There’s a wonderful feature in the new Sports Illustrated, which marks the 60th anniversary of the magazine. It’s a collection of the magazine’s errors, gaffes, and ridiculousness over the years, everything from apologizing for some of the sexist stories and text that used to be in the magazine to some of the horribly wrong predictions that were made.
It was a lot of fun to read, and definitely worth checking out.
It also got me thinking about some of my errors.
I can basically dismiss any errors on SLAM! Wrestling, simply because the web gives you the ability to change things afterwards. One of my worst transgressions was believing anything that Joe Frocklage / Ike Shaw had to say; he was a con artist from the word go, and it’s still something that successful graduates of his school, like Eric Young, will joke about.
The error that I often recount is from my days at the Toronto Sun, working on the features desk. That day, I was tasked with putting together the “Fun Page” that had the crossword puzzle and some other goodies, as well as birthday wishes to celebrities and a little photo. In this pre-Internet world (yes, I’m old), we had a big book that we would reference. Listed was Michel “Bunny” Larocque, who was one of my favourite goalies, especially when he was the guy on the bench for the Montreal Canadiens as Ken Dryden lead the team to Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup.
What I didn’t realize was that he had died on July 29, 1992.
The next day, I got yelled at, learned my lesson, and was much more careful.
Newspaper is more permanent than the web, sure, but the paper is there and gone in a day, for the most part. (Though I do get a kick out of looking for my work when going through old Toronto Sun microfilm at the Toronto Reference Library; by my own count, I did 13 different jobs during my time there from 1991-1996, when I moved to the new web division that would become known as Canoe.ca, so chances are I contributed somewhere in the paper during those days — including actually getting the newspaper ready for microfilming when I worked in the library!
The most expensive error had to have been when I worked with SPORTClassic Books, and we were reprinting the classic North Dallas Forty, an awesomely fun novel about the Dallas Cowboys, written by Peter Gent, a former wide receiver in Dallas. SPORTClassic Books was a small, small publisher, with essentially four employees. I was the layout guy and editor, and somehow, and I still don’t know how, we managed to ship North Dallas Forty to the printer with whole signatures out of order, meaning that the book didn’t make sense. (A signature, in printing terms, is a section of pages, in multiples of eight, as that is how the pages run through the printer.)
We didn’t even catch it “on the blues” when the pages came back for proofing.
Peter Gent, who died in 2011, was furious, and understandably so. We had to recall the books and reprint. (I can’t remember if we were able to salvage them at all; sometimes a printer can separate the signatures and rearrange.) A few readers who had bought the book got in touch, but not an overwhelming number by any means.
So, I guess the advice is, if you see North Dallas Forty in a used bookstore, don’t buy a copy that came out via SPORTClassic Books without checking it thoroughly!