A anniversary and a day ago, Mike Cunniff anesthetized abroad at Acceptable Samaritan Society in Prophetstown.
Some of you, no doubt, will bethink Mike able-bodied from aloof my advertence his name. Others of you may be cerebration "Mike Cunniff. That sounds accustomed ... " while still others — abnormally those who accept spent time over the years at aerial academy antic contest or at the adolescence softball fields on Ottawa's south ancillary — ability bethink Mike's face moreso than his name.
If you've had annihilation to do with sports anywhere about the continued breadth over the accomplished four decades, though, I'd acerb action you had an acquaintance or three involving Mike Cunniff.
He was — to use a byword aggregate by some of us who accept been in this profession for a while — one of us.
He was a alone sports announcer ... and a abuse acceptable one.
In accession to his years alive at the Ottawa Daily Times in, I believe, the mid-1980s through the aboriginal bisected of the 1990s (oddly enough, no one about actuality seems absolutely assertive on the exact years), Mike additionally enjoyed an award-winning career as a sports journalist/editor at the Sterling Gazette, Dixon Evening Telegraph and Morris Herald from the aboriginal 1970s until aloof a few years ago.
He was friendly. He was outgoing. He was quick with a antic and amoral with capacity of his claimed activity (including his generally all-a-quiver health). He was a absurd biographer who could accomplish words band up to acquaint a adventure with the best of them, and his autograph showed no ageism — he could be autograph a gamer on a inferior aerial girls basketball bold or the Super Bowl, it wouldn't matter, the adventure would be aloof as well-crafted.
I afresh ran beyond an American Legion baseball adventure a fresh-out-of-college Mike Cunniff wrote way aback in 1973 which featured a agglomeration of kids arena a baseball bold 75 afar abroad from the hospital I would be built-in in two years later, and I apprehend it to the final word. As addition "one of us," above Daily Times sports editor Dan Eilts, reminded me in a Facebook chat about Mike's passing, Mike's volleyball autograph was abnormally strong, admitting alone I was consistently fractional to the way he wrote softball ... which as you'll apprehend in a moment, makes absolute sense.
The appearance affection of Mike that was best affecting to me as a adolescent alone sports announcer who had never planned to go into journalism at all, abundant beneath sports journalism (my above was Advertising/Marketing/Communications; my accessory Philosophy), was Mike's generosity. He was quick with a allowance duke on statistics, he was quick with a advancement on a story, and he was quick with a compliment.
I still bethink a night Mike came aback to our comfortable little appointment to book his adventure accidentally not too continued afterwards I abutting the sports agents at The Streator Times-Press. Deadlines were a lot looser in those days, and the sports reporters could appear aback and allocution about their amateur (and lives) over a pizza or sandwiches afore diving headfirst into their statistics and stories.
After our belief were assuredly filed, Mike was acquisition his things to leave, and I went to airing him out. He chock-full at the aperture and said article forth the curve of, "By the way, I apprehend your stuff. You do a abundant job. I achievement you stick with it."
It was a little thing, but as I brainstorm it is in all professions, the ones who accept been about the block a few times aren't consistently so quick to acclaim and animate the new kids. You're abundant added acceptable to get alongside glances and airs from the old-timers. Mike aloof wasn't that blazon of guy.
I didn't see a lot of Mike for a few years, but against the end of the aftermost decade and alpha of this one he'd pop in our appointment actuality in Ottawa a scattering of times a year to say hello, allocution about baseball cards or his sometimes-improving/sometimes-not-improving bloom or why the Cubs stunk, maybe use a computer to assignment out schedules or rosters for addition affection of his, the Ottawa Girls Fastpitch Association.
Mike was a co-founder of OGFA and a active alliance backer and advance — coaching, administrating, groundskeeping, umpiring. In 2014 back he retired from OGFA duties afterwards 25 years, the alliance accustomed his efforts. The seeds he buried with OGFA, however, can alone be absolutely accepted now with the accepted acceleration of the softball programs at Ottawa and Marquette aerial schools to aberrant heights.
It was article he was actual appreciative of, but Mike had a lot about which he had every acumen to be proud.
He was a abundant guy to allocution to and a abundant sports writer, and sports about our little allotment of the accompaniment are worse off now that he's not about to account them.