In every reporter’s career, there will come a time when they have to make a phone call to a contact or source, and the contact/source will be asleep.
Nine times out of 10, the contact/source is good about being wakened from a sound sleep.
But, as Vernon native George Dobie found out in May 1956, contacts and sources can also be unhappy to be woken up.
The Facebook page Western Canada Baseball History posted a submitted item on Friday, June 12, which was a letter Dobie – then a sportswriter for the Vancouver Sun – had written to Vancouver Mounties baseball team president Brick Laws that he was quitting as the Mounties’ beat writer for the Sun because of the way Laws verbally abused him when Dobie woke him up at 1 a.m. to confirm a story.
Dobie’s letter appeared in the May 8, 1956 issue of The Sun, with sports editor Earl Smith explaining at the start of the story that “The Vancouver Sun is without a baseball writer today. George Dobie has resigned and no one else in the department wants the job.”
Wrote Dobie to Laws: “…I could not stomach your obscene attack upon me in a telephone interview shortly after midnight last Friday. Your words were the filthiest I have ever heard from the lips of one man, especially a sportsman.
“I was completely shocked and I have been around.
“The foul language was bad enough. But then to realize such a man was fronting a new, coast league baseball club, hoodwinking us unsuspecting Canadians really shocked me.
“Brother, you’re dead.”
Dobie explained he had tried to get some answers from Laws prior to the phone call about getting player help for the Mounties, who were off to a dreadful start in the 1956 Pacific Coast League season.
He wrote, “You bluntly refused to answer the questions and criticized me personally for waking you up at that time in the morning, even though I explained the reason for the call.
“I was satisfied to take that much on the chin and ask the questions again Saturday. But then you telephoned back to The Sun office 30 minutes later. It was then you thundered damnations at me. You bitterly spewed out rude words of such an obscene nature that I could not believe my ears.”
Dobie said his editors and co-workers were shocked at the Laws outburst. Laws, said Dobie, asked him to forget the whole thing the next day at the ballpark.
“I might have been able to do that as a reporter,” wrote Dobie. “But my newspaper believes your smutty, slanderous outburst against me should be bared.
“My newspaper also believes that you should not take the troubles of the Mounties (ball team) out on a representative of the press. No matter what time of day it happens to be.”
Dobie started his journalism career with the Vernon News after graduating high school. He joined a wire service, British United Press, in Winnipeg, then on to Edmonton before moving to Vancouver.
After he left the sports beat, Dobie covered many assignments, highlighted by his coverage of the labour beat during a period of tumultuous labour relations.
Dobie retired back to Vernon in 1988 and continued to write a column for the Vernon Daily News and The Morning Star. He had set up a blog prior to his death to voice his opinions on the day’s events.
Dobie died Oct. 24, 2009, at Vernon Jubilee Hospital at the age of 86.