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How It All Began

The idea of the Sports Page newspaper was “conceived” on a Sunday night in May of 1976 at Denny Hayes’s Green Hut Tavern (Columbus Avenue) in Bay City, Michigan.

I sat at a corner table with four or five Green Hut softball team members who had just won a hard-fought weekend fastpitch tournament. If you’ve ever been to the Green Hut, we were at the table under the murals depicting the sports accomplishments of Olympic Gold Medalist Terry McDermott, NFL legend Bill Hewitt, and baseball’s most celebrated pinch-hitter Jerry Lynch. Hayes had commissioned painter/artist, Dave Goss to produce those almost life-sized murals for the walls inside the Green Hut to set the sports motif tone.

The Green Hut fastpitch softball team’s championship trophy was in the middle of the table. Pitchers of beer were passed around. The victory celebration was full “on.” Later in the evening, the conversation turned sour. There was a negative comment or two about the fact that there would be little or no “coverage” of the team’s weekend performance. There was agreement at the table that the team’s performance had “earned” coverage.

Two more pitchers of beer were brought to the table.

"Somebody ought to do something,” another chimed.

Everybody grumbled. Everybody agreed. Everybody took a swig of beer.

“I can make a newspaper,” I said without really thinking.

Everybody stopped talking. They all just looked at me like I was an idiot.

“I made newspapers in Colorado for 3 years,” I explained. “After I got out of the Air Force.”

It was Del Benson that made it happen. Benson stood up. He pulled out his wallet and spun it onto the table. “How much for your newspaper?”

“Maybe 5 bucks a year,” I guessed. “Maybe a little more.”

Benson pulled $10 from his wallet. “I’m in,” Benson said. “Put me in for two years.”

The next day, local banker, Mel Kent listened to a proposal by O. J. Cunningham concerning a start-up sports newspaper in Bay City & Bay County that concentrated on local and recreational sports. Mel Kent was a Vice-President at Peoples National Bank in Bay City, Michigan in 1976.

Mel Kent liked the idea. Kent bought the “Back Page” advertising in the Sports Page space for 6 months.

And the rest … as they say … “Is History.”