I found myself this morning smiling at a moment from the past, all thanks to Virginia Tech winning the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn this weekend.
It was 1979. I had just recently met the executive assistant in the personnel department at the Roanoke Times over on Campbell Avenue, a wonderful lady named Debbie. I worked as a sportswriter, and up on the 4th floor, my desk was next to our Virginia beat writer, Doug Doughty.
Our desks were in the middle of the room, and up at the front toward the entrance was a glassed-in office, which belonged to the sports editor, Bill Brill. Doughty and Brill were good friends, and Doug had developed a great imitation of Brill, right down to pretending to remove an imaginary cigar from his mouth while spouting off some intense opinion.
Doug wasn’t the only one to do this, as several writers who covered the ACC also had their imitations (John Feinstein of the Washington Post also had an excellent rendition) but Doughty’s was the best, probably because he got to study his subject every single day.
If you’ve ever been in a newsroom, you realize there’s a lot of jovial banter going on, and the sports department probably enjoys such things more than any room in the building. Brill – as everyone knows – had an interesting relationship with Virginia Tech, as while he was an excellent journalist and teacher, he always seemed to find an angle on a Virginia Tech story that really rankled Hokie fans.
On this given day, Brill was sharing out loud how a number of Hokies fans were really fired up about the latest thing he wrote, and as he returned to his office, Doug – without missing a beat – does a perfect imitation of Brill saying “I hate Tech” several times. I guess you had to be there, but the quality of the imitation and the timing of when uttered just made me burst out laughing.