A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Score One For The Good Guys

Congratulations to longtime Oakland Trib sports columnist Dave Newhouse, who will be inducted into the 14th annual Bay Area Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall Of Fame on Feb. 28, along with Fred Belitnikoff, Joe Rudi, former 49er Len Rhode, former Warriors Coach Joe Roberts, basketball Great Ruthie Bolton, former Stanford tennis coach Dick Gould and former Tribune sports editor George Ross, the man who did more than anyone else to lure major league sports to Oakland and support the teams once they were here.
He was particularly generous to a fledgling football team called the Oakland Raiders, but he and Al Davis parted company after Ross ran a story about the ruthless way Davis wrested ownership of the Raiders from Wayne Valley. It was all true, of course, but Davis, as he did to anyone he considered a traitor, cut him off.
"George was a real reporter," says Dave. "He told the truth and paid the price."
Dave will receive the Wendell Smith Award, named after the crusading African-American journalist who wrote column after column holding major league baseball's feet to the fire until it finally integrated. It was he who recommended to Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey that he sign Jackie Robinson.
The Multi-Ethnic Hall Of Fame has an interesting history. It was founded in 2000 as the African American Sports Hall Of Fame.
"But as it evolved, we changed the name to Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame in 2005," says founder Arif Khatib. "And as it evolved further, we changed it to Multi-Ethnic Hall Of Fame to include all people, no matter their race."
This name change was heartily endorsed by longtime Bay Area News Group sports columnist Monte Poole, who said, "I think adjusting your Hall Of Fame to include all humans, regardless of color, is a brilliant stroke. The way I see it, you're recognizing not just the color of one's skin, but all those, regardless of skin color, who contributed to the cause of equality."
That's a pretty good description of Dave. He doesn't know how to treat people with anything but respect. And when he sees an injustice, he's not afraid to call it out.
Full disclosure here: Dave has been a dear friend since I joined the Tribune in 1985. We were co-owners of fantasy football and fantasy baseball teams, both named the Snapphouses. (I wisely let Dave do all the picking.)
We even wrote a book together, which we wrote during marathon breakfasts at Mama's Royal Café in Oakland. We always had the same waitress, a spectacularly tattooed young woman named Sasha, so we dedicated the book to her.
Dave is one of the kindest, most considerate people I have ever met. He's that rare person who does the right thing even when nobody's watching. And he's a terrific writer, too, with a real knack for telling a story.
And to top it all off, he does a great Jackie Wilson impression.
The induction ceremony will be held at a banquet at the downtown Oakland Marriott on Feb. 28. Tickets can be purchased by emailing afrosportshall@aol.com. All proceeds go to the Hall's many programs for disadvantaged youths.
Giants sideline reporter Mindi Bach will be the emcee, with a special appearance by Ernie Orozco, the world's greatest Howard Cosell imitator!