It has been 10 years since Chicago-based radio icon Paul Harvey passed away at the age of 90. Twice on weekdays, and once on Saturday, he would deliver his “News and Comment” on more than 1,000 stations nationwide. Still, it was his separate “Rest of the Story” segment, which ran on its own for 33 years, that I found particularly interesting. Typically, that feature would deal with a previously unpublicized prelude or post script to a more famous story.
For 34 years, the week-to-week focus in this space has been on what is “new” in sports medicine. Some issues, such as those involving steroids and concussion, have been slow to fade, propelled forward by new developments. Otherwise, given the demands of space and another story breaking, there has been very little follow-up coverage to items that perhaps deserved more.
This time 18 years ago, I wrote a column on National Athletic Training Month that featured the Notre Dame men’s basketball athletic trainer. As I wrote then, “Perhaps the best current illustration of commitment and loyalty, though, was sitting at the end of the Irish bench in Kansas City this weekend. Read the papers and you might be inclined to believe the last three years have seen three completely different staffs for the Notre Dame basketball team.
“Not quite. The athletic trainer hasn't changed, not over the last three years. In fact, not over the last 22 years.
“Skip Meyer arrived in South Bend from Torrington, Conn. in the summer of 1979 and went to work for Digger Phelps. Since then, with barely a mention in any Irish press guide or game program, he has been the one constant upon whom Irish basketball players can depend.”
When the Irish finish their season this week in the ACC tournament, Meyer will still be there, now 40 years and four coaches in, but there will not be a 41st. He is retiring.
How he ended up in South Bend is worth noting. During the 1978-79 season, the basketball athletic trainer's position at Notre Dame had become a revolving door. When the dust finally settled after a Regional Final loss to eventual NCAA champion Michigan State, the only athletic trainer left was a student, your reporter.
Despite the loss, the season wasn't over because a late-May, nine-game trip to Yugoslavia beckoned. One afternoon in April, I was summoned to Phelps’ office and asked if I was interested in making the excursion. The word "yes' was halfway out of my mouth, when Phelps growled through a cloud of cigar smoke, “Well, you’re going.” A student athletic trainer wasn't making any decisions; only the head coach was.
When the fall season arrived that year, the revolving door stopped. I was back with the football team and Meyer was the new men’s basketball athletic trainer, holding the position ever since. Congratulations, Skip!
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Two far-more-recent columns are worth revisiting due to current events.
In early July, I wrote of the dangers of ticks and the Lyme disease which they carry and often transmit. Hard as it may be to believe, the peak activity period for ticks in Indiana and Illinois will commence next month and run through September.
The effects of Lyme disease can be devastating. That fact is illustrated by last week’s announcement that former Mets — and White Sox — ace Tom Seaver is retiring from public life at the age of 74 due to a diagnosis of dementia that is at least partially blamed on Lyme disease. Unfortunately, Seaver’s condition has become so severe that he will be unable to attend the 50-year reunion of the 1969 “Miracle Mets” scheduled for June.
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In late July, I wrote about another White Sox pitcher, Danny Farquhar, who had collapsed in the dugout on April 20, after pitching two-thirds of an inning, due to a ruptured brain aneurysm. Treated at Rush University Medical Center by Dr. Demetrius Lopes, who was then the chief of cerebrovascular neurosurgery at Rush, Farquhar recovered well enough to throw out the first pitch at Guaranteed Rate Field on June 1 with Lopes at his side.
Lopes, pronounced Lopez, left Rush for Community Hospital in Munster in early July but has continued to oversee Farquhar’s recovery. Fortunately, that journey has reached the point where he is able to pitch for real again — now with the Yankees on a minor league contract. He did so for the first time since his collapse, wearing a specialized protective cap approved by Lopes, against the Pirates on March 2.
"The fact that he's on the mound and gotten to this point is pretty awesome," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in AP story. "I found myself a little more emotional than I even thought.”
How could he not have been?
Next week, another follow-up.