“Fame and fortune I've left my mark
Playing loud, playing hard
In Town after town…”
Dateline: A Dining Room Story
I had never heard of him, and he of me.
In fact, it was his two younger children, Sage and River who came over to me as I sat on a picnic bench outside the db/bb/rv.
“Mr. db…do you want to see something neat.”
As I looked up over their young heads I saw their mother, Melissa looking out the door of their RV, looking at her children talking to what looked like David Crosby on a 12 Margarita ride.
Melissa’s eyes moved a little left and saw my wife, Barb, a beautiful safe looking woman, sitting next to me with her Shih Tzu, Riley, and went back inside.
I’m used to that, no offense.
“Mr. db look…”
And when I looked down, held in tiny little hands, were a couple of fossils the boys had just found, “Cool dude…I love dinosaurs and fossils.”
“We found them…”
“…I see you met my boys, hope they are not bothering you…”
And when I looked up, I was staring into the face of,
And all I knew was, he was an angler.
One of the older ones, “…no man, kids are no problem, love the fossil stuff,” and then I went back to playing with the angler’s kids.
To me, he was one of 100 fishing guys, I was actually more impressed his kids had found fossils, he pulled up a folding chair, Melissa came out, the kids found more fossils, we sat around a fire pit for a while and just talked of kids, of dogs, of RV’s, of Buffalo (where the tournament was), just normal folk talk.
I look back on that night often, it is that moment in time when I know Rick and mine friendship started, that very night, as we sat and talked, and this is why,
when Barb and I said goodnight and went back into our RV, Barb asked me, “Now who was that again,”
and this is exactly what I said, “That…that was Rick…Rick Klein.”
“…don't call me legend…”
The best thing that ever happened to me, much to the anxiety of others around me, the best thing was that after 20 some years covering sports…all the big ones you know and love…after all that I was allowed, given a gift actually, of coming to a sport, blind.
The day before I came to cover this sport, I had never heard of it. Boards all over the place lit up, what was this moron who doesn’t even fish doing here, what right does he have…blah…blah…blah.
And they may still say that, who cares.
I came here, not to catch fish, but to catch the life of those who catch fish. Trust me, if me and The Mick, Mickey Mantle, ever shared a bar stool, the last question I would ever ask him is what kind of bat he used.
As far as I knew, EVERYONE here was named Rick Klein.
I knew much more about Rick Clunn, the man before I ever knew a thing about Rick Clunn the legendary angler.
I knew he was working in computers before I knew there were computers. He told me. Told me about growing up with his dad, told me about raising young boys while being on the road so much, we spoke of family, we spoke of road loneliness, music and writing.
Here’s an almost exact version of a conversation we once had that I have forgotten most of the facts, “…db, there was this real tough tournament up on the St. Lawrence, the night before the end I watched the movie, Last Of The Mohicans, very inspirational, and I won the tournament.”
We were in his RV, I just looked at him, I was well aware of the movie….the old version...and this is what I said back to him, “Dude you won one of these things.”
Another quip between the two of us….I’m sitting around a campfire with a bunch of anglers…Rick is sitting next to me…I’m the only reporter for miles…they are talking about all sort of fishing secrets, I look over to Rick and say, “Should I be here for this?”
Rick, “You listening or paying any attention.”