“So if you got the guts mister…”
Dateline: Joe Sancho
All my heroes, ain’t cowboys.
All my heroes, ain’t celebrities.
All my heroes, ain’t Kings and Queens.
All my heroes, are average Joes.
Regular Joes, who transcend regular things. History is filled with these guys, the working stiffs behind the Kings.
Take, for instance, Tom Watson, dude was a carpenter/machinist that helped Alexander Graham Bell build the first telephone…you think Alex built the box the phone was in, my guess is that first phone call, “Mr. Watson, come here…” was the first ever call for a handyman.
Take, for instance, Clarence Dally, a Jersey glassblower…how far do you think Edison would have gotten without Clarence working in his Incandescent Lamp shop…without Clarence, Edison would have been a candle maker.
Henry Ford got all the credit and cash, but it was the regular Joes on the line that made the whole thing work, not to mention the dude at the end of that line who pumped the fuel into the new-fangled machine so it drove out the door.
We need to celebrate the Joes.
If you are in a crash, if your house is on fire, it will be a regular Joe who will come for you, carry you out.
Pretty much everything in your life was built by a regular Joe, driven to the store so you could buy it by a regular Joe, sold to you by a regular Joe.
Take the regular Joes out of our lives, and we’re screwed.
Kings won’t fix your leaky sink.
Queens won’t plow your street in a blizzard.
I believe in my soul that sports, all sports, were invented by regular Joes.
Trust me when I say this, a rich dude in a suit didn’t fill up a pig’s bladder, tuck it under his arm and run through a muddy field so other rich guys in suits could jump on him.
But it is sports that allow regular Joes, to become Kings.
“…yeah, if you got the balls…”
Pick your team, I don’t care what team, what sport, look at the roster, I’m willing to bet that most, if not all, your favorite players were once, regular Joes, the sons and daughters of regular Joes.
I can name hundreds of sports greats who came from not so great beginnings.
From the most humble starts, great champions this way come.
And I believe, that coming from humble, is what makes a great champion, that coming from humble, is the essence of sports.
The soul of the game.
Bass tournament fishing is a sport born of humble. Born out of hard work that is the backbone of regular Joes.
To me, no one on the tour symbolizes that more than Elite rookie Joe Sancho.
A union guy, an electrician, a Brooklyn guy, one of us, a working stiff.
Back at the 2nd tournament of the year, I did this story with Joe called “View From The Ear Hole: A Rookie’s Tale” where I wrote that Joe basically had no idea what he was in for, gave him the Welcome to the NFL speech.
A few commented on the story saying that Joe could handle it, that he will be fine, that he was ready.
But, Joe wasn’t, as I write this, at the final regular season tournament of the year, Joe is sitting in 106th place out of 108.
Joe Sancho: “When we first talked and you said to me, ‘Get ready for a rude awakening and Welcome to the NFL,’ I thought to myself, dude, db, YOU are in for a rude awakening, you watch what I do, but man you were 100% right, 100% on the money.”
Registration for the Elite event at Cayuga Lake is over, Joe and I are sitting, basically alone, at a table talking. Joe is a very upfront kind of guy; he knows what this interview is about, and he isn’t hiding.
“db, it was a punch in the face, I expected a lot more from myself.”
In the past seven events Joe’s highest finish was 60th at BASSfest on Chickamauga, he has averaged this year 92ndplace, and has not made one check, as an Elite angler he has won…$0.00.
“They call them Elite for a reason, db. You make one tiny mistake out here and it is amplified 10 fold.”
I’m not saying anything, just listening, listening to Joe pile on his self, haven’t played my hand yet, just waiting for the right moment. We sit and look at each other. Joe turns and just watches the rain come down outside.
“If I didn’t have confidence in myself, who would. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in myself, disappointed in myself.”
Joe never looked at me when he said that, never took his eyes off the rain outside the window. I’m thinking, now’s the time.
“Joe, I have to ask you a tough question, don’t be mad but I have to ask.”
“Okay,” and his head turns toward me, his eyes are looking down at the table.
“Joe, do you think you belong here.”
Joe takes a breath, looks out the window; it is raining harder, Elite anglers outside are sprinting to their trucks and boats, one Elite under the hotel overhang is signing an autograph.
I barely heard what he said, then, louder, “Yes, I do think I belong.”
And I put down my pen, and in the same voice that I told him, “Get ready for a rude awakening,” and “welcome to the NFL,” in that same exact tone and looking him straight in his eyes, man to man I said this,
“I think you belong here, too.”
“…if you think it's your time…”
To me, Joe is a true rookie on this tour. Yeah we have other “rookies” fishing out here this year, but come on, they have been fishing the professional tour circuit for years, just not with us. Call it like it is, they are “Pros.”
They are not in any sense of the word, “rookies,” they are just “new guys,” to the Elite circuit.
Joe, is a rookie. Joe never fished full time for a living in his life until he came here.
Tell you the truth, and no offense to our other “rookies” but for me, I’m flat out calling Joe…my rookie of the year. Here’s why:
“Sure, there have been plenty of low points, that’s what life is all about. It’s the journey to get to where you want to be that makes life great, that makes you appreciate things.”
Between stinking up the place, and lifting the champion’s trophy, that’s what sports is all about.
That’s, the celebration, in Joes.
“I have to keep my chin up, have to stay positive, eventually it will fall right for me.”
Then, “I would love to come back next year, I have a better feel for it, know what to expect, but you know, I’m just a working stiff, can’t do it by myself, need to keep my sponsorship, but, but…”
And then he turns his head and just looks outside.
It is still pouring rain.
“…then step to the line…”
This is a tough sport played by tough guys. I’ve seen these guys play in conditions that would keep most professional teams off the field.
I watch as they practice, PRACTICE from dawn to dusk. Watch as they compete for hours, casting every 40 seconds or so, with no time outs, with no bench to go sit on, with no commercial breaks.
No TRUE rookie is ready for that. A local Wednesday night jackpot tourney, a local Saturday derby, no offense to those who do it, but you know what, if that’s all you do and you think you are ready for the Bigs,
Do well in three of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, get the invite to come play in the Elites, we will welcome you here, but please, check your head, check your arse at the door.
Cause you are going to get them handed back to you.
And that is how it should be, but to the sponsors out there, please give your guys a fighting chance, please, don’t leave them after just their first year, come in expecting them to stink their first year, give them a chance,
for year two.
True rookies like Joe will be better next year, and even better the year after that, they are Elites in the making, they are the future of this sport,
and we need regular Joes.
Kings and Queens do not stand in the rain to watch our weigh-ins. Regular working stiffs do, we are tee-shirts and jeans, baseball caps and flip-flops, we take our kids fishing AND their grandparents.
We build things, we save lives, we teach, we go to night school or community college while working OT.
And those are the people I want to see standing on our stage, the people we need to be standing on our stage.
People with a built in work ethic, because that’s what it takes to succeed out here. If you carry a brown bag, if you carry a lunch pail, you’ve got the makings for what it takes.
Send us, your regular Joes.
Send us, your working stiffs.
Joe is a working stiff, a New York City electrician sponsored by his union, Local #3 IBEW.
#3, stick with Joe.
He is a great ambassador and a pretty good stick who will get better, and who belongs in the show.
#3, give Joe a chance, give Joe another year, and here’s why, this is the last thing he told me, the quote that ended our interview:
“Next Monday I’ll take the train, the subway, and go back to work in Manhattan wiring some high rise, next Monday I’ll be packing the lunch pail and heading to the job.”
And to me, that’s the right stuff…
…to be here.
The right stuff that will make him a champion.
And why I…
“…and bring on your wrecking ball.”