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Spencer Remembers: This ought to jog your memory
by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist
Sep 27, 2008 | 914 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Nathan Orme - An artist’s rendering, displayed at ths week’s team name announcement for the Reno Aces, shows what the new minor league baseball stadium in downtown Reno will look like. The team is scheduled to begin play in 2009.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - An artist’s rendering, displayed at ths week’s team name announcement for the Reno Aces, shows what the new minor league baseball stadium in downtown Reno will look like. The team is scheduled to begin play in 2009.
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Sept. 20 was the 40th running of the Journal Jog, long regarded as the granddaddy of local races. With one or more charity races scheduled for most of the good-weather weekends every year in Reno, it is probably well to give credit to the founder of the Journal Jog. His name was Gib Landell and he was a reporter on the Nevada State Journal when the Biggest Little City sported an evening and an afternoon paper.

Getting the approval of his boss, sports editor Ty Cobb, and the rest of the Journal hierarchy, Landell promoted the race successfully the first year and it grew exponentially over the ensuing years when Cobb took on the chore himself.

In those early years, the very active Reno YMCA was the focal point of the Jog start and finish. Family members and supporters were usually ensconced in the football stands of the adjacent Reno High School as they awaited the arrival of their favorite runner. I recall several occasions when Cobb handed out medals to the winners in the stands area. In those days results were posted quickly and runners recognized on the spot.

Early on, one of my sons, Zach, was the youngest finisher at somewhere around four years old. I recall him getting on the phone to us while we were in San Francisco and excitedly noting, “I winned the race!” When we got back to Reno I got a firsthand report on Zach’s finish from one of his sisters, who noted , “When Zach crossed the finish line he veered over to the football field and collapsed on the grass!” I questioned Zach about this and he replied, “That’s the way they do it on TV!”

His younger brother Luke was also the youngest finisher for several years, the first time in diapers and carrying his bottle.

Both youngest and oldest finisher categories have since disappeared from the Jog awards. I suppose youngest could be assigned to the youngest baby riding in the stroller division today.

When the Jog switched from its Sunday date to a Saturday date a few years back it seemed to lose in the number of entries. Now it is slowly building back to its record years.

One innovation this year was the introduction of a new course for the Jog, which saw competitors turning left on Booth Street instead of right, as in the past. Most runners said they enjoyed the new course, mainly because it eliminated the “heart-break hill” portion of the old course.

Some famous perennial winners of the Jog in the early years were Skip Houk and the Tibaduiza brothers.

Over the years, Joggers have enjoyed perfect weather (as seen Saturday), overwhelmingly hot weather and cold, blustery days — all part of the changing weather scene of the Western Sierra slopes.

Reno’s Big Dig

The infrastructure for the new Triple-A baseball field in the heart of downtown Reno is beginning to come out of the earth, as the enormous cavity dug for the sunken field begins to fill with steel and concrete. Early this week the official name of the club was announced at the Siena Resort and Spa to an overflowing press conference. The official name is “The Reno Aces.” How the new club, which begins play next spring, will affect the other professional team in the area — the Silver Sox, which plays at Peccole Park on the University of Nevada, Reno campus — is not yet known. Some reports have the Sox moving to Carson City, which, it is said, would welcome them with open arms.

The new Reno team, with its affiliation to the strong MLB Arizona Diamondbacks, should afford local fans with the most exciting baseball since the old L.A. Dodgers team had the Silver Sox as their farm club at the Moana diamond.

Word from an old pro

The speaker at the September meeting of the area’s Good Old Days Club, Don Burke, wove an interesting story of his early days in the NFL as a member of the San Francisco 49ers and from there to promoting the city of Reno for some 40 years. Following his retirement from professional football he went into business for himself in the East Bay, and after five years was hired by the new owner of the Holiday Hotel (now the Siena) in Reno to run a San Francisco sales office for the Reno property. The owner at that time was Newt Crumley, who suffered an untimely death in a plane he was piloting that also carried Eddie Questa, Reno’s premier banker during that time. Following Crumley’s death, Burke joined the Reno Chamber of Commerce’s promotion committee, which had access to room tax money in those days, and opened an even larger office, promoting the city of Reno on Market Street in San Francisco. After a dozen or more years in that capacity he won the job of sales and marketing manager for the resorts at Sun Valley, Idaho. Returning to Reno when the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority gained control of the room tax money, he took the post of national sales manager and remained there for some 13 years until retiring.

In his presentation to the G.O.D club, Burke said that he was most proud of originating the “Fun Train” that traveled to Reno from the Bay area during the harsh winter months. Two of his major sales while with the RSCVA were the Safari Club and the Outdoor Retailers.

Recalling his NFL days he noted that the pay was so low that he and his ‘Niner teammates never wanted to make the playoffs since that would mean they would have to give up their more lucrative jobs during Christmas working at the Post Office.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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Spencer Remembers: This ought to jog your memory by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist


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