Lifelong Nashville sports fan Chuck Ross dies - WKRN News 2

Lifelong Nashville sports fan Chuck Ross dies

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Chuck Ross knew everyone in the Nashville media. Print, radio, TV. He had them covered. Not only did he know them on a first name basis, he knew their telephone numbers.

And, brother, did he know how to use them. He called daily. More like hourly. He would call sports departments and you soon learned when it was Chuck by the way the person answered the phone.

"Yeah, Chuck. The Sounds game starts at 7. Yeah, Chuck. Jamie Werly is starting for the Sounds. Yeah, Chuck. Hey, we're on deadline. I have to go. Uh, I was wondering how many hits Buck Showalter got last night. Chuck, got to go buddy. But I was wondering when the Yankees are coming to play the Sounds.''

And so it went. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. Nashville's most passionate sports fan never took a day off. No vacations for Chuck.

I wish he could call me today. But Chuck died early Friday morning. He has been in failing health for the past few years, soon after his jewel of a mother passed away and left Chuck alone. But Chuck was never alone. He had his teams and they all had his back.

I imagine Heaven's telephone circuits are overloaded. He's calling Ken Dugan, his favorite Lipscomb baseball coach. He's calling George Steinbrenner. He's waiting at the Pearly Gates waiting for the rest of his buddies to come join him.

Chuck left behind a vault full of stories and memories.

One of my favorite stories involved Dugan's baseball team. They were scheduled to play a northern-based college team that was returning from Florida spring training and had scheduled a game on a Saturday at Lipscomb. There was a torrential rain the night before. Dugan had his player up at the crack of dawn, raking the infield, putting down Diamond-Dry, rolling the water from the outfield. They were using every trick in the book.

They worked right up to game time, when Dugan realized the opponent wasn't there. Hours went by and Dugan knew there would be no game that day.

He called the opposing coach first thing Monday morning, more than a little irritated. He asked the coach why they no-showed. The coach replied that he had received a telephone call Friday night telling him the game was canceled, so they drove on to their school Saturday morning.

Dugan was perplexed. He asked the coach who had called him.

"Uh, I think his name was Coach Ross.''

It took some time for Chuck to climb out of Dugan's doghouse.

But you could never stay mad at Chuck. He wouldn't allow it.

He loved golf and Chuck's friend David Patterson, a longtime caddie at Shelby GC would have an annual "grudge match,'' set up by the pros at Shelby and some Parks personnel.

They would only play three holes and they trash talked each other on every shot. In the middle of their swings. When they putted. There was no golf etiquette with them.

I attended some of the matches, took my reporter's notebook and took notes. The most memorable one was the day David needed to make about a 6-inch putt on the final hole to beat Chuck. "You're gonna miss it, David Patterson,'' Chuck said repeatedly in his high squeaky voice he used when he was excited.

David's hands were shaking. Chuck was right in his ear, never letting up.

David's putt moved about four inches. Chuck started riding him.

Those of us there were on the ground laughing. After everyone retired to the clubhouse for the trophy presentation, I interviewed David. I asked him a few simple questions, then concluded with, "What happened on that putt, David?''

Patterson's eyes widened as he placed his hands around his throat and with face turning red, screamed, "I CHOKED!!!''

Chuck accepted a tarnished trophy that was probably left over from a city track meet 20 years before. You would have thought he won the Masters.

He was the champion. And my buddy Chuck Ross left this earth a champion to many. Too many to name.

Visitation for Ross will be Monday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Phillips Robinson Funeral Home on Gallatin Road.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Hillsboro Church of Christ.

There also will be a celebration of life service September 29 at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at  

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