Scott Bordow: I'll never forget the camaraderie, incredible experiences and you the readers after 26 years at the Tribune. I've been blessed.
In the fall of 1980, I noticed an index card affixed to a bulletin board in Stauffer Hall, then the home to the journalism and broadcast schools at Arizona State.
"Mesa Tribune looking for stringers to cover high school football," it read.
I called the phone number, drove to the office the next day to take an editing test and covered an Apache Junction football game that Friday.
That was my hello to the Tribune.
This is my goodbye.
I'm moving on. I'll still be writing about sports, but at a different address and hopefully with a different mug shot (my current one for the Tribune has a little bit too much nose).
I'll try not to turn this into a soppy farewell, but I can't go without expressing my thanks.
I've been incredibly blessed. I wanted to be a sportswriter since I was 10 years old. More specifically, it was the moment I saw my first curveball in Little League and realized I would never play center field for the Chicago Cubs.
When I saw my byline in the Tribune for the first time that Saturday morning, I was hooked. And I can honestly say that in the 26 years since being hired full time, I never once got up in the morning and dreaded going to work.
Were there days I would rather have been somewhere other than the office? Sure. Who doesn't feel that way at times? But I never hated my job. I never wished I was doing something else.
I remember once telling a bunch of friends at a party that I "had to" cover a Suns game the next night.
"Oh, you get paid to go to watch Charles Barkley play," one of them said, the sarcasm dripping from his voice. "Poor guy."
He was right. I never said "had to" again.
The Tribune has been my one and only home. I've had chances to go elsewhere, to make more money and work for bigger papers.
But I stayed not only for personal reasons - this is home for my wife, myself and our extended families - but because there was a spirit and sense of togetherness that didn't exist at other papers.
We never had as many resources as the guy down the street. The Tribune covered the 1992-93 NBA Finals between the Suns and Chicago Bulls with three people. Our competitor had 11 on the road.
But that underdog mentality fostered a camaraderie that I treasured. We leaned on each other. We respected one another. We became friends as well as co-workers.
I know I'm going to miss somebody, but I have to thank Dave Lumia, Mark Emmons, the late Bob Moran, Les Willsey, Craig Morgan, Bob Romantic, Jack Magruder, Jerry Brown, Darren Urban and others.
Guys, I loved it here because of you, and I know I'll never have as much fun in the business again.
I think about the events I've covered, and I just shake my head in wonderment: six Super Bowls, three Final Fours, The Masters twice, that incredible NBA Finals, the Cardinals' magical ride last year, and, of course, the 2001 World Series.
One of the few regrets I have, in fact, came in Game 7 of the Series. Thinking I wanted to capture the emotion if the Diamondbacks won or lost, I left my auxiliary press box seat in center field and waited in the hallway outside their clubhouse.
I never saw Luis Gonzalez's game-winning hit.
I can't finish this column without expressing my gratitude to the most important person of all: You, the reader.
We didn't always agree with one another. I'm sure there were more than a few occasions that you hated the Tribune for ever hiring me in the first place. That's OK. I can think of a few athletes and coaches who felt the same way.
But I appreciated every e-mail and phone call because it meant you took the time to read what I had written. As a journalist, I couldn't ask for anything more.
One last story: As some of you might remember, I was delusional with a 104-degree fever when I wrote that the New York Yankees would win the '01 World Series in five games.
Three years later, my wife and I were having dessert with another couple at a Scottsdale eatery. We had a table near the window, and as we dug into our cake, a homeless man pushing a grocery cart strolled by.
He looked at me, stopped and opened the door.
"You're Scott Bordow, aren't you?" he said.
"Yes," I replied, a little hesitant about where the conversation might be headed.
"You picked the Yankees in five," he said.
With that, he closed the door, took hold of his cart and moved on.
I'll never forget him - or you.