By Max Sass
George Vecsey, 51 years after graduating from Hofstra University, has too many good memories to list: the intramural basketball, the campus covered in snow, Francis Ford Coppola, the numerous talented performers Hofstra produced. None compare to the greatest memory Hofstra has ever given Vecsey though.
"There are so many [memories]," the 1960 graduate said. "First of all, I met my wife here and it's no joke, we were put together on a blind date and then totally by accident we worked together on the yearbook."
Vecsey had the chance to reminisce when he returned to his alma mater Tuesday afternoon to speak on the top floor of the Axinn Library. Vecsey, currently a sports columnist for The New York Times, spoke to the audience of about 25 about his experiences in journalism before fielding questions on topics ranging from Bernie Madoff to why he loves sports.
The veteran writer jokingly warned of the "gloom and doom" of the current journalism business, a field that has changed drastically. When Vecsey was just 15 years old, he started writing for the Associated Press and had his first byline at Newsday by the age of 17. When he started writing he recalled, stories were written on portable typewriters and he handed his copy to a Western Union operator for submission.
At Hofstra, Vecsey did not take any journalism classes; he instead earned a liberal arts degree. "There was no journalism major but there were journalism classes," Vecsey said. "They were taught by nice peole, but I never took any."
Writing for a professional newspaper occupied much of his time while a student and he rarely had a chance to write for The Chronicle, occasionally submitting football stories and writing a humor column.
Vecsey had a difficult decision to make when he wrote about the Hofstra football team being cut just over a year ago. "I think I was fair to the paper and to Hofstra," Vecsey said, "but it was impossible to satisfy both. Given the choice I would be fair to the paper. I work for them now, not Hofstra."
Vecsey just finished writing a book on former St. Louis Cardinal Stan Musial and even got to shake President Barack Obama's hand when he was at the White House covering Musial and former Celtic Bill Russell's Presidential Medal of Freedom. Journalism has allowed Vecsey to be around sports, which he calls beautiful and describes as "ballet with a hand in your face."
Hofstra gave Vecsey a lot too and he remembers all of the memories 51 years later.