Steve Kelley is retiring after 30-plus years at The Seattle Times. Here are a few highlights from his columns.
Second down on USC’s first possession, a harbinger of the afternoon. Ricky Ervins, the latest in the long line of decorated USC tailbacks, is stopped cold by Steve Emtman.
Still on his knees, on the griddle that is the stadium floor, Emtman raises both fists and the crowd responds. The press box sways like Candlestick Park in an earthquake. Something’s happening here.
— “UW’s postcard for posterity smells rosy,” on Washington’s 31-0 victory over Todd Marinovich and USC, Sept. 23, 1990
Fifty-two-thousand-plus fans clung to every pitch. They were on to every count. They rose to their feet on almost every two-strike pitch, unleashing a tsunami of noise that didn’t quit until the next batter came to the plate.
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It was nine innings and almost three hours of Mardi Gras. It was the Sonics in ’79 and the Seahawks in ’83.
And it ended with a Randy Johnson strikeout. A paralyzing, paint-the-corner fastball to Tim Salmon that should have gone straight to Cooperstown.
— “Champagne splashing in locker room washes away all those seasons of futility,” on Mariners clinching AL West title in playoff, Oct. 3, 1995
Two mountains loom over sub-Saharan Africa. One spectacular and one horrific.
One is the magical 19,340-foot monolith, Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free-standing mountain peak; the subject of Ernest Hemingway’s story and a magnet that has drawn climbers, both experts and novices, to its difficult, but accessible, summit for more than a century.
The other is HIV/AIDS, the pandemic that has ravaged East Africa for more than two decades.
— “Provide and conquer,” on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Aug. 22, 2004
Neither the Soviet tanks, nor the civil wars, nor the Taliban’s repression has robbed Afzal Abdul of his passion. The mines, the bombs, the fear that comes from 30 years of war haven’t taken away his love of golf.
How much do you love the game?
Have you been jailed twice and charged with the crime of being a golfer? Afzal Abdul has.
— “For love of the game,” about the golf course in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 25, 2005
This loss will gnaw at them the rest of this winter. It will follow them into offseason workouts. It will haunt their dreams.
The Seahawks will wake up out of a sound sleep in a cold sweat and remember the dropped passes, the missed field goals, the punt that rolled dead on their 2-yard line, the penalties.
They will look at the game film later this week and realize they should have been ahead about 24-0 at halftime.
— “Motor pity,” on the Seahawks’ loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL, Feb. 6, 2006
His Royal Smugness sat at a podium in New Orleans this weekend and, without a twinge of emotion, without an ounce of understanding, declared NBA basketball in Seattle dead.
Commissioner David Stern said he expected the Sonics to leave Seattle either this year or in 2010.
“There is no miracle here,” His Royal Smugness said.
He said the Sonics will relocate to Oklahoma City.
Now let’s get one thing clear. This team that is owned by Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon and the rest of the rustlers from Oklahoma City is not the Sonics.
— “Don’t even try to call Bennett’s team Sonics,” on David Stern’s announcement that the Sonics would relocate, Feb. 18, 2008
Ike’s story is about much more than this one football play. It is a reminder of the infinite capacity of the human heart. It is about Mark Perry’s compassion. It is about the ability of the young players from Lake Stevens to understand the importance of the moment and act selflessly when it would have been so easy to be selfish.
— “Ultimate two-way player,” on Ike Ditzenberger, a football player with Down syndrome, Oct. 11, 2010