“The wheel is come full circle”
— William Shakespeare
Dateline: Lake Champlain 2007 and 2021
It was here, right exactly here: Plattsburgh City Marina, 2 Dock Street … and the clear blue waters of Lake Champlain where my 14-year gig began early one July morning in 2007.
And it is to this place, this so very special place to me, that it is only right to come back here, my only on location event of this year, and with mutual agreement with B.A.S.S … end my gig here, where it began.
It was on these very docks, out there on that beautiful lake that straddles both New York and Vermont, where I first met these folks behind the scenes …
… and those anglers who take center stage … the Elites.
Back then I had no idea about any of this game, or any of them who played it or ran it, and to be truthful, no idea that at the age of 55, let me repeat that, at age 55 I would leave a company I had been with for a long time to jump into something I knew nothing about.
Add this to it … I didn't even fish, didn't even like being inside the outside that much either ... and yet something called me about these folks, something whispered in my ear, “Now’s your chance Donny … do it.”
The voice telling me to “do it,” was a familiar voice, it was that of Sibby Sisti, a professional Major League ballplayer with the Boston Bees/Braves and the Milwaukee Braves from 1939 until 1954 … and my uncle from 1952 (when I was born) until he passed in 2006 … and apparently beyond that date.
As a child I grew up listening to his stories of barnstorming America with other MLB ballplayers to play local baseball teams in small and big towns anywhere out there “with train tracks and a whistle stop.”
That’s what these dudes did, sans of course, railroad tracks and cleats.
“Go Donny, go, do it …”
And so I did … thanks, Sib.
And this is what my barnstorming of America led to with these anglers in the painted, fancy, fast boats.
Over the last 14 years: 247 tournaments of all kinds like the WBT, Opens, Nation, Elites, College … with something like 864 or so weigh-ins.
There were 721 stories, probably more but that’s what I can prove, it’s what I signed on to do over the years/contracts.
But this is what it came to, these last numbers … 1,862 days on the road and 5.1 years away from home.
It is those last two stats about being away from home, add in being almost 70 years old with a variety of health issues plus the fact that I’ve been in journalism for almost 40 years and those two numbers go even higher.
For anyone who will discuss as to why I left, why they think I left, I will make it simple for them, quote this from me: “Too many early mornings, too many lonely nights without my best friend, my wife, by my side.”
It is as simple as that.
If you know me, if you’ve read me throughout these 14 years, you know I write, I say, and I believe that ... love wins.
And it has, love won.
I do have five more stories to do. My last one will be in December and it will be a story, a conversation between myself and one of my best buds out here, the legend Rick Clunn.
I smiled as I wrote that. Clunn/Barone, last story, Merry Christmas.
For those who follow this game, if I’m allowed to advise I’d like to tell them all simply this:
Be kind with the game, respect those who play it, cherish the fans who love it, and have fun, have a blast … I did!
And so from a third floor, double-queen Hampton room near the elevators, and ice machine…