Tuesday, September 08, 2015


My Friend Charlie

Charlie Lemmex will close up shop at the end of September. He is planning to watch the Yankees and the Red Sox at the Rogers Centre, then go quietly into the night.


Charlie has attended a few ball games over the years. He has worked in media for more than thirty years. He told me he has attended 2700 major league baseball games. I usually sit with Charlie in the second row of the media box when I attend the games. If I arrive early, I try not to disturb him as he works on the crossword puzzle from the Hamilton Spectator.


He has been working the Blue Jay games for 34 years, he told me as I settled in for the Jays and Orioles last week. He keeps score, meticulously. “I have the score sheets for every game I have attended,” he told me. He added, with a chuckle, “Maybe they could display them at my wake so that people can check the results of games.”


Charlie also worked other sports over the years. “I really enjoyed the Argos. Pinball Clemons is one of the nicest individuals I have ever met”. Clemons played for the Argos several years ago, coached the team, and has remained with the team for many years. Charlie also worked games for the Leafs, and the Raptors. You could often find him in the pits at the Molson Indy in Toronto.


A few years ago, Charlie would spend some time setting up his area for his assignments. There had to be a working phone in front of him. He would condense the game into a few sentences, then call the particular network that had hired him to do the game. He would relate the details up to that point in the game, recognize the stars and the outstanding plays, then sign off. There is very little call for such an exercise today.


Most sporting events are televised, with many camera angles detailing the game in progress. Fans can catch all of the action on their computers, on their phones, on their personal devices.


A native of Smiths Falls, Charlie studied chemical engineering at McGill. He worked in the industry for twenty years before entering the sports field. At one time, he reported to a radio network affiliated with the American government. When he sent them an invoice, he was visited by a member of the Central Intelligence Agency. The agent did a background check on Charlie, and wanted to know what type of explosive work he had done as a chemical engineer. Eventually, Charlie was paid.


Of all of the athletes he has interviewed in baseball, he cites Cito Gaston and Joe Carter as two of his favourites, He also enjoyed dealing with Ernie Whitt and Jimmy Key. John Olerud once simplified the season for him. Olerud told him that the team would win one-third of their games, lose one-third of their games. He added that what they did with the remainder would make the difference in the season.


One of Charlie’s favourite lines goes something like this: “The last time the Leafs won the Cup I was 25 years old. I had been married five years. I had a three year old son, and my wife was three years old!” He is referring to his second wife Anita. They are currently in the process building a house in Ridgeway. A trip to Toronto would be even further than his current commute from Hamilton.


And so, at 75 years of age, Charlie has decided to leave the games. It is obvious that he loves the games, and is a true sports fan. And a fine gentleman to boot. Enjoy the sunshine years, Charlie.



James Hurst

September 7, 2015.

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