The year was 1988, a memorable year.
• Kirk Gibson, barely able to walk, hits a limp-off home run off Dennis Eckersley to win Game 1 of a Los Angeles Dodgers’ sweep of the World Series.
• Willie Stargell was elected to the Hall of Fame.
• The Baltimore Orioles lose a record 21 consecutive games to start the season.
• The Washington Redskins beat the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
• Canadian Ben Johnson beats Carl Lewis in the 100 meters in the Olympics but two days later is disqualified when he tests positive for steroids.
• Rihanna is born.
• George H.W. Bush is elected president of the United States.
West Virginia put together an undefeated football team behind quarterback Major Harris but lost to Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl after Harris suffered a first-quarter injury.
Oh, and in 1988 when WVU went to the Fiesta Bowl, Michael Fragale was there, working his first year as a professional sports publicist for his alma mater.
He has been at nearly every major WVU sports event in the 25-plus years that have slipped by so quickly since he joined the Mountaineers’ sports information staff under a then historic rookie sports information director, Shelly Poe, the first woman to hold such a job.
“It certainly was learning by fire,” Fragale said the other day, a short while after he was honored by the group College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), of which Shelly Poe is now president in her role as as Auburn’s football sports information director.
Today, Fragale serves as assistant athletic director for communications at WVU, not looking very much different, really, than the kid who had come out of Flemington to attend WVU, wrote for the student newspaper the Daily Athenaeum while gaining a degree from journalism school before becoming a graduate assistant in the sports information office while earning a master’s in sports management.
If Fragale hasn’t changed much over the years, the profession he elected to make his life’s work has, for there is very little in the world of sports information of a quarter century ago that translates into that same world today.
The year was 1988, a memorable year.
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