Tough to roast a beloved guy

Published 9:06 pm Friday, February 19, 2010

Those who tried to roast The Post-Searchlight sports editor Joe Crine on Thursday admittedly had a hard time—how do you roast a beloved member of the community?

You make up stories about him, said Sonny Smart, a former Bainbridge High School Bearcat and Rabun County Wildcats head football coach.

As Smart said, Crine is a “homer,” a journalist who offers up plenty of praise for the home teams, even if the teams suffer “heart-breaking” losses.

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Or that every team member of a Bearcat sport “are some of the finest young men” Crine has ever met.

Everything under Crine’s byline is positive.

But Smart said Crine has an alter ego—an Internet user who uses Dr. Jekyll as a user name on sports venting sites.

For example. Smart’s fake scenarios has Crine writing on some of Smart’s play selection, ending in calling him “Sonny Stupid,” and asking when present coach Ed Pilcher will give up the veer offense, writing, “Throw the ball!”

“Say it ain’t so, Joe,” Smart said while those attending the Pilot Club’s roast enjoyed some good-humored laughter.

“Joe Crine is a treasure,” concluded Smart, who said Crine writes stories about the game and writes about those who play the game—not about his opinion of the game.

“He let’s us read what happens in the game. To me that’s a pleasure. … Bainbridge is very fortunate to have Joe Crine,” Smart concluded.

Sam Griffin, the former publisher of The Post-Searchlight who served as Thursday evening’s emcee, said he hired Crine 40 years ago, and said it was the best day of his life.

Griffin said Crine has worn out several thousand students, several hundred athletes and at least one newspaper publisher. Griffin sold The Post-Searchlight in 2008 to Bainbridge Media LLC.

Teasing, but not too far from the truth, Griffin said county agents have tested soil samples in the backseat of Crine’s car because the backseat has disappeared under newspapers, hamburger wrappers and other debris. The EPA has had to check his desk for toxins.

Even mystery roaster Col. Gary Breedlove made a visit to Crine’s desk and was astonished.

He had loaned Crine a photo of an ROTC meet and was going to retrieve it. After seeing the stacks of papers, newspapers and other items, Breedlove told Thursday’s audience that he didn’t even try to get the photo back.

Breedlove also said Crine does “resume writing;” that he remembers and recounts the good highlights of a news article’s subject. For example, in the recent story on School Superintendent Ralph Jones’ retirement, Crine recalled from memory Jones’ coaching career highlights.

Stan Killough, an assistant principal at Bainbridge High School and a former Bearcat baseball coach, told how Crine always “wanted just one more” picture, which usually ended up being several more pictures.

Killough also told how Crine’s up-beat sports reporting sometimes got the coach in trouble with parents because a player that wasn’t very good, who made just one play, ended up being the hero of the game. The parents than wanted to know why their child isn’t played more.

“Joe is one of the most loved persons I know,” Killough said. “Just one more—we love you.”

Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds read a proclamation given in Crine’s honored, which in part stated: “The exemplary conduct and sense of fairness Joe Crine has demonstrated in all his activities has furthered the cause of better understanding and has been an influence for good in the growth of our community.”

Crine’s rebuttal was more like a memorial to his colleague and friend—Mary Frances Donalson, who died last year and was a charter member of the Bainbridge Pilot Club.

Crine’s guests included his older brother, Tom Crine, and his nephew, Billy Crine, both from Sharpsburg, Ga.