To Absent Friends…Richard Durrett
I am in the heart of the world’s greatest city and my heart is somewhere else.
It is in a bar in Surprise, Arizona.
It is Spring Training all over again and we have just finished another long hot day in the desert, hanging around a clubhouse, asking redundant questions and writing 2,000 words or more about stuff that for the most part will be irrelevant once this regular season begins.
I am sitting at the bar with some of the best friends a baseball writer could ever have. I am sitting there with Jeff Wilson, Drew Davison and Anthony Andro.
Richard Durrett is there as well.
There is a game on television. It could be the NBA, the NHL or college basketball. I have no clue what it is about. I only know baseball, the San Francisco 49ers and the University of San Francisco. Anything else going on, I am totally ignorant.
I ask Richard what this game means and he explains it completely. The Stars are on the playoff bubble, the Mavericks have lost three in a row, the Bruins are trying to hold on to something or another, this player is on a tear or that player is about to be traded.
Richard knows it all – his knowledge of sports is all-encompassing – and it is the perfect way to end another day in the desert. We talk about the game, we talk about our jobs, we talk about our families. We talk as close friends always talk. Jeff gives us the latest on Henry and Anthony updates us on Patrick.
Richard talks about Owen and Alice. The nights pass pleasantly and I am extremely grateful for them. I couldn’t ask for better company and I smile when I think about the time I swindled a beer out of Richard because I was able to name every capital of all 54 African countries.
There are times Richard leaves early. He has to go watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey. Yes, he was one of those and I give him “grief”.
There are times he has to leave because he is going to do a video chat with Owen and he is excited about it. We will get all the details later.
That is really hard to write because I have a son of my own.
John graduated from Texas Tech in December with a geophysics degree and I threw a big party for him in December. Richard came and brought his father-in-law.
Why did he bring his father-in-law? Because his father-in-law is a geophysicist in the Air Force. Richard thought it would benefit my son to talk to him. They talked for an hour.
Yeah I guess we were competitors and he made my job harder at times. He made it easier far more. We sat beside each other in Spring Training and the Ballpark every day. We helped each other when we could. We also tried to out-fox each other even though it was pointless. But mostly we just laughed and helped each other through the day.
He was tireless. He had to do so many things, including video. “The Dick Durrett Show” I called it. “Who is on the Dick Durrett Show today?” He was the fastest typist I ever saw – nobody is even close – and he had to be because he put out so much copy.
We would be in the press box at 2 p.m. and he would be typing away. “What the….” I would ask and he said he was doing a golf column. Some young super stud at the Colonial. I have no idea who. Or maybe the latest on Mike Modano. He knew more about Modano than any other writer.
He had a heart of gold. I ain’t kidding. That’s not something I’m saying just because of what happened.
I get a summer intern every year for MLB.Com. Grace Raynor, Master Tesfatsion, Christian Corona….We have lunch the first day and I lay it out for them, everything they need to know about the job, who is who and I say the same thing every year.
“You are going to meet Anthony Andro and Richard Durrett. Technically they are the competition but they are the nicest guys you will ever meet. They will help you any way they can.”
They always have and so do Jeff and Drew.
I am so fortunate to have some of the best friends anybody could possibly have. I wouldn’t trade them for anybody…Jeff, Drew, Anthony…
Like everybody else, I have known severe heartache in my life.
But on Tuesday we lost one of the finest persons I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He wasn’t a colleague or a competitor. Richard Durrett was a dear dear friend.
I am devastated. We are all. We are going to miss him badly. I can’t believe he is gone. I really can’t.