From the early summer of 1973 until the fall of 1978, I worked in the sports department at the Winnipeg Tribune. The sports editor was Jack Matheson . . . the legendary Jack Matheson. In those days, the sports editor was the columnist and usually covered the No. 1 beat in town. In Winnipeg, that was the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers; Matty also looked after men’s curling in the winter.
I learned more in those five years at the Winnipeg Tribune than at any other time in my career. Some of that was due to things like the hot-lead process disappearing and computers replacing typewriters. But most of what I learned came from watching and listening to Matty in action.
For years now, I have written a weekly column that, in these parts, is called Taking Note. It ran as Keeping Score while I was at the Regina Leader-Post and appears as Taking Note in the Kamloops Daily News. It is, in fact, a weekly testament to Matty, who wrote such a column at The Trib. I can still picture him sitting in his cubbyhole of an office, hammering away on the Underwood with his index fingers. He would hit the keys so hard that they would punch out some lower-case letters, like o and e, leaving holes where the letters should be.
On occasion, I will mention LGIW. That, too, came from Matty.
One summer, because I hated being stuck in the office, I decided to cover stock car racing. A new short track, Winnipeg Speedway, was opening and there also was a drag strip, Bison Dragways, located east of the city.
It wasn’t long before Matty had tagged me with a nickname. From that point on, I was Grease. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t change a spark plug.
I remember one time when one of the writers wrote a story on a local sports figure who had died. The story referred to the person in question as having “succumbed.”
The next evening, when we came into work, there was a note hanging in the sports department. It was written with the red wax pencil that Matty preferred and it read: SUCCUMBED HAS SUCCUMBED.
Matty died Monday night after an illness. He was 86.
Condolences to Peggy, Jim, John, Marnie and their families.
If you’re interested, check out this piece right here that Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun wrote about Matty in November.
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