Friday, April 22, 2005

Game not the same after loss of Merv Harris

By the San Mateo County Times

SAN MATEO -- Somewhere, Merv Harris was smiling.

It was that kind of a day at College of San Mateo on Thursday. Warm, and clear with a hint of drama in the air. San Mateo and Cabrillo were locked in a 5-5 Coast Conference baseball contest. Henry Wrigley, a freshman from Burlingame High, was at the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. There were two strikes.

Wrigley then deposited the next pitch beyond the fence in left field, a line drive that left no doubt. The walk-off home run gave the Bulldogs a 6-5 victory, and Wrigley was mobbed at the plate as a handful of fans celebrated behind the backstop. But one familiar face was missing.

Longtime reporter Merv Harris [pictured], who had covered the local sports scene seemingly since the invention of newsprint, was conspicuous in his absence. Harris, who had covered the Bulldogs for the San Francisco Examiner and San Mateo County Times since the 1970s, passed away at a South San Francisco hospital on Monday of complications from diabetes and other ailments.

"That was a game that Merv would have loved," said CSM assistant Lenny Vagt, a friend of Harris' for more than 20 years. "A walk-off homer, he would have been really excited. He loved Wrigley. He was always talking about him."

That was the thing about Merv. He was beloved and respected by the coaches and players he covered because his style resonated with them. They sensed his passion. Merv loved a good ballgame, but he also always kept the big picture close to his heart: People are moreimportant than things.

"We all feel that we lost a part of our family," San Mateo coach Doug Williams said. "Merv called me on Sunday from the hospital, explaining why he wasn't at our game the previous day. He was upbeat and real positive, expecting to come back soon. That's what I'll remember most about him, his enthusiasm. San Mateo County owes him a big thank you."

Merv was a familiar presence to Wrigley as well, going back to his high school career at Burlingame.

"It's really weird not having him around," Wrigley said. "I didn't know him that well, but I saw him a lot, and he'd always smile and wave and be happy to see us. He flat out loved being here. I was shocked when he passed."

CSM football coach Larry Owens met Harris when Owens was coaching at Woodside High in the early 1980s.

"His passing is not going to really sink for some until it's time for their sport to roll around," Owens said. "Fall will get here, and kids are going to really miss him. You know, we didn't always see eye-to-eye on some things. But he did his job professionally, and he enjoyed doing it. We can all learn a lesson from that."

CSM's baseball team is reflecting on that now.

"You know, my grandfather passed away suddenly, kind of out of the blue," Wrigley said. "In a way that makes it easier to deal with. He led a good, prosperous life, and you take comfort in that."

Williams would agree.

"When Henry hit that homer, I know Merv was smiling, looking down," Williams said. "We're certainly going to miss him."

-One day in March, following a game at CSM, Merv was backing up his car in the parking lot and ran into the car behind him -- which happened to belong to one of the umpires. The umpire in question arrived just in time to see the collision, and began inspecting the damage (a bent license plate). Merv, not realizing he had hit the vehicle (he's the type of person who would have stopped if he had), sped off. The umpire, seeing me a few yards away, called out frantically: "Hey, who was that guy? Did you see that?"

As a former youth baseball coach, I had always dreamed of this opportunity. And so I got to say what I'd always wanted to say to an umpire: "Nope. Didn't see a thing."

-Coaches, administrators, players, friends and readers are encouraged to share their stories, memories and thoughts of Merv Harris for future publication. Contact the County Times by e-mail at, or by phone at (650) 348-4348.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Game not the same after loss of Merv Harris

The San Mateo County Times reports the death of longtime sports writer Merv Harris, who covered the local sports scene for the San Francisco Examiner and the San Mateo Times for decades.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

April 2005 Press Club board minutes

Minutes of the April 20 meeting of the Board of Directors

Present: Michelle Carter, John Kane, Jack Russell, Darryl Compton, Dave Price, Jon Mays, Bill Workman.

