A kind reader posted a comment at the end of a recent blog asking where he could find the column I wrote for newspapers of Nov. 3, 1999. The column, written after the death of the great Walter Payton, was about living life to the fullest because none of us can know when it's our time to go.
I did a quick search and was able to find the column in a couple of paid-archive sites but wasn't able to find it for free. So I scanned the hard copy of the column I had saved and am making it available here. I apologize if the print's a little small. You might need to magnify it in your window.
Well, I saved a hard copy of every one of the nearly 2,400 newspaper columns I wrote over the years. I always wanted to have something to show my kids and my grandkids that represented what the old bald dude did for a living. As it turns out, my bound volumes serve as kind of a history of the most important sports stories from my time in Minneapolis and Chicago. Not sure why, but I think that's cool.
When I was AP's Minnesota sports guy from 1985-94, I used to write a weekly column. My goal was to be a daily newspaper sports columnist, so even if I was in the middle of a 12-hour work day and a 60-hour work week, I made time to write that column. And I knew I'd need examples of my work -- we used to call them "clips" -- to land the kind of gig I wanted.
Every few weeks, usually late some night after having covered a Twins or Vikings or Gophers game, I'd go into the bureau's back room and look through the stacks of newspapers from around the state. I'd find the best presentations of my columns, carefully clip them and then Xerox them. Then I'd punch holes in the page, put them in one of the binders and number them.
One night, my colleague Jimmy Golen -- a young'un then but now an award-winning sportswriter for AP Boston -- saw what I was doing and asked: "Why do you number them?"
I said something like: "I want to know when I match Cy Young with No. 511."
Not missing a beat, Jimmy said: "Hate to break it to you, Mike, but all of Cy Young's 511 were winners."