Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meeting Buster Olney

Tuesday evening Damon and I made an hour-long trek across central Vermont, from Middlebury to Randolph, to meet ESPN baseball reporter and native Vermonter Buster Olney. Buster was back in his hometown to help his family with a bone-marrow drive. His sister is currently fighting leukemia.

The event was held in an old school house in Randolph Center, and resulted in several hundred new potential donors joining the bone marrow registry. It was a quick and easy process that seems like a no-brainer move: fill out a form, give a cheek swab, and you're put on a list to see if you match anybody in need. Damon and I completed the process in about fifteen minutes.

Once finished, we went over to the table where Buster was handing out forms with his brother. We introduced ourselves as fans and were able to have a really great ten minute conversation with him (although he was there to help, he was also there to talk baseball). He was extremely personable and engaging. We told him a little bit about ourselves, and he did the same. We also told him about the trip; he was genuinely interested, and had plenty of helpful advice to offer. He told us his favorite things to do in different cities, from jogging along the Puget Sound in Seattle to stopping by Sabotino's in Baltimore for a post-game meal. He even told us that he would try to retweet us (to his 480,000 followers) once the trip got going, which would be quite kind.

Most encouraging was seeing how humble and down-to-earth he was, despite being the most prolific baseball writer for the largest sports media conglomerate in the world. If you didn't follow baseball, you wouldn't have even been able to tell he was any different from the rest of the people volunteering and talking with community members. He wasn't checking his blackberry or acting important or superior. He was acting like, although he had come a long way, he would always be right at home in small-town Vermont. That was nice to see for us aspiring sportswriters. Buster will surely hear from us a few times throughout the trip, and hopefully we will hear from him again too.


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