Monday, May 28, 2007

Our weekly series on cool media folks - Meet Mike Harrington

This is one tribute that is way overdue considering we've been blogging a few months now.

No one, but NO ONE, has had as profound an impact on the Ultimate Sports Road Trip as Mike Harrington has. When Mike first met us and learned what we were doing, his passion and support was immediate. His coverage of the USRT through two feature articles in the Buffalo News, in 2001 and in 2003, made it to national news wires and media outlets. The rest, as they say, is history... the News stories resulted in a live appearance on The Today Show and a writeup in Sports Illustrated. For two average blokes like us, it was the "15 minutes of fame" that most people just dream of.

We first met Mike back in 2001 in the pressbox at the ballpark, when we were still starting out ourselves as media guys doing the Sportsblast stuff. We had just gotten back from our official USRT visit to Pac Bell Park in San Francisco, and we had snapped a photo there of a fan in the stands who bore a close resemblance to Mike, in fact it was scary how much alike this guy looked. We emailed the pic to Mike, he got a kick out of it, and asked us what we were doing out in San Francisco. We replied, "Stop #87, Mike. We're doing all 121 teams in the four major sports." Mike was so impressed, he pitched the idea of a story in the Buffalo News, and the first piece ran in the fall of 2001.

Since that time, Mike has kept closely abreast of our travels, and when we hit the finish line in Detroit in December 2002, he was one of the first people on the phone the next day, offering his congratulations, wanting to hear the details of the adventure, and of course another news story.

In February of 2003, we held a celebration in the party suite at HSBC Arena, culminating the USRT at the place where it started (Stop #1 - Buffalo Sabres 1998). Mike joined us at the party and was there to raise a glass to our accomplishment. It's one thing for a reporter to cover a topic and write a story; that Mike Harrington would take time out of his schedule to take part in this occasion and meet our families and close friends speaks volumes for the type of guy he is.

We get to see Mike and spend time with him often during the year, as he is a fixture at Dunn Tire Park as the lead baseball reporter covering the Bisons. Mike also handles college basketball for the paper and we've bumped shoulders at numerous tournaments over the past few years and have even hung out a few times when the work day was done.

Mike is also blogging now on the Buffalo News website and we trade comments often. Check out his blog postings or his weekly Inside Baseball column in the Buffalo News. From time to time he will share a story about a sports venue he has visited, or commentary and critique about an arena, a behind the scenes peek that most sports reporters would ignore.

We shamelessly take credit for that. For while Mike Harrington has had a deep impact on the USRT, we think the USRT has rubbed off on Mike Harrington as well. And that's a good thing!


Alex said...

Of all the sports writers at the Buffalo News, I like Harrington the best. He comes across as someone who really loves his work and is proud of what he does. I'm glad you guys are tight with him.

Kevin said...

The best local sports reporter, hands down. Of all the writers, he most seems able to connect with his readers, and not put himself above them. In addition, his research has always impressed me - he approaches things in a logical and fact-based manner.

Harrington, you know you've made it when The USRT shows the love!