Absent: Aimee Lewis, Ed Remitz

President Micki Carter called the meeting to order at 6:20 p.m.

Minutes of the previous meeting and the treasurer's report were approved.

Old business:

28th Annual Awards Competition. It was noted that the contest entries were being judged by six different clubs across the country. The contest results will return May 1 and the invitations will be mailed out soon after, Compton reported.

High school contest judging. Entries are up and the judging is to completed April 25.

Susan Caldwell memorial scholarship. It was decided that the Press Club will give the winner $500.

SAMCAR scholarship. There is a question about the $1,500 attached to the scholarship because of instability at SAMCAR. Carter will call representative for more details.

New business:

Jim Monroe's widow wants a newsletter sent to her. The board agreed to it.

There was some discussion of having some presentation or ceremony at the annual awards banquet for a number of local journalists who died this year.

The next newsletter will come out the second week of May, Carter reported. Carter also said the award banquet arrangements were once again organized by Lewis and there will be no increase in the rate.

The meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m.

Minutes submitted by secretary Jon Mays.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bay Area becomes incubator for free daily newspapers

April 19, 2005

KGO-TV Channel 7

How do you get your news fix? If you said the Internet you're not alone. But now the Bay Area has become an incubator for the newspaper of the future. They're free, popping up everywhere, and aimed at attracting young eyeballs. So what's behind the trend?

Newspapers in America are institutions, most dating back over 100 years. But readers don't have to wait for the presses to crank out a paper to get their news.

Television, cable and satellite and the Internet have spawned a wide range of 24 hour news sources.

Connie Nguyen gets her news online.

Connie Nguyen, Internet news consumer: "It's faster, it's more available. I think you're too busy in the morning to drop a newspaper and read it."

Nguyen and others in their 20's and 30's are new targets for the newspaper industry. And in the Bay Area, where they don't read mainstream papers, free daily papers are trying to entice them.

Scott McKibben, San Francisco Examiner publisher: "We know that this generation feels that they should not have to pay for their news, so the free concept, the compact size, the tabloid ... we're a smaller newspaper, they can read it quicker, the stories are shorter."

Traditional newspapers may have fostered the free news model by making their content free online.

For example, more people read the New York Times on the web each day than subscribe to the paper.

Free daily papers have popped up in Chicago, Washington D.C. and several other cities.

The Palo Alto Daily News, along with four other free Peninsula papers, was recently purchased by Knight Ridder, the owner of the San Jose Mercury News.

William Woo, a visiting professor at Stanford, was the long-time editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

He believes it's content that will win readers, young and old. And young readers won't abandon the Internet for newspapers.

William Woo, former newspaper editor: "They are going to be multimedia consumers through their life, and I think if you expect them to move away from their broad media base and substitute newspapers for it, it's going to be a long hard night for that to happen."

Sold out newspaper racks -- that's exactly what newspaper publishers want to see. But that's not always the case. Change is coming to the newspaper industry, but that change is going to be slow.

Bay Area becomes incubator for free dailies

KGO ABC 7 reports that the Bay Area has become "an incubator for the newspaper of the future [free dailies] They're free, popping up everywhere, and aimed at attracting young eyeballs."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Press Democrat photo editor Metzger dies

Santa Rosa Press Democrat photo editor John Metzge suffered a heart attack and died Wednesday while enjoying a family reunion in Hawaii, the paper reported today. Metzger, 56, and his wife, Becca, were on Oahu visiting the elder of their two sons, John Jr., an Army specialist who only recently returned to American soil after serving a year in Afghanistan.
    Metzger joined The Press Democrat as director of photography in 1993. Among his charges was staff photographer Annie Wells, whose photos of Santa Rosa firefighters' rescue of a girl caught in a raging creek in 1996 won a Pulitzer Prize. Wells, now a photographer with the Los Angeles Times, said Wednesday, "No one I've worked with had the vision of what a photographer brings to the table that John did. "Had I not worked with him, I wouldn't be half the photographer I am today," she said.