North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

From the vault: Roger Lajoie, The Busiest Man In Sports

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I was cleaning up my laptop the other day, backing up some writing, deleting some others, when I came across this: an unpublished profile of Roger Lajoie. I wrote it some time in 2007, I think. No idea on the exact date. Below, I’ve added some reflections on this piece.

Roger Lajoie, The Busiest Man In Sports

Roger Lajoie bills himself as “the busiest man in sports” and it’s a claim that’s hard to disprove. He – often simultaneously – works for the Reuters newsgathering agency, for the FAN 590 radio station in Toronto, for Rogers Television, stars on Sun-TV’s “The Grill Room”, for the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team and for the Oshawa Generals. This is all in addition to his freelance work and his two upcoming books.

Roger is best described as more of a freelancer then anything else. “I don’t have a typical ‘nine to five’ day,” he says. Instead he has many little jobs, all of which he enjoys. “My creed is that my work is my play”, he explains, “I don’t have to be as busy as I am, but I love it.”

His freelancing career started in 1998, when Roger left his job as editor of the Durham Post, leaving behind a career as a reporter. By doing so, he left behind a steady job for a series of part-time jobs, starting with the United Press International. “I traded the security of a full-time job for the flexibility of being able to do 10 or 12 things,” Roger says, “If had a full time job … I couldn’t go to the World Series next week, I’d have to go to work.”  Roger worked for UPI for six years before leaving to become the North American sports correspondent for Reuters, a position he holds to this day. Among the various events that Roger covers for Reuters are: the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NCAA’s Final Four, the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals and the NBA’s Finals.

By working for a wire service, Roger encounters some unique problems – his stories don’t have to be ready in a few hours, they have to be ready as soon as the game ends – even if the outcome changes at the last second. “(Sometimes) you have to write it again,” says Roger, “but you can’t write too much because you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Smart writers, he says, learn to write small parts of the story as they happen and to leave the bigger details (who hit the game winning hit or who scored in overtime or whatever) until the end.

In addition to working for a wire service, Roger also works for “The Fan 590”, hosting a show on Saturday mornings and co-hosting “Late Night” with Norm Rumack three nights a week. He also does play-by-play on Rogers Television for the St. Michael Majors for the last seven years, as well as for the Oshawa Generals for the last two years – at the same time! He regularly appear on Sun-TV’s ‘The Grill Room”, a nightly sports talk show and is the official scorer for the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team, a position he’s held since 1978. In addition to being their official scorer, Roger is also their PA announcer and writes their press releases.

All in all, Roger is indeed very busy, which Roger says he enjoys. “I’ve got my career where I want it, now,” he says. “I’m at the stage where my goal would be to do what I’m doing for 20 years.”

***

I vaguely remember why I wrote this: I had an interviewing class and this was likely for an assignment. If it’s what I think it is, I recorded this interview, wrote a profile story and handed in both the tape (this was how I did it then: I recorded all my interviews on microcassette) and the profile. One of my professors – probably Brian Legree, although I’m far from certain – would compare the two and assign a grade. 

Somehow, I got in touch with Lajoie and we met in a strip mall, at a now long-gone coffee store in north Oshawa. I remember Lajoie saying he used to tape his broadcasts on cassette and listens to them in the car; Danny Gallivan’s influence on a young Lajoie; the frustrating  2001 World Series, when several wild ninth innings played havoc on his wire-reporting stories. Funny how none of those made their way into mine. But then, it’s probably the first profile I ever wrote. 

I don’t remember what happened to this story. Did it run in the school newspaper? I doubt it. Then why didn’t I run it here? I don’t know.Reading it now, I’m surprised by how short it is, by how little I let Lajoie’s voice get into the story. Not how I’d write it today, but I guess was learning the ropes.

A final aside: two years after I wrote this, I started working with Lajoie on Oshawa Generals broadcasts. Granted, I was one of the guys who carried cameras, pointing them at people when instructed. One time I tripped over a camera cable in front of Lajoie talking on-air. Did Lajoie remember me? If he did, he kept it to himself.

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Written by M.

April 29, 2014 at 9:00 am

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