A typical AP awards banquet over the years, John Anderson with second place certificates and Chuck Pollock with first-place plaques.
By JOHN ANDERSON
On one hand I can name writers you spent your good money on to buy a subscription to a newspaper to read on a daily basis.
Chuck Pollock with the Olean Times Herald is on that list. He’s on my personal Mount Rushmore of columnists I read as a teenager with Dave Barry, Lewis Grizzard and Bob Matthews.
I learned from him at age 21 and 22 when I would call in Town Team baseball scores, and then read his column and understand why he wrote what he did and how he did the work. He continued to give me advice as a sports editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter.
When Tom Donahue, then managing editor of the Times Herald, offered me a news writing job in fall of 1994, I jumped at it.
What was I thinking …
Little did I know, Tom, Chuck, city-side editor Pat Vecchio and others saw me as potential. And they were the greatest coaches ever, along with some other incredible editors and writers in that newsroom. I seriously could list 15 in a second. Getting on the front page of news or sports was tough.
Chuck taught me valuable lessons on column writing, shorter game stories, better features and deadlines.
The first three, I made the changes. The last one, not so much.
Each year, Chuck either won Associated Press New York State Sports Writer of the Year of Columnist of the Year. Until he started winning AP National Columnist of the Year.
First of all, the classification we were in for those state awards made up about 70 percent of the newspapers. Then he wins national awards? The beauty of it all? He won those with local columns on our friends, family and neighbors. He won by writing commentary on a Bills or Bonnies game we watched.
And that commentary? I would sit next to Chuck in the press box or at Bonnies games. We watched the same game. The fans watched the same game live or on TV. And somehow, he wrote 18.5 inches the next day on something none of us saw that changed the game or made you realize there might be a crack in the armor.
Chuck could rattle off the names of some of the greats who worked for him in the Times Herald sports department and went on to great things. But he also spoke with the same pride when someone went on to another job, maybe not as prestigious, but equally fulfilling.
I never told him this, but I thought his greatest quality was his support of females breaking into sports writing, how he hired them, and how he treated them. Chuck was on the front lines when the first females made their way into an NFL or NHL locker room.
When I left the Olean Times Herald to take over as an editor for the Wellsville, Hornell and Dansville papers, Chuck wrote me a farewell column and I was stunned. I left for a better opportunity, but I always felt if the situation was right, I would be back in Olean to work with Chuck again. That situation never happened, and then Chuck retired.
So did Michael Jordan.
To this day, Chuck will use a fax machine before he creates a Facebook account or Twitter account. Like Jordan, Chuck still has plenty of wins left in him. I know he puts his family first and I know he loves to write. Maybe, just maybe, without the pressure of a print deadline, but with the ability to reach almost 1 million readers a month, Chuck would be willing to write for the Wellsville and Hornell Sun.
I called him as he was watching some kind of race (for entertainment purposes only) and he agreed to meet with me. We had a great visit and he has the same look in his eye as he did covering the Bills in 1974 when the stadium opened.
With a handshake and no contract, he agreed to start writing, on his terms. Of course, his terms are twice as many columns than we expected!
As we left, I thought, ‘Finally, we are working together as equals.’ Until Chuck stopped at his car, turned to me and said to me for the 465th time, “Try not to screw this up.”
Here is a great feature on Pollock by Cameron Hurst in 2019 for TAP into GREATER Olean: (CLICK HERE)