The Worcester Telegram writes that when WCVB Channel 5 (Boston) announced that Mike Dowling was leaving the station after more than 28 years as a sports reporter and weekend sports anchor, some viewers probably thought he was forced out.
No one would choose to stop getting paid to attend games, right? Dowling, however, insists the decision was his.
"It was time," he said. "I've been thinking about it for a while."
Dowling said he made his decision in November, but remained with the station until lead sports anchor Mike Lynch returned from spring training. His final day was last Friday.
"I don't want to say it became a grind," Dowling said, "because our jobs are certainly good jobs and it's not digging ditches, but I felt like I've kind of seen it all and covered it all."
That's no exaggeration. Dowling has interviewed celebrating players in locker rooms with champagne spraying after all 10 of the championships that the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics have won over the past 14 years. He learned a valuable lesson along the way.
"Wear crappy clothes," he said, "which some people would say was no different than the normal clothes I wore."
Dowling's most vivid memory, however, is of a heartbreaking loss. With the Red Sox a strike away from winning the 1986 World Series, Lynch and most of the media waited outside the Boston locker room, but Dowling and his photographer sat on the Sox dugout roof ready to jump on the field. They never did make the leap because the Sox lost when a grounder skipped between Bill Buckner's legs.
After graduating from Brigham Young in 1976, Dowling worked at TV stations in Utah and Indiana before he joined WBZ Channel 4 as a sports reporter on Feb. 1, 1984. Twenty-two months later, Channel 4 let him go, but he replaced Lee Webb at Channel 5 almost immediately.
He remembers working his final day at Channel 4 on a Wednesday and beginning at Channel 5 the following Saturday.
It's probably safe to say that Dowling worked the longest for the same television station of any sports reporter in Boston, but he was only second in tenure in the Channel 5 sports department. Lynch, who is an anchor and not a reporter, joined the station in 1982. Dowling enjoyed working with the easy-going Lynch.
"As far as egos go," Dowling said, "he's at the bottom of the totem pole and that was good. We both knew our roles and I think we complemented each other. I was fortunate to work with him."
News anchor Susan Wornick is leaving Channel 5 today after 34 years, so only Lynch, Channel 5 news reporters Janet Wu and Jack Harper, Channel 4 news anchor Jack Williams and Channel 4 news reporter Bill Shields remain on the job from when Dowling debuted for Channel 5.
So now the Boston teams will try to win their first title without Dowling on hand since the 1981 Celtics.
"They're on their own finally," Dowling joked.