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My Friend Joe Falls

Back in 1998, my assistant Martie came in my office with a huge smile and told me Joe Falls was on the phone; like I was supposed to know who Joe Falls was. She explained that he was a famous sports writer who worked for the Associated Press and now the Detroit News.  I took the call and Joe politely introduced himself and explained that he wanted to create an audio CD set of interviews about the life of Tiger Stadium.  He said everyone he asked about whom to work with and where to work on this audio program referred Primeau Productions. Around the time that the stadium was closing, Joe wanted to pay tribute to the place where he spent thousands of hours watching baseball games and writing columns for the Detroit News by interviewing people who worked at and took care of the old lady (which is how Joe referred to Tiger Stadium). I was not a huge sports fan back then, nor am I a huge sports fan now. It takes a lot to get me to a ball game. But Joe and I really hit it off while working on recording interviews with some of the great people around the history of Tiger Stadium: Denny McClaine, Senator Jim Bunning, Sparky Anderson and, of course, Ernie Harwell. I had known and worked with Ernie because he was a paid spokesperson for many local Detroit businesses. Joe and I went on to produce “Echoes of Tiger Stadium” which sold a whopping 23,000 units in Detroit and surrounding cities in Michigan.  We sold CDs to Harmony House and other boutique sports shops.  Pete Karmanos, a great friend of Joe’s, bought 10,000 copies to give his employees as a gift. The media ate it up because the theme was timely.  Joe was interviewed on about 35 radio, TV and news papers during the course of the four weeks around the final game at the stadium. I had the pleasure of following Joe around with my Cannon XL1 to video record many of his appearances.  The video below are segments taken from nearly 5 hours of footage recorded that week that I will never forget. We had a lot of fun together but Joe also taught me a few life lessons that I want to share with you.  First, he always wanted to play and have fun.  This was a great lesson because at the time I took life too seriously.  Joe taught me to have fun and play more.  I also learned how to write from Joe.  He didn’t teach me formally, but he taught me through tips. Joe taught me two lessons about writing that I will never forget and that I still use to this day. First, always write on a sixth grade level.  It makes your article easier to read.  Secondly, after your first draft, go back and remove superfluous words. We all have the habit of writing like we talk.  Too many words make for a boring read.  Remove unnecessary words to tighten up your article and stick with the facts.  When you are done tightening up, read it from an outsider’s perspective and make sure your message is clear. In 4th grade Sister Mary Joseph tried to teach me to tell the readers what you want to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them.  Thank goodness she was wrong.  Joe really taught me how to write.  Thank you Joe Falls!

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