Derby Day

I’m not a huge horse racing fan but I do have a passing interest in the Kentucky Derby. It’s akin to passing a highway accident – while thankful that you’re not directly involved it’s difficult not to look.

While getting ready for the big race (basically checking the TV listings for post time so I don’t miss it) I thought about Harry.

That’s Harry Bryan. No, he’s not a jockey or a trainer. He’s a newspaperman. Harry was the sports editor for The Courier-Journal for nearly three decades. He left last month via a buyout offer. The C-J, by the way, is the Louisville, Ky., and Kentucky statewide daily newspaper. Derby Day (and Derby Week) is a big deal in the C-J sports department and can trigger considerable heartburn for the sports editor.

(Derby coverage has been and will be excellent, by the way, as the department is now in the highly capable hands of interim sports editor Creig Ewing.)

Before I proceed: full disclosure. I cover outdoors for the C-J. Harry hired me. I have  nothing but praise and adoration for him, an opinion that I’m sure is shared by everyone who worked under his keen, expert and professional leadership. He would tolerate, though be it unhappily, an occasional error. Idiot blunders were another matter. Harry gave me the best job I’ve ever had in the newspaper business. Lee Sadler, another sports editor who preferred to have things done right, and on time, the first time, gave me my first newspaper gig. Lee and Harry would have gotten along well. Newspapermen, both.

Today must be something of a weird day for Harry. Derby Day and no deadlines? No story assignments? No photo glitches? No computer foul ups? No pressure to be on time and flawless?

Maybe it’s not so weird after all.