The Mercury Remembers

Mercury staff, past and present, remember the man who's been described as a "Mercury Legend."

> Don with Austin Hertzog, retired and current sports editors, together Tuesday, the night before Don passed away. By Tom Kelly III.

- Nancy March, Mercury editor-in-chief

"We have a saying here at The Mercury, or at least among those of us who've been around a few decades. "There's something in the walls ..."

We use it to describe our penchant for odd news, our conglomeration of interesting personalities, and even our two Pulitzers.

For a newspaper this ordinary in a town this small to behave in the extraordinary ways we do sometimes ... well, it must be something in the walls.

On Wednesday morning about 11 a.m., that special something took a direct hit.

Our beloved recently retired sports editor Don Seeley died after being stricken while playing golf." 

- Michelle Karas, former business editor, former editor-in-chief of The Bennington Banner

"I worked with Don at The Mercury for 14 years. He loved to call people by personal endearments. I was generally "young lady" or "Penn State," after my alma mater.

Early on, we used to all go out after the night shift to the former McEvoy's bar in Pottstown to eat bad food and drink cheap beer, and he just loved to shoot the shit with everyone and eat cheeseburgers or hot dogs well past closing time. He was always saying he'd buy "the next" round.

He was a guy who loved to eat (he has an unofficial special named after him at Argento's) and who loved to spend time with friends, especially on the golf course. 

He was a gifted storyteller - the kind who could easily move you to tears with a few well-crafted paragraphs - and an extremely loyal friend.

He is missed."

- Darryl Grumling, Mercury sports reporter

"I've known Don since my first year covering Berks County Legion baseball back in the the summer of 1991.

Though I was a rookie, he was a grizzled veteran and we worked for different newspapers, there was never a touch of animosity or any kind of condescending attitude from Don. Rather, he relished the opportunity to pass on to me the storied history of area Legion baseball and the memorable moments he was able to write about.

My first (and lasting) impression was that he was very serious about his craft -- and anything but serious about most everything else.

Stories about his antics are legendary (and probably a little too R-rated to post here), but suffice it to say, being in the press box with him was never boring.

When I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed in in the spring of 2009, Don promptly reached out and told me he wanted to use me "immediately" as a freelance "stringer" for The Mercury, and was true to his word.

And when a full-time position in the Mercury sports staff finally opened up in early 2011, Don went to bat for me and I was fortunate enough to eventually land the job. That's the kind of guy he was.

No one - and I mean no one - championed the coverage of local high school sports more than Don.

Don's body of work in his primary sports -- wrestling and football - was something to behold. He was a veritable encyclopedia of Pennsylvania wrestling. And the decades he spent chronicling local Legion baseball (most notably the Boyertown Bears) personified a labor of love that bore tremendous fruit through the years.

I last saw Don Tuesday night, when he was covering the PAC-10 boys lacrosse Senior Bowl at Pottsgrove and I was doing some live tweeting and video of the event while being shadowed by our summer intern Scott Armstrong. Though we only got to talk for a few minutes, it was vintage Don, and it summed up what he was all about.

Pottsgrove football/lacrosse player Riley Michaels was working the scorer's table, so I took him over to Don to badger him and said, "Riley wants to know who you're going to pick in football this year, Pottsgrove or Spring-Ford?" Don's answer: "PV." Always on top of his game. And I also recall a few minutes later Don relating to Austin Hertzog - his former right-hand man who succeeded him as sports editor when Don retired from that role in February - updates on local Division I college football players Terrell Chestnut and Andrew Scanlan. He was always in the know.

I'll echo what Austin appropriately tweeted when he found out the news of Don's passing Wednesday:

I'll miss you, 'ol boy."

- Frank Otto, Mercury news reporter

"I'm on the relatively new side of The Mercury staff but Seeley provided more than a few genuine laughs for me in the year-and-a-half I knew him.

I've been telling people my favorite memories of Seeley are when I was trying to edit video on a late Football Friday and he'd yell out a joke that, punch-drunk with headphones on, I'd put my head down on the photo desk and laugh while the video I was meticulously trying to cut played on.

I never really minded him being loud. On election night last fall, he tried, unsuccessfully, to slide past a California (or something of the like) dateline on one of his stories before Austin Hertzog, who's taken over since as sports editor, yelled, 'No way!.' 

In the heat of the craziness of election night, the laugh that gave me was like a shot in the arm.

As loud as he was, Seeley's quiet moments are some I'll remember, too. When I offered to help out in sports, he had a somber meeting with me and Austin about whether I could do stats, something he took very seriously.

It's said about a lot of people, but he was definitely a person that always said 'Hi,' or 'hey,' as was his case (or 'Ho-ho!'). For all the jokes at my expense, I never stopped smiling at them because I knew he was just a genuinely nice guy."

- Jeff Garret, former Mercury writer and photographer, 1998-2000

"In whatever sport Don covered, he did an exceptional job. Thorough as they come, Don Seeley would not short shrift any sport for a more popular one to keep Pottstown area sports coverage well-balanced and unarguably equal. His knowledge about wrestling, specifically,  where his mastery was noticeable is what I will remember most from his writings. He gained the trust of the greater Pottstown community and was a kind man too many. Gone to soon; rest in peace.


1 comment:

  1. Allow me to be the first, but not the last, to intone the Seeley deadline mantra in his honor:

    "Write it right, write it tight and write it tonight."

    It kept ringing in my head as I was writing the news story on his passing last night.