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220 Sacramento Kings home games later . . .
kings teaser
Kings media guides from their first six seasons in Sacramento as well as an NBA Blue Book.

My name is in six NBA Blue Books.

Based on similar offerings on eBay, the one from the 1990-91 season that I still have in my possession might be worth $4.79 to a collector that I must assume is a little on the deranged side to want one in the first place.

Besides, $4.79 would barely cover half the price of a large Blizzard at Dairy Queen.

The actual Sacramento Kings guide from that season commands $5.50 on Amazon as does most other years they were printed.

That was back in the Stone Age when media guides were still printed.

The Blue Book designed to fit into a dress suit jacket pocket contained all the contact information for beat reporters that covered the NBA in 40 markets.

Credentialed NBA media now have a website they can access all pertinent stats, records, etc. about every NBA teams.

Back 38 years ago, credential media got a big box of 30 media guides from around the league at the start of each season.

Given I’m not a pack rat, I kept six of the 180 media guides. There are the Kings media guides from the first six seasons in Sacramento.

For 5½ seasons, I covered 220 home league games plus a healthy number of preseason and summer league games for Associated Press.

They lost their first game they opened the season in the original Arco Arena that seated 10,333 — to the Los Angeles Clippers 108-104. And the last time I covered them — just two weeks before I moved to Manteca — they also lost.

Given they were 152-298 during their first 5½ seasons in Sacramento, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

It certainly didn’t surprise the five head coaches they went through at the time — Phil Johnson, Jerry Reynolds, Bill Russell, Jerry Reynolds again, and Dick Motta.

I had a front row seat at the media table between the edge of the Sacramento Kings bench and the scorekeeper/timer. The Sacramento Bee and Sacramento Union beat reporters were to my left and the United Press International reporter and TV broadcasters to the right.

My job was simple.

Call in the quarter scores as well as the final score, dictate the short box and long box to the desk in New York, file a 250-word initial story, update the short and long boxes at the game’s end, get quotes from key game players and coaches, send a 350-word add, and then file a 750-word overnighter.

The San Francisco bureau gave me tips on how to track play-by-play to spot trends that were augmented with quarterly stats and play-by-play the Kings media staff provided.

The wire services were allowed a second person to handle the box scores. I never had trouble finding someone to go to the game to help me to do that given they were able to sit at the second row media table.

The pressure was always on as there were inevitably East Coast papers waiting for West Coast sports results for their late editions.

I was somewhat proud of the fact that I was almost  through filing ahead of AP sports reporters in Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle.

The tools of the trade was a Tandy 80 where you could see two lines of type on a narrow screen as well as a courtside phone with acoustic  couplers to hook up what was an early version of a laptop  to the AP computer in New York City.

I was fortunate, over the 5½ years, to fill in when I could and was needed — I still had a fulltime job in Roseville — to cover Capitol press conferences, Team Tennis, boxing, and even one time helped with a preseason 49ers game at Candlestick.

I got the job as a sports stringer for Associated Press because I wanted to be managing editor of The Press-Tribune.

At the time that meant doing a sports gig and then moving on to news editor and then city editor. Then  — if an opening came up — they would decide if you were ready to run what was then a 17-member editorial department with a dozen correspondents.

The Roseville paper was six days a week back then  with a circulation of 17,000.

Meanwhile, Associated Press — unbeknownst to me — was searching for a stringer to cover the Kings when they started the 1985-86 season in Sacramento after moving from Kansas City.

The Sacramento bureau lacked a sports reporter and the San Francisco bureau wasn’t thrilled about having to cover a sports team that was over an hour away.

I got the call out of the blue.

I had several sports stories that won monthly AP for wire service members including one on a local Greco-Roman Olympian as well as a five-part series covering six full pages on quarterback Robbie Bosco — a Roseville High product who in 1985 ended up leading BYU to the national championship.

How did I get a five-part series out of Bosco? The Press-Tribune had sent me to Provo, Utah where I wasn’t only doing a campus/practice feature on Bosco but his head coach Lavelle Edwards and his quarterback coach Mike Holmgren.

When  I was there, Steve Young happened to drop by BYU after signing with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL Holmgren had Young catch and pass back the football as I was getting photos of Bosco passing with the Wasatch Mountains in the background.

I happened to interweave Young’s observations about Bosco in the story and what he was up to at the time.

From all of that, I guess someone at AP assumed I knew a lot about sports.

Let’s put it this way. Being a sports editor or a sports reporter wasn’t my dream job. At the time, though, I had been covering high school and junior college sports for 15 years as it was all hands on deck on Thursday and Friday nights with 8 high schools in our circulation area.

Covering the Sacramento Kings for AP is part of the reason I ended up in Manteca.

Darrel Phillips, the Bulletin’s publisher at the time, had placed a blind ad in Editor & Publisher looking for an editor.

My decision to leave Roseville was rather abrupt and caught everybody off guard including myself.  The magazine I saw the ad in was a month-old. Darrel was actually ready to fill the position when I called him on his unlisted mobile phone number.

Given the ad didn’t say where the Bulletin was located — he was getting ready to fire his editor in what was a string of six editors he either fired or quit in less than a year — I had to figure it out that it was the Manteca Bulletin and then determine who the publisher was and try to find his personal number which was unlisted.

Any good reporter worth being called a reporter could do that within 10 phone calls in the days before the Internet became a universal tool. I did it in five.

When he found out I was covering sports for AP, he had me meet him in a suite at Arco Arena before a game for an interview.

Darrel wanted to hire me on the spot but I insisted first to be interviewed by the general manager to make sure I was the right fit.

Long story short I took the job.

The next day I had a job offer to be a columnist for the Las Vegas Sun that I had to decline as I had given Darrel my word.

So, if it wasn’t for the Kings moving to Sacramento I may not have ended up moving to Manteca.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at