Of Underwoods: Laton High

Laton High grad Bill Warmerdam, coaching Aptos High in 1992. 

Bill Lovejoy/Santa Cruz Sentinel

I was tossing some dates around in my head the other night and came to a realization. I’ve been reporting sports full-time for nearly four decades. That’s a lot of runs, hits and errors and 3-pointers — with 3-pointers actually not coming into vogue until the mid-1980's.

When the 3-pointer arrived, I was working in Watsonville, and I recall driving  to Aptos High where Bill Warmerdam was the basketball coach. Warmerdam is a Laton High grad and the nephew of pole vaulting legend and Hanford High grad Cornelius “Dutch” Warmerdam. We took photos of Warmerdam’s kids trying these new-fangle 3-pointers and speculated on how they might change the game.

Yeah, the world was different back in 1978 when I got started. Bill Walsh was in his last year at Stanford before taking over the San Francisco 49ers, drummer Keith Moon of The Who died and disco music was popular. Two of those things were bad, but the world kept spinning.   

At the Watsonville Register-Pajaronian, computers had not yet arrived. We worked on typewriters for a year before we went electronic. Our editor used an Underwood, the same one that earned him a Pulitzer back in ’56.    

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Later we got these things called Tandy Model 100s, which were portable word processors, a forerunner to laptops. After writing a story, you connected the contraption to a telephone and transmitted the article to your newspaper. Witchcraft, we thought.    

Coverage was different, too. In 2017, while planning stories for Selma and Kingsburg high schools and various youth sporting events, gender is considered. There is an attempt at balance. Back in '78, girls sports were just sort of nodded at — we put them in something called the “at a glance” column. It’s just the way things were, at least until the girls basketball teams started out-drawing the boys.

We didn’t cover the so-called "non-spectator" sports much either until soccer gained popularity. Now, thankfully, there is more equality coverage-wise not only here in the Central Valley but throughout the state. It’s a little more work, but more fair for everyone.

Back in '78, I was 22 and probably thought people my current age were ancient, if not pretty near death. Now I like to think of myself as “seasoned” and more enlightened – and I promise to keep girls sports and prep soccer out of the briefs column as much as possible.

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John Murphy can be reached at 583-2413 or jmurphy@hanfordsentinel.com.

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