How Wayne Gretzky nearly got me killed one day while vacationing in Oregon

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Kings’ trade for Wayne Gretzky …

Twenty-five years ago, Aug. 9, 1988, I was on vacation on the Oregon Coast. I was probably running on the beach and about to jump in the ocean for a swim when the Kings’ trade for Wayne Gretzky was announced. The tears probably were rolling down Gretzky’s cheeks during his Edmonton press conference when I dived into the water. I was oblivious. I didn’t have a cell phone. No one I knew did. I didn’t know about the Internet. Email was  vague concept in 1988. I wasn’t glued to SportsCenter while on vacation.

So, I didn’t learn about the biggest trade of my lifetime for another two days. I headed inland, to Eugene, for more running. I did more reading and watched less TV in those days. I think we all did. After a long early-morning run, a big breakfast and a nap that lasted until about 4 p.m., I needed lunch. I walked across the street from my hotel to a fast-food restaurant, picked up a day-old newspaper someone left near the counter and started to read it while walking back across the busy street.

I glanced at the top story on the sports page. Something about the prospects of the University of Oregon’s football team. Zzzzzzz. I waited for the traffic to clear and flipped the paper over to see what was at the bottom of the page. The headline took my breath away. The Kings traded for Wayne Gretzky. I began reading the story. Wayne in L.A.? Incredible! Awesome! I began to walk into traffic without thinking. Suddenly, an 18-wheeler was bearing down on me, horn blaring. I stepped back onto the curb just in time to avoid having my name and photo on the front page of the next day’s Register-Guard.

And that’s how Wayne Gretzky nearly got me killed in Eugene, Ore.



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