The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


April 26, 2014

Don Black helped make journalism personal for me

ENID, Okla. — Covering high school sports may not have the prestiage or glamour of following Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or the Oklahoma City Thunder.

But thanks to people like Don Black, who died earlier this week, I found pleasure covering high schools that you don’t necessarily get at the college or pro levels.

Black was one of the first people I really got to know when I first came to Enid. I didn’t really make any connections with people outside the newspaper my first year (1978-79 school year) here until I started covering the Plainsmen baseball team, which would reach the state finals.

Fortuntely for me, Black’s son — Ron — was the starting third baseman. It was the start of a friendship that still lasts today.

Those days covering EHS baseball, I didn’t sit in a fancy press box like I do today at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. I still feel like I’m missing something not sitting in the stands with the parents and girlfriends and other family members. Thanks to that arrangement, I got to know the parents of almost every starting player for the Plainsmen — I started to feel like I was a part of the community.

It was the ultimate personal journalism, because unlike OU or OSU or the Thunder, I actually knew those kids and their parents. It does make you care a little more.

Good parent support can translate to success on the field. It certainly was true that season.

Those parents weren’t win-at-all-cost. Virgil Rieger, the father of pitcher Sid — once went down on the field to tell Legion coach Duane Moulton to take his son out after he had thrown 144 pitches in a zone tournament game.

Don Black had a good sense of humor — then KCRC sports director Dave Geringer and I would always kid him about selling the same piece of property (he was in real estate) twice. He would laugh the loudest.

David Allen Memorial Ballpark means something to me because I could remember David — then recovering from injuries in a serious automobile accident — cheering for his brother Greg, a catcher on that first team.

“Very good, very good,’’ was David’s favorite cheer. He could do that a lot — especially for his brother, who became my friend for life when he hit a home run against Bartlesville College in the old Red Carpet Tournament in time for me to make a deadline. The Blacks and the Allens represented tradition for Enid baseball. It’s not an accident one of the best attended events of the summer is the Enid Legion Alumni game where memories are rekindled.

It made me feel good when I saw Don and Ron cheering for Ron’s son, Joe, who would play for the Plainsmen from 2007-10. You have a sense of continuity.

I last saw Don watching Joe play for Rose State against NOC Enid last season. One could tell Don was having health problems, but you could see the love between grandfather and grandson and how much it meant to Joe that Don was there.

Don still was his upbeat self. Always had a smile on his face. Family came first in his life.

That’s the beauty of high school sports in communities like ours — the support kids get from home.

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.

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