Get to know sports writer Tony Paul: He couldn't hit a curveball, so he writes about those who can

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Editor's note: As coronavirus sweeps the globe, shutting down so many entertainment options including sports, we thought this would be a good opportunity for you to get to know a little bit about us. Up today: sports writer Tony Paul, who can be followed on Twitter @tonypaul1984.

►1. I've wanted to be a journalist, specifically a newspaper man, as long as I can remember. When I was 6 or 7, and growing up in Paw Paw, I would write down the family's "news of the day," and report it at the dinner table. Yes, I was a nerd, with the Coke-bottle glasses to prove it. I also wore a tie, voluntarily, Alex P. Keaton-style, to school every day in kindergarten and first grade, just for good measure.

Tony Paul, at 20, with future president George W. Bush. No need to take the sunglasses off, apparently.

►2. I have a sick history of car troubles. One time, my truck would only go in reverse; great timing, as I was Christmas shopping and parked in an incredibly busy and winding parking garage in west Michigan. Another time, my car wouldn't shut off, even though I had my key out of the ignition and in my hand. I called AAA, and they informed me it wasn't an emergency, since my car was running. Wouldn't you know it, it was probably the only time in my 20s I had a full tank of gas. There are other horror stories, too. There's a reason I'm a huge fan of public transportation (well, not at this very moment).

►3. I have four siblings, two brothers and two sisters. We range in age from 29 to 43. They've given me an amazing eight nieces and nephews. My sister Colleen and I probably are closest, which is why she always has believed the 1984 in my Twitter handle and on the end of my email address (still using Hotmail; don't judge!) was a tribute to the year she was born. Yeah, OK, let's go with that.

►4. At Wayland High (former Tigers pitcher and Orioles manager Phil Regan is an alum), I played golf and baseball. I was OK at golf, but a little better than OK at baseball. That said, I was no star — something I realized my senior year when we were facing a highly recruited and scouted player in the area. He was pitching against me, so there were radar guns galore behind the backstop. Since they already had their equipment, they decided to clock me, too. Noticing this, in warmups, I fired the hardest fastball I could, pinpoint on the black. And in unison, every one of those SOBs put their radar guns away. Ouch. I had a wicked curveball, though; ironic, since it was the inability to hit a curveball that killed my offensive abilities.

►5. Walt Terrell called me on my 10th or 11th birthday. He's been among my favorite Tigers ever since. We even once got to go swimming in his pool in Grosse Pointe.

►6. I never ate sushi until I was 29. I have more than made up for lost time. I am generally a picky eater, most notably I won't eat anything with bones in it. Never have, never will.

►7. I've lived in a whole bunch of towns and cities. Here they are, best to my recollection, in chronological order: Paw Paw, Caledonia, Wayland, East Lansing, Lansing, Hartford (Conn.), Madison Heights, Fort Gratiot, St. Clair, Port Huron, Roanoke (Va.), Royal Oak, Detroit, Clawson, Warren, Ferndale, Southfield, Grosse Ile and, most recently, Oak Park (just in time for it to be a Coronavirus hot spot!). Some of the cities I've lived in multiple stints, including Detroit. I've got moving down to a science, y'all — especially since I finally decided a few moves back it was time to pitch my legendary VHS collection.

►8. I got better at golf after high school, because I worked at a course and played my brains out. One summer, I was scratch at our course. I also have one hole-in-one, 7 iron, 151 yards. One bounce and in.

Tony Paul in high school, firing off one of his 68-mph fastballs.

►9. I also once took a perfect game into the 10th frame, something I had no business doing with my 168 average. I was so nervous in the 10th, I missed the head pin, and left the rest of the pins, settling for a 274. Bummed at first, I quickly rebounded when 274 actually was called for mystery. $580 in the pocket was a heck of a consolation prize.

►10. My dad was a heck of a pitcher at Redford St. Mary's, and then at Henry Ford Community College. He even was drafted by the Boston Red Sox, though he never signed. It was my mom, though, who first taught me the bare-bones rules of baseball, when we were watching a small, old, black-and-white TV in our basement in Paw Paw. I remember the first thing she explained to me was how a walk worked.

►11. My dad was a Michigan State Police trooper (in Paw Paw, then Detroit, then Wayland), though for the record, I never used his name to get out of a single ticket. I'd still be grounded today if I'd tried. My mom was an art teacher in Hopkins, and continues volunteering her services at a local Catholic elementary school. They are absolutely amazing people, even if to this day they still think I work at the Free Press.

►12. Speaking of my mom, I never had to come out to her. In college at Michigan State, she called me one morning and told me she knew I was gay. She then asked why I didn't tell her, adding, "I went to art school, for crying out loud." (Dying my hair bleach-blond in college — to cover up the gray, which started at freaking 16 — might've been the giveaway.) The other funny comment I heard after I came out was from my Uncle Pat, who told relatives, "Tony's gay? But he likes sports!" True, and true.

►13. I once was bit by a horse. It hurt like hell. I've never looked at the Triple Crown races the same since. 

►14. I don't get nervous around celebrities or high-profile athletes anymore. The last time I did was with Tim Allen, who I've idolized forever, it seems. I used to tape over old family videos with "Home Improvement" episodes, which sat about as well as you'd think with my parents. "The Santa Clause" was one of my favorite movies growing up, because it came out around the same time as my parents were getting a divorce. "Mrs. Doubtfire" is one of my favorites for the same reason.

►15. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I love politics. I once wrote Ronald Reagan on his birthday, and he personally wrote me back (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). I love watching old debates, and election-night coverage. The one president I've met was George W. Bush, before he got the job. He was campaigning in Metro Detroit, I was a political reporter for The State News at MSU, and I had to cover the event. I never even talked to him about politics. We actually talked baseball. The Tigers had just traded for Juan Gonzalez, and Bush, as a one-time owner of the Rangers, told me that would be a regrettable one for Detroit. Mission accomplished on that take, anyway. 

Tony Paul's baseball/softball career hasn't improved much over the years.

Previous installments

Get to know assistant sports editor Craig Yuhas: HRC was friendly; Secret Service, not so much

Get to know preps beat writer David Goricki: He's still waiting for his 'Everybody Loves Raymond' residuals

Get to know Lions beat writer Justin Rogers: Culinary dreams on back burner as he cooks up copy

Get to know soccer writer Larry O'Connor: Old Trafford blades of grass still reside in his fridge

Get to know Tigers beat writer Chris McCosky: From Bo to Gardy, he's covered — and seen — it all

Get to know sports writer Nolan Bianchi: He wanted to be a blue crayon when he grew up

Get to know sports writer Matt Schoch: For some reason, he left the Virgin Islands to come back here

Get to know columnist Bob Wojnowski: He once was a short-order cook; now, he just writes long

Get to know columnist John Niyo: His newspaper career began as Johnny Orr's delivery boy

Get to know UM football beat writer Angelique S. Chengelis: She starred in 'Hoffa', or so she thinks

Get to know Red Wings beat writer Ted Kulfan: He can't skate, seriously (though if Brooke Shields asked...)

Get to know Pistons beat writer Rod Beard: #StartWriting was wrong just this one time

Get to know UM beat writer James Hawkins: No, he's not related to Jim Hawkins

The latest from Tony Paul

Rocket Mortgage Classic expected to be next to fall; Meijer LPGA Classic postponed

Michigan golfing duo tries to laugh off role in bizarre mass disqualification

'Mumford will never be the same': Athletics legend Dwight Jones dies of coronavirus at 73