.............................................(Coaldale High Alumni Site........

Gene Collier

The One, The Only

myapplet Gene Collier, 48, is a native of Coaldale, Pa, a very small former-mining town between the I and the A in Pennsylvania. He was educated, so to speak, at Penn State (B.A. '75), < where he’d gone to become Walter Cronkite, but discovered that the training involved heavy lifting (cameras, tape recorders, lighting equipment). "To hell with this," he said approximately. "I’m sticking with the notepad. That’s all."

After college, he spent the next 22 years writing nothing but sports, and couldn’t cover a fire without the Fire Media Guide. Only recently did he try his touch on general topics, a venture that’s been judged an abject failure. He regards the sports writing gig much the way Alfred Hitchcock regarded acting, calling it, "the perfect crime."

He's worked at the Pottstown (Pa.) Mercury, the long-dead Philadelphia Journal, where he was the baseball beat writer for four years and shrewdly criticized no-talent stiffs like Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, and Steve Carlton, the Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (twice and currently) and the not-so-long-dead Pittsburgh Press.

Principally because he's been around so long, he's barely avoided and even failed to avoid altogether several major awards. In 1985, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in, get this, the distinguished social commentary category, and lost handily, with the Pulitzer committee leaving strict instructions to the Pittsburgh Press to never attempt that kind of thing again. In 1994, he was actually awarded the National Headliner Award for sportswriting for a sampler platter of his sports columns, and has turned up among the top 10 sports columnists in America according to the Associated Press a couple or three times, most recently in 1997. In 1999, one of his columns, on the lethal injection of Gary Heidnik, was judged the best-written in Pennsylvania that year, which is highly dubious. Two years later, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists judged his humor columns the best in a nationwide contest, and an article he wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review about his reasons for leaving sportswriting wound up in an actual hardcover book called "The Best American Sportswriting" which is so ironic it’s sick.

He's been a columnist since 1984, a position he consistently describes as "better than working."

He frequently passes off his "humor" as legitimate social commentary on the WDVE Morning Show, Scott Paulsen's talk show on WBGG, PCNC's Night Talk program, and in weekly rants on Fox Sports Pittsburgh's nightly sports wrap-up show.

He lives in Pittsburgh's North Hills, where he steadfastly ignores the ugliest lawn in five counties, with his wonderful wife Gerry, also a journalism graduate of Penn State, his wonderful sons Sean (17) and Andy (13), and Lucy, the deadly suburban bush dog. He enjoys horseback riding, hang-gliding, and para-sailing, as long as he doesn't have to do any of it.

His columns appear in the Wednesday and Sunday Magazine sections.

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