I said goodbye to a hero this weekend in upstate New York.
I awoke in the middle of the night to learn a close radio friend in San Diego passed away.
And I was disappointed to find a guy I really like, was out of a play-by-play job too.
It was a lousy week.
He came from an Italian family of 9-kids. He dropped out of school to go work in the knitting Mills. He decided to come back to school and graduate. He went off to World War II, and earned a Bronze Star-Valor in the tank command in the horrendous fights at Kasserine Pass and the victorious battle at El Alamein.
He came home a hero, went back to school, and became very successful in business, polictics and in family. He lived to be 99, and he went out this week fighting Alzehimers and Dementia, just like he fought the Desert Fox across North Africa.
Vito, my uncle, was my hero and they gave him a Military Funeral. I wept when they played “Taps” at the end. We lost a good man, my family lost a patriarch. To me, he was the Prime Example of Tom Brokaw’s ‘Greatest Generation’.
When the phone rings in the middle of the night, it seldom is good news, and it wasn’t for me.
You didn’t know him, but those us in radio, newspaper, and around the Chargers-Padres-Aztecs knew him.
His name was Rick Hill, as nice a man as you’d ever want to meet. Trustworthy, hard-working, with a hello for everyone, and the ability to do whatever was needed to set up broadcasts, cover press conferences, and be around.
He had no family, was a San Diego native, and he lived thru the horrors of the deaths of a mother-father-and grandmother who cared for him.
He became very ill, and a bunch of in the media pooled money together to help support him, and get him on his feet. We put him touch with doctors, who helped line up dialysis treatment, and with lawyers, who helped with all the confusing paperwork of disability.
Like a bunch of us in radio, he got laid off, but never once was there a complaint about how he was treated at KOGO, KFMB or XTRA.
Early this week, after a wait of a good two years, Rick was told a donor had been found for a critical kidney transplant. A day later, he was in the hospital when blood clots arose. Hours later, after tests, he was told he had non-curable cancer. He passed that night.
The adversity he dealt with, none of which he brought on, was overcome thru his efforts and those he befreineded, whom in turn stepped up in his time of need. A bunch of media guys were in the hospital when word came he had passes.
We called him ‘Red Dog’ and he was a friend to so many.
I am so disappointed the Padres cut loose pitcher-turned-broadcaster Bob Scanlan.
Good man, who made himself into a good broadcaster. Of course someone had to go, with the hiring of another Mike Dee friend, Red Sox broadcaster Dan Orsillo. Why Scanlan rather than somebody else in that booth is stunning.
He provided player insight, stories, opinions from a decent baseball career. He came so quickly as a broadcaster, you’d think ownership would understand what a good talent he was. I would hope Fox Sports San Diego would consider making him the host of their Social Hour pregame show.
It’s just a lousy week. Not the Charger offensive line woes, or the finish to a 5th straight Padres losing season, or the Aztecs struggles.
Something more important, the loss of heroes and friends and good guys.
It’s why I was off-line for a couple of days, and why getting back to work is so hard today.