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After more than four and a half decades of covering Bainbridge youth, sports editor Joe Crine has announced his retirement

Joe Crine smiles by his typewriter during his first week at The Post-Searchlight in April 1970.

Joe Crine smiles by his typewriter during his first week at The Post-Searchlight in April 1970.

By Powell Cobb, Carolyn Iamon & Brandon O’Connor

The Post-Searchlight

How do you even begin a story like this?

For 46 years Joe Crine has served as the sports editor at The Post-Searchlight. After a long, illustrious career, he has decided to retire.

Joe Crine has covered multiple generations of athletes throughout Bainbridge and Decatur County. For many local athletes he is the only reporter they have ever known. His impact was so much greater, though. He covered Lions Club, JROTC, the band and countless other events throughout the city and county.

This man has poured his heart and soul into the newspaper and the community. Everyone in Southwest Georgia knows him, or at least knows his name or has read his stories.

He’s nothing short of an icon. Some have called him a legend.

To Bainbridge, he will always be the Sports Editor.

“It was the happiest years of my life,” Crine said. “I had the greatest job. I got paid to go to sporting events.”

Crine graduated from Cairo High School in 1962. After spending a year as a stringer for the Thomasville Times Enterprise covering Syrupmaker sports, he enrolled at the University of West Georgia and graduated four years later with a degree in English.

He returned to Cairo to work at his dad’s drive-thru diner. After a year of blending milkshakes, Crine began looking for work where he could put his degree to use. He saw The Post-Searchlight had an opening for a reporter, so he dropped off his resume and hoped for the best. He pursued his dream until he was offered the job as a sports editor.

“I was happy because I was always a sports nut,” Crine said. He had no idea how much of an impact covering Bainbridge sports would have on him, or how much of a mark he would leave on the community.

Despite the title of sports editor, Crine has covered everything possible, from civic clubs to awards banquets and everything in between. He even covered a wedding, which Crine recalled with a laugh that he infamously mixed up the names of all the participants.

Joe-with-baseball

Without a doubt, his favorite moment as a reporter was the 1982 State Championship football game.

“That state championship game in Gainesville (Georgia) was the worst field condition I have ever seen,” Crine said. The Bearcats won 7-6, but Crine likes to think they would have won by three touchdowns if it weren’t for the torrential downpour that turned the field into a swamp.

But with the highs also came the lows. In March 2013, he was covering a track and field event at Bainbridge High School. A shotput was accidentally hurled in his direction and hit him square in the head. The injury was devastating, putting him out of work for six months while he recovered.

That injury showed Joe just how many people in the community cared about him. Church’s were sending him their prayers every week, friends visited constantly and the community rallied behind its sports editor.

He returned in October 2013 and continued his passion.

If there’s one lesson Crine has learned in his 46 years, it’s this:

“It’s not about you, it’s about the people you cover,” Crine said.

This isn’t a story we could tell by ourselves so we talked to those that have known him the longest and that he covered over his career:

 Mary Ann Griffin

Mary Ann Griffin has probably known Joe Crine longer than anyone else in Bainbridge.

She recalls that Joe came to The Post Searchlight and asked her publisher husband, Sam Griffin, for a job as a sports reporter right after he graduated from college. Sam explained the paper was too small at that time to have designated reporters or editors and he couldn’t hire him.

Joe was not deterred. He kept coming back, saying that was really what he wanted to do and would work for nothing, if necessary. With that, Sam hired him, saying, “I guess I have a sports reporter.” He later said it was the best thing he ever did. Mary Ann elaborated by saying, “We loved him like family. He’s a part of Bainbridge, loved by young and old.”

Eugenie Whiddon probably knows Joe best as a fellow parishioner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. She knew him and his mother when Joe was still living in Cairo.

She said he drove back and forth to work every day until his mother died. She describes Joe as a person who never gives up. “He was always so kind to everyone. If you did some little thing for him, he would do more for you. That was his life.” She appreciates the fact that he always recognized and wrote something special about hers and others children.

Tommie Howell

Tommie Howell, principal of BHS, said he has known Joe since Tommie was a student in high school. “Our football team wasn’t always so good. But, even when we would lose 50 something to nothing, Joe would put a positive spin on the story by saying, “We put up a good fight.” He has always been a ‘glass is half full’ person.” He added that the school appreciates his complete support of the BHS sports programs and how he encouraged the students.

 Paschal Ward

Band director Paschal Ward said the Bainbridge Band doesn’t like Crine, they love him. He even named an award The Joe Crine Award, given to a band student who has shown great character and integrity.

“In 1991, we went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Joe went to take pictures for the Post Searchlight,” Ward said. “We are in the hotel after everything, and everybody is together getting back on the bus. Joe was sitting there with his overcoat on. He looked kind of disgruntled. I said, ‘Joe what is going on?’ He said, ‘I hate to tell you this, but I lost the film for the pictures.’ A couple parents started looking. Well, one of his coat pockets had a hole in it. It had got into the hem of his coat through that hole. I was just tickled that we found it.”

 Stan Killough

Bainbridge High School Athletic Director said Crine was the first person he met when he came to Bainbridge.

“My one word to describe Joe is an encourager,” Killough said. “A lot of times, when he would interview us as coaches, he would always thank us for helping him with story. In a lot of cases, he was helping us. He always encouraged you as a coach. You always felt better after you talked to Joe. He listened to a lot of whining and complaining. When I talked to Joe after a tough loss, he was always that guy to encourage me. My word is encourager. You ask me about one time we might have spent together.”

Killough said he realized just how much Joe meant to him after Joe was injured by the shotput in 2013.

“I spent a lot of time with him at the hospital that day,” Killough said. “What that did for me was it just showed me just how much Joe meant to me, and how much he meant to the community. It was a terrible time and bad to think about, but that time was special.”

 Al Kelly

“I’ve known Joe all my life. He covered the recreation department for the last 30-something years that I worked for the city. Joe was a very dedicated individual. I never heard anybody say a bad thing about Joe Crine. He was always positive and he has been an asset to this city and the Post-Searchlight for many many years and he’s going to be missed.

“I asked Joe, I can’t forgot what event we was having, Joe showed up to take some pictures and he took the pictures and left. The next day Joe called me and he said ‘Al I got to tell you something’. ‘I said what’s that Joe’ and he said ‘when I took those pictures yesterday I forgot to put film in the camera.’ We had to come back and take the pictures. I will never forget that.

“He was one of a kind that’s for sure. I don’t know of anybody in Bainbridge or involved in sports in the tri-county area that didn’t know Joe Crine and what he meant to us.”

 Larry Clark

“The fact is Joe covered me when I was in high school. My senior year in high school when I played football at Bainbridge High School and ran track at Bainbridge High School, Joe covered me during that time. He did a great job. He’s the only sports writer that I’ve known in Bainbridge. Even some of the articles and the things that he covered us was as good as anybody at the Constitution or the Albany Herald or anybody around. He really, really put Bainbridge sports, he brought it to the forefront. Prior to that in my opinion it was never covered the way Joe covered it. He really, really did a great job as far putting a strong emphasis on athletics in Bainbridge. He did a great job, did an awesome job.”

“He did a great job. I’ve always been impressed with Joe. He was very much involved and he kept up with the schedule. Don’t think we are going to have an event on Tuesday and he wasn’t going to be there Wednesday to get the results of it. Anytime there was a track meet or an event, you could look for Joe to be there the next morning because he wanted to know the results and what your thoughts were about the event.”

“He was great. We’re going to miss him. I think he’s had a great career.

The first one that I truly remember about me was when I was region champion at Bainbridge High School in the triple jump. He did a great story about me being the region champ. He also, our state championship in 1982 for football when I was coaching football here, he did a great job covering that. Even when I played college football at Morehouse College, Joe would look me up when I came home during the summer, He would always do an article on how the year went and he would always do a back to school article about me going back to play football. I’ll have a number of memories about Joe and the things he’s done. Not only covering Bainbridge sports, but even covering individuals.”

Joe Crine takes down some comments from Bainbridge native and Auburn Tiger forward Benny Anthony in the locker room in Tully Gym at Tallahassee. Published Wednesday, Feb. 6, 1980.

Joe Crine takes down some comments from Bainbridge native and Auburn Tiger forward Benny Anthony in the locker room in Tully Gym at Tallahassee. Published Wednesday, Feb. 6, 1980.

Ralph Jones

“When you speak of Post-Searchlight and sports that’s all I think, Joe Crine.”

“He brings all the nostalgia back. He’s got that tradition. All the things that a small community needs when it comes to building a sports program and maintaining the pride. He was certainly a Bearcat in every way. I guess the thing that I remember the most. You could stink it up and I’d go, ‘Joe we stunk it up Friday night,’ and everything was like we just played the best game. Everything was positive and he was such a psotive person when it came to reporting.”

“He was that kind of guy. Bainbridge is going to miss him. When I open The Post-Searchlight I’m always looking to what Joe writes.”

“I just remember the glow on his face after the state championship. He came up to me and he said coach you made it happen. You could tell he was gleaming with pride.”

 Sonny Smart

“As coach there at Bainbridge, certainly had a great relationship with Joe. Joe was just so dependable. There was times at night games or traveling and he’d have to get somebody to drive him, but Joe was always there. You could go back to 70’s or 80’s, anytime since Joe was there you could read Joe’s article and you could tell exactly what happened in the ball game. I thought he was great at that and he was never a person that tried to critique or said what should have happened. He gave you the facts of what happened and always positive about Bainbridge and always positive about the kids there. I want to be sure to say it was not just as the coach of Bainbridge High School. Joe Crine meant so much to our whole family. We were involved in swim team. My wife at one time was president of the swim team. We were involved at the Boat Basin with youth baseball. Just every activity, everything to do with any kind of sports or athletics at any age in Bainbridge you saw Joe Crine. You went to a ball game for nine-ten year olds, you saw Joe Crine. You went to a swim meet, you saw Joe Crine. When those kids would look at that paper they would see their name. They would see what they did and that’s just, you can’t put a price or a value on that for the generations of young people that he supported and covered there in Bainbridge and I think that’s just a great legacy.”

“No matter what you said to Joe it always came out the same, always positive. You could say we were terrible and all this and it always came out very positive.”

“We played, I don’t remember who it was, and they just whipped us. Joe came in and wanted a couple of comments and I just said ‘Joe they just whipped our butts’ Joe’s headline was the coach said they just whipped our butts. I tease him about that occasionally. ‘Aw Joe you didn’t have to put that in there.’”

 Tuffy Nussbaum

Fellow Lions Club member, Tuffy Nussbaum, said Joe has been a big part of the local club for as long as he can remember. Joe joined Bainbridge Lions in 1974 and has served in several positions, including president one year. In 1974 he was named Lion of the Year. “He is always there for our Lions Club events and covers everything, giving us lots of exposure in the Post Searchlight,” added Nussbaum.

Check back next week for even more celebration of Joe Crine’s career.

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