I didn’t know Bob Griffin as well as most of my colleagues in local sports journalism did.
But as someone who is 60 years old and has lived in Shreveport all my life, I felt as if I had lost a friend when Bob passed away at the age of 85 on Feb. 3 from complications of a recent illness.
And I know many other Ark-La-Tex residents felt the same way.
I can’t give as eloquent a tribute to Bob as some of his current and former colleagues in the broadcast and print professions have, but I’d like to share a few memories.
Bob has said he didn’t like to be known as a legend, but he certainly was one. The only other person in local sports journalism who compares in stature during my lifetime is former Shreveport Journal and longtime Press-Tribune sports editor Jerry Byrd.
Like many my age, I grew up watching Bob host “Bob and His Buddies” during the 1960s on KSLA, his employer for 30 years.
But it was through sports and my dad, former Byrd, Woodlawn and Captain Shreve head football coach Lee Hedges, that I first met him.
I can remember Bob coming over to our house to interview dad on more than one occasion. While I always tried to stay out of sight, I remember as a child being awed that this man I watched on TV was interviewing my dad.
Of course, as I reached my teenage years, I would also run into Bob when I’d come to watch Captain Shreve practice or after games.
After starting to work at The Times as a sports writer, I would see him occasionally at sports events.
I did have one memorable encounter with Bob that had nothing to do with dad.
I often stopped at the Subway on Youree Drive near Kings Highway on the way home from work when I was at The Times. It was open late then and I got off work late.
One night Bob came in when I was there — and he paid for my sandwich. That was definitely a first for me.
One thing I liked about Bob was that his sportscast was pretty straightforward. Nothing against those that use them, but he didn’t add the catchphrases and flourishes you see today, at least not that I remember.
Back in the days before cable and ESPN and streaming, local TV was a primary source of national as well as local sports news and highlights.
When Bob returned to TV at KTBS, I was delighted to see him. And I was glad to see he hadn’t changed.
In the last several years, it’s been a pleasure to see him back on the high school football sidelines for KTBS’s Griffin’s Game. I wondered but never asked him why he still did it at his age.
The obvious answer is because he loved it. And so did the coaches and players who received Griffin’s Game Ball after a victory.
In his 80s, he had a big impact on a new generation of athletes.
But he wasn’t just a sports guy. In his 60-year career, he was also a travel and lifestyle reporter. His love of travel was something we shared.
As many have said over the last week and a half, there will never be another like him.
— Featured photo by Robert Summerlin
Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org