One of the highlights for me this week was the opportunity to speak with Tucker McLaughlin, a longtime sportswriter for the News and Record of South Boston in Halifax County.
A phone call to the News and Record office confirmed what I had heard about McLaughlin's undergoing three rounds of chemotherapy as the result of a brain tumor.
"He's still working" a colleague told me and I spoke with Tucker (at right) later in the afternoon -- twice in fact, including a second call in which we discussed the Major League Baseball draft, where University of Virginia pitcher Andrew Abbott had been selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round.
Abbott was a baseball standout at Halifax County High School, where he also was a swimmer of some distinction.
Some of the outstanding Halifax County athletes covered by McLaughlin included UVa running back Barry Word, the 1985 ACC rushing champion; and Tyrone Davis, whose 2,153 receiving yards rank third in school history. Three Words played at Virginia and earned a combined nine varsity letters.
AS BEST AS I CAN REMEMBER, McLaughlin didn't start covering Virginia athletics until 1990, the year that Virginia was ranked No. 1 in the country. We were headed down to the field from the parking lot one day when he shared a little bit of his background.
He had not attended Virginia but had UVa ties. I'm not sure what he was covering at the time but two of his major beats were high schools and auto racing, which was big in his part of the state. It wasn't long before he started to show up regularly at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State., as well as NASCAR races.
To his credit, he didn't hesitate to hire "stringers" when he had a conflict. He didn't work in a particularly large market but didn't want his "beats" to go uncovered.