One of the longest evenings in a Sports Information Director (SID) career is when he/she starts putting together media credential packets for the start of their respective sports seasons. After collecting faxes and emails from our local media contingents over the past month, today was that day for me. It's actually a pretty entertaining time as I start getting pumped up for the upcoming baseball season, which is now just FOUR days away.
Over the last couple of years the hot topic between our media has been Who is going to get No. 23? It started back in 2009 when Kevin Travis (formerly of the Washington Daily News) received what he called the "Golden Ticket" (referring to the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory). That year he proudly wore the "No. 23 Credential" and did so with honor from the outset of the season. It seems funny now, but at the time Kevin would taunt other members of the media (in a jokingly way) saying 'You wish you could be me, don't you?'
It goes without saying that when I start putting credential packets together, I don't set out to give treatment to one media person over the other. I just assign them based on when I receive their requests.
As you know, that season ended up being a successful one for the Pirates as they claimed their second Conference USA regular season title, won the NCAA Greenville Regional and made their third trip to the Super Regionals. Kevin would later say that it was because he had the "Golden Ticket" that ECU had such a great season - he was the Pirates lucky charm, and I would reply I think the guys on the field had something to do with the success between the lines. But that's the kind of fun we have up in the baseball press box on a regular basis. Last year Bayton Adams from WCTI-12 in New Bern, N.C. was the lucky recipient.
Tonight while I was in my office putting together the 2011 credential packets, I was listening to ECU Assistant Coach Nick Schnabel on the Brian Bailey show and happened to notice that I had assigned Brian the "No. 23" credential. The eerie part of this was at the time I was pasting a white label on his assigned credential they were talking about Coach LeClair and his dream of getting the Pirates to Omaha.
Brian had a great relationship on and off the field with Coach LeClair, just like a lot of our media did. If LeClair was out throwing batting practice or in the middle of a drill and he saw a reporter waiting patiently for the end of practice to do interviews, he would handoff what he was doing to an assistant coach and walk over to do the interview right then. You don't see that today with college coaches and that is what made Coach LeClair special to the media and Pirate fans all across the nation.
Needless to say that when I told Brian that he got the "Golden Ticket" he was elated, just as Kevin was back in 2009.
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