By Jimmy Hyams
Most people never hit the lottery once in their lifetime.
I’ve been fortunate to hit four.
I hit the lottery when I was born into a fabulous family.
I hit the lottery when I found a profession that I love.
I hit the lottery when I moved to Knoxville in the best professional and personal move I’ve made.
And I hit the lottery when I married a wonderful wife who gave me two delightful daughters.
I won’t quote Lou Gehrig, but I do consider myself a lucky man.
Not everyone can say they have loved their job spanning seven decades. I can.
But now it’s time to say good-bye.
I’m retiring March 31.
A huge thanks to my bosses, co-workers, professional colleagues, coaches, athletes, fans that listen to our radio show, fans that read my articles and supported my work.
But now, I want to play tennis when I want to, play golf when I want to, play pickleball when I want to, hike the Smokies when I want to, kayak when I want to, travel when I want to, visit family when I want to.
My profession has been extraordinarily fulfilling.
The first article I had published in a newspaper was in February 1968. I was 12.
I started covering high school football and basketball games when I was 13.
I was named sports editor of the Natchitoches (La.) Times when I was 16.
It was the start of a remarkable journey.
I’ve covered the Masters and a Super Bowl. I’ve covered Final Fours in men’s and women’s basketball. I’ve covered a national championship football game in Arizona and a national championship tennis match in California. I’ve covered college football games from Pasadena to New Jersey to Miami. I’ve covered pro football, pro tennis and pro golf. I’ve covered sporting events in 32 states.
I’ve interviewed Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, John McEnroe and Serena Williams, Gale Sayers and Joe Namath, Meadowlark Lemon and Pete Maravich.
I’ve interviewed countless great Tennessee athletes, from Reggie White to Peyton Manning, from Ron Widby to Doug Atkins, from John Majors to Condredge Holloway, from Steve Kiner to Richmond Flowers, from Bernard King to Allan Houston, from Todd Helton to Chris Woodruff. I’ve even interviewed the marvelous Mary Costa about an opera singer singing the national anthem at a Super Bowl.
It’s been a fun ride.
It’s been a wild ride.
But it’s a ride that’s about to end.
I might not completely fade into media oblivion. I might do some free-lance work for the Sports Animal or do some free-lance writing.
But I’m ready for the daily grind to end.
I’m ready to pass the torch.
As the great John Ward once said when he retired: “It’s time.’’