by RON GREEN JR.
Even now, more than 20 years since he retired as the columnist for the Charlotte Observer, Ron Green, Sr., still loves the life he led telling the stories of sports in the Carolinas and beyond.
“I just loved picking up the paper with my stuff in it. Seeing the byline. I loved it. Just loved it,” Green, now 92 years old, said.
“I said many times I would do it all again. I can’t imagine ever finding another a job I would like as much as that one. I didn’t think of it as a job. It just was a great joy, great fun.
“Being around the games and things that mattered to so many people. Being around the people involved in the games and seeing the start and finish of all these teams in Charlotte. That was a great thing.”
Green, who was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, officially retired from the Observer in 1999 after 50 years of writing for the Charlotte News (an afternoon newspaper) and the Observer. He continued to contribute to the Observer for many years, including his annual Thanksgiving column and covering the Masters golf tournament.
It was an unlikely career for someone who discovered a journalism class at Central High School in Charlotte that allowed him to escape a chemistry class he was failing. Green discovered his love of writing and it took him around the world.
He covered 60 Masters (among the most of any media member ever), 24 Super Bowls, 26 Final Fours, 40 ACC basketball tournaments, four summer Olympic Games, heavyweight championship fights, Ryder Cups, British Opens, the World Series and more. He was in Chicago the night the NFL announced the Carolina Panthers had been awarded to Charlotte.
He has been inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame and the Garinger (formerly Central) High School Hall of Fame and has won numerous awards in national and regional competitions, including selection as North Carolina Sports Writer of the Year on six occasions.
Golf writing was a particular favorite and Green’s presence at the Masters was an April tradition for his Charlotte readers. He had breakfast with Arnold Palmer on the Sunday morning in 1958 before Palmer won his first green jacket and he watched everyone from Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods at Augusta.
Two Masters in particular stand out in Green’s mind.
“The Masters 1975 where Jack Nicklaus beat Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf. That was the best of the best, although Nicklaus winning at the age of 46 was another beautiful, beautiful story,” he said.
As for his favorite story across all those years, it happened in 1983 and came out of nowhere.
“The best story I ever covered was N.C. State winning the national championship when they had to win nine games in a row,” Green said.
“Jim Valvano made it a whole lot of fun. It was impossible. They were good but they weren’t that good in my opinion. Boy, were they a good story, though.”
Green, who is recovering from a broken hip suffered last summer, still lives in Charlotte with his wife, Beth. They have been married for 66 years.