A tribute to Shelby's beloved sports writer, Chuck Ridenour

By Marc Hartz 

I was asked to write a tribute to Chuck, and I initially declined. 

How can I write a tribute to a man that has meant so much to Shelby athletics, and not mess it up? How can I write a tribute to the GOAT, to the master of his craft, to the four-color pen wizard and not omit things? I can’t.  

I can only tell you how much Shelby athletics and the Shelby community is going to miss Chuck. I can only tell you how much I’m going to miss seeing Chuck on the sidelines with his camera draped around his neck and his notebook in hand. I can only tell you how much Chuck is going to miss writing about Shelby sports.  

As his nephew, Jordan wrote on Twitter, 

"The dedication to his craft and 40+ years of service to the Shelby community. 

The love and support he had for his family. But best of all, the ability to light up any room he walked into with his personality. He was truly one of a kind. 

Rest easy, Uncle Chuck."

Yes, Chuck, rest easy. Rest easy knowing that you set a bar that no one will ever achieve. Rest easy knowing that because if you, grandparents, parents,

aunts/uncles, everyone, ripped open that Saturday morning/Tuesday morning or whatever days Daily Globe looking for your article about what their favorite

Shelby team did last night.

Whether it be football, basketball, baseball, golf, or all the other sports Shelby participated, you were there. You had it, you covered it, you photographed it, you wrote it. You were "the guy." You never missed a beat. You spoiled us. You covered it.

I remember getting a text on a random Tuesday night, after Tanner played a JV baseball game, asking if I could text coach Craig reminding him that he needed to make sure that box score was submitted so you could put that score in the paper the next day. That’s what Chuck was about, Shelby sports, getting it in the paper the next day and getting it right.  

Chuck not only had an impact on Shelby readers, but also local sports writers. 

"This one hurts. Chuck was a friend and a fellow scribe. He was a pleasure to work besides, and truly a good man was lost. We are definitely going to miss Chuckles on the sidelines going forward. Thoughts are with those who knew and loved him best," another local writer posted. "Every single ounce of my prayers and thoughts are with the family of Chuck Ridenour. I’m so sorry for your loss. The sports journalism world, and the world in general, is never going to be the same. Rest easy my friend." 

I’m not as profound with written words as these fellow colleagues of Chuck, but this shows the respect and brotherhood Chuck earned. I was blessed to know Chuck for 35 years. I worked for Chuck at the Daily Globe during my high school days and then a few years afterwards, covering football and basketball games. I don’t know that I met a nicer, more humble person than

Chuck. He was always reading to crack a joke and then vent if the Whippets lost.

I knew Chuck for 35 years and never knew the guy bowled a 300 game. You’d

think in the thousands of conversations he’d brag about that one. But normally our conversations would go more towards his family, steam engines or his disdain for a past NOL rival school. Chuck knew every hot spot eatery, I think in the state of Ohio.

Chuck drove 2.5 hours to Cambridge to cover our Little League all-star team a few years ago. I was in shock Chuck would drive that far to cover one game. He told me afterwards, "Heck, I had to go, there’s a great pizza place on the way home." I’m going to miss those jokes, that smile and our conversations.

Chuck was more than just a Shelby icon writing/photographing sports. He was a humble guy who never forgot a name. I remember him taking pictures for my 7u team and he walks up and starts calling the boys by name. I’m thinking, "How does Chuck know who these boys are?" I asked him after

pictures and he said, "I took pictures of these boys at camps and the Y." He jokingly said, “I know everyone, I don’t forget names”. Chuck took pride in remembering youngsters’ names and got even more joy about later covering them in high school.  

A bond grew between players and Chuck. Chuck was one of the first

people to text me to ask how my son was doing after he injured his knee during football. Most of the varsity boys taped their wrists with “CR” etched on them to pay tribute to Chuck. Boys baseball/basketball/ girls basketball teams all came together to honor Chuck at his calling hours. I spoke with Shelby head football coach Rob Mahaney about Chuck’s passing and he said, “One of the many things I loved about Chuck was I knew he was always going to put the players in a positive light”.

Chuck was an unashamed Shelby ‘homer’ and that was evident in everything he did covering Shelby sports. He spent 40+ years covering Shelby athletes so mom/dad, grandparents, neighbors, could read about their sons/daughters.  Chuck didn’t miss a beat. Whether it be a state final four football game or JV baseball game, Chuck was making sure something was in the paper.  

As stressful as meeting deadlines and conducting interviews after tough defeats could be, Chuck always kept his cool demeanor/professionalism and wore that trademark smile. Coach Mahaney added, “After games, I knew Chuck had deadlines to meet, but he always allowed a few minutes for me to hug my girls before we conducted our interview."

I read tribute after tribute on social media regarding Chuck. People stating they had boxes of articles that they saved when they were playing 30+ years ago. Or how parents had a cedar chest full of article about their kids. Or grandparents tacking pictures on their refrigerators to ‘brag’ a little when the neighbors came over. Beth and I have boxes full of articles/pictures of the boys that Chuck took. Every win or loss, we saved the articles.

Chuck was an old-school guy who still used his trademark 4-color pen cover the games. He was a master of that craft. Chuck could keep every play in his

notebook while also taking pictures during the game. Trust me, that’s a feat to

behold. I kept stats for Chuck during football season, he gave me stat sheets that I remember using 30 years ago, when I helped Chuck during my high school days. I guess the adage, "don’t fix what isn’t broke," applies.   

Chuck was a humble guy who would pay for pictures if a child couldn’t afford

them. I remember him calling me one night saying a child didn’t submit a picture form, I told him I didn’t think that was in the family budget, he told me he’d be at the next game to get a picture of the player because no player was going without pictures. If a child was ill or for whatever reason missed pictures, Chuck would go so far as to put a backdrop in his living room and take the pictures. 

Chuck won numerous writing awards Including being honored with the Ohio High School Athletic Association Media Service Award through their Sportsmanship, Ethics, and Integrity Program in 2020 and was honored with the Charles C.W. Williams Sixth Man Award by the Shelby basketball team in 2017. But I truly believe the best way to honor a Shelby icon is to have the Whippet Athletic complex press box and the Shelby basketball scorers table be named in Chuck’s honor. I think that’s the least our school/community could do for a man who meant so much to us over 40+ years.

There will never been another Chuck, Chuckles, master of his craft, 4 color wizard, the GOAT. I’ll sum it up the best I can: Chuck and I talked a couple years ago about the best athlete to come out of Shelby. We bantered back forth about 4-5 athletes, but we could never agree on who was the best. But I think we can all agree that the person to have the greatest impact on Shelby sports was my dear friend, Chuck Ridenour.