Column: Finally securing the coveted press pass

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 6, 2006

Jon Laging, Talking Sports

Back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s newspapers, their editors and reporters were the news media.

There was radio, but newspapers had center stage in the nation’s consciousness. It wasn’t really so until a newspaper pronounced it so.

Little boys and girls dreamed of many things they wanted to be when they grew up; actresses, baseball players, firemen, etc. Included in this elite group were newspaper reporters. Movies were made and radio dramas were set around and about newspapers. Superman even worked at a newspaper with his girlfriend, reporter Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olson. There was also radio’s, more down to earth, &8220;Steve Wilson of the Illustrated Press.&8221;

I, along with others, dreamed of being a newspaper man with a press pass stuck in the brim of my fedora. Particularly of being a sports reporter. I read Charley Johnson and Dick Cullum of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune and Evening Star. Cedric Adams was famous in Minnesota, but Halsey Hall was where it was at.

When my sports column was accepted by Dave Phillips and then others, I was thrilled for a life’s ambition had been realized. I was reporting on sports. In my mind’s eye I envisioned being at a happening with a press pass in my hat and policemen hollering, “Let him through, he’s got a press pass.”

However, my youthful dreams about reporting had not come true. While I went to sporting events I had to pay like everyone else and wasn’t able to talk with the players. It seemed that I was missing out. One day recently, I decided that it would do no harm to contact the Minnesota Twins and ask for a press pass. The worst that could happen is that they would say no. So, I wrote ball club president Dave St. Peter; told him the newspapers I wrote for, the Minnesota college I graduated from and the work I had done fighting the Twins’ contraction.

He wrote back thanking me and said he had forwarded my request on. The press communications people got back to me with the procedure I should use in order to get my pass. I had my press pass. &8220;O Happy Day!&8221; It would allow me on the field during pre-game and should I come to a number of games I would be allowed in the press box. More games and I could go into the locker room. Way beyond my expectations.

Swede and I had intended to take a charter bus to the Dodgers game. He called and said, &8220;Bad news, the charter had been canceled due to lack of riders.&8221;

&8220;Bummer,&8221; I replied, but Swede said &8220;Let’s go anyway, we’ll take my car.&8221;

I had seen a coupon in the paper that enabled you to get two tickets for the price of one. I had my press pass and so we invited my wife, the baseball fan, to come along. She did and volunteered to drive us up and back. If the Twins keep this two-for-one promotion, they will go over two million in attendance, especially if they continue to play well.

We arrived at the ballpark with plenty of time to spare, stopped at the VIP window, (wow), my press pass was there and I was told how to get down to the field. I was a little nervous, but looking forward to being eyeball to eyeball with Joe Mauer, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan and eventually found my way to the field.

The field looked like a big shag rug and the dugout surprised me by having a cushion on the bench. Next week, more about the field, batboy and the results of talking to Twins&8217; stars.

(Jon Laging writes a sports commentary on regional issues from his home in Preston.)