Years ago, when I worked in Illinois, I went to a farewell party for a departing sports editor by the name of Bill Greene.
I’ll never forget when Greene got up to say a few words. Noting that a popular part-timer named Mike was also leaving, he said: “I know this party is for me, but the paper will do fine replacing me.
“It will be a lot tougher replacing Mike. Good part-timers are a lot harder to come by.”
This comes to mind now because Chuck Frye, probably the best part-time sports writer to cover the Merrimack Valley over the last 35 years, is about to leave us. He’s moving to Florida in a matter of days.
Chuck started writing for the Newburyport Daily News back in 1976 and he’s been going strong ever since, switching to the Haverhill Gazette in 1979 and ending up with the Eagle-Tribune about 15 years ago.
There are few part-timers who last that long but, as far as I know, Chuck never considered quitting. A graduate of Pentucket High School and a life-long resident of West Newbury, he’s always loved covering games, with high school football his favorite.
On occasion, Chuck would cover two football games in a day and, overall, he’s probably covered close to 400 games in the Valley. I’d be surprised if anyone has done more.
But Chuck likes sports in general. He’s a big fan of hockey and baseball, with basketball close behind, and I brainwashed him into loving wrestling as well. Soccer, lacrosse and other sports aren’t bad, either.
Give Chuck an assignment, no matter what it was, and you could trust that it would get done and done well.
The greatest example of that was when he began doing the popular “Memory Lane” column in Sunday’s sports section, after a few full-timers struggled with the assignment. Chuck knew it was a popular feature and he put his heart and soul into it. It became a huge hit with readers and he now considers it with great satisfaction.