Letter to the Editor: Michael McSweeney

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(The following letter was sent to Tacoma Weekly sports editor Justin Gimse.)

Dear Justin:

I was so moved by your beautiful front-page memorial to Larry LaRue (TW Nov. 17). I grew up in Los Angeles reading Jim Murray in the Los Angeles Times and I moved here way back in 1980. When Larry came onto the scene, I realized I had found my own Pacific Northwest Jim Murray. His ability to tell any sports story with a moving human interest angle was so unique and precious. He was an insightful storyteller and his respect for his subjects was clearly a part of every article he wrote. I loved his later years, after sports, doing human interest features for both The News Tribune and Tacoma Weekly.

In the year 2003, I went to work for the Seattle Mariners as a minimum-wage “day of game” employee in the guest services office. I assisted guests who needed wheelchair assistance to their seats, passed out T-shirts and give-away items, helped lost parents find their missing toddlers, and ran various and sundry random errands throughout the ballpark. I went back year after year for 13 seasons, until my retirement in 2015. Although I was merely a “clock punching nobody” at Safeco Field, I bumped into Larry LaRue hundreds of times in the elevators or around the press box. I’d tell him what I enjoyed about a recent story or just say hello. One time he was standing outside the Diamond Club talking to Frank Robinson – one of my childhood baseball heroes. (I was used to seeing Mariners, but seeing Frank Robinson left me star-struck.) I was carrying a large box of bobble head dolls from the warehouse to the guest services office. Larry saw me, said, “Excuse me, Frank,” and held the elevator door open for me – the self-described “clock punching nobody” – before going back to his interview with the Great Hall of Famer.

That is the gracious gentleman I will forever remember Larry LaRue being.

Very sincerely yours,

Michael McSweeney

Tacoma, WA

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