote for another publication about being a stay-at-home father. Then we exchanged recipes and cleaning tips like two guys in a bad Michael Keaton movie (as though there were any other kind).
He told me he was involved in Little League baseball, for which I razzed him mercilessly, then finally admitted that I was, too.
I hadn't seen him since, although I'd think of him when I'd read his wife's name in the paper.
Dave died a couple weeks ago, taken by cancer at the age of 48. He left behind his wife and three kids and a whole city full of people without one bad word among them to say about him. I didn't even know he'd been sick and I felt lousy that I hadn't kept in touch.
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