Craig Sager, Willie the Wildcat and me
So here's mine.
The hottest I've ever been in my entire life was in the summer of 2007, when I was interning at the Tulsa World newspaper before my senior year at Northwestern University. I spent seven long days sweating in the 100-degree heat, covering the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. It was awesome.
But it was also unbearably hot. I found shade under trees when I could, and I wore a hat to try to keep cool. For practical reasons, I chose a white cap rather than a dark one. It had a Northwestern logo on it.
During one of the rounds, a tall man walked up to me between the ropes, where only golfers, caddies and reporters are allowed to roam. It was Craig Sager, who was covering the tournament as a broadcaster. No, he was not wearing one of his loud suits. I mentioned it was hot, right?
Mr. Sager noticed my cap and pointed to it. He asked if I went to school there, and I said I did. He mentioned that he did, too. Then he went a step farther. Did you know there's a picture of me in the athletic offices?
No, I said. Thirty seconds ago, I didn't even know he went to school there.
Then delivered the kicker: He was the mascot, Willie the Wildcat.
Craig Sager as Willie the Wildcat. Huh. Because I'm a journalist, I looked it up later. It checks out. Maybe that explains his later wardrobe choices. What else can you expect from a guy who dressed up like a giant, gray cat?
Anyway, Mr. Sager and I walked a hole or two together. We fist-bumped, then went our separate ways.
I don't pretend to know Mr. Sager because of our brief encounter. It lasted a few minutes, at most.
But I do know that Mr. Sager was the kind of guy who would take a break from his big-time job, in the middle of one of the last great runs of Tiger Woods' historic career, to chat with a sweaty, 21-year-old intern in a white, Willie the Wildcat cap and share a moment he'll never forget.
And that says more about Mr. Sager than his wardrobe ever could.