2013 Bassmaster Classic Wild Card presented by Star Tron
Lake Okeechobee - Okeechobee, FL, Dec 5 - 7, 2013

Catch the wave: J Todd and the Wild Card

Emily Tucker
J Todd Tucker and his wife Emily

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

“Another season of scars…”

Dateline: I-75, Mile Marker 339

Set the scene.

It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving, traditionally “deck the halls” day at the Barone household.

Barb is downstairs decorating the Christmas tree; I’ve been outside hanging up the twinkly lights and getting the blowed-up snowman, blowed up.

I’m waiting to do an interview with my buddy, J Todd Tucker, about his participation in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic Wild Card presented by Star Tron shindig. He’s driving to the event; I’m in waiting for the Buffalo Bills to play the late game at 4:05 p.m.

I told him to call me BEFORE the game because I might not be in a mood to talk to him AFTER the game.

I was right.

So he calls me saying he is stuck in traffic on I-75, and I say exactly this to him, “What’s your mile marker sign say,” and there’s a pause, “Uh, I can’t see it right yet,”…mile marker 339 is the text I get later.

Explains the dateline for you.

Then he asks me what I’m doing, and I say exactly this: “Listening to 'White Christmas' by Bing Crosby.”


“Bing Crosby.”

“Bing Crosby?”

“You know who Bing Crosby is right…”

“…Bing Crosby…no…”

“…you don’t know who Bing Crosby is…”


Not the best start to an interview I’ve ever had.

And the Bills game hadn’t even started yet.

“…hey whatever the world keeps on bringing I’m going to keep on swinging away."

Catch the wave.

A long time ago, probably now a quarter century ago since my son Jimmy was born while I worked there and the dude is now 25, I wrote books, co-wrote books, for Rodale Press/Prevention Magazine in Emmaus, Pa.

I had my style.

They had their style.

We hated each other,

but the books sold,

one book, Doctor’s Home Remedies sold like 4 million copies or something. I didn’t really care; I was a hired gun paid to sit in an office and write stuff, no royalties. You took the gig to become an author back when I wanted to become an author and being an author meant something to some people.

Now, I could care less of being an author; things change.

My officemate back then was a big blonde dude from California/Hawaii, a nice guy, great writer, didn’t like Emmaus much; both of us lasted maybe a year or two, he lasted longer, I lasted to just before they were going to fire me for how much I freaked out the editors.

I would say, “So what,” to how the editors felt and said that while standing in the building the 4 million dollar selling book basically built.

We didn’t get along.

But my officemate and I did get along; our job was to write something like 10,000 words a week each. We would work Monday-Friday; neither one of us would touch a keyboard until maybe, maybe Wednesday.

Neither one of us ever missed a deadline.

So, basically, for a couple days we would sit and talk, and he would talk about his love of California/Hawaii, the beach, and surfing. Don’t know, can’t remember if he actually surfed or not, but whenever I got stressed, which was a lot back then, whenever I got PO’ed about something he would look over at me and always say the same thing,

“Catch the Wave…”

and then,

“…man, we don’t make the wave. It’s not our job to make the wave, to curse or get mad at the wave; it’s our job to sit there on our board and wait for our wave to come, then…

“…just catch the wave man, ride the wave your given.”

“…but I’ve got a fire in my heart and a crazy man’s grin…”

Took years before I learned to Catch the Wave, ride the wave I was given and not fuss much about the other waves, or who or what made them.

But when I finally caught the wave, a certain peace came over me, not some sort of Zen thing, more like I didn’t care a zip-a-dee-doo-dah about the wave, not here or what about it, all I cared about was the ride.

The Ride.

And there’s peace with that because it doesn’t matter to me what kind of wave gets sent my way, send your best wave, change it, swirl it all around, make it tall, make it fast, no-never-mind to me,

my only job, my only thought,

is The Ride.