Monday, May 28, 2007

Marc Schogol, R.I.P.

The Inquirer lost one of the good guys yesterday, longtime reporter and editor Marc Schogol. He will be missed.

Marc, 58, who succumbed after long battle with leukemia, was like the ultimate utility ballplayer. He could do anything and do it well -- edit, write, report -- plus he was just such a decent person.

Although I seriously doubt there was any job in the newsroom he didn't do at one time or another, Marc was probably best known among his colleagues for his ability, under the most suffocating deadline pressure, to write the big story, to pull together a million details from a thosuand sources for a gripping Page 1 read that all made sense.
Over the years, whenever some giant news story broke in Philadelphia and 75 reporters were dispatched to the scene to vacuum up details and interviews, it was usually Marc, back in the office, who culled it all, digested it and laid it out for everyone to read. He was cool and clutch when it counted. It is a very special talent.

I always felt I owed Marc a debt of gratitude. When The Inquirer hired me in 1982 to cover the Big 5, I had never even been a sportswriter. I quickly found myself out of my element and in over my head. I was miserable, asking myself why I ever left a comfortable job in another state to jump into a snake pit.

At the time, Marc was an assistant sports editor. He was a few years older and he had been at the Inquirer for several years already. When I was lost, drowning in self-doubt, Marc was the one guy who would pull me aside and reassure me that I had the ability and the determination and that eventually, if I stayed calm, everything would be all right. That attitude, of course, is what made him so capable under deadline pressure.

I remember the day 25 years ago I heard he had been diagnosed with leukemia. Like everybody who knew him, my reaction was how terribly unfair. Today, I can only think how lucky we all were to have Marc around as long as we did.

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