‘BoniBlog – MacLeod Legacy: Like father, like son

By John Iaboni, Sports Media Canada special correspondent

Rex MacLeod was a sports writer I read during my youth in Toronto. I then had the good fortune of working the Maple Leafs hockey beat with The Toronto Sun during the time Rex was still with The Globe and Mail and then when he moved to The Toronto Star.
His career with The Globe began in 1953 and ended with The Star in 1987, the same year he was honoured by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association with induction to its wing in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Rex, who passed away in 1995, is also a recipient of a Sports Media Canada Posthumous Award.
He was quick witted, knowledgeable, respected and a delight to travel with – even though we were always on the opposite side of the newspaper fence. Rex’s legacy in journalism remains to this day through the writings of his son, Robert.

Rob MacLeod, Globe and Mail

Admitting he’s losing track of his seasons around the Blue Jays, Robert says the number is now “four or five.”
Robert has covered numerous sports for The Globe and Mail, including big-league beats such as the Raptors and now the Blue Jays. The fact he followed in his father’s sports writing footsteps came naturally.
“Yeah, I think it was inevitable,” Robert told me. “I was a sports nut growing up. He was covering the Leafs back then in the six-team league and I remember, I must have been five or six, maybe it might have even been pre-school but back then the Leafs used to practice out at Ted Reeve Arena out in the east end. That’s hard to believe now because it’s just a little rink.
“Anyway, I remember going out to practices there a couple of times with him and running around the arena and being hoisted in the air by guys like King Clancy and then running into the dressing room and that sort of stuff. I played a lot of hockey when I was younger, nothing special, but those memories stay with you forever and it’s inevitable that it would lead to this.”
“This” is, of course, life as a newspaper reporter. Thankfully, his father was around long enough to see that materialize. For what it’s worth, Robert, during our times on the road your Dad would often tell me how proud he was of what you’d accomplished.
“Geez, I’ve been full time now for almost 34 years – all at The Globe and Mail; they’ve been great to me,” Robert said. “I started out in the early ’70s when I was in Grade 10 in high school. I began by answering the phone on the high school sports desk.
“We used to cover high school sports then, a great way to break in. I basically took results over the phone and wrote stories that got published in The Globe and Mail. It just went from there and I did a little bit of everything. I was hanging around there so much they eventually gave me a job.”
MacLeod has made the most of every opportunity tossed his way since then, with baseball fitting into that category as he and Jeff Blair provide coverage for The Globe.
“It’s fun,” he said. “The hours are long and it’s not great being away from the family as long as I am. I tell people the travel is worse – and I covered the NBA for a while – but in some ways it’s also better. At least with the baseball travel you get to hang your hat up in a city for three or four days with a series and you don’t have to chase the plane the next day as you do with basketball.
“But traveling these days is not as glamorous as a lot of people might expect. It’s a lot of hard work. Sometimes you even get to see it a little bit of the cities you’re in although we’re at the park for most of the days. I do enjoy it from that aspect and, of course, being down here (Florida) for a couple of weeks in the middle of February/March (for Spring Training) is not that difficult to take either.”
However, the frigid temperatures have even affected the Sunshine State in 2010.
“The weather this year has been bad,” he said. “It’s been freezing man, I tell you. I’ve worn shorts once I think … it’s been miserable. So take heart all you people up in Toronto, it’s not all that fun down here.”
That started to change a couple of days ago with a warm front finally heading into the Tampa-Clearwater-Dunedin area. MacLeod is taking a brief break from the beat to enjoy the Grapefruit League season with family and friends … don’t forget to pack the shorts, Robert!