By Jim Moyes
During my recent conversation with Jason, I mentioned how radically times have changed with how news of the Sporting World is now transmitted to the public. I, as did many of my peers growing up in the 1950s, peddled newspapers for the Muskegon Chronicle.
At one time, I had a paper route in North Muskegon that consisted of around 100 customers. I do not believe there was even one house located on my route that didn’t receive a copy of our local paper.
How times have changed.
Still holding on to my ‘old school’ habits, I may be the only house in our entire neighborhood here in Florida that has an actual printed newspaper delivered to their doorstep.
Although perhaps not a bad thing, most of the news during this current high-tech area is found on one’s computer and even on their phone.
Gone are the days when I had to hand deliver a story that I wrote back in the 1950s to long time Muskegon Chronicle sports editor James Henderson. Today, one just has to merely hit the ‘send’ button on his computer and ‘presto’ your story is delivered.
With the (sad) demise of once receiving our local newspaper on a daily basis, it has been up to social media to spread the news of what’s taking place in our world. And, unless your name is Brady Rose or Cameron Martinez, how difficult it must be for today’s local athletes to put together a scrap book.
Today’s youths might find this hard to believe, but 60 years ago, you could even find game stories of Little League baseball games — complete with box scores! Even a very average athlete, like myself, had a scrapbook pieced together by my mother.
But there is good news!
My how the athletic fields of yesteryear have improved for the better. While working as a ‘string’ reporter for the Chronicle beginning in 1956, my first job was to cover football for the Norsemen of North Muskegon High. There were no comfy press boxes for me to scribble down my game notes. Instead, I roved the sidelines with my handy clipboard while hoping for dry skies.
The West Michigan Conference for many years, before the admittance of Oakridge and Ravenna into the league in the 1960s, consisted of six schools. Only Fred Jacks Field, the home of the Norsemen, still remains in the same location from my early days as a reporter.
Whitehall played their games on field that served as both a baseball and football field before moving into their current facility. Shelby also had a multi-purpose facility where football was played in the Fall and baseball in the Spring.
One odd ground rule they had in baseball was if one hit a ball into the stands in right field, it was deemed a ground rule double. While it was a short poke to right field, it was just the opposite to left field on the Shelby field.
Just a few miles to the north, the Hart Pirates played their football games at a location that was also used as a Fairgrounds before moving into their current location.
To say that the current gridiron at Mason County Central (it was Scottville High back in the day) is an improvement, let me repost a quote from the late Rex Funnell from an earlier Moyes’ Memories story. When asked about Scottville, Funnell, who took part in the first game ever played in the WMC back in 1931, took little time in remembering the Spartan’s facilities: “Scottville just had a bad field.”
Montague can now boast of one of the nicest facilities for high school sports after leaving quaint but cozy Memorial field for Eldon Townsend stadium.
Nobody, but nobody, had a press box, and for a number of years, a scoreboard with a running clock was only on somebody’s wish list.
And all-weather services? That wasn’t even a pipe dream.
Hopefully, we will soon see the day when all football fields will follow Holton High in making their facilities available for other sports (soccer and lacrosse come to mind) without turning their fields into a quagmire late in the season.
And how I love today’s high school fields that not only have the prescription turf, but their spacious press boxes. I must confess that in our final years covering football games on the radio, my longtime sidekick Gene Young and I would make our decision on what games we would cover, not only based on their importance, but if they had heat in the press box when the temperature would take a nose-dive late in the season.
Since I first began broadcasting football in 1968, I could list my favorite stadiums (and my least favorite) from more than 50 years, but why don’t I save those for a future Moyes’s Memories!