By Larry Fitzgerald
It was a decade ago, give or take a few years, that Mrs. Norma Jean Williams, vice president of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, and I had a conversation about the paper’s sports page. I have always dreamed big: I came to Minnesota to be a big fish in a small pond. I was able to convince Mrs. Williams that to strengthen the MSR’s sports page we needed to hire Kwame McDonald, Charles Hallman, and Mitch McDonald to cover the complete sports scene: pro, college men and women, and high school.
Back then I had the title of sports editor, and I took it seriously and felt strongly that all three sports writers would help make our sports page the strongest in town. Mrs. Williams listened to me and hired Kwame, Mitch and Charles. Since that time, it created a bond between the four of us to challenge each other to cover our community sports news.
Kwame McDonald was our senior writer and, as we all know, he passed last week. I got a text from my buddy Henry Lake that he had just visited Kwame in St. Paul. I had just gotten back in town from Arizona. Lake also gave me the grim news none of us wanted to hear later that day.
Lake works for KFAN-FM 100.3, the station that I helped build in its early years of sports radio when I worked over there with Eric Nelson and the late David Huffman. Kwame to me was a friend, advisor, consultant, advocate, someone I respected and trusted. He had me on his St. Paul cable TV talk show several times.
So many times over the years, things happened in this community on the sports scene that we at the MSR as a staff had to write about. And not just write about but give juice to with social perspective.
Balance! Independent thinking without bias.
Dave Winfield signing that huge New York Yankees contract, Lou Holtz, Clem Haskins, Kirby Puckett, Isaiah Rider, Kevin Garnett, Dennis Green, North High School, University of Minnesota, Twins, Brad Childress, Jerry Burns, North Stars, Timberwolves, Herschel Walker, Mike Lynn, Tubby Smith, Sid Hartman, Mitch Lee…
Bud Grant, Reggie Fowler, Chris Cook, Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Metrodome, Tony Queen, Mike Tice, Warren Moon, Daunte Culpepper, Dr. McKinley Boston, Flip Saunders, Kevin McHale, Target Field, Richard Solomon, Adrian Peterson, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, Lindsay Whalen, Trent Tucker, Mel Riley, Maya Moore, Chuck Foreman…
Civic Center, Met Center, Xcel Center, Target Center, Red McCombs, Alan Page, Zygi Wilf, Joey Browner, Jackie Cherryholmes, Tony Dungy, Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota High School League, Lisa Lissamore, Leo Lewis (“KFAN Fires Larry Fitzgerald”), Glen Taylor, Max Winter, Arden Hills, Vikings Stadium, Randall Cunningham, Leslie Frazier, Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., Kris Humphries, Ricky Foggie, Jerry Kill, Glen Mason, Korey Stringer, John Randle, Seimone Augustus…
These are just a few of the names, venues, athletes, personalities and stories that Kwame and I talked about or wrote about. That had a profound effect or continues to in this Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, Minnesota Nice community.
Kwame helped us all: He did so much for young people and women — Title IX owes Kwame. I’m grateful for his friendship and the relationship we had; he always took my calls and had the right things to say.
Three weeks ago when he was honored in St. Paul at Central High School, it was so powerful. I had just finished doing Almanac on TPT. All the people, young and old, who came by — all I could do was hug him. I was speechless.
Kwame, I will miss you, brother, for always having my back when I had to step out on that ledge. Thank you.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.