After memorable 30-year run, time to walk away - or not

August 20, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

This is hard. I've spent nearly 30 years in the newspaper business, but all good things must someday come to an end.

I'm officially announcing my retirement today.

It's been a great run. I've worked with some wonderful people - and Ray Frager. I've covered everything from big games to earthquakes (once on the same day) and I've been privileged to see a good bit of the world at company expense. I'd like to go on doing this forever, but Father Time eventually catches up with everyone, with the possible exception of Julio Franco and that irritating guy who won American Idol.

This just seemed like the right time, though I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if I changed my mind and was right back at work tomorrow. I know that Junior Seau was all set to hit the beach last week - he appeared to announce his retirement Monday - but changed his mind and signed with the New England Patriots.

Jerry Rice retired a year ago, but he just signed a contract with the San Francisco 49ers so he can retire again in November. Roger Clemens now retires every year, only to be lured back to the Houston Astros with a truckload full of cash.

I can go on and on. Michael Jordan retired three times, which had to put a big strain on the Social Security system. Mario Lemieux, Magic Johnson and Mark Spitz all unretired at one time or another.

Jim Palmer tried to come out of retirement in the early 1990s, but a hamstring injury ended his comeback attempt a few weeks into spring training. I'm not sure that counts.

I was going to mention Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield and Sugar Ray Leonard, but they retired so many times I've lost track.

"Boxers don't count," said Orioles public relations guy Bill Stetka, whom I have been encouraging to retire for several years now.

The Rice thing actually makes perfect sense. He might be the greatest receiver of all time, but not because of anything he did during late-career stints with the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. He is an all-time 49er, and it's good to see the organization recognize that in a way that is easily exploitable for promotional purposes.

Just a side note, but the Orioles could have done the same thing with the 40th anniversary of the 1966 World Series championship team, but apparently decided to release an African-American Brian Roberts bobblehead doll instead.

Club officials insist that skin color of the mis-manufactured dolls was actually closer to mauve, but that doesn't make for nearly as good a story.

Rice will be honored Nov. 19 with a halftime ceremony that will feature a video montage and the Seahawks leading by 31 points. I can only hope that doesn't prevent him from appearing in Dancing with the Stars: The Reunion.

Who knows what's going on with Seau, who sure appeared to be retiring at a huge party in San Diego. He quickly signed with the Patriots, presumably for one more shot at a Super Bowl ring, which I guess is understandable. I wouldn't mind having one myself.

That's not why I'm retiring, however. I don't think there are any NFL teams interested in me, though I did hear from Philadelphia a couple hundred times last week. I'm not even sure I could get another newspaper job, since the industry has become so competitive that most dailies now require writing ability.

I suppose I could eke out a living on the competitive eating circuit, but I'm not ready to think about that quite yet. I need to take the next 24 hours and decide whether not doing anything is really what I want to do with the rest of my life.

When I mentioned this to some friends, they weren't very supportive.

"You know what I'm going to do when I retire?" one of them asked me. "I'm going to go to ballgames and play golf. That's what you do for a living, so go to hell."

For the record, I have never been a professional golfer, but the point is well taken. I think I may have to consider unretirement.

I'll let you know tomorrow. peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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