BY JEFF FALK
Who is the most widely-recognized, Lebanon County-produced sportswriter? Mike Gross? Pat Huggins? Walt Long?
No, his name is Ed Bouchette. And most Lebanon Countians are unaware of who he is or how their local brother has made good.
For the past 30 years, Bouchette has written sports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His main responsibility since 1985 has been to cover the the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s a gig that most scribes could only drool over.
“I’m covering the Steelers in Pittsburgh,” said Bouchette during a recent phone interview. “How much better can it get?’
But while Bouchette feels fortunate for what he’s got, he didn’t get where he is by accident. A 1969 graduate of Lebanon Catholic High School, Bouchette possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in the sports writing field, and simply put, he is just a hard worker.
“I kept at it, kept at it,” said Bouchette. “It was interesting work for not a lot of pay. But I made a go of it. I caught the eye of some people when I was at Greensburg (Tribune Review).”
Bouchette’s body of work is an impressive one, to say the least. He has covered every Super Bowl since 1985, he has a vote in baseball’s hall-of-fame elections, he appears on TV in Pittsburgh, he has a contract to work for ESPN and ESPN radio and he’s been a Sports Illustrated correspondent since 1986.
“It has it’s moments when it becomes monotonous,” said Bouchette of the Steelers beat. “Like three months before the draft when everyone wants to know who the Steelers are going to take. It’s a lot of attention for very little. And then it happens, Bang.
“The games are something different,” continued Bouchette. “It’s the greatest reality series going. The personalities. The Steelers organization. I’ve never covered another pro football team, but these guys are great to cover. They’re down-to-earth, from the (owner) Rooneys on down.”
In 1992, Bouchette authored a book about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ transition from head coach Chuck Noll to Bill Cowher entitled ‘Dawn of a New Steel Age’.
“I’ve had other job offers and turned them down because I like what I’m doing,” said Bouchette, 60. “I’ve seen some of my colleagues go from job to job. But the business has changed tremendously over the years.
“Looking back at it, I do feel fortunate,” Bouchette continued. “But when you’re covering high school football in the rain, where there’s no press box and you have to keep stats and someone from the stands is yelling at you to get down, it’ a long way to think you’re covering the Steelers. I didn’t just go from IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) to covering the Steelers in the Super Bowl.”
Before going to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1983, Bouchette worked in the sports departments – in one capacity or another – of six different Pennsylvania newspapers. One of them was not the Lebanon Daily News, where he turned down an offer right out of college to take a position in Doylestown.
“I’m a reporter,” said Bouchette, who still has family in the Lebanon area. “I love the business. I always wanted to do sports.
“Sometimes it’s the greatest profession, and sometimes it’s not,” Bouchette continued. “Sometimes it’s tough. It depends on what you’re writing and when’s your deadline. When I’m covering a Monday night game, writing as the game goes on and have to be finished when the game is over, that’s not writing. For the most part, I love it. But newspapers aren’t the greatest paying job in the world.”
Bouchette went from Lebanon Catholic to IUP to major in business management. But somewhere along the way, sportswriting became infused in his blood, and he’s never been able to extract it.
“I always loved newspapers,” said Bouchette, who grew up in Cornwall. “I always loved newspapers. I delivered the Daily News and read everything I could. But I thought I was going to be an accountant.
“It seems to me that newspapers are headed that way (towards becoming obsolete) if they don’t find a way to make money off the internet,” Bouchette concluded. “People are turning away from actual newspapers, books and magazines. You have the cost of news print, delivery and production. You have hardly any cost on the internet. I think newspapers will survive if they can find a way to get it on the internet. I’m old-school. I buy the newspaper every day. I like to have it in my hands, read the headlines.”
Editor’s note: This piece on Ed Bouchette first aired on Lebanon Sports Buzz on March 28, 2011. It was reprinted with permission.