I have an awesome quasi-celeb encounter. R.I.P., Art Donovan. And Red Sox owners buying the Globe?

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This seems to be like one of those “Only in New York” kind of stories, but maybe it could happen anywhere.

So I’m sitting in my dermatologist’s office Friday, getting my second Moh’s surgery in two weeks (for the uninitiated, Moh’s gets done when they find basal cell growths on your face, the first step toward skin cancer. So they dig it out, then stitch you back up. I’ve had two in two weeks and right now I’ve got more stitches in my face than a hockey goon in mid-February.)

Anyway, so I’m sitting there waiting to get called in again (when you have Moh’s, it’s a lot of hurry up and wait) when my phone buzzes. It’s my pal Tony, and we have a quick chat about college basketball, and my love of Duke’s prospects for next year, and then I hang up after two minutes.

The guy sitting across from me in the waiting room, silver-haired and about 65 years old, says “I’m sorry, did I hear you say you’re a Duke fan?”
After I confirm, he says “Well, I’m just about the biggest UNC fan you’ll ever meet.”

I’m always happy to argue with a Tar Heel supporter, even in July, so we start amiably chatting, and I reference the ongoing NCAA investigation into UNC.
This devolves into my new friend talking about “newspaper reporters” and “tabloids” always trying to dig up dirt on people and programs, and then in what I thought was a really random reference, he said “like the National Enquirer did with John Edwards.”

“Oof,” I said, “that’s a sore subject with me. I was a huge John Edwards supporter and volunteer on his campaign.”

“Oh yeah?” he replied. “I’m John Edwards’ brother-in-law.”

If not for the fact that I was gripping the arm-rest, I would’ve fallen out of my chair.
“No you’re not!” I said to him, laughing.
“Yep, Elizabeth Edwards was my sister.”
Now, part of me instantly believes him, because who the heck would make up a thing like that? But the journalist in me was dubious, so I started gently probing him with questions, about the 2004 campaign, John’s disgusting behavior in 2007-08, his sister’s battle with cancer, etc.

And damned if he didn’t know all the answers. Over the course of a few hours, while each of us went into the Dr.’s office and then back out to wait, my new pal Jay regaled me with hilarious and awful stories of John’s schmuckiness, how he could tell “after 15 minutes of meeting her that Rielle Hunter (Edwards’ lover) was crazy,” and about how his sister felt about different people in the campaign.

I was in heaven. I was a true-blue Edwards-ite (I wrote about it here a few years ago), and here I was trading stories with Elizabeth’s brother (I Googled him and all the bio information he told me checked out)
I was all disappointed when after about two hours, I heard him leave while I was back in getting stitched up.

Only in New York. I have another appointment this Friday; I hope I see him again.

**Word came late Sunday that the great Art Donovan had died. Donovan was a Hall of Fame football player for the Baltimore Colts back in the 1950s, but he became even more famous in retirement for the hilarious interviews and talk-show appearances he gave.
I remember as a kid holding my sides I was laughing so hard, watching him on Letterman and Carson and in countless NFL Films videos.

He was a jolly guy who was a superb storyteller, and he will be missed. Here’s him on Letterman from 1988.

RedSox.JohnHenry**Finally today, a story that alternately makes me happy and frightened. Word broke Friday night that John Henry, one of the majority owners of the Red Sox, has agreed to buy the venerable Boston Globe newspaper. (He’s paying $70 million for the paper; the New York Times Co. paid $1.1 billion for it in 1993. That’s staggering)

On the one hand, it’s great that anyone is buying a newspaper these days, especially one with deep pockets and a strong connection to the region like Henry does. He’s done fantastic things with the Red Sox (as a Yankee fan that pained me to write), helping them spend enough to win two World Series in the last 10 years.

But it frightens me as an ex-journalist because now you will have the majority owner of by far the biggest team in the region, owning the biggest newspaper in the region.

Now I know full well newspapers don’t have the influence they used to, and there are dozens of other outlets who can cover the team without any appearance of conflict of interest.

But still… it makes me a little queasy. The Globe has broken tons of big stories about the Sox over the years, many of them negative. Will they still be allowed to do so?
I hope so.

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One response to “I have an awesome quasi-celeb encounter. R.I.P., Art Donovan. And Red Sox owners buying the Globe?

  1. Quite a deal Henry made. When the Times acquired the Globe they paid just over a billion.

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