Pete DiPrimioís ISSA Hall of Fame speech

By Pete DiPrimio
Sunday, April 10, 2016 - 9:19 PM

Thanks Blake, for that great introduction. First off, I want to congratulate all the winners, who are all very deserving. And I want to thank my family for making the trip, and for all their support.

Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid, as opposed to now, when Iím young and stupid, I had this idea Ė this dream -- that all things are possible.

And then life teaches you about limits.

Or does it?

In so many ways, all things are still possible, and when I grow up, which will happen right about the time I regrow my hair, I can show everyone that, yes, I can dunk a basketball on a regulation goal.

I have the almost totally true photo to prove that, by the way.

But for now I can tell you, life is a hell of a journey.

So is sports writing.

Back when I first started covering sports, when Abe Lincoln won his first state wrestling title using a move called a cow bell that, because of political correctness, I canít describe here, I was clueless about the writing process. I thought I was better than I was. And then I learned because I got humbled Ė by mistakes, by criticism, by failing, by living.

You start your career with dreams. Thatís as it should be. Some become real. Others stay forever in the fantasy category. Thatís OK. Because you never know when fantasy and reality will merge. And it can happen, whether youíre in your 20s or 40s or beyond.

For instance, I know an NBA team will draft me this June, and if it doesnít happen (which suggests an obvious conspiracy!), well, thereís always the following year Ė as Chicago Cubs fans know all too well.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, by the way, will beat out the Cubs this season.

Just saying.

Anyway, pushing to make dreams come true is part of the excitement of life. There are other life excitements, of course, such as growing up with wonderful parents and a kick-ass brother, such as marrying a good, beautiful woman; such as raising awesome children set to embark on their own awesome journeys, and seeing them learn and grow and, of course, benefit from their fatherís vast wisdom.

Their fatherís vast wisdom!

A person gets a Hall of Fame honor because of lessons learned, because of inspiration and support from others, because of trying to do your job to the best of your ability, and because youíre old. Thereís no way around that, and if you ever forget it, well, the mirror never lies.

OK, the mirror does lie if you wear sunglasses and keep the lighting low. Or, better yet, get rid of all mirrors, period.

But I digress.

Being a sports writer enables you to cover some very cool things and Iíve been very fortunate to do so, from college basketball Final Fours to college football bowl games to the Indy 500 to some thrilling high school state championships, many of them involving the sport of wrestling, perhaps the most memorable coming when one of my brother Samís Fort Wayne Northrop wrestlers (James Starks) won a dramatic state title back when real men sometimes wore mullets.

I did not wear a mullet, by the way, but again, I digress.

Being a writer has enabled me to write 21 childrenís books and numerous freelance stories. Itís kept alive my long-time dream to publish a novel. Iíve written one -- which still needs polishing and is a million miles away from being publish worthy. Iím writing another, and hope to have that done before Halleyís Comet returns, which scientists say will be in 2061, at which time I will be, as always, 29 years old.

So we shall see.

I want to thank my family -- my wife, Cindy, who continues to show me there is a life beyond being cheap, who never met an obstacle she couldnít overcome -- the memory of her running a youth soccer tournament amid a flood of biblical proportions is one of the most amazing feats I have ever seen; my children Gaby (who is set to graduate law school in Chicago next month) and Vince (who is set to graduate from the University of Evansville next month), and even my dogs -- Coco, who is no longer with us, and Rocky, who insists on interrupting teleconferences and radio shows with a passion far greater than my ability to stop him. They have put up with my many quirks and PERCEIVED workout obsession. They have all inspired me in ways I can never repay.

I want to thank my parents -- my father Pete, who continues to set an example I can never match (yes, that includes having a garage a million times cleaner than my home office), and my mother Ange, may she rest in peace, who forever worried about me, my health, my cleaning abilities, my fashion sense, my incessant working out, and so many other things. I wish she could have been here to see this.

In fact, I suspect, she is here.

I want to thank my brother, Sam, now the principal at Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, who forgave me for all my youthful transgressions, and youíd better believe there were many. Who knew destroying your brotherís favorite toy, as I once did with Hands-Up Harry in a failed quest to build a robot, was such a bad idea.

Thanks to the News-Sentinel, to former sports editor Rich Griffis for giving me the opportunity to come home in a manner of speaking as I am a Snider graduate, to current editor Kerry Hubartt for putting up with my idiosyncrasies, to publisher Michael Christman and current sports editor Tom Davis; to colleagues Don Converset and Justin Kenny and so many others during my 16 years at the News-Sentinel; to my fellow sports writers Reggie Hayes and Blake Sebring, who represent the best of our profession and have for decades. Blake is a member of the Hall of Fame, and Reggie will be. Heís that good and deserving.

Oh, by the way, I remember growing up reading Reggie and Blakeís stuff when I was still in diapers, and if that stretches and breaks the truth, well, who needs truth on a day like this.

Itís always about the story.

Thanks, too, to writers such as Bob Bridge, Al Lesar (who is also being honored here today), Ben Smith, Michelle Medlock Adams, Tom Kubat, Steve Warden, Jeff Washburn, Don Wade, Jeff Rabjohns, Dan Korb (who is deservedly being honored here today), Gordon Englehart, David Woods, Eric Hanson, Ron Lemasters, Dustin Dopirak, Gregg Doyle, Bob Kravitz, Rick Bozich and Pat Forde, editors such as Tom Tuley (who gave me a chance to spend 12 great years in Evansville) and Paul McAuliffe (Paul might have given me the best ever advice when he told me Ė correctly Ė that I just wasnít funny after I wrote a REALLY bad column), broadcasters such as Don Fischer, Hondo Carpenter, Kent Sterling and Dean Pantazi, and so many more. Some I worked with, some I worked for, some I worked beside, and they all set high examples for what the profession should be.

Finally, thanks to the selection committee, to Paul Condi and Tom Kubat and especially to Fred Inniger for nominating me.

We live in a time when the career clock can strike midnight at a momentís notice, and you hope to choose your exit instead of having it chosen for you.

Weíll see how that turns out.

My choice is to never retire. That has zero interest for me. When it comes time to move on to the Great Adventure in the Sky, which I am convinced will include beer mirrors, frosty mugs of Iron City beer and a life-sized photo of Franco Harrisís Immaculate Reception, I hope I am still writing, hopefully with a best-selling novel on my resume, perhaps while finishing another novel from a condo on the spectacular cliffs of the Greek Island of Santorini, overlooking a sparkling blue caldera that cradles a blazing golden sun.

If youíve ever been to Disney World, or seen a Twilight Zone episode, you know dreams sometimes do come true. The first step, the biggest step, is to believe.

In the end, no matter the age, the experience or the hair line, you always have that. Thank you for making this Hall of Fame dream come true.

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