Richard Durrett was so much more than a writer

Richard Durrett was so much more than a writer

Credit: WFAA

Richard Durrett

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by PATRICK DESPAIN

WFAA Sports

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 18 at 4:16 PM

As you've all heard, sadly, Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas died yesterday at the age of 38, which is way too young. There has been an outpouring of love and emotion on social media, on the radio and in many articles written about what a great guy he was. All of these tributes are 100 percent honest about what a terrific human being that Richard Durrett was.

While I didn't know Richard as well as the writers in the area like Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Anthony Andro of Fox Sports Southwest or Jeff Wilson and Mac Engel of the Star-Telegram, Richard played an important role in my life and I would like to share it with you.

I first talked to Richard Durrett during his Rangers in-game chats on the internet back in 2009. He would moderate these chats, and as most of you know people can be ugly on the internet. But with Richard everyone was respectful, because he was respectful. The chats were fun, Richard's insight on the Rangers was top notch and he always tried to answer every question, regardless of how ridiculous it may have been. We joked, we talked seriously about the Rangers and we had conversations about sports in general and once in awhile we'd talk about life.

In 2011, my friend Mike McGehee, who is now an employee for the Rangers, and I talked Richard into doing a Twitter chat at 10:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday for an hour. Richard came up with the name "Shutdown Inning with Richard Durrett." When I asked him if he'd be interested, he jumped at the chance and explained that he loved talking baseball with people. I remember vividly him saying that he'd have to clear it with the brass at ESPN, because he was limited on what they'd let him do. One day, I received a message from Richard saying that he was clear to do the chat. I found out later that Richard had to jump through some hoops to be able to do it, but he never mentioned that.

In the fall of that year, Mike McGehee and another friend Danny Fowler and I started the website ShutdownInning.com. Before we started it, I called Richard for two reasons. One - Did he think it was a good idea? And two – Can we use the name ShutdownInning? Richard's response was, "Of course you can use the name and I think it's a great idea. I can't wait to see what you guys have to say." That was Richard, helpful, kind and reassuring.

Over the next year, I didn't talk to Richard much, but I'd get Direct Messages on Twitter from him telling me that he enjoyed an article or that we made an error and he wanted us to be as accurate as possible. We always had friendly exchanges on Twitter, even if we disagreed with each other. When he gave me his phone number and told me to call anytime if I needed anything, I was stunned that a guy of his caliber would give someone like me his private number. I had no intentions of ever calling him because I didn't want to bother the man. One night a rumor was floating about the Rangers signing someone and I got the nerve to call Richard. When he answered the first thing out of his mouth was, "Hey Patrick, what's up?" I was stunned he saved my number. We talked for 15 or 20 minutes about the Rangers and he was warm and inviting in his conversation. That was the Richard Durrett I knew.

I would consider Richard my friend but more importantly one of my mentors. He gave me priceless advice over the last few years and was usually the first to pat me on the back for an article I wrote that he found interesting or enjoyed. When I came to WFAA, the very first person to congratulate me was Richard via a Direct Message on Twitter. I remember him saying that I had carved out a pretty good little career and that he was happy for me and he meant every word. That was Richard.

Richard Durrett quietly helped me with no fanfare and he didn't want any recognition. That was Richard. I'm going to miss him dearly.

The Dallas sports scene will never be the same, nor will the world. My thoughts go out to Richard's wife, Kelly and their two young children.

"Sometimes when one person is absent, the whole world seems depopulated" - Alphonse de Lamartine

 

